The first academic studies of African traditional religions were written in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries by Muslim and European scholars. ASPECTS OF AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION 3 It represented the community, their solidarity, their permanence, their continuity. An excellent source for insights into contemporary scholarly issues and approaches. Individuals or groups of people practice divination in order to discern the meanings and consequences of past, present, and future events. They are used only for ceremonies, rituals, prayers, and sacrifices. To the African people who espouse them, myths reveal significant events and episodes of the most profound and transcendent meaning. Throughout the centuries of transatlantic slave trading, Africans took their religious practices to the Americas and the Caribbean. The gods watch over a person's values, morals, and sense of justice. The ancestors often reward devotion to ancestral traditions by bestow blessings upon members of their lineages. By using local languages and converting Africans from their ancestral religions to Christianity, missionaries paved the way for early modernization and Western colonialism. One of the foremost of these is Wande Abimbola (born in 1936), who in 1987 was selected by the elder babalawos in Nigeria to be the awise awo agbaye (chief spokesperson of Ifa and Yoruba religion and culture). The names given to the specific deities in Benin may vary slightly from those of the Yoruba. During these events usually an offering is made to honour, please and thank the ancestors. A new wave of conversion to indigenous African traditions has been noticeable in the United States, especially among African Americans. They are not fixed, because accounts may vary from generation to generation or even among individuals who tell these stories. It was overtaken in the region by Islam in the seventh century—frequently by military incursion, commercial trading, and the nonviolent missionary efforts of merchants. Such history, however, can be difficult to cross-reference with historical world events. In most traditional African cultures morals are of two classes—those that govern individual conduct and those that govern social and community relations. Western colonialists negotiated and drafted treaties with African leaders, stripping Africans of their lands, depopulating the countryside, destabilizing their economies, overturning political rule, and uprooting cultural and lineage continuity. Ibadan: Oxford University Press Nigeria; New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. African religions rely on the memory of oral stories. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. For example, for the Komo of Congo (Kinshasa) the ancestors play a role equally prominent to that of deities. Death is one of the most important events of an African community, and often there are extended and complex rituals associated with it. Narratives about the creation of the universe (cosmogony) and the nature and structure of the world (cosmology) form the core philosophy of African religions. Departments of religious studies did not appear in East Africa until the 1960s. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. Today, Africans profess a wide variety of religious beliefs, the most common of which are Christianity and Islam; perhaps less than 15% still follow traditional African religions. The spirit takes hold of the diviner and speaks in spirit voices, which are interpreted by the diviner's assistants. For instance, Mbuya (grandmother) Nehanda, a spirit medium in Zimbabwe, played an important role in mobilizing people in the fight against for political independence beginning in the late nineteenth century. A concept that gained wide currency under the theory of diffusion was the erroneous idea that Africans lacked a Supreme God and instead were polytheists. Certain herbs are sacred, and those priest specialists who have deep knowledge of how to use them are called herbalists. Religious leaders play numerous roles in a traditional African society. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982. Awolalu and Geoffrey Parrinder (an English Methodist minister who taught religion in Nigeria), put in place a structure for the study of African religions that later scholars adapted for their own studies. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1937. For example, agricultural rituals function communally to benefit the group. The work presents Abrahamic monotheistic religions and the belief of the traditional religions in Africa, especially in Igboland. Some are fabricated, some are found in nature, and others are natural but altered in some fashion. Thus, doctrine tends to be more flexible than it is in text-based religions, and it changes according to the immediate needs of religious followers. The rites for these stages often contain aspects of both communal and personal ritual. For instance, ancestors often attain their status after they have received proper burial rituals. Retrieved January 12, 2021 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/african-traditional-religions. Every aspect of it cannot be described as original. Myth and oral history are integral elements of their culture. London: Paul Hamlyn, 1967. Contemporary African religious leaders include those who have been interested in reviving traditional religion. Merriam, Alan P. An African World: The Basongye Village of Lupupa Ngye. There is a continuing belief about the sacredness of lizards and chameleons in Zulu culture. Modes of dress in African traditional religions vary depending upon the kind of devotee, geographical location, and a person's age. Scarification or tattoo is a permanent mode of cultural adornment signifying identification with beliefs; motifs are often based on abstract designs, leaf forms, and totemic flora and fauna. They may be in shrines or temples, or they may stand on their own. Materials may be ground into powders and mixed with other substances. Female and male circumcisions are often a part, but not the focus, of initiation rites. A royal stool may depict powerful animals such as leopards and tigers. Among many African ethnic groups, however, some sets of oral narratives exist that serve as sacred texts. Furthermore, scholars today assert that the supposedly accurate records of missionaries, colonial administrators, and the indigenous elite were susceptible to distortion. Mawu-Lisa also created spirits and deities, bestowing upon each a special "esoteric" ritual language through which they communicate among themselves. Proper burial entails a performance of elaborate funeral ceremonies by all members of the deceased's descendants. Nehanda, considered an incarnation of an oracle spirit, was eventually hanged by colonial authorities in 1898. In response to this question, the book argues that since ATR is part of the African people's culture, there is a need to understand this cultural background in order to contextualize Christian theology. Because indigenous societies are mainly nonliterate, oral traditions expressed in poetry, proverbs, and mythic narratives are sources of African literary traditions. At such shrines the living may communicate with the departed person; the family may also convey messages to God through the deceased. Competing indigenous religions may incorporate useful or similar aspects of each other. Want to understand religion in Africa? Many communities maintain elaborate calendars of festivals that run throughout the year. We have recently updated our Privacy Policy. The Invention of Africa. In Understanding Contemporary Africa, edited by A.A. