Forests, Rivers, and Mountains: African Pentecostalism, Traditional Cosmologies, and Experience with Nature in Sierra Leone

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Although Pentecostalism is a major stream within Christianity in Sierra
Leone, the first field where Protestant missionaries were active in tropical Africa, this ecclesial development remains marginally represented in
research. The Pentecostalisation of Sierra Leone points to the nation’s continuous recontextualization of Christianity from its inherited missionary
vestiges to meet local cultural needs. In this paper, I discuss the retreat by
Pentecostal clerics to nature (forests, rivers, and mountains) from where
they expect to connect with the transcendent God and receive spiritual
power. To do so, I first discuss Sierra Leone’s traditional conceptualization of forests, rivers, and mountains as sites for the acquisition of spiritual
power. Second, I briefly survey the emergence of Pentecostalism in Sierra
Leone, probing the specific uses by Pentecostals of natural spaces. Finally,
I conclude with an intercultural theological assessment of Sierra Leone’s
emerging Pentecostal uses and interpretations of natural spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-112
JournalJournal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2024


  • African Pentecostalism; Pentecostalism in Sierra Leone; spiritual power; healing; deliverance; traditional cosmologies; Pentecostal eco-theology; Freetown; forests; rivers; mountains

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