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 African Traditional Religion

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Iniziato Sciamano
Iniziato Sciamano

Femminile Serpente
Numero di messaggi : 1826
Data d'iscrizione : 22.03.10
Età : 39
Località : Prov. CN

MessaggioOggetto: African Traditional Religion   Mar 9 Nov 2010 - 18:20


African traditional religion
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An early 20th century Igbo 'medicine man' in present day Nigeria, West Africa.

African traditional religions is a term referring to a variety of religions indigenous to the continent of Africa.


* 1 Religious traditions of Africa
o 1.1 Afro-Asiatic (Afrasan) religious tradition
+ 1.1.1 General description
+ 1.1.2 Egyptian religion
+ 1.1.3 Cushitic religion
+ 1.1.4 Omotic religion
o 1.2 Nilo-Saharan religious traditions I - Koman religious tradition
+ 1.2.1 General description
+ 1.2.2 Uduk religion
+ 1.2.3 Koman religion among the Central Luo
o 1.3 Nilo-Saharan religious traditions II - Sudanic religious tradition
+ 1.3.1 General description
+ 1.3.2 Maasai religion
+ 1.3.3 Meroitic religion
o 1.4 Niger-Congo religious tradition
+ 1.4.1 General description
+ 1.4.2 Akan religion
+ 1.4.3 Orisha religion
+ 1.4.4 Odinani
+ 1.4.5 Niger-Congo ceremonies
o 1.5 Khoisan religious tradition
+ 1.5.1 General description
o 1.6 Typological classification
* 2 Classification and statistics
* 3 Deities
* 4 Practices and rituals
o 4.1 Divination
* 5 Duality of self and gods
* 6 Virtue and vice
* 7 Religious offices
o 7.1 Priest
o 7.2 Healer
o 7.3 Rainmaker
* 8 Holy places and headquarters of religious activities
* 9 Liturgy and rituals
o 9.1 Individuality
o 9.2 Patronage
o 9.3 Libation
o 9.4 Magic, witchcraft, and sorcery
o 9.5 Secret societies
o 9.6 Possession
* 10 Mythology
* 11 Traditions by region
* 12 Notes
* 13 References
* 14 External links
* 15 Further reading

[edit] Religious traditions of Africa

Most traditional African religions have, for most of their existence, been orally/spiritually (rather than scripturally) transmitted or practiced.[1] Thus, linguistic experts such as Christopher Ehret[2] and Placide Tempels have applied their knowledge of languages towards reconstructing the original core beliefs of the followers of these traditions. The four linguistic phylums spoken in Africa are: Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo, and Khoi-San.[2]

[edit] Afro-Asiatic (Afrasan) religious tradition

[edit] General description

According to linguist Christopher Ehret, traditional religion among Afro-Asiatic-speaking peoples was originally henotheistic in nature.[3] In this sense, each clan gave allegiance to the community's own god while still accepting that other gods exist.[3] Each Afrasan clan community was headed by a hereditary ritual leader.[4] With regard to major groupings of the Erythraite peoples and the Cushites, Ehret refers to this ritual priest as the '*wap'er'. The '*wap'er' carried out the traditional spiritual rites for each group, but was by no means a political chief or accorded significant political authority.[4] Rather, the role of the clan *wap'er was to preside over the community rituals directed toward that deity and to act for the community as the intercessor and interpreter of the deity.[4] Ehret states that in the founding Afro-Asiatic spiritual tradition, evil was seen as being caused by petty or demonic 'spirits' that dwelled among humans.[3]
[edit] Egyptian religion

Ancient Egyptian religion developed as a branch of the Afro-Asiatic religious tradition with some influences from the Sudanic religion. The ancestors of the Egyptians, who came from the direction of the beginning of the Nile in Kenya[citation needed] well before 10.000 BC and spoke an Afro-Asiatic language directly ancestral to ancient Egyptian brought with them the belief in Clan deities. When the clan territories where later merged into Egypt, these clan deities were merged into a pantheon of a new polytheistic religion. A contribution came from the Sudanic inhabitants of what became the sothernmost province of Egypt, [Ta-Seti]. The concept of a sacral King and the sending of servants into the grave alongside the King, a custom only stopped during the 3rd dynasty, are of Sudanic origin (see below section on Sudanic religion).[5] The Sun god as creation god and the divine law [Maat] connected to the sun god and justifying the rule of the King also show Sudanic influence.

