These oldest religions of the world,have had their history and traditions handed down orally and preserved in the culture and religious artifacts of the African people. African Traditional Religion: An Examination of Terminologies Used for Describing the Indigenous Faith of African People, Using an Afrocentric Paradigm We do not encourage or share biased information and hate speech to our viewers. Sacrifice – Many ancient African religions offered their gods or spirits some kind of sacrifice. Rituals generally appeal for help and help to the spirits of the ancestors or nature. There is also a Hadith [4] saying of the Holy Prophet (sa)] recording a conversation in which Prophet  Muhammad (sa) when asked how many Prophets had been sent to mankind, answered that there were 124,000! Why Religion Shouldn’t Be Pushed Aside at Work, Imagining the Divine – Art & the Rise of World Religions, Dear Muslim Ummah! About 10 per cent of the African population is still practicing some form of traditional religion today. There must have been many Messengers that we are not aware of, but whose legacy would be imprinted in the changes in behaviour and culture resulting from their teachings. There are also codes of ethics and morals that are entrenched in these rural communities. Britannica 2020). Although Africa is represented as countries through the political and colonial influences of the last century, in fact there are many more distinct tribes in Africa, many stretching across multiple country boundaries. This Yoruba proverb from Nigeria illustrates the Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated yourself: ‘One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.’, (Yoruba Proverb, Nigeria). In Africa, especially with traditional rural culture, the concept of respect for elders is very strong. In this song, there are similarities to the Day of Judgement of the Abrahamic faiths. Please note that we do not encourage or share biased information and hate speech to our viewers. This sacrifice ranged from small items, such as food or drink, to much larger objects such as livestock or even human sacrifice. In that sense, perhaps these ancestors include the very Prophets of Africa that we are seeking. There are similar accounts hidden away in African culture, such as this song from Benin: ‘At the gates of the land of the dead you will pass before a searching Judge. The Egyptians of north Africa had a clear concept of a day of judgement and life after death as described in their ‘Book of the Dead’. Ancestors are also worshipped for this purpose, and are believed to provide a link to their living relatives. Sometimes tribes refer to lots of deities especially from an animist perspective, but they almost always recognise a High God or Creator. But before those two religions arrived, there were several traditional religions practiced. They believe different things about life after we die on earth, they believe that different things are and are not God, and they believe different types of people are and are not prophets and priests. We also aim at promoting tourism across the African continent. Contact Us Because religion is a way of life, it relates to culture and society as they affect the worldview of … Ancient African Traditional Religions Before Christianity and Islamic. Similarly, when visiting a village, there is normally a set of customs to first seek permission from the village chief and declaring your mission before being allowed to engage with other members of the village. Those taught to show love and turn the other cheek are sometimes found waging wars, yet their religion teaches the opposite. "African Religions and Philosophy" is a systematic study of the attitudes of mind and belief that have evolved in the many societies of Africa. Since it is a religion practised by living persons today, changes are to be expected. For the continent of Africa, were those people devoid of religion until the Abrahamic faiths came to the continent in the last two millennia, or were they also the beneficiaries of revelation which would have impacted their cultures and behaviours? Instead, myths are embedded and transmitted in ritual practice. The ironworkers were the finest of the craftsmen. Travelling around Africa, it is clear that people are comfortable with a social order that has been in place since antiquity. This deity may be prayed for help in some religions but in others the ultimate deity does not communicate with human beings. They are as numerous as the ethnic groups that are present on the continent of Africa, and so therefore there’s no single creed or orthodoxy that can easily summarize the belief systems of African religions. ‘If your parents take care of you up to the time you cut your teeth, you take care of them when they lose theirs’, Akan proverb (Ghana). The tribes across Africa have various names for the High God such as Maa for the Bambara, Irke for the Songhey or Amma for the Dogun (Velton, p.31). African Traditional Religion is now widely taught in African universities, but its identity remains essentially negative: African belief that is not Christianity or