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. In addition, the Ijaw practice a form of divination called Igbadai , in which recently deceased individuals are interrogated on the causes of their death. This great spirit, which is God, is "incomprehensible", "fathomless", inexplicable, and mystical, even. That occurs on the second tier. The beliefs and practices of the traditional religions in Africa can enrich Christian theology and spirituality." Welcome to the summary lecture of African Traditional Religions. Everything is done through intermediaries. African Traditional Religion, on the other hand, was supremely absorbent. The traditional African religions or traditional beliefs and practices of African people are a set of highly diverse beliefs that includes various ethnic religions. The elements of faith and practice are found in all religions. We mentioned earlier how when the missionaries came, they referred to African religion as “fetishism” or as “juju”. connotes some element of primitiveness, I have nevertheless used it in this essay for lack of a better term. There are innumerable African stories and myths which are told which talk about how the world got off kilter, how things got out of harmony, and why certain rituals are being used to get things back. In other words, it’s like a mirror that gives us a reflection into what’s beyond the wall. The fifth, aether, is important in some traditions. The number of traditional elements in medieval alchemy varies from 4, 5, or 8. Another term that’s often used is the term “taboo”. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. conversions of the indigenous people, mainly, from African Traditional Religion (ATR) to the two mission religions. This is what one finds when you walk into Africa, and this is what the anthropologists discovered early on, and the missionaries. Chrispen Matsika, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Another term that’s used a lot in African religion is the phrase “rites of passage”. This belief, just as in the case of the previous one, has a theological basis – the plurality of divinities (polytheism). Today, the discussion continues with a look at the notion and nature of God in African traditional religions. The print version … The traditional belief systems, spirituality and faith of West African peoples has been described in more or less disparaging terms over the course of history, broad terms that fail to reflect the complexity and depth of these beliefs: “paganism”, “animism”, “ancestor-worship”, “idolatry”, “fetishism”, “heathenism”, etc. But in the case of African Traditional Religion, we can’t do this because there are so many different varieties of ATR that are throughout sub-Saharan Africa. There is no distinction between sacred and worldly, between religion and non-religion or between the … And it can create great problems if you don’t do that. This is part of the essential nature of God.". The traditional African understanding and the interpretation of Christianity have deep roots in these fundamental beliefs of the African traditional religions. 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. So keeping these observations in mind, we should posit in our minds basically three levels or three tiers of power which are generally characteristic of African religion. 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. Normally, when you are born, that is considered a rite of passage, and there are certain kinds of religious activities and rituals and magic chants and various things that are done at the time of birth to protect the child from spiritual danger. Marriage is very important in all cultures, but certainly in the African culture there are different kinds of emphases in marriage, but the wedding is a very important legal and social event, and it involves certain kinds of rites of passage and rituals that are practiced during that time. That's a pretty large category covering many distinct 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. I mentioned earlier this term “herbalists”, and I said this was in place of the term “witch doctor”. The religious beliefs, practices and the provision of social services of these immigrant religions have impacted on the religious and cultural life of the traditional communities. But in this case, we’ll refer to “deity” as that supreme being who occupies the highest tier, and as I mentioned before because there are hundreds of versions of African Traditional Religion in the world, and in sub-Saharan Africa, then of course we have to leave this as a generic supreme being but realize that it will be fleshed out in a particular form, in a very personalized form in the particular theologies of the local tribal religions. So part of what we want to do is to redress some of the miscommunications that have occurred about African religion, and seek to develop a way of looking at this which would be coherent. 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. Every religion of course has important rites of passage. This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. A divinity is another spiritual power, oftentimes non-human though sometimes in some cases the ancestors can evolve into these non-human figures. ], where he talks about what he calls “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle” . We live in the west in a rather crunched-down universe because the invisible world, the spiritual world, has been taken away. African traditional religion must not be pushed aside because it is a friendly religion. For example, in 14 of the 19 countries surveyed, more than three-in-ten people say they sometimes consult traditional healers when someone in their household is sick. It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. He said “Africans combine a belief in the existence of an omnipotent and omnipresent supreme god, with multitudes of subordinate deities.” So here you have the fact that we just simply cannot easily summarize African religion with a single term like “animism” or “animistic” or “primal” or “fetishism” or whatever. Oftentimes these fetishes would be ritually consecrated or animated by a spirit of some kind. His omnipotence is demonstrated by his control over man and nature. The hominid race was walked the land of Africa around 8 million to 5 million years ago. 