[edit] Cushitic religion

According to. Ehret, the religious beliefs of the proto-Cushites were a mixture of two distinct religious traditions. Probably as early as the seventh millennium BCE, the Cushites in parts of eastern Africa blended their traditional Afro-Asiatic religion with aspects of the religious tradition of their Sudanic neighbours. Specifically, they exchanged their belief in a clan deity with the Sudanic concept of "Divinity", expanding the use of the old Cushitic root for "sky" (waak'a) to also extend to "Divinity". However, they retained their older institution of a clan priest-chief (or *wap'er), with the *wap'er's religious duties now re-directed toward Divinity. The Cushites also retained the old Afrasan practice of ascribing unfortunate occurrences to maleficent spirits, but also sometimes viewed evil as Divine retribution.[6]

[edit] Omotic religion

Among the Omotic peoples of southwestern Ethiopia (whom Ehret and many other linguists consider to be Afrasan-speaking) Afrasan henotheism has been preserved relatively unchanged.[3]

[edit] Nilo-Saharan religious traditions I - Koman religious tradition

[edit] General description

Ehret characterizes Nilo-Saharan proto-religion as follows:

The early Nilo-Saharan communities, it is thought, held to a nontheistic belief system, similar to that known among a few modern-day Nilo-Saharan peoples, such as the Uduk, whose languages belong to the Koman branch of that family. In this religion spiritual power and spiritual danger do not reside in a deity but are expressed by an animating force. In the modern Uduk language, this force is called 'arum'. It is a force, concentrating in their livers, that makes us and animals alive; it is also the source of our anger, our fears, and our affections. Human beings restrain the 'arum' within themselves through their receptive consciousness, called by the Uduk 'kashira', which is understood to reside in the stomachs. In the modern-day Uduk version of this belief system, there also exists disembodied 'arum.' the residue of lives, animal and human, that have been lived in the past. The 'arum' of people properly buried is reconstituted safely in communities underground. But there are also wandering 'arum', the residuum of people lost in the wild and never properly buried, and of animals killed by hunters. This animating force in its disembodied aspect, when not dealt with through ritual and religious observances, can be the source of danger and harm to people. Its effects, in other words, explain the problem of evil.[7]

[edit] Uduk religion

A contemporary example of a religion belonging to the Koman tradition is the religion of the Uduk.

[edit] Koman religion among the Central Luo

In his book "African Religions and Western Scholarship", Okot P'Bitek describes the belief system of the central Luo,[8] extensively cited by Wiredu in.[9] Although the Luo belong to the Sudanic peoples who generally belong to the monotheistic Sudanic religion (see below), the belief system described here is nontheistic and seems to belong to the Koman tradition.

Ehret states in [10] That the ancestors of the Luo, a people called the Jii, migrated into an area previously inhabited by Koman speaking peoples from the late second millennium BCEand gradually assimilated the earlier Koman population. This can be concluded from the linguistic evidence like the presence of many words of Koman origin in the Luo language. Obviously, the Koman people who where assimilated into the Jii society retained their older religion and did not adopt the Sudanic religion of the Jii.
[edit] Nilo-Saharan religious traditions II - Sudanic religious tradition
[edit] General description

According to Ehret, there was a marked change in the religion of one part of Nilo-Saharan peoples to what he calls the Sudanic Religion.

The Northern Sudanians developed religious ideas strikingly different from the nontheistic beliefs we attributed (in chapter 2) to their ancestors in the earlier Middle Nile Tradition. Their Sudanic religion, as we will term it here, was monotheistic. At the core of the belief system was a single Divinity, or God. Divinity was identified metaphorically with the sky, and the power of Divinity was often symolized by lightning. There was no other category of spirits or deities. (...) The sudanic belief viewd evil as a Divine judgment or retribution for the wrong that a person, or a person's forebears, had done in life. The ancestors passed after death into some kind of vaguely conceived afterlife, but they had no functional role in religious observances or rituals.[11]

In part of the Sudanic peoples, a tradition of sacral kingship or chiefship developed in which the position of the king was justified by a divine law given by Divinity. This aspect of the Sudanic religion entailed the sending of servants into the afterlife along with the deceased chief. This aspect of Sudanic civilization had a strong influence on Egypt. The roots of the later Egyptian "divine" kingship lay in this Sudanic innovation.[12]

According to Ehret, the Sudanic religion also began having a strong influence on the original Afrasan religion of the Cushites after the seventh millennium BCE.[6]

[edit] Maasai religion

A contemporary example for a variety of the Sudanic religious tradition is the monotheistic religion of the Maasai.