Islam. It is not easy to date how far back these religious systems go, but as an example, the Bantu people of Central Africa are believed to have emerged from Cameroon and Nigeria around 1000 BCE and then spread in the region. Priests (sometimes known as witchdoctors) may cast spells or offer charms to help people with their diseases or other issues. African Traditional Religion is associated with fatalism, rooted in animism and ancestor veneration. So normally we refer to African Traditional Religions in the plural, and it’s simply summarized or written in notation form as “ATR” – African Traditional Religion. Traditional African Religion and Culture. But before those two religions arrived, there were several traditional religions practiced. And in the 2nd century, a new religion became popular in Egypt, as well as in Ethiopia and Eritrea. So when their Messenger comes, it is judged between them with equity, and they are not wronged.’ [1], ‘And We did raise among every people a Messenger, preaching: “Worship Allah and shun the Evil One”. Noté /5. Traditional African religion has common themes such as a Creator or High God, positive ancestor influences as well as tricksters, and an afterlife with spirit worlds. Having established that a more powerful Creator sits above us and sees everything that we do, there is also a recognition that the Creator is also our benefactor, planning and providing for us: ‘As you plan for somebody, so God plans for you’, Igbo Proverb, (Nigeria). Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural, include belief in a supreme creator, belief in spirits, veneration of the dead, use of magic, and traditional medicine. But before those two religions arrived, there were several traditional religions practiced. When we speak of African Traditional Religion, we mean the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Africans. But it is also noticeable that the major world religions all seem to originate from the Middle East and South East Asia. Retrouvez African Traditional Religions: In Contemporary Society et des millions de livres en stock sur Amazon.fr. African Traditional Religions are sets of diverse beliefs that are followed by people in separate places. At the end of the examination by the Judge, if the person has no stains, they are joyous just as someone would be if they are destined for heaven. African religions emphasize maintaining a harmonious relationship with the divine powers, and their rituals attempt to harness cosmic powers and channel them for good. There is also a common theme of the High God having created the world, and then withdrawn to allow humans to work and flourish, but also to suffer illness and misfortune. In Africa, the term ancestors does not cover all predecessors, but only those of high rank and achievement, who act as mediators to access divine guidance and favour. Whether you be in your home, whether you be on the water, whether you rest in the shade of a tree in the open, here is your Master.’. Today, Christianity and Islam are religions practiced by the majority of people living in Africa. Trained in the new method of \"fieldwork\"—which entailed observing participants and speaking the language of the community—these anthropologists worked for their governments. If the Judge finds no stains on your feet, open your belly to joy, for you have overcome and your belly is clean’. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Ironworks would keep the magic and power of your craft secret of how they forged iron in your party. For example, the song mentions that the Judge will see all stains whether visible or hidden; similar to the notion that God can see all of your actions and your intentions. Traditional/Indigenous African religions are the traditional beliefs and practices of African people including the various traditional religions and customs. History of African traditional religion Christianity came to Africa from the outside, it happened, as the legend says, in 42, then the Orthodox Coptic Church was formed by the Apostle Mark. Elect One Leader…If You Can…, Friday Sermon Summary 25th December 2020: ‘Rightly Guided Caliphs – Hazrat Ali (ra)’, The Origins of Vaccines – A Full Circle Story of Muslim Contributions, Launch of German Edition of The Review of Religions, A Historic Achievement: New Qur’anic Font Under the Guidance of Khilafat, Acceptance of Prayer – Success Comes from God, Unravelling the Truth About Eve: Her Position in History According to Islam, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International. These proverbs show an understanding of a superior Creator who is also on a different physical plane to mankind, often depicted as being in the heavens. The main difference is that the revelations were never written down, and have therefore evolved through verbal transmission from generation to generation. About 10 per cent of the African population is still practicing some form of traditional religion today. It deals with their cosmology, ritual practices, symbols, arts, society, and so on. This is not just seen with parents who are treated with respect and kindness, but also with teachers who are shown the utmost respect. Their studies avoided describing African cultures in indigenous terms. They would also tell the future with magic and “casting the bones” where they would throw bones and tell the person’s fortune in the way the bones fell. Today, Christianity and Islam are religions practiced by the majority of people living in Africa. Understanding the Creator is intrinsic in mankind, and not learned, as the following Ghanaian proverb highlights: ‘God needs no pointing out to a child’, Akan Proverb (Ghana). The gods Oludmare from Nigeria, Nhialic of South Sudan and Katonda from Uganda are examples. African traditional religions are difficult to research, as there is an absence of scriptures or the written word. The modern understanding has evolved through syncretism with Christian and Islamic influences, and often these beliefs are practised alongside Islam and Christianity in rural communities. Christianity: An African traditional religion « Prev . The first academic studies of African traditional religions were written in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries by Muslim and European scholars. African beliefs in reincarnation differ from those of major Asian religions (especially Hinduism) in a number of important ways. About 10 per cent of the African population is still practicing some form of traditional religion today. African traditional religion refers to the indigenous or autochthonous religions of the African people. African traditional religion refers to the indigenous or autochthonous religions of the African people. Traditional Religions The religions practiced by the majority of people living in Africa are Christianity and Islam. There are hundreds of major tribes across Africa with their own languages and distinct cultures, but broadly they are grouped into the following families: The locations of the various tribes are shown in the following map: Across African tribes, there is a recurring theme of an ultimate superior Creator in the heavens, as illustrated through the following proverbs and prayers passed down: ‘Nzame (God) is on high, man is on the earth’, Fang Tradition (Gabon), ‘God, you are in the heavens, you are the only one’, Anuak Prayer (Sudan), ‘The earth is wide, but God is the elder’, Akan Proverb (Ghana). Nothing is hidden from Him. These traditions are not religious principles, but a cultural identity that is passed on through stories, myths and tales. The African History is a reliable blog site dedicated to sharing African Culture and News. Eliade mentioned that around 800 languages are spoken on the continent [5]. Ritual is the means by which a person negotiates responsible relationships with other … Through honoring these spirits, believers hoped the spirits would protect them, or speak on their behalf to the supreme god. Some of the African traditional religions are those of the Serer of Senegal, the Yoruba and Igbo of Nigeria, and the Akan of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and the Bono of Ghana and Ivory Coast. But there are exceptions to this general observation, especially in Southern Africa and some parts of West Africa. Some of the African traditional religions are those of the Serer of Senegal, the Yoruba and Igbo of Nigeria, and the Akan of Ghana and the Ivory Coast. On the … Video upload by: Barima Osei Asare (barima.asare@myjoyonline.com) Thus, linguistic experts such as Christopher Ehretand Placide Tempels have applied their knowledge of languages towards reconstructing the original core beliefs of the followers of these traditions. 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. According to Mbiti, “animism is the system of belief and practices based on the idea that objects and natural phenomena are inhabited by spirits or souls” (Mbiti 1996, 18). It is clear that Africa has been a cradle of civilization for millennia, and that as mentioned in the Qur’an (10:48), the various tribes across Africa have not been devoid of prophecy and revelation. Rituals – The culture played significant part in traditional practices and ceremonies. Traditional African religion is based on oral traditions, which means that the basic values and way of life are passed from elders to younger generation. France Approves Return of African Treasures Looted During Colonial Period, The migration history of Bantu speaking tribes 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, Netherlands Returns Smuggled 600-year-old Ife Terracotta to Nigeria, Aboriginal, the first known inhabitants of Australia for over 40,000 years, Beja people are one of the living descendants of Ancient Egypt, King Shark, one of the greatest African rulers who fought European invasion in Africa, “Lion of Africa” – Mugabe refused to wear Indian attire at Indian-Africa Forum Submit. However there are characteristics of the peoples across Africa that show a mature understanding of their position versus nature, the hierarchy of society and respect for elders and forefathers, some of whom are likely to be prophets who would have had a direct communion with their High God or Creator. Because religion is a way of life, it relates to culture and society as they affect the worldview of the African people. 