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In the late 19th century, Africans in locations across the continent grew frustrated with European and American missionaries and decided to form their own Christian churches.


African Independent Churches combine local African religions with Christianity in variable ways, placing different amounts of emphasis on each tradition. Some, but not all, affiliate with Catholicism or with a particular Protestant denomination.


Some AICs were established by a charismatic African religious leader or "prophet," such as Simon Kimbangu, Isaiah Shembe, or William Wade Harris.

Sacred Texts

The Bible is considered authoritative and found to contain empowering messages. AIC leaders and laypeople read it carefully and on their own, believing that missionaries' interpretations were incorrect and biased because of their interests in colonial domination.

Historical Perspectives

Although AICs produced less written documentation of their activities than did missionary churches, scholars have worked to understand their theology and their social and historical significance using oral histories and ethnography to supplement the available records.