main elements of african traditional religion

One of the best, however, is the account by Malidoma Patrice Somé (born in 1956) of his own initiation as a member of the Dagara of Burkina Faso. Its various indigenous spiritual systems, usually called African traditional religions, are many. Seasonal festivals commemorate annual events such as field preparation, planting, harvesting, hunting and fishing periods, and the New Year. $36.00 These two schools reflect an insidious racist ideology that influenced the initial study of African religions. Everyone is in fact a religious carrier. In 2003 Abimbola was appointed the adviser to the president of Nigeria on culture and tradition. One of the foremost of these is Wande Abimbola (born in 1936), who in 1987 was selected by the elder babalawos in Nigeria to be the awise awo agbaye (chief spokesperson of Ifa and Yoruba religion and culture). African Religion and its Influence on Christianity and Islam Traditional African religion has been the basis of spirituality for the people of Africa. Deities are varied in number and complex in character. The gods watch over a person's values, morals, and sense of justice. Every African community and ethnic group has its own religious places, which can take several forms. For example, for the Komo of Congo (Kinshasa) the ancestors play a role equally prominent to that of deities. The purpose of this is to help to orient a person who would like to work in the context of Africa. As a young boy he had been kidnaped by a French Jesuit missionary; he was initiated when he returned to his village at age 20. This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. If offended, however, she can exhibit extremely violent reactions. Painting the body with white chalk or another substance for ceremonial purposes is also a common way to identify a devotee's beliefs or stage of life. For instance, howling dogs signify the impending death of a relative. Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Some of the academic priests, including Parrinder, Father Placid Temple, and Zaireois V. Mulago, were influenced by the inclusive views of liberal theology developed by Protestant and Catholic academic theologians in North American and European universities. Muslim and European colonial traders, travelers, slavers, missionaries, military personnel, mercenaries, and administrators frequently recorded naive accounts of African cultural customs, traditions, and religions. 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. This Ghanaian Adinkra symbol means "except for God" and symbolizes the supremacy of God. Beidelman, T.O. A bad death (suicide or murder) may cause the victim to be buried in the "waste bush" to discourage the spirit from reincarnating or disturbing the peace of the living. That other West African cultures have similar creation myths and ensuing social traditions is evidence of influence between cultures. The symbol can be found throughout Ghana. ——. Persian and Arab merchants introduced Islam in East Africa by trading in coastal towns up and down the eastern seaboard. A taboo frequently restricts the kinds of materials used for building shrines and altars. There are myths that say the world was created out of an existing abyss or a watery universe uninhabited by animate beings. 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. Since it is a religion practised by living persons today, changes are to be expected. The diviner holds the chain by the middle and throws it on a mat, making a U shape, so that four nuts fall on each side of the mat. Initiation ceremonies occur most commonly during puberty. Cultural objects and status symbols—such as an amulet, royal crown, staff, divination sign, or dance wand—often inspire designs. Shrines and temples are adorned with elaborate carved images of the deities that convey the power of the gods and ancestors. Some harbor shrines and ancestor graves. New York: Praeger, 1963. Personal or individual rituals often surround events that happen in everyday life. The Yoruba hold that children born soon after the death of grandparents or parents are reincarnated (if they are of the same sex as the deceased). At times parents must care for their sibling's offspring. This heritage, though contemporarily more dynamically evidenced, has a long history and influence. Traditional African religion is a way of life in which ancestors are part of every major event such as wedding, births and deaths as well as less important ones such as getting a job and finishing university. (January 12, 2021). Devotees attach great importance to animals because, at any moment, an animal may be preparing to deliver a message to humans from anywhere in the spirit world. Many traditional African religions believe in mysterious forces and magic. Because the gods and ancestors created the society's ideals, people are highly reluctant to stray from them. Puberty rituals signify the coming of age, when elders reveal to the younger generation the ancestral secrets of deep knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press, 1937. They counteracted various derogatory names given to AIR. The original religions of Africa “are not static”; according to Mayo, “contacts with Christian and Islamic traditions have brought about transformations and syncretism of all three” a perfect example of the triple heritage of Africa[5]. Male initiates leave the village, and while they are still in the presence of family and friends, they remove their clothing. 3. The religious beliefs, practices and the€human characteristics (such … African cosmogonic myths, which explain the origins of the universe, contain a people's conception of superhuman beings—the Supreme Being, the divinities, the demigods, and the spirits that operate in the created world. MacGaffey, Wyatt. Why should we study the religion of indigenous Africans in this age? Perhaps the most common is the appearance of signs that the elders consider to have significant meanings—for themselves, the people around them, the family, the clan, or the village. The deceased person's soul remains a presence in the lives of individuals and must be respected by the living. Similarly, the name for a medicine healer is sumãnkwafo, amawato, onisegun, and dibia. The third element of religion is teaching traditions based on stories of significant figures, events and ideas from the past and beliefs about the future of time itself – like a spoiler alert about the end of the world. Although historically non-Africans have emphasized the multiple deities and ancestral spirits in African traditional religions, there are other notable features. There are similar motifs in the cosmological narratives of both cultures, though the Fon narratives are more complex than the