[edit] Meroitic religion

The religion of ancient Meroe is a variety of the Sudanic religion with some Egyptian influence.[13]

[edit] Niger-Congo religious tradition

[edit] General description

Ehret's analysis of the original Niger-Congo spiritual tradition indicates that it centered around 'spirit' as manifested in various aspects of nature, deities and/or ancestors.[14] This is evident in the following quote:

Niger-Congo religion recognized a series of levels of spirit. At the apex of the system, but of little direct consequence in everyday religion, there was God as a distant figure, who was the First Cause or Creator...A second kind of spirit dwelled within a particular territory and was believed able to influence events there...But the really crucial spirits for religious observance and ritual belonged to a third category. These were the ancestors.[14]

The oldest term for the Niger-Congo creation god that can be reconstructed is "*Nyambe" (cognate with the Akan word Nyame). This can be derived from a verbal root "*-amb-" meaning to begin.[15][16]

Evil in this tradition, Ehret states, originated with "witchcraft" executed upon targeted people by other individuals.[17] Tempels supports Ehret's analysis in his assertions (which are also based upon linguistic analysis) that the unifying ideological characteristic of the Bantu language subgroup of Niger-Congo, is the concept of 'force'. This 'force', he asserts, is identical to 'spirit,' 'being,' and/or 'existence' such that it comprises all human-perceived reality.

An intra-cultural analyzis of the Akan version of the Niger-Congo religion can be found in.[18] Wiredu's analyzis shows that the Niger-Congo religion is monotheistic, a view supported by Ehret.[19] Both the ancestral spirits and the local spirits are part of the created world and do not have the status of gods.

The concept of 'force' or 'spirit' is also iterated by Karade [20] and Doumbia and Doumbia [21] in reference to the Sudanic (i.e. areas west of Cameroon and south of the Sahara) Niger-Congo peoples. Karade holds that, in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria, 'force' is called 'ashe'. He asserts that the task of a Yoruba practitioner is to contemplate and/or ceremonially embody the various deities and/or ancestral energies in ways analogous to how chakras are contemplated in kundalini yoga.[22] In other words, the deities represent energies, attitudes, or potential ways to approach life. The goal is to elevate awareness while either in or contemplating any of these states of mind such that one can transmute negative or wasteful aspects of their energy into conduct and mindsets that serve as wholesome, virtuous examples for oneself and the greater community. Doumbia and Doumbia [21] echo this sentiment for the Mande tradition of Senegal, Mali, and many other regions of westernmost Africa.[23] Here however, the 'force' concept is represented by the term 'nyama' rather than 'ashe'.[21]

Divination also tends to play a major role in the process of transmuting negative or confused feelings/thoughts into more ordered and productive ones.[24][25] Specifically, this process serves as a way to provide frames of reference such that those who are uncertain as to how to begin an undertaking and/or solve a problem can get their bearings and open a dialectic with their highest selves concerning their options on their paths.

[edit] Akan religion

The Akan people of Ghana and Ivory Coast believe in a supreme god who takes on various names depending upon the region of worship. Akan mythology claims that at one time the god interacted with man, but that after being continually struck by the pestle of an old woman pounding fufu,a traditional Ghanaian food, he moved far up into the sky. There are no priests that serve him directly, and people believe that they may make direct contact with him. There are also numerous spirits(abosom), who receive their power from the supreme god and are most often connected to the world as it appears in its natural state. These include ocean and riverine spirits and various local deities. Priests serve individual spirits and act as mediators between the gods and mankind. Nearly everyone participates in daily prayer, which includes the pouring of libations as an offering to both the ancestors who are buried in the land and to the spirits who are everywhere. The earth is seen as a female deity and is directly connected to fertility and fecundity. The religion of the Akan, as described by Wiredu, is an example for a contemporary manifestation of the Niger-Congo religion.

