Tag Archives: Lake Nyos

Religious Responses to the 21 August 1986 Lake Nyos Gas Disaster, Cameroon (Published)

Religion sits alongside other factors to determine the capacity to understand, respond and recover from Disaster. Following the occurrence of the Lake Nyos disaster and as it became clear that the horrifying natural episode marked a turning point in the lives of the hardest-hit communities, religious leaders and their faithful brought a faith perspective to the explanation and response to the event. This article focuses on these religious reactions to the Nyos disaster, and draws on published research, oral sources and previously unexplored archival sources. After presenting the pre-disaster religious landscape of the area, it first investigates religious explanations to the origins and impact of the event. Second, it explores ritual practices that were observed in response to the disaster. Finally, it highlights how the disaster was used as a justification for Christian social action and proselytization among survivors. In the conclusion, I make the case that the religious faiths in the Lake Nyos disaster area explained and responded to the event in ways that were couched in religious terms.

Keywords: Christianity, Disaster, Indigenous Religion, Islam, Lake Nyos, Proselytisation., Religion., Ritual, Social action, Theodicy