Yoruba's. This Ghanaian Adinkra symbol means \"except for God\" and symbolizes the supremacy of God. Furthermore, African cultural practices contain elements of indigenous religion. The gods and ancestors are guardians of morality. Shrines are often established above familial and ancestral gravesites; the grave itself may also serve as a shrine. The Study of Religions in Africa: Past, Present, and Prospects. Masks, costumes, and body design accompany religious ceremonies. While other traditional African societies may possess fewer elaborate details of reincarnation, several of them hold the view that ancestors are born into their lineage. There is much ritual involved with initiation, which is a time for the younger generation to learn how to be contributing members of society. AU$25.00. Africans integrate this religious worldview into every aspect of life. Moyo, A. He currently teaches Theology and Research at Amani University Project in Njombe, which operates under the University of Iringa in Tanzania. African traditional religions are a communal endeavor, and it is not required that an individual believe in every element. They are based on seasonal availability and environmental, social, cultural, and religious differences. Their studies avoided describing African cultures in indigenous terms. The Fang of Central Africa retain a personal ritual associated with birth, the biang ndu, or biang nzí (sometimes called the "roof medicine" ritual). Crises call for more elaborate sacrifices, such as the slaughter of chickens, goats, and sheep. African traditional religions and African arts dovetail. The intricate myths and legends describing African deities provide ample evidence of their habits, functions, powers, activities, status, and influence. Religion in Igbo traditional society partakes fully of all the features of world traditional religion, including its beliefs, sacred myths, oral qualities, strong appeal to the hearts of adherents, high degree of ritualization, and possession of numerous participatory personages such as officiating elders, kings, priests, and diviners. Several other African cosmologies are also characterized by an emphasis on primordial disorder, conflict, or chaos. Marriage rituals signify the betrothal of individuals to each other, to the lineage, and to the community. It initiates the process of attaining ancestorhood. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. In non-hierarchical societies individuals share authority and power equally. For example, in the Ba Kongo (a group of peoples who live in the Congo and Angola) and Kaguru (an ethnic group of Tanzania) societies, the elders are closest to the ancestors, and they wield much influence on how to consult and propitiate them. Among many African ethnic groups, however, some sets of oral narratives exist that serve as sacred texts. Because the spirits inhabit the natural world, no practical distinction exists between the natural and the supernatural world. Nehanda, considered an incarnation of an oracle spirit, was eventually hanged by colonial authorities in 1898. Members of the Mwari cult engage primarily in rituals that are intended to influence the economy and maintain environmental balances. Not every member of society performs all rituals; instead, a particular ritual may be prescribed for certain members of a community. Major social concerns for followers of African traditional religions include poverty and the environment. The Winye of Burkina Faso center their creation myth on female and male twins, whom the Supreme God sent as primordial parents to establish human life in the created world. The location of graves varies from group to group. Beginning in the late twentieth century hundreds of African Americans embraced Yoruba traditions by founding the Kingdom of Oyotunji African Village near the city of Sheldon, South Carolina. Ifá: An Exposition of Ifá Literary Corpus. Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Another issue is conversion to Christianity and Islam in Africa, which has not only created conflicts between indigenous religions and these two traditions but also set Christianity and Islam against each other. Priests or priestesses watch over both community shrines and family shrines. "Religion in Africa." $18.00 Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices. As in any democratic system, individuals may participate in ways that benefit their interests, their community roles, or their status as religious leaders. African art, the visual arts of native Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, including such media as sculpture, painting, pottery, rock art, textiles, masks, personal decoration, and jewelry.. For more general explorations of media, see individual media articles (e.g., painting, sculpture, pottery, and textile).For a discussion of the characteristics, functions, and forms of masks, see mask. Rites of passage are particularly important in the religious use of arts. Major scholarly research about African traditional religions had a late start. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. Many people are involved in religious leadership, and a single religion can have priests, priestesses, sacred kings and queens, prophets, prophetesses, and seers, all of whom have been important religious leaders throughout the ages. Devotees of traditional religions recognize domestic and wild animals as sacred and full of great power. New forms of Yoruba religion have been emerging that are quite different from the Yoruba orisa traditions in Nigeria. African Traditional Religion has been evolving; there is in it the element of continuity as well as discontinuity. Proper burial entails a performance of elaborate funeral ceremonies by all members of the deceased's descendants. Eating habits and diet differ vastly among regions of Africa. Family members must adhere to specific roles, privileges, and rights. Initiation often takes place for several days or months in auspicious natural locations, such as forests or grasslands, where the initiates are afforded closer contact with the invisible realm, the spirits, and God. Pan Afric…, African Sleeping Sickness (Trypanosomiasis), African Side-Necked Turtles: Pelomedusidae, African Religions: New Religious Movements, African Traditional Religions: Functionaries, African-American Award Winners and Honorees—Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, U.S. Postage Stamps, African-American Award Winners in Entertainment, African-American Mayors in U.S. Cities, Representatives in U.S. Congress, and Heads of State in the Americas, African-American Membership in U.S. Field preparation, planting, harvesting, hunting and fishing periods, and supernatural! 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