[edit] Orisha religion

The exception from the general monotheism of the Niger-Congo religion is the development, among the Yoruba, of a religion that may be viewed as polytheism. Here, a further layer, called the Orisha has been inserted between the creator god and the local spirits[26] (see Yoruba religion).

[edit] Odinani
Main article: Odinani

Odinani encompasses the traditional religious and spiritual concepts and practices of the Igbo. It is a panentheistic faith. In Odinani, there is one supreme God called Chukwu (Igbo: Great spirit) who was before all things and heads over smaller deities called Alusi. There are different Alusi for different purposes, the most important of them is Ala the earth goddess. A traditional herbalist/priest among the Igbo is called Dibia.[27]

[edit] Niger-Congo ceremonies

Niger-Congo religious practices generally manifest themselves in communal ceremonies and/or divinatory rites in which members of the community, overcome by 'force' (or 'ashe', 'nyama', etc.), are excited to the point of going into meditative trance in response to rhythmic/mantric drumming and/or singing. In this state, depending upon the types of drumming or instrumental rhythms played by respected musicians (each of which is unique to a given deity/ancestor), participants embody a deity/ancestor, energy and/or state of mind by performing distinct ritual movements/dances that further enhance their elevated consciousness, or, in Eastern terms, excite the kundalini to a specific level of awareness and/or circulate chi in a specific way within the body.[22] When this trance-like state is witnessed and understood, culturally educated observers are privy to a way of contemplating the pure/symbolic embodiment of a particular mindset or frame of reference. This builds skills at separating the feelings elicited by this mindset from their situational manifestations in daily life. Such separation and subsequent contemplation of the nature and sources of pure energy/feelings serves to help participants manage and accept them when they arise in mundane contexts. This facilitates better control and transformation of these energies into positive, culturally appropriate behavior, thought, and speech. Further, this practice can also give rise to those in these trances uttering words that, when interpreted by a culturally educated initiate/diviner, can provide insight into appropriate directions that the community (or individual) might take in accomplishing its goals.

[edit] Khoisan religious tradition

[edit] General description

In reference to Khoisan spirituality, Ehret asserts that:

The Khoisan, like the earliest Nilo-Saharans, adhered to a nontheistic religious outlook. Their beliefs recognized the existence of an impersonal condition of spirit, a force that existed outside human beings as well as in some animals. In the thought of the particular Khoisan peoples who have lived in southern Africa since 5,000 BCE, this force could be tapped by means of the trance-dance and used to heal sickness and to relieve social and individual stress and conflict. In this procedure, a person recognized for special religious talents, a kind of shaman whom we may call a trance-healer, dances until he or she goes into a state of trance, which might last for many hours. The trance healers were not full-time specialists... If no trance dance was being performed, and that means the great majority of the time, the healer held no special position and engaged in the usual pursuits like anyone else.[28]

[edit] Typological classification

Of the five religious traditions of Africa, two (Koman and Khoisan) are nontheistic.

One of the traditions (Afrasan) is henotheistic, which means that people worship only one (clan) deity although they don't deny the existence of other deities belonging to other clans.

Two of the religious traditions (Sudanic and Niger-Congo) are monotheistic. The sudanic religion spread to the Cushites and was there mixed with concepts from the Afrasan religion, leading to another monotheistic religion. Outside Africa, the Afrasan tradition among Semitic peoples lead to the development of another monotheistic religion, Judaism.[citation needed], as is sometimes stated, the oldest monotheistic religion since it is several thousand years younger than both the Niger-Congo and the Sudanic religion[citation needed]. In fact, the Sudanic religion is ancestral to the Egyptian religion from which the Aton religion was developed[citation needed]. A Sudanic (especially Nubian) influence on Akhenaten is possible but speculative.[29]

Polytheism has developed twice independently and in very different ways. In the case of ancient Egypt, it developed by merging the henotheistic clan gods of several Afrasan clans, together with the Sudanic creator god, into a pantheon. The other case is the Orisha religion where some ancestral spirits and some local spirits where elevated to a god like status.

