In possession divination a spirit possesses the diviner or sacred objects. Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices. ——. They retain membership in their family, community, clan, and kin groups. Somé, Malidoma P. The Healing Wisdom of Africa. It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. Want to understand religion in Africa? The Study of Religions in Africa: Past, Present, and Prospects. The traditional belief systems, spirituality and faith of West African peoples has been described in more or less disparaging terms over the course of history, broad terms that fail to reflect the complexity and depth of these beliefs: “paganism”, “animism”, “ancestor-worship”, “idolatry”, “fetishism”, “heathenism”, etc. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1937. ——. African indigenous religions are timeless, beginning with the origin of human civilization on the continent, perhaps as early as 200,000 b.c.e., when the species Homo sapiens is believed to have emerged. This myth gives credence to the importance of the underworld as the sphere that nourishes human life. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. The Religion, Spirituality, and Thought of Traditional Africa. According to the Yoruba (an ethnic group from Nigeria), the life force that pervades all phenomena exists in an eternal cycle of complex interactions between cosmic domains; these interactions should always remain in balance. Some African groups have cults dedicated to the Supreme Being, but in general the creator does not have a special cult of devotees. WELCOME TO OUR NEW WEBSITE!! From the 1500s to the 1900s the transatlantic slave trade took African religions to the Americas and the Caribbean. Their rebellious behavior, however, caused dismay; they resorted to acts of sorcery and refused to submit to the natural succession of generations. Shrines are usually the center of a family's religious life and are the connection between the visible and invisible world. Yet they are unlike humans in that they are immortal, superhuman, and transcendent. Because indigenous societies are mainly nonliterate, oral traditions expressed in poetry, proverbs, and mythic narratives are sources of African literary traditions. In African cosmological narratives creation is always portrayed as a complex process, whether the universe is said to have evolved from preexisting matter or from divine thought. Marriage agreements usually involve both sets of parents of the couple to be married. Wild pigs protect and guide elungu and run errands for the ancestors. In several cultures a supreme deity performs creation through mere thought processes. Family members must adhere to specific roles, privileges, and rights. The female twin held back her own offspring for a year; after she finally gave birth, the children—twins themselves—rebelled against their parents by establishing themselves as an autonomous pair. "Religion in Africa." The Lupupans believe that the body (mbidi) houses the spirit (kikudi) and that when death occurs, the spirit leaves for elungu, a special land that the ancestors inhabit. Purchasing options are not available in this country. All kinds of seeds and the most delicious parts of domesticated crops are appropriate for ritual offerings. For example, agricultural rituals function communally to benefit the group. Initiation is a deeply religious affair and a sign of unity with the larger community and the ancestors. The pantheon of deities is often given a collective name; for the Yoruba of Nigeria it is orisa, and for the Baganda of Uganda it is balubaale. The two complementary realms represent the world's governance and agricultural life. The Nioniosse command the "cult of the earth" and other rites relating to fertility, and the Foulse command the reigning monarchy, personnel, chiefs, and kings. In traditional African cultures family members habitually offer food and drink to their ancestors. Because of the oral nature of African sacred Among some peoples of East Africa it is thought that a person dies only if he or she has no one to remember him or her. At times supreme gods are understood to be females and males who complement each other as husband and wife or brother and sister, similar to Mawu-Lisa in the religion of the Fon of Benin. Spirits are the connection between the living and the invisible worlds. Other festivals celebrate victory at war, the coronation of kings or chiefs, and changes in leadership. Idowu, E. Bolaji. These sites include forests (or parts of forests), rivers, lakes, trees, mountains, waterfalls, and rocks. London: Paul Hamlyn, 1967. Oral myths elude permanent display on paper, stone, or other media; African traditional religions remain changeable according to the needs of their followers. Natural objects, such as rivers, mountains, trees, and the Sun (as well as forces such as wind and rain), represent the nature spirits. Religion gives meaning and value to all forms of African artistic expression, including literature, music, visual art, and dance. Religion provides an education for individuals and is a rich source of cultural knowledge about many different subjects. These three scholars established the idea of the centrality of a Supreme God surrounded by myriad lesser gods. Common animal motifs are the chameleon, centipede, butterfly, lizard, snake, tortoise, and fish. During the 1940s and 1950s departments of religious studies were created in universities in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, and Sierra Leone. Priests and priestesses are natural leaders because they are in direct service to God and dedicate themselves to the deities for life. AU$25.00. Parrinder, Edward Geoffrey. Trained in the new method of "fieldwork"—which entailed observing participants and speaking the language of the community—these anthropologists worked for their governments. Numerous scholars in diverse fields of interest carry out studies of African religions. Another set, "Twins of Storm," retained authority to govern thunder and lightening. By using local languages and converting Africans from their ancestral religions to Christianity, missionaries paved the way for early modernization and Western colonialism. The living must avoid and respect the resting places of the dead. Devotees of African traditional religions often perform rituals to induce rain; such rituals feature dancing, singing, and chanting. The large numbers of Africans living in North, Central, and South America introduced enduring forms of African religious culture through music, dance, festivals, and martial arts. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 1990. New York: Praeger, 1963. Individuals who have died, usually ancestors in particular lineages, are the human spirits. Finally, living humans remain for a time in the visible world. Deities who usually do not garner much attention during daily and weekly worship schedules often draw massive crowds during their annual festivals. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Among the scholars responding to accusations that Africans lack a notion of God was E. Bolaji Idowu, who did research on the Yoruba Supreme God, publishing Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief in 1962. The success of Islam is partially a result of its continued toleration of traditional beliefs and practices—or at least its allowance of indigenous beliefs to adapt to a form compatible with Islam. Many societies believe that their morals originated with God and the ancestors and were imparted to humans as elements of God's creation of the world. London: S.C.M. Although their inquiries were fraught with bias, some outsiders were more reliable than others. African Spirituality: Forms, Meanings, and Expressions. People consult diviners for any number of issues, but the most common reasons are for a misfortune, such as sickness, death, or calamity; spirits are likely to have knowledge about the causes of a misfortune. Yoruba Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites. 13 numbers of adherents of African religion. It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. £27.00 African Traditional Religion during my semester at This means that traditional African religion cannot be separated from daily life. With death comes a permanent physical separation between the deceased and the living, and ritual helps to accentuate this transition. "African Traditional Religions The myths of many African cultures describe the Supreme God's global significance and place him or her high above the other deities in the pantheon. At this time two main schools of thought prevailed. Individuals or groups of people practice divination in order to discern the meanings and consequences of past, present, and future events. In many creation stories God is likened to a potter who creates humans out of clay and then pours the breath of life into them. Many wild animals are sacred because they have wisdom and powers, because they are believed to be inhabited by spirits, and because it is said that in some cases they were sent to earth by God to communicate with humans. Practitioners of African traditional religions are generally familiar with the symbols and icons, but often only a few trained individuals can interpret the significance of such symbolic and iconic forms, which are used to imply religious meaning in initiation, divination, and secret societies. In festivals commemorating the deeds of the gods, ancestors, and sacred kings, devotees A head priest is chosen by his predecessor; otherwise, village elders or a chief's council make this decision. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001. E-mail Citation » Scholarly articles on Islam and on Christian and non-Christian religious diasporas. Outside observers and anthropologists have written many descriptions of traditional African initiation rites. The first questioned the origin of African civilizations and religions. New York: Crossroad, 2000. Such rites provide a transition from one age to the next. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1979. Even with the advance of literacy and the impact of Islam and Christianity in Africa, the king continues to function as a sacred canopy under which foreign traditions are subsumed and celebrated. Highly trained diviners have largely been responsible for memorizing and transmitting important historical and cultural events to the living generation. Some harbor shrines and ancestor graves. Because they date back to prehistoric times, little has been written about their history. Most significantly, the deceased must have lived to an old age, meaning that they will have possessed wisdom and experience. Depending on the kind of religious activity, various religious authorities may preside over specific rituals. Many offer sacrifices or make verbal demands on the behalf of believers. Many species of birds, including the ostrich, vulture, dove, and heron, inspire artists. African Ideas of God. The term "myth" in African religions means sacred stories that are believed to be true by those who hold to them. Every aspect of it cannot be described as original. The Lupupans incorporated Christian ideas into their systems. Only the father can perform the biang ndu, which is witnessed by family members and neighbors. An excellent source for insights into contemporary scholarly issues and approaches. Altars are small structures where offerings can be placed and sacrifices performed. Africans believe that punishment may be communal or may pass from one generation to another. Western religious cultures regard many aspects of African religions—such as witchcraft, ritual killing of animals, Devotees of traditional religions awakened to the possibility of losing their faith, and to compensate they extended the criteria for membership. 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