Guinea has a population of just over 10 million with 24 ethnic groups. There is freedom of religion in Guinea although Islam is the dominant religion demographically, socially and culturally. Over 85% of Guinea’s population is Muslim while 10% follow various forms of Christian faith. The remaining 5% adhere to traditional indigenous beliefs. An insignificant number practice Hinduism, Buddhism and the Baha’i faith. Traditional Chinese religion is also common, especially among the expat community. There is no trace of atheists or irreligious groups in Guinea. However, there are very few people who adhere to more than one religion, one as a family religion.
Religious beliefs in Guinea (Conakry)
Islam is the main religion in Guinea with an estimated 85% of the country’s population. Most Muslims in Guinea are Sunnis who follow the Maliki tradition and the Tijani Sufi order. Islam found its way to Guinea from its birthplace in the Arabian Peninsula through the Mali Empire which encompassed present-day Guinea. Fouta Djallon has been the stronghold of Islam since the 17th century. A theocratic Muslim state was found in the mountainous regions of Fouta Djallon in 1725. An Ahmadiyya movement was introduced to Guinea in the 20th century by Pakistani Muslims who settled in the country. However, after Guinea’s independence, President Touré tried to reduce the influence of Islam in the country. The decline in his popularity forced him to adopt Muslim institutions which also led to the construction of the Great Mosque of Conakry. Islam in Guinea has a great influence on the country’s culture and social practices. There are many Islamic institutions, including schools and hospitals, in the country.
West African animism and popular religions
Before the arrival of Arab traders who brought Islam with them, the traditional African religion was a major practice throughout the country. Currently, only 10% of the population still practices animism which is a form of traditional worship. Most of the ceremonies are accompanied by divinatory rites and meditations. Guinea animists also believe in and pray to spirits and ancestors. Spirits are intermediaries between humans and gods. In times of disaster, the community offers sacrifices to their god to appease the spirits and ward off anger. Folk religion is common in rural villages and not popular in towns and villages.
Christian groups in Guinea include Roman Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, and Seventh-day Adventists. About 6% of Guineans associate themselves with Christianity. The majority of Christians are of the Kpelle ethnic group. The country has 235 organized churches, 150 unorganized churches and over 1,000 pastors. Conakry has the largest number of churches in the country. Most Christian denominations are involved in missionary work and evangelism throughout the country. Evangelism is slowly bearing fruit with more conversions to Christianity. However, Christians in some areas of Guinea have faced opposition while some have been killed by Muslim neighbours, as was the case in 2013.
Religious freedom in Guinea
Guinea is a secular state whose citizens enjoy equality regardless of their religion or beliefs. Everyone has the right to choose, change and practice the religion of their choice. Guinea’s Department of Religious Affairs promotes tolerance and religious relations. The department appoints directors to run the offices of various religious affairs. The administrative staff of the Great Mosque of Conakry are civil servants of the State. The country observes several religious holidays, including Easter, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, and Christmas, among other holidays.
Religious beliefs in Guinea (Conakry)
|Rank||belief system||Share of Population in Guinea|
|2||West African animism and popular religions||9%|