The term "Animism" originally developed to describe African religions and still used a lot in official statistics and by journalists, does not fit any of them.

[edit] Classification and statistics (as of 2007) lists "African Traditional & Diasporic" as a "major religious group", estimating some 100 million adherents. They justify this combined listing of traditional African and African diasporic religions, and the separation from the generic "primal-indigenous" category by pointing out that

the "primal-indigenous" religions are primarily tribal and composed of pre-colonization peoples. While there is certainly overlap between this category and non-African primal-indigenous religious adherents, there are reasons for separating the two, best illustrated by focusing specifically on Yoruba, which is probably the largest African traditional religious/tribal complex. Yoruba was the religion of the vast Yoruba nation states which existed before European colonialism and its practitioners today; certainly those in the Caribbean, South America and the U.S.; are integrated into a technological, industrial society, yet still proclaim affiliation to this African-based religious system. Cohesive rituals, beliefs and organization were spread throughout the world of Yoruba (and other major African religious/tribal groups such as Fon), to an extent characteristic of nations and many organized religions, not simply tribes. (Major Religions Ranked by Size)

Practitioners of traditional religions in sub-Saharan Africa are distributed among 43 countries, and are estimated to number about 70 million, or 12% of African population, while the largest religions in Africa are Christianity and Islam, accounting for 45% and 40%, respectively. As everywhere, adherence to an organized religion does not preclude a residue of folk religion in which traditions predating Christianization or Islamisation survive.

[edit] Deities
Main article: African deities

Monotheism and henotheism are widespread among the African traditional religions,[citation needed] as is polytheism. Many indigenous African societies worship a single God (Chukwu, Nyame, Olodumare, Ngai etc.), and some recognize a dual or complementary twin God such as Mawu-Lisa. This they do by paying obeisance to the God through lesser deities (Ogoun, Da, Agwu, Esu, Mbari, etc.). Some societies also deify entities like the earth, the sun, the sea, lightning, or Nature. Each deity has its own priest or priestess.[citation needed] The Ndebele and Shona ethnic groups of Zimbabwe have a trinity - a fundamental family group - made up of God the Father, God the Mother, and God the Son. Among the Fon of West Africa and Benin, God, who is called "Vondu", is androgynous, with both male and female traits.

The Ewe people of southern Ghana have a conception of the high God as a female-male partnership. Mawu who is female is often spoken of as gentle and forgiving. Lisa who is male renders judgment and punishes. Among the Ewe it is believed that when Lisa punishes, Mawu may grant forgiveness. Here we see the complementarity or "supplementarity" (Derrida's term) of male and female that characterizes many of the traditional African religions.

The only example in Africa of a female high Goddess is among the Southern Nuba of Sudan, whose culture has matriarchal traits. The Nuba conceive of the creator Goddess as the "Great Mother" who gave birth to earth and to mankind. (Mbiti, J.S., Introduction to African Religion, Oxford, 1975, p. 53.)

[edit] Practices and rituals
This section may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. More details may be available on the talk page. (March 2008)

Usually, all African traditional religions are considered to be similar by Western people, and are often described as not unlike traditional (pre-Vedic, Vedic, and pre-Abrahamic) religions in most cultures (e.g., Indian, Greek, etc.). Often, God is worshiped through consultation or communion with lesser deities and ancestral spirits. The deities and spirits are honored through libation, sacrifice (of animals, vegetables, or precious metals) and, in some cases, trokosi. The will of God is sought by the believer also through consultation of oracular deities, or divination. In many African traditional religions, there is a belief in a cyclical nature of reality. The living stand between their ancestors and the unborn. Like various other traditional religions, African traditional religions embrace natural phenomena - ebb and tide, waxing and waning moon, rain and drought - and the rhythmic pattern of agriculture. These religions are also not static, not even within their consciousness of natural rhythms. They incorporate the ever-changing actual experience. For example, Sango, the Yoruba god of lightning, assumes responsibility for modern electrical processes. However, in truth, the commonalities of African religions are as follows:

* Belief in a Supreme Being, or Creator, which is referred to by a myriad of names in various languages
* No written scripture (holy texts are oral)
* Correspondence with the higher being in times of great need (i.e. natural calamities, unexplained deaths)
* Having a devout connection with their ancestors

[edit] Divination
Further information: Divination

One of the most traditional methods of telling fortunes in Africa is called casting (or throwing) the bones. Because Africa is a large continent with many tribes and cultures, there is not one single technique. Not all of the "bones" are actually bones, small objects may include cowrie shells, stones, strips of leather, or flat pieces of wood. In general, most casting or throwing methods are performed on the ground (often within a circle) and they fall into one of two categories:

* Casting marked bones, flat pieces of wood, shells, or leather strips and numerically counting up how they fall—either according to their markings or whether they do or do not touch one another—with mathematically-based readings delivered as memorized results based on the chosen criteria.

