African and Not Religious: The State of Research on Sub-Saharan Religious Nones and New Scholarly Horizons


Sub-Saharan African societies are widely seen as highly religious. However, at least 30 million Sub-Saharan Africans identify themselves as “religious nones” and are supposedly not affiliated with any religious tradition. While research interest in religious nones has been growing in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, there is a dearth of literature on nones in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this paper, we offer an overview of this understudied subject and dwell on key challenges for studying African nones, including preconceived notions and structural oppositions. We further muse on the identity of African nones and consider differences from the characteristics established concerning Western nones. The article draws on quantitative data from across the region (primarily from Afrobarometer and Pew Research Center) and supplements them with interview data collected in Chad, Kenya, and South Africa.