what are the underlying elements of the african traditional religion
However this religion was mostly replaced with the Abrahamic religions. Today, the discussion continues with a look at the notion and nature of God in African traditional religions. In “taboo”, the meaning, though, is beyond simply a word for “forbidden”. 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. Alchemists eventually associated four triangular symbols to represent these elements. And west Africa has had a long tradition of trade with Europeans and north African Muslims, and therefore we’ve had a lot of contact with the history of west Africa. And then of course beneath the third tier, even though it’s not actually part of the formal structure of African Traditional Religion, you realize there are actual people that also function in various ways in worship and sacred acts of ritual practice. So we’re trying to balance these two things out. African Traditional Religion has been evolving; there is in it the element of continuity as well as discontinuity. At the highest tier, Tier 1, resides a supreme being who oversees the entire cosmological system. So we will often ask the question: “What does a Hindu believe about God or man, or sin, or whatever?”; “What do Muslims believe about salvation?”; and so forth. ATR is the original religious belief and practice of the Africans. connotes some element of primitiveness, I have nevertheless used it in this essay for lack of a better term. Like all elements of African traditional religion, artistic expressions are integrated with everyday life. 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. But in African society, everything is done through intermediaries. So this shaman figure is used quite a bit in these societies. Another term that’s used a lot in African religion is the phrase “rites of passage”. So many people believed that the Africans didn’t have a belief in a supreme being, but instead, when they came into contact with Islam or Christianity, they discovered that they believed in one supreme being, and they adapted this and kind of shoved it into the back door behind their normal beliefs. Stream the classes, or download and listen to them offline. With African Traditional Religions you must be much more careful about speaking about belief systems in the same way, because Africans will actually tolerate quite a wide variety of beliefs as long as it supports the same rituals or certain rituals or ritualistic explanations of why this is being done or why this is being believed. The Journal of Religion in Africa was founded in 1967 by Andrew Walls. 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. Some religious traditions could be described as high demand, requiring strict adherence to rules and standards in order to maintain membership of the faith community. African American religions can be studied analytically and historically. I maintain that African soil is rich enough to have germinated its own religious perception," Mbiti says. From our own study of the African Traditional Religion, we find there are unmistakably elements of animism. Egwu (2001) observes religion not only because of the problem of objectivity one encounters in defining but is emotion laden, even more so because of the difficulty of penetrating the "inner essence" of religion. Africa’s a very large and diverse continent; it’s even larger than North America or Australia. So these are some of the challenges that we’ve had. April 28, 2017. 6. He can be reached through sacrifices, prayers, offerings, etc. But rather than the Christian world-view, in the west at least, obliterating the enlightenment world-view, what we actually found was that the Christian world-view simply adapted the basic enlightenment world-view -- punched a hole in the wall and said, no, there’s a place for prayer for example. Yet, contact can be established with him. In order to conceal the underlying nature of their religious beliefs from the slavemasters, the practitioners of these religions identified the ancestral gods and goddesses of Africa with certain Catholic saints, a practice that continues today. Traditionally, east Africans were farmers and livestock herders. There is no distinction between sacred and worldly, between religion and non-religion or between the … His religion lay at the bottom of religious evolution, whereas Islam and Judaism and Christianity were at the top since they’re monotheistic. b. African Traditional Religion (ATR): African traditional religion is the belief system that has been handed down from one generation to another. And so you should always view this kind of shading going on. Lines are drawn by religions even though many look to religion as a way of life. So there are different portions of Africa, and we’re speaking in general terms of the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, and trying to step back into the big picture and create a cosmology which will bring together many of the intellectual religious and cultural structures that make up African Traditional Religion. So these figures became almost mythically viewed in the western literature that more or less summarized western Africa and other parts of Africa, and their traditional religion. If we want to ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, we go directly to the father. 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. Daily functioning of traditional African is fundamentally religious functioning. This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. 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. In many ways the Africans inhabit a very big universe, a much bigger universe. The elements of faith and practice are found in all religions. The word “taboo” is a word that’s often synonymous with our word for “forbidden”. So others have suggested terms like “animism”. 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. 5. Africa is a massive continent with diverse religious traditions, to the extent that within the same tradition there have been variations. From the viewpoint of cultural content, these religions represent the most extensive blend of African and European traditions and ritual… Most converts from Africa are from it: for the rest it has not much to offer. Wikipedia is often a good starting place if you want to do some research. Of course the Christian world- view comes in and challenges this by saying there is a world beyond the sensory world; the enlightenment world-view is inadequate. They’re a very important part of record-keeping, and keeping clear who belongs to who and where they’re from. African religions, religious beliefs and practices of the peoples of Africa.It should be noted that any attempt to generalize about the nature of “African religions” risks wrongly implying that there is homogeneity among all African cultures.In fact, Africa is a vast continent encompassing both geographic variation and tremendous cultural diversity. *Hiebert, Paul G. , Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues, 1994. Sulfur, mercury, and salt are classical elements. This is another real difference between African society and western culture. But nevertheless, we want to distance ourselves from a number of the terms that have been used. It is often combined with elements of Christianity and Islam. In looking at African religion, there are a number of things that we have to look at. And some of the factors that underlie African religion have become more appreciated as time has developed, and we’ve been able to learn more about these religions. On the other hand, the scholars that have attempted to dismiss approaching African religions as if it’s impossible have been nevertheless brought back to the fact that there are a number of fundamental similarities in the structure of indigenous religions in general, and of African religion in particular. I mentioned earlier this term “herbalists”, and I said this was in place of the term “witch doctor”. So instead, what we try to do is develop a cosmological framework or a theoretical framework that brings together many of the broad concepts and relations that are descriptively present in much of African Traditional Religion. In this work we shall look at these five elements as the philosophical foundation of African Traditional Religion. 