* Casting a special set of symbolic bones or an array of selected symbolic articles—as, for instance, using a bird's wing bone to symbolize travel, a round stone to symbolize a pregnant womb, and a bird foot to symbolize feeling.

In African society, many people seek out diviners on a regular basis. There are no prohibitions against the practice. Those who tell fortunes for a living are also sought out for their wisdom as counselors and for their knowledge of herbal medicine.

[edit] Duality of self and gods

Most indigenous African religions have a dualistic concept of the person. In the Igbo language, a person is said to be composed of a body and a soul. In the Yoruba language, however, there seems to be a tripartite concept: in addition to body and soul, there is said to exist a "spirit" or an ori, an independent entity that mediates or otherwise interacts between the body and the soul.

Some religious systems have a specific devil-like figure (for example, Ekwensu) who is believed to be the opposite of god.

[edit] Virtue and vice

Virtue in African traditional religion is often connected with the communal aspect of life. Examples include social behaviors such as the respect for parents and elders, appropriately raising children, providing hospitality, and being honest, trustworthy and courageous.

In some ATRs, morality is associated with obedience or disobedience to God regarding the way a person or a community lives. For the Kikuyu, according to Mbiti, God, acting through the lesser deities, is believed to speak to and be capable of guiding the virtuous person as one's "conscience." But so could the Devil and the messengers. In indigenous African religions, such as the Azande religion, a person is said to have a good or bad conscience depending on whether he does the bidding of the God or the Devil.

[edit] Religious offices

African indigenous religions, like most indigenous religions, do not have a named and known founder, nor a sacred scripture. Often, such religions are oral traditions.

[edit] Priest

In some societies, there are intermediaries between individuals or whole communities and specific deities. Variously called Dibia, Babalawo, etc., the priest usually presides at the altar of a particular deity.

[edit] Healer

Practice of medicine is an important part of indigenous religion. Priests are reputed to have professional knowledge of illness (pathology), surgery, and pharmacology (roots, barks, leaves and herbs). Some of them are also reputed to diagnose and treat mental and psychological problems.

The role of a traditional healer is broader in some respects than that of a contemporary medical doctor. The healer advises in all aspects of life, including physical, psychological, spiritual, moral, and legal matters. He also understands the significance of ancestral spirits and the reality of witches.

[edit] Rainmaker

They are believed to be capable of bringing about or stopping rain, by manipulating the environment meteorologically (e.g., by burning particular kinds of woods or otherwise attempting to influence movement of clouds).

[edit] Holy places and headquarters of religious activities

While there are human made places (altars, shrines, temples, tombs), very often sacred space is located in nature (trees, groves, rocks, hills, mountains, caves, etc.).

These are some of the important centers of religious life: Nri-Igbo, Ile-Ife, Oyo, Dahomey, Benin City, Ouidah, Nsukka, Akan, Kanem-Bornu, Mali, and Igbo-Ukwu.

[edit] Liturgy and rituals

Rituals often occur according to the life cycle of the year. There are herding and hunting rituals as well as those marking the rhythm of agriculture and of human life. There are craft rituals, such as in smithing. There are rituals on building new homes, on the assumption of leadership, etc.

[edit] Individuality

Each deity has an its own rituals, including choice objects of sacrifice; preference for male or female priest-officer; time of day, week, month, or year to make required sacrifice; or specific costumes for priest and supplicant on ritual occasions.

[edit] Patronage

Some deities are perpetual patrons of specific trades and guilds. For example, in Haitian Vodou, Ogoun (Ogun among the Yorubas of Nigeria), the deity of metal, is patron of all professions that use metals as primary material of craft.