2. To understand the issue one must go back to the beginnings of anthropology in the 19th century and follow its evolution (see 19th-Century Background). They were organised in tribes with a hierarchy, and each tribe had a chief or king with a religious legitimacy [6]. theafricanhistory@gmail.com Rain will come and again the sun will shine, and over it all passes the eyes of God. There are common beliefs in Africa although the continent is a large with many different cultures and traditional religions, many religions share similar beliefs and practices. Achetez neuf ou d'occasion African religions - African religions - Mythology: In African oral cultures, myths embody philosophical reflections, express values, and identify moral standards. Among the tribes, they will often have statues or use mask ceremonies to access secondary divinities or intermediaries between humans and the High God. The traditional African religions (or traditional beliefs and practices of African people) are a set of highly diverse beliefs that include various ethnic religions . Just as the concept of Satan is familiar to the Abrahamic faiths, in Africa they talk about the Trickster, and ceremonies would seek to ward off the impact of the Trickster and evil spirits. The witch doctors also used herbs and other remedies for sick people. Ancestral Spirits – Dead ancestral spirits often played a significant role in traditional African religion. African traditional religions, also referred to as African indigenous religions or African ethnic religions, is a term referring to a variety of religions indigenous to the continent According to Parrinder (1962), religion lies at the root of African culture and it is essential to African life. Next » Comments (0) Listen to Article. In the case of African traditional religion, it can be traced back to the very beginning of the emergence of African peoples. An example is among the Dinka tribe in South Sudan (Enc. Nature Spirits – There are a variety of spirits under the supreme god who often reside in nature like animals , water, and the earth. You can submit your story for publishing through above email. These included marriage rituals which entered adulthood, birth and death. Then there is the characteristic of the Creator being omnipresent and seeing all of our actions and thoughts: ‘God has nothing hid from him’, Ovambo Proverb (Angola), ‘The sun shines and sends its burning rays down upon us, the moon rises in its glory. We also aim at promoting tourism across the African continent. The challenge is to study faith, proverbs, traditions and mythology across Africa to identify the fragments of religion passed down as oral traditions and mythology in the great cultures of the continent. Other great empires such as Great Zimbabwe built by descendants of the Shona people had amazing architecture depicting their power, but also had what are thought to be temple complexes before the advent of Islam and Christianity through trade [6]. The prominence of ancestors is everywhere in Africa, even amongst the followers of Christianity and Islam. These traditions have been passed from one generation to the next. African Traditional Religion has been evolving; there is in it the element of continuity as well as discontinuity. There is also a recognition that time on earth is limited, and that there is a greater purpose: ‘We are on a market trip on earth: whether we fill our baskets or not, once the time is up, we go home’. It is inconceivable that if ‘every people’ received Messengers from God, that this would not include all of the different tribes across Africa. Every aspect of it cannot be described as original. Thus, strictly speaking, religion in its pristine form is no longer in existence. Many artisans in their profession were thought to use magic. His justice is true and he will examine your feet, he will know how to find every stain, whether visible or hidden under the skin; if you have fallen on the way, he will know. Your email address will not be published. However, there were many traditional religions practiced prior to the arrival of these two religions. In Benin, the ritual to achieve the devotion of the Vodun ancestors led to what is now the popularised Voodoo traditions of Haiti in the Caribbean [10]. Healers, PROPHETS and other RITUAL specialists play an important role in these religions although not all have people easily identified as PRIESTS. Some examples of devotional masks and outfits are shown below (images courtesy of the author unless otherwise attributed): Examples of masks and ceremonial outfits from the Bassam area of Ivory Coast, Examples of masks and statuettes made by craftsmen on the Gambia-Senegal border. Over time, the concept of ‘home’ may be hazy, but knowledge that this is not the end means that people accept their position in society, accept trials and tribulations such as plagues and floods, and seem to be less inclined to hoarding worldly possessions. Ceremonies and rituals involve the veneration of ancestors and heroes