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date: 20 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Some Africans were aware of Buddhism at a very early stage in history—indeed, some of the earliest evidence for Western knowledge of Buddhist traditions comes from Northeast Africa—yet today Africa is the least Buddhist of the inhabited continents. This chapter charts the complex history of Buddhist traditions in Africa and sketches the current distribution of these traditions on the continent. Inevitably, legacies of colonial occupation have affected the distribution of Buddhist traditions in Africa. In South Africa there is an overwhelmingly white (Caucasian) convert community that barely interacts with small ethnic Buddhist traditions. Only in recent years has a new approach to Buddhist traditions arisen, a service-oriented approach that sees Africa not as a potential source of converts, but as a field for the practical application of compassion.

Keywords: Africa, Buddhism, South Africa, compassion, colonial

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