[edit] Libation

The living often honor ancestors by pouring a libation (paying homage), and thus giving them the first "taste" of a drink before the living consume it.

[edit] Magic, witchcraft, and sorcery

These are important, different but related, parts of beliefs about interactions between the natural and the supernatural, seen and unseen, worlds. Magicians, witches, shamans and sorcerers are said to have the skills to bring about or manipulate the relations between the two worlds. Abuse of this ability is widely condemned. Magic, witchcraft, and sorcery are parts of many indigenous religions.

[edit] Secret societies

They are important part of indigenous religion. Among traditional secret societies are hunting societies whose members are taught not only the physical methods, but also respect for the spiritual aspect of the hunt and use of honorable magical means to obtain important co-operation from the animal hunted.

Members are supposed to have been initiated into, and thus have access to, occultic powers hidden to non-members. Well known secret societies are Egbo, Nsibidi, Ngbe, Mau Mau, Ogboni, Sangbeto, etc.

[edit] Possession

Some spirits and deities are believed to "mount" some of their priests during special rituals. The possessed goes into a trance-like state, sometimes accompanied by speaking in "tongues" (i.e., uttering messages from the spirit that need to be interpreted to the audience). Possession is usually induced by drumming and dancing.

[edit] Mythology

Many indigenous religions, like most religions, have elaborate stories that explain how the world was created, how culture and civilization came about, or what happens when a person dies, (e.g. Kalunga Line). Other mythologies are meant to explain or enforce social conventions on issues relating to age, gender, class, or religious rituals. Myths are popular methods of education: they communicate religious knowledge and morality while amusing or frightening those who hear or read them. Examples of religions with elaborate mythologies include the native religion of the Yoruba people, see Yoruba mythology.

[edit] Traditions by region

North Africa

* Berber mythology
* Egyptian mythology (Pre-Christian)

West Africa

* Akan mythology (Ghana)
* Ashanti mythology (Ghana)
* Dahomey (Fon) mythology
* Efik mythology (Nigeria, Cameroon)
* Odinani of the Igbo people (Nigeria, Cameroon)
* Isoko mythology (Nigeria)
* Yoruba mythology (Nigeria, Benin)

Central Africa

* Bushongo mythology (Congo)
* Bambuti (Pygmy) mythology (Congo)
* Lugbara mythology (Congo)

East Africa

* Akamba mythology (East Kenya)
* Dinka mythology (Sudan)
* Lotuko mythology (Sudan)
* Masai mythology (Kenya, Tanzania)

Southern Africa

* Khoikhoi mythology
* Lozi mythology (Zambia)
* Tumbuka mythology (Malawi)
* Zulu mythology (South Africa)

[edit] Notes

1. ^ Princetonline, Early History of Africa
2. ^ a b Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, University Press of Virginia. 2002.
3. ^ a b c d Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 41. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
4. ^ a b c Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 40. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
5. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 92-94. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
6. ^ a b Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 79. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
7. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 43. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
8. ^ P’Bitek, Okot. African Religions and Western Scholarship, Kampala: East African Literature Bureau, 1970.
9. ^ Wiredu, Kwasi: Toward Decolonizing African Philosophy And Religion In: African Studies Quarterly, The Online Journal for African Studies, Volume 1, Issue 4, 1998]
10. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 220. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
11. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 66. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
12. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, pages 92-94. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
13. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 207. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
14. ^ a b Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 50. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
15. ^ Ehret, Christopher, A Conversation with Christopher Ehret. World History Connected 2.1 (2004): 41 pars. 29 Nov. 2009 [1].
16. ^ Ehret, Christopher, An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 B.C. to A.D. 400, page 159, University of Virginia Press, ISBN 0-8139-2057-4
17. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 50-51. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
18. ^ Wiredu, Kwasi: Toward Decolonizing African Philosophy And Religion In: African Studies Quarterly, The Online Journal for African Studies, Volume 1, Issue 4, 1998][
19. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 15. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
20. ^ Karade, B. The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts, page 21. Samuel Weiser Inc, 1994
21. ^ a b c Doumbia, A & Doumbia, N The Way of the Elders: West African Spirituality & Tradition, pages 5-6. Llewellyn Publications, 2004
22. ^ a b Karade, B. The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts, pages 39-46. Samuel Weiser Inc, 1994
23. ^ Doumbia, A & Doumbia, N The Way of the Elders: West African Spirituality & Tradition, pages xv. Llewellyn Publications, 2004
24. ^ Doumbia, A & Doumbia, N The Way of the Elders: West African Spirituality & Tradition, page 26-27. Llewellyn Publications, 2004
25. ^ Karade, B. The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts, page 81. Samuel Weiser Inc, 1994
26. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 317. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
27. ^ Fighting for honor: the history of African martial art traditions in the Atlantic world. Univ of South Carolina Press. 2008. p. 58. ISBN 1-570-03718-3.
28. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 54. University Press of Virginia. 2002.
29. ^ Ehret, C. The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, page 149. University Press of Virginia. 2002.

