(3rd ed. A cow, sheep or chicken is slaughtered and the ancestors are called to receive the offering and bless the gathering. 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. A. C. Bouquet, for example, seemed to be expressing the Western mind when he said, “Such a High God hardly differs from the Supreme Being of the 18th century Deists and it is absurd to equate him with the Deity of the Lord’s Prayer”.. This is the same word as the French fetiche. Beliefs about witches are, of course, not directly observable, but they may have overt consequences in everyda… Traditional African religion is very popular and arrived here with our North and West African ancestors.  See John Oman, The Natural and the Supernatural, C.U.P., 1931, p.485. The four elements of African Traditional religion are: Origin myth: The African traditional religion has several origin myths which depic view the full answer Previous question Next question COMPANY This is part of democracy. The continent of Africa has been home to hundreds of indigenous tribes speaking a wide variety of languages and believing a wide variety of different spiritual ideas. Linguists claim that the word is of Portuguese origin. There are spiritual leaders, kinds of priests or pastors in most traditional African religions. In traditional African religion the community is the most important part of someone's life. Source: Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. The Ewe-speaking people speak of Him as Nana Buluku (Ancient of Days), and this suggests His eternity. The people follow many spiritual traditions and religious faiths. Through modern changes, the traditional religion cannot remain intact but it is by no means extinct. It is found in most religions. But the monotheism may need some modification; hence Professor Bolaji Idowu has suggested diffused monotheism because “here we have a monotheism in which there exist other powers which derive from Deity such being and authority that they can be treated, for practical purposes, almost as ends in themselves”. 2 E. B. Idowu, African Traditional Religion, S.C.M., 1973, p.87. Please enter description and then submit. African Traditional Religion cannot easily be studied by non-Africans. Its study has to go hand-in-hand with the study of the people who practise the religion. For example, the Iroko tree is not an ordinary tree; it is believed to be inhabited by a spirit; the Oshun River (in Western Nigeria) is believed to be more than an ordinary river because the spirit (Oshun) dwells in it and this makes the river efficacious in many respects, especially during barrenness. This is a holistic or an organic view of the world, which is governed by the law... 2. Among the missionaries could be mentioned T. B. Freeman, T. J. Bowen, R. H. Stone and N. Baudin,and of the explorers, R. F. Burton and T. J. When Ludwig got to know that Edwin Smith was in Africa as a missionary he was surprised; and in his surprise he asked, “How can the untutored Africans comprehend God ? 3 Leo Frobenius, The Voice of Africa, Vol. This is ludicrous. Origins of major world religions reflected in SA. This is an intellectual attitude complete with racial pride and prejudice. They cherish their tradition; they worship with sincerity because their worship is quite meaningful to them; they hold tenaciously to their covenant that binds them together.  Noel Baudin, Fetishism and Fetish Worshippers, New York, 1885. Africans are not so low in intelligence as to be incapable of distinguishing between an emblem or symbol of worship and a doll or toy. The declared adherents of the indigenous religion are very conservative, resisting the influence of modernism heralded by the colonial era, including the introduction of Islam, Christianity, Western education and improved medical facilities. London: Sheldon Press, 1974) ISBN 0-85969-014-8; Parinder, E. Geoffrey. How can divinities, however minor, be described as toys? By meaning and connotation, this name signifies that the Supreme Being is unique, that His majesty is superlative, that He is unchanging and ever reliable. To fathom these changes, both instructors and students in comparative religion and theology must fully understand African Traditional Religion to comprehend the new forms of Christianity that emphasize prophecy, healing, well-being, and wealth. Christianity and Islam make up the largest religions in contemporary Africa, and some sources say that less than 15% still follow traditional African religions. South Africa is a country of many cultures and many religions -indeed, a country of pluralities. (Turner 1994a:129). Ancestor worship and belief is an extension of a belief in and respect for elders. The Arabs crossed into North Africa in the 7th century AD.  E. G. Parrinder, African Traditional Religion, p.24. Anthropologists and sociologists like to justify their use of the word on the ground that the culture is adjudged to be that which is original in the history of the human race. Traditional African religions also have elements of fetishism, shamanism and veneration of relics. It is not the religion of one hero. Its application to African deities has been perpetuated by English writers. Several of them did their investigations as best as they could among the peoples whose languages most of them did not understand. For example, among the Yoruba, He is called Olodumare. Like Eastern belief systems, the Dagara see the universe and life as circular rather than linear. Traditional African art is striking in its presentation and objectives. These objects are symbolic. Traditional African Religion What is traditional African religion? The noticeable fault among the missionaries was that they were particularly subjective, and they could not see anything good in African Traditional Religion. Here we see that Bouquet is propounding a theory of many Supreme Beings in order to place the African God at a lower level than the Deity that he (Bouquet) met in Jesus Christ. The various divinities that are represented are in fact technically representatives or servants of the Supreme Being. African Traditional Religion is a thriving scholarly business, but a serious disconnect exists between contributions that celebrate a generalized African Traditional Religion and those that describe particular religions and aspects of religion on the basis of ethnographic and archival research. This basic tenet has led Africans to attribute to persons designated by terms we might translate as "witches" or "sorcerers" characteristics that resemble those of their counterparts elsewhere.  C. Bouquet, Man and Deity, Heffer, Cambridge, 1933, p.106. Many writers used the word indiscriminately. It is a religion that is practised by living men and women. By the 19th century the Arabs moved to East and Central Africa. We should also add that there is an element of savagery in every one of us and it should not be made the exclusive trait of a particular people. Even Christianity sees “God as Spirit, and they that worship are to worship in spirit and truth”. Religious resources are contained in the four main elements of which religions consist. The purpose of this is to help to orient a person who would like to work in the context of Africa. Check Out These 5 Essential Elements of the Unique African Art. But they were proved wrong. For example, P. A. Talbot in his Life in Southern Nigera devoted three chapters to Juju among the Ibibio people and discussed the various divinities among them. One might also give credit to Farrow and Frobenius who did thorough research among the Yoruba of South West Nigeria. 2 Peoples and religions of South Africa.  E. B. Idowu, African Traditional Religion, p.106f. It is often combined with elements of Christianity and Islam. Africa Traditional Religious System as Basis of Understanding Christian Spiritual Warfare 1. Although traditional African religion recognises a Supreme God, followers do not worship him or her directly as they do not feel worthy enough. Farrow. RELIGION is a fundamental, perhaps the most important, influence in the life of most Africans; yet its essential principles are too often unknown to foreigners who thus make themselves constantly liable to misunderstand the African worldview and beliefs. Many of these gods are the expression of the forces of nature, which men fear or try to propitiate: These gods generally have their own temples and priests, and their worshippers cannot justly be called animists, but polytheists, since they worship a variety of gods.”. During the 17th century, European settlers came near the Cape of Good Hope. They undergo strict training and learn many skills, including how to use herbs for healing and other, more mystical skills, like the finding of a hidden object without knowing where it is. Leo Frobenius refutes the statement made in the journal that he read in Berlin in 1891 (cited above) and said: In addition to these eminent men who have attempted a systematic study of African religion should be mentioned the most recent ones like S. F. Nagel who did pioneering work on the Nupe Religion and E. G. Parrinder who has produced several works on African Traditional Religion.. But, thank God, there came on the scene a number of investigators who were interested in finding out the truth about religion in Africa. This is why it is not appropriate to describe the religion as polytheistic. The origin of the divinities can be traced; the divinities can be represented; they are limited in their power; they came into being by the power of the Supreme Being who is unique, wholly other and faultless and who owes His existence to no one. This word means indigenous, that which is aboriginal or foundational, handed down from generation to generation, upheld and practised by Africans today. Followers believe in the guidance of their ancestors spirits. Even here, we should remark that not all of them took the trouble to make thorough investigationssome of them did their research part-time, e.g. They started coining expressions like “a high god”, or “a Supreme God”. It has no founders or reformers like Gautama the Buddha, Asoka, Christ, or Muhammad. There is that noticeable “Africanness” in the whole pattern. Before we had foreign investigators to give the world an idea of what the religious beliefs of the Africans looked like, there were theorists who have never been in Africa but who regarded it as the “Dark Continent” where people had no idea of God and where the Devil in all his abysmal, grotesque and forbidden features, armed to the teeth and with horns complete, held sway. From our own study of the African Traditional Religion, we find there are unmistakably elements of animism. 3 And similar to this was the dialogue that took place between Edwin Smith, who had gone out as a missionary to Africa, and Emil Ludwig, an eminent biographer. According to the Yoruba, 401 orisha “line the road to heaven,” and diviners identify among them the personal orisha to which an individual should appeal for guidance, protection, and blessing. Lightning and thunder are manifestations of the thunder god. Most of the "traditional" groups of people living in South Africa arrived here from West and Central Africa about 1 500 years ago. However, the adherents are loyal worshippers and, probably because of this, Africans who have their roots in the indigenous religion, find it difficult to sever connection with it. differs in African countries was mentioned. But when the meaning is stretched further it means one who is neither a Christian, a Jew nor a Muslim. Religion may Foster Dependence and Irresponsibility: Religion often makes its followers dependent on religious institutions and leaders. ISBN 0-85969-096-2; Ray, Benjamin C. African Religions: Symbol, Ritual, and Community (2nd ed. But in spite of all these differences, there are many basic similarities in the religious systemseverywhere there is the concept of God (called by different names); there is also the concept of divinities and/or spirits as well as beliefs in the ancestral cult. Meditation is one of the most powerful ways to develop your African spirituality!  R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, 1923, pp.24ff. This is a heritage from the past, but treated not as a thing of the past but as that which connects the past with the present and the present with eternity. What has this to do with religion? One certainly cannot speak of "African religion" as if it was a single, coherent set of beliefs. (Winter, 1975). A believer's family still has influence over him or her even if they live far away. The versions of these religions as they developed in the New World became known as African Diaspora religions. www.studiesincomparativereligion.com. Even when interpreters were used, one could not be sure that the interpretation would be accurate. Thousands of African people are converted to Christianity every day and in Nigeria about 20 new religious sects or groups come into being every month. 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