through the use of masks, chanting and drumming in order to have an active dialogue with intermediaries, just as we see with Shaman in other parts of the world. Sometimes this will also be manifested in a move to towns with communal responsibility and shared worship from traditional pastoral herders who would have moved across the region just as the Tuareg do to this day. Today, Christianity and Islam are religions practiced by the majority of people living in Africa. In this second edition, Dr Mbiti has updated his material to include the involvement of women in religion, and the potential unity to be found in what was once thought to be a mass of quite separate religions. Required fields are marked *. Over millennia, this is sometimes distorted into worship of natural resources such as rivers and mountains, but even then, there is always a recognition of a greater power. Then among them were some whom Allah guided and among them were some who became deserving of ruin.’ [2], ‘And We sent some Messengers whom we have already mentioned to thee and some Messengers whom we have not mentioned to thee.’ [3]. They include: Supreme God – Most African religions believe in the world’s supreme creator. The Yoruba of Nigeria record that Obatala creates the physical body, but the greater Olodumare who sits in the heavens, blows the spirit into the body [5]. African Traditional Religion, Islam, and Christianity are three extremely different religions that have very different belief systems. There are many behaviours that are expected of people. Again the reverence for ancestors stems from the same concept of social order that is seen throughout African life. He also serves as the Global Operations Director with Humanity First, and is responsible for poverty alleviation projects in 54 countries, mainly in Africa, South Asia and Central America. For Christianity, it is the first century AD, and maybe beyond; and for Islam the seventh century. This movement spread to the entire North African coast. African traditional religions in some parts of Africa, have had an elaborate pantheon of divinities. They have been nurtured with the local practices and culture, but still carry some similarities, like pantheism, in their structures. There are common beliefs in Africa although the continent is a large with many different cultures and It is most difficult to properly understand a religion if you do not know it’s history. Rites of Passage – In the rites of passage, African traditional religions played a significant role. Unlike Western mythology, African myths are not recounted as a single narrative story, nor is there any established corpus of myth. Traditional African religion has common themes such as a Creator or High God, positive ancestor influences as well as tricksters, and an afterlife with spirit worlds. Magic – Many of the African traditional religions believe in mysterious forces and magic. The great faiths of the world have a religious text to refer to, and yet, our observance of religious people is often that their behaviour does not reflect their teachings and faith. African religions are very diverse. Your email address will not be published. About the Author: Fazal Ahmad is the Editor for the ‘World Religions’ section of The Review of Religions. The indigenous religious beliefs and practices of African peoples include various traditional religions. Most traditional African religions have, for most of their existence, been orally/spiritually (rather than scripturally) transmitted or practiced. In this way, we might find traces of the prophets and revelations given to the tribes of Africa. The ritual also included masks, music, singing and dancing. Today, around 10 percent of the African population still practice some form of traditional religion. African religiousness is not a matter of adherence to a doctrine but is concerned with supporting fecundity and sustaining the community. The Holy Qur’an mentions that all tribes (including those across Africa) have received revelation and prophets: ‘And for every people there is a Messenger. Often good behaviour is highlighted in proverbs, such as this Kenyan proverb about the virtue of being humble: ‘It is humility that exalts one and favours him against his friends’, Kipsigis Proverb (Kenya). African traditional religions stress healing and the spiritual well-being of people and are usually expressed through dance and music. In ATR, people believe in multiple gods which are capricious and unpredictable. It is often evident that adults, children and other family members have an established system, as do more senior figures in a village or community. It deals with their cosmology, ritual practices, symbols, arts, society, and so on. The African History is a reliable blog site dedicated to sharing African Culture and History. The four linguistic phylums spoken in Africa are: Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo, and Khoi-San. Traditional beliefs and practices of African peoples include various traditional religions stress healing and the spiritual well-being people... 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