[edit] References

* Information presented here was gleaned from World Eras Encyclopaedia, Volume 10, edited by Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure (New York: Thomson-Gale, 2003), in particular pp. 275–314.

* Baldick, J (1997) Black God: The Afroasiatic Roots of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Religions New York: Syracuse University Press.

* Doumbia, A. & Doumbia, N (2004) The Way of the Elders: West African Spirituality & Tradition. Saint Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
* Ehret, Christopher, (2002) The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
* Ehret, Christopher, (2002) A Conversation with Christopher Ehret. World History Connected 2.1 (2004): 41 pars. 29 Nov. 2009.

* Ehret, Christopher, An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 B.C. to A.D. 400, page 159, University of Virginia Press, ISBN 0-8139-2057-4

* Karade, B (1994) The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts. York Beach, MA: Samuel Weiser Inc.

* P’Bitek, Okot. African Religions and Western Scholarship, Kampala: East African Literature Bureau, 1970.

* Princetonline, Early History of Africa.
* Wiredu, Kwasi Toward Decolonizing African Philosophy And Religion In: African Studies Quarterly, The Online Journal for African Studies, Volume 1, Issue 4, 1998

[edit] External links

* Theology in Africa: ATR Specialized articles on African Traditional Religion
* Afrika A website with extensive links and information about traditional African religions
* Asomdwee Fie, Shrine of the Abosom and Nsamanafo A Traditional Akan Spiritual Shrine
* Baba Baba'Awo Awoyinfa Ifaloju, showcasing Ifa using web media 2.0 (blogs, podcasting, video & photocasting)
* Oyotunji Village
* Roots and Rooted For those that love traditional African Religion

[edit] Further reading

* Julian Baldick (1997). Black God: the Afroasiatic roots of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions. Syracuse University Press:ISBN 0-8156-0522-6
* John Mbiti African Religions and Philosophy (1969) African Writers Series, Heinemann ISBN 0-435-89591-5
* Wade Abimbola, ed. and trans. Ifa Divination Poetry (New York: NOK, 1977).
* Ulli Beier, ed. The Origins of Life and Death: African Creation Myths (London: Heinemann, 1966).
* Herbert Cole, Mbari: Art and Life among the Owerri Igbo (Bloomington: Indiana University press, 1982).
* J. B. Danquah, The Akan Doctrine of God: A Fragment of Gold Coast Ethics and Religion, second edition (London: Cass, 1968).
* Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dietterlen, Le Mythe Cosmogonique (Paris: Institut d'Ethnologie, 1965).
* Rems Nna Umeasigbu, The Way We Lived: Ibo Customs and Stories (London: Heinemann, 1969).
* Sandra Barnes, Africa's Ogun: Old World and New (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989).
* Segun Gbadagesin, African Philosophy: Traditional Yoruba Philosophy and Contemporary African Realities (New York: Peter Lang, 1999).
* Judith Gleason, Oya, in Praise of an African Goddess (Harper Collins, 1992).
* Bolaji Idowu, God in Yoruba Belief (Plainview: Original Publications, rev. and enlarged ed., 1995)
* Wole Soyinka, Myth, Literature and the African World (Cambridge University Press, 1976).
* S. Solagbade Popoola, Ikunle Abiyamo: It is on Bent Knees that I gave Birth (2007 Asefin Media Publication)
* David Chidester, "Religions of South Africa" pp. 17–19
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