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. To them, he is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere). Because of the general acceptance of the evolutionary theory which dominated the latter half of the 19th century, Tyler’s theory was interpreted to mean that animism gave rise to polytheism, which in turn evolved further to the stage of one supreme god over all other spirits, and this eventually led to the idea that ultimately Trinitarian monotheism was the highest form of religion. 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. In Nigeria they call the supreme being Olodumare, and Olodumare represents the supreme being at the highest tier. This is also true in the African Traditional Religion. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. There are certain things which you should not do that are considered to be taboo – that would create chaos in the society. This all-knowing and omnipresent being is also omnipotent. The purpose of this is to help to orient a person who would like to work in the context of Africa. But certainly there’s no single codified system of beliefs and practices. Save up to 80% by choosing the eTextbook option for ISBN: 9781621898245, 1621898245. But what is the nature of that supreme being who is so near (immanent) and so far away (transcendental) from the realities of traditional African peoples? It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. The first four are always found. Traditional/Indigenous African religions are the traditional beliefs and practices of African people including the various traditional religions and customs. Every culture strives to protect and promote its values. Well, this is achieved when one understands three basic assumptions which I think are characteristic of all African cosmologies. In 1985 the editorship was taken over by Adrian Hastings, who retired in 1999. 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. The world beyond us is simply put aside as not really subject to our normal societal inquiry. 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. Share classes via social media, email, and more. Again, this implied that at the bottom of the religious scale was the un-tutored African. He found that frequently they did. And then that shades down once again into various functionaries – mediators, priests, and so forth, herbalists, that mediate this power. Read reviews from world’s largest community for readers. African traditional religion must not be pushed aside because it is a friendly religion. Now this is important because many times in the west we think of religions in terms of belief systems. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. So at this time we’re going to examine a particular example of this in the Yoruba religious cosmology in African religion. Traditional African education: Its significance to current educational practices with special reference to Zimbabwe. Sometimes the ceremony, even though it’s associated with birth, may wait for weeks or months or even as long as a year after the birth to make sure that the child is going to live before they perform this rite of passage for the birth. 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”. And the world of the enlightenment only gives us the world obtainable by the five senses. We mentioned earlier how when the missionaries came, they referred to African religion as “fetishism” or as “juju”. He was trying to find a way to capture the one and the many in the African context. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. Course: Essentials of African Traditional Relgions, Lecture: Introduction to African Traditional Religion. And it’s fundamental to understand African religions to see that you don’t have the basic western approach which is: Christianity explains that which we cannot see. We also, as we’ll see later on in this summary, find out that we have misunderstood Africa if we think that they do not have a belief in a supreme, single god. Something that’s a very common aspect of traditional religions is the recognition that some objects carry spiritual power, and therefore should be forbidden in some ways. African arts and religious meaning overlap in visual symbols, music, dance, proverbs, riddles, names of people and places, myths, legends, beliefs, and customs. And because this deity was beyond us, he didn’t come into the normal rituals and daily practices that were often so present in African religious daily life and activities. When they talk about philosophical and religious principles, they do not think of African traditional religion. We had a Christian overlay that gave us a strong sense of heaven, of God, eternal life, of the life to come – the eternal verities of the Christian faith we all accepted. Often, regions were denigrated as un-evolved as compared to the west, with no civilizations. These are people that have lived on earth as humans, were honored by their people, and then they died and they entered into this pantheon of ancestors which we’ll say more about later. This work will enhance the understanding and appreciation of the African exposition of the importance of the African … It seemed to be that Africans worshipped innumerable mystical forces, ghosts, ancestors, divinities of various kinds, and yet they seemed also to have occasional references to a supreme god. We’ve seen this in films and books about Africa. African religion centres on belief and practices. In this work we shall look at these five elements as the philosophical foundation of African Traditional Religion. Since American religion is a broad phenomenon, the term African American religion must be defined. This is normal in many parts of the world. He can let nature do whatever he wants it to. Anthropologists actually contributed to this as well, and oftentimes wrote denigrating studies of these early religious encounters which helped to create false impressions. There are more than 40 separate nations that occupy the continent of Africa south of the Sahara desert, each with its own history, political situation, numerous ethnic groups and multiple languages that comprise sub-Saharan Africa. He is essentially good, causing people to be prosperous and fertile, and everything is done according to his will, which controls the universe and the fortunes of mankind. But we didn’t have a way of really dealing with the spiritual interaction in this world on this side of the enlightenment wall. In southern Africa, the coast of Africa, you have South Africa itself, you have Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia – all of these countries in south Africa represent a place where western colonization did in fact put the presence of the west with African societies and cultures. The second fundamental difference between the African and the western world-views is that fundamental to the African world-view is the belief in the hierarchy of power and being. So all of African religion involves in some way rituals designed either to maintain this harmony or in some cases to restore this harmony back to their society. They had a lot of trade with the Arabs along the coast of east Africa, and this is where Islam is actually the strongest, in this area. This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. He, the maker of all things, transcends everything, he is supreme, unreachable, beyond the scope of our understanding of who he is. A divinity is another spiritual power, oftentimes non-human though sometimes in some cases the ancestors can evolve into these non-human figures. 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