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. When we get sick, even devout Christians that get sick, we assume that the reason for the sickness is naturalistic, so we go to the doctor, we get medicine that will manipulate the antibodies or other sources of the disease that need to be destroyed in our body with various medicines. And therefore a better approach is to construct a broader African religious cosmology which extends beyond any one term. They’re a very important part of record-keeping, and keeping clear who belongs to who and where they’re from. The traditional belief systems, spirituality and faith of West African peoples has been described in more or less disparaging terms over the course of history, broad terms that fail to reflect the complexity and depth of these beliefs: “paganism”, “animism”, “ancestor-worship”, “idolatry”, “fetishism”, “heathenism”, etc. Stream the classes, or download and listen to them offline. It may involve some kind of ordeal or some kind of torture; it may involve special marks being placed – tattoos and various things – in order to identify that the person is now an adult, and will accept the full responsibilities of adult work in their society. Thirdly and finally (and these are just some general observations about the different cosmologies), Africans believe that the world was created in a spiritual harmony or equilibrium between all the forms of creation and the sources of power. Now “shaman” is a word which comes actually from Siberian culture, and a shaman is someone who manipulates the spirits, and the spirit can sometimes possess them and animate the shaman, and can even speak through them. You’ll find for example that many African Traditional Religions are monotheistic and poli-divinistic simultaneously. The original religions of Africa “are not static”; according to Mayo, “contacts with Christian and Islamic traditions have brought about transformations and syncretism of all three” a perfect example of the triple heritage of Africa… 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”. If we want to ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, we go directly to the father. This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. Now let me explain what a cosmology is, as opposed to traditional examination of a world religion. How can all of these exist as actors or participants in a system that is non-contradictory? African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. Only by giving a belief system a proper name can a comprehensive, complex theology and cosmology emerge, along with a mor… Share classes via social media, email, and more. ATR is the original religious belief and practice of the Africans. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. Most converts from Africa are from it: for the rest it has not much to offer. So if you wanted to discuss the possibility of a marriage arrangement, you would go through a wide range of people in order to finally get back the answer, rather than going directly. But in African society, everything is done through intermediaries. In this work we shall look at these five elements as the philosophical foundation of African Traditional Religion. And so these are found in many parts of African society. But in my view none of these terms will ever be fully adequate to describe the African religious tradition. "For most of their lives, African peoples place God in the transcendental plane, making it seem as if He is remote from their daily affairs. Mbiti says, "So God confronts men as the mysterious and incomprehensible, as indescribable and beyond human vocabulary. It could absorb elements from any and every religious system that came its way — absorb them, that is, on its own terms. They’ll make sacrifices, they’ll offer chants and so forth, and this is the general structure of the African Traditional Religion. But a well-known African scholar named John Mbiti did a study of African gods – this is found in actually several of his books, but one is entitled Concepts of God in Africa – and when John Mbiti studied, he wanted to particularly look at African traditional religious practitioners in tribes that had not received either Christianity or Islam, and look at them and see if in fact they had a belief in a supreme being. If you look at African religion region-by-region, generally sub-Saharan Africa is divided into west Africa, east Africa, and south Africa. The term “fetish” comes from the Portuguese word “feitico”, which originated from the Latin “facticius”, which suggests a thing made by art. African art, music, oral literature, all display the religious and social patterns of its culture. This is what made it so impregnable. 4. The third level in African Traditional Religion is the earthly tier, which is the functionaries who are responsible for maintaining the harmony, balance, and order in the African traditional system. The world beyond us is simply put aside as not really subject to our normal societal inquiry. African traditional religious system has the following components: A. Foundational Religious Beliefs. The earlier idea was that African Traditional Religions were incompatible with monotheism. 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. So this is one of the rites of passage. Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural and passed down from one generation to another through folk tales, songs and festivals, include belief in an amount of higher and lower gods, sometimes including a supreme creator or force, belief in spirits, veneration of the dead, use of magic and traditional African medicine. This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. Religion in Igbo traditional society partakes fully of all the features of world traditional religion, including its beliefs, sacred myths, oral qualities, strong appeal to the hearts of adherents, high degree of ritualization, and possession of numerous participatory personages such as officiating elders, kings, priests, and diviners. One of the more creative suggestions that we have come across is one by E. Bolaji Idowu, who I’ve already quoted here, who described African religion as “diffused monotheism”. In looking at African religion, there are a number of things that we have to look at. The purpose of this study was to critically examine three different approaches to educational provision in Zimbabwe during the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. Extent that within the same tradition there have been used many ways the Africans Mbiti.... Calls this the Flaw of the world beliefs that includes various ethnic religious practices and.... 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