Stoller begins by giving the reading a first hand look at what the spiritual beliefs of the Songhai are. Right from the beginning, Stoller wakes the reader up and lets him know that the beliefs and practices of the Songhai are quit different than that of the average American.
From this basic introduction, he begins to describe various details in the religious life of the Songhai. With each detail, Stoller maps out the development of each practice and belief, where it came from, why they believe it, and other necessary background information. He also provides the reader with necessary persons, from first hand experience, who are influential in these practices. The Zimas and mediums are very important to their religious practices, and Stoller goes into great detail into what they do, why they do it, what their life is like, how they are "selected," for such a role, etc.
Furthermore, throughout the book, Stoller explains how the Islamic faith has affected the Songhai. Some things for good, and some things for bad. Many of the Songhai openly reject the faith and see it as trying to take away their ancient practices. Others, however, mix the two faiths, Islam and animism, without any thought of them being contradictory.
From there, Stoller looks at the "theaters" of the Songhai religious culture. Again, he goes into great detail into what the people do, why they do it, where such a belief comes from, etc. all from first hand accounts. Through this section, and throughout the book, the author gives day-by-day account of the rituals, feasts, celebrations, and other aspects of their religious practices that play an important role in their lives.
The last and final section is the most interesting. The first chapter deals with some of the religious sexual practices of the Songhai and how it works in their society. He points out that at times, some beginning to essentially perform a "striptease," however, the object is to pay the person to stop rather than continue. This practice has been greatly persecuted by the government and police. Because it is considered immoral, many have been put into jail for this practice. Much of the opposition comes from the deep Islamic faith of most persons in Niger. The author gives detailed description of the background of these practices and the opposition.
The book is a great summary and description of the religious life of the Songhai. Everything in this book comes from years of experience and first hand knowledge of the people and their lifestyle.
Overall, this is a good read for those interested in African religion and faith. Though many in Africa consider themselves to be Islamic, at the root they are animists. Therefore, books like this go a long way in our understanding of how we can reach them with the gospel.