The fourth element common to most religions is the need for believers to belong to a faith community in order to practice sacred rituals and reinforce the truth of sacred stories. In addition, the Ijaw practice a form of divination called Igbadai , in which recently deceased individuals are interrogated on the causes of their death. Even misfortunes are regarded as governed by God's will, which is just. So for example later on we’ll look at how this works out in Nigeria. AFRICAN AMERICAN RELIGIONS: AN OVERVIEW. Attributes of God (Supreme Being) in Africa: Attributes of God refers to words or phrases ascribing traits, properties, qualities or characteristics to the Traditional African education: Its significance to current educational practices with special reference to Zimbabwe. This is part of the essential nature of God.". Veneration of ancestors plays a central role in Ijaw traditional religion, while water spirits, known as Owuamapu, figure prominently in the Ijaw pantheon. African Traditional Religions are still practiced today, along with Christianity and Islam. On the other hand, the scholars that have attempted to dismiss approaching African religions as if it’s impossible have been nevertheless brought back to the fact that there are a number of fundamental similarities in the structure of indigenous religions in general, and of African religion in particular. Now before we look at the actual example of how this might apply in different parts of Africa, (we’re going to begin by looking at west Africa and give you an example with the Yoruba religious cosmology in west Africa) I want to, before we get into that, clarify a few terms that are often used in African Traditional Religion. Lines are drawn by religions even though many look to religion as a way of life. So we will often ask the question: “What does a Hindu believe about God or man, or sin, or whatever?”; “What do Muslims believe about salvation?”; and so forth. It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. He is essentially good, causing people to be prosperous and fertile, and everything is done according to his will, which controls the universe and the fortunes of mankind. Because of the general acceptance of the evolutionary theory which dominated the latter half of the 19th century, Tyler’s theory was interpreted to mean that animism gave rise to polytheism, which in turn evolved further to the stage of one supreme god over all other spirits, and this eventually led to the idea that ultimately Trinitarian monotheism was the highest form of religion. Share classes via social media, email, and more. Stream the classes, or download and listen to them offline. And therefore a better approach is to construct a broader African religious cosmology which extends beyond any one term. April 28, 2017. Africa’s a very large and diverse continent; it’s even larger than North America or Australia. Before religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism permeated African societies, African people had an awareness and acknowledgement of a god, a supreme being, greater than all things. Read reviews from world’s largest community for readers. African art, music, oral literature, all display the religious and social patterns of its culture. First of all, unlike Christian cosmological thinking, African systems do not recognize a fundamental distinction or clear demarcation between the visible world and the invisible world. Unfortunately, missionaries and the colonialists who came in to Africa originally often portrayed Africans as savages, as backward. Africans are notoriously religious in the sense that all levels of life are filled with religion. But this person, this divinity would be a lower expression of God’s power. In southern Africa, the coast of Africa, you have South Africa itself, you have Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia – all of these countries in south Africa represent a place where western colonization did in fact put the presence of the west with African societies and cultures. The method ofstudyingAfrican traditional religion isfirst discussed and then the elements of the method guide an analysis of theAkan religion in West Africa according to their understand- ing of the Supreme Being, the ancestors, magic, witchcraft and various rites of passage. The continued influence of traditional African religion is also evident in some aspects of daily life. But they know that he is immanent, being manifested in natural objects and phenomena, and they can turn to him in acts of worship, at any place any anytime," Mbiti writes. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. They’re often commonly misunderstood as idols, but they actually should be viewed as a pictorial genealogy which describes someone’s spiritual and sometimes physical descent. If we want to ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, we go directly to the father. This is what one finds when you walk into Africa, and this is what the anthropologists discovered early on, and the missionaries. So at this time we’re going to examine a particular example of this in the Yoruba religious cosmology in African religion. Another rite of passage is the transition from childhood to adulthood, and this tends to be very important in many of the traditional cultures in Africa. This is another real difference between African society and western culture. But what is the nature of that supreme being who is so near (immanent) and so far away (transcendental) from the realities of traditional African peoples? ‘The Healing Wisdom of Africa‘ is designed more as a guide for people looking to reconnect with nature, within and without, using the Medicine Wheel and the five elements as a framework. Everything is done through intermediaries. ], where he talks about what he calls “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle” . They’ll make sacrifices, they’ll offer chants and so forth, and this is the general structure of the African Traditional Religion. Oftentimes when you look at world religion, you ask questions like: “What do they believe?”; “What are their underlying doctrines?”; and so forth. He is also regarded as a pitiful and merciful comforter who will deliver people from calamities and misfortunes. When they talk about philosophical and religious principles, they do not think of African traditional religion. Now while there are certainly magical objects in west Africa, such as charms and amulets which are used, and indeed from a part of the religious complex and can be referred to as fetishes, it’s a very inadequate description or designation for the entire religious system. And so therefore divinity and deity are separate in Africa. When they function as single individuals, we usually call them “healers”, or sometimes they’re called “shamans”. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. There are more than 200 distinct indigenous societies, all with different languages and economic systems and cultures, all very unique. He can be reached through sacrifices, prayers, offerings, etc. Of course the Christian world- view comes in and challenges this by saying there is a world beyond the sensory world; the enlightenment world-view is inadequate. Now this is important because we have kind of an enlightenment world-view in the west which creates a real firm barrier between that which we can see – the observable world of science (reflective of the world of hypotheses and concluding proofs of those hypotheses), that embraces science -- and the invisible world. There is no distinction between sacred and worldly, between religion and non-religion or between the … This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. He can see and hear everything, so there is no need to call upon him, and since he sees and hears everything, he is everywhere. The effect of colonisation on Africa's traditional religion is seen in the views of colonialists that African traditional religious practices are fetish, barbaric, ritualistic and demonic. Abstract. This is also true in the African Traditional Religion. And what he points out is that the enlightenment world-view in the west created what he calls the “excluded middle”, in a sense that we had a scientific world-view that accepted all of the things of the sense-world. «Why Elce Lauriston left the Adventist church – Part 2, My walk with Christ has changed me completely - pastor», Police seeking man who robbed security guard at UWI, CBU welcomes court ruling protecting journalists’ sources in Trinidad, Direct deposit to transform payment system at courts, Vaccine deployment under COVAX Facility to get under way by March, Uptick of COVID-19 cases in Clarendon concerns health officer, Conduct safety drills at home – JFB commissioner, You are ENOUGH! Daily functioning of traditional African is fundamentally religious functioning. *Hiebert, Paul G. , Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues, 1994. It deals with their cosmology, ritual practices, symbols, arts, society and so on .because religion is a way of life, it relates to culture and society as they affect the worldview of the African people. Now this is important because many times in the west we think of religions in terms of belief systems. That occurs on the second tier. Some (approximately 3%) of Oromo still follow this traditional monotheistic religion called Waaqeffannaa in Oromo. The term “fetish” comes from the Portuguese word “feitico”, which originated from the Latin “facticius”, which suggests a thing made by art. And even nature itself is part of this ongoing continuum. The traditional African understanding and the interpretation of Christianity have deep roots in these fundamental beliefs of the African traditional religions. As you can see from some of the early reports of Africa, African religion was simply not taken seriously, or it was dismissed wholesale as crude idolatry. We even talk about the incarnation, where God transcends this wall of separation in the seen world and the unseen world, and he steps into our human history. African Traditional Religion has been evolving; there is in it the element of continuity as well as discontinuity. Even Christians, if someone is sick, we go to the doctor; we don’t think about casting demons out of people. That is, a belief in a single god in which there exist other powers which get diffused out in to subordinates who serve that one god. This work will enhance the understanding and appreciation of the African exposition of the importance of the African … Most converts from Africa are from it: for the rest it has not much to offer. This is normal in many parts of the world. Last week, in a veiled comparison between African traditional religions and Christianity, which is the major religion in Jamaica, some of the key elements of African traditional religions were discussed using Kenya-born Professor John S. Mbiti, a well-known scholar and researcher of African religions, as the main reference. He is both transcendental (unreachable) and immanent (inherent) at the same time. Copyright © 2021 The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited. In looking at African religion, there are a number of things that we have to look at. In order to conceal the underlying nature of their religious beliefs from the slavemasters, the practitioners of these religions identified the ancestral gods and goddesses of Africa with certain Catholic saints, a practice that continues today. Mbiti explains, "So, in this context, power is viewed hierarchically in which God is at the top as the omnipotent; beneath Him are spirits and natural phenomena; and lower still are men who have comparatively little or no power at all. And the world of the enlightenment only gives us the world obtainable by the five senses. It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. Africa ~ An Influx of Cultures. This is a 3-hour summary lecture on the basic components of African Traditional Religions. Instead, we should see at the top tier a supreme being, but this supreme being is frequently a distant figure, maybe associated with creation or some kind of larger power to keep things in order or in harmony, but is not the focus of the daily religion of Africa. Sulfur, mercury, and salt are classical elements. Read reviews from world’s largest community for readers. Traditional/Indigenous African religions are the traditional beliefs and practices of African people including the various traditional religions and customs. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. The medicine man or the healer, as the name implies, usually seeks to heal diseases in the community, and then he’ll come to them and they believe that their illnesses are caused by the cause of some spiritual power. To efficiently study the African Traditional Religion (ATR), one must also study the people who practice this religion. These statements await further exploration by African theologians. African religions, religious beliefs and practices of the peoples of Africa.It should be noted that any attempt to generalize about the nature of “African religions” risks wrongly implying that there is homogeneity among all African cultures.In fact, Africa is a vast continent encompassing both geographic variation and tremendous cultural diversity. They often will refer to the supreme god as a sky god because the sky god is the one who often dwells in a remote place and is often associated with creation, and then you have the ancestors and sometimes spirits (we’ll call them divinities here) that often serve in this functional capacity. Well that’s fine, that is a Christian adaptation of the enlightenment world-view, and it leaves the basic structure or cosmology of the west intact. All Rights Reserved. This affects even the more practical considerations of life. "This is the most minimal and fundamental idea about God, found in all African societies," Mbiti writes in African Religions and Philosophy . Things like demons or spirits that are just normal in African cosmologies are alien to the western world-view. You often hear a word like “animism” – I think it goes back to the 19th century, with Edward Tyler, who first suggested the term “animism”. 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