Full text PDF

Claudia Favarato

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PhD candidate in Political Science at Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (ISCSP, Portugal), University of Lisbon; Master in African Studies, ISCSP, University of Lisbon; Master in International Politics and Diplomacy, University of Padua; collaborating researcher at Centro de Estudos Africanos (CEAF) of ISCSP, University of Lisbon.


The present article aims to unveil the importance of the indigenous animist religious system within Guinea Bissau political culture. By analysing the contrast between the inherent legitimation of State authority and local-traditional ones it is discerned the type of political culture shared by Guinean people. Taking into account the exacerbation of public responsiveness to symbols manipulation when levels of human security are felt lower by individuals, I discuss the importance of religious symbolic capital inherent in Guinea Bissau national leaders’ politics, pinpointing the case of José Bernardino “Nino” Vieira. These practices enable State authorities to legitimize their authority, to overcome the ethnical heterogeneity impasse and to compensate for loose relationships between the government and the citizens. Finally, I discuss the manipulation of the religious dimension for political ends as a milestone of the process of africanization of power, due to religious and political syncretism typical of traditional African political systems, on the one hand. On the other hand, I question how myths worshipping the national leaders might foster the breakthrough of an authoritarian political regime.


Guinea Bissau; political culture; symbolic capital; African political system; African traditional religion

How to cite this article

Favarato, Claudia (2018). "Traditional religion in Guinea Bissau political culture". JANUS.NET e-journal of International Relations, Vol. 9, N.º 2, November 2018-April 2019. Consulted [online] on the date of the last visit,

Article received on December 21, 2017 and accepted for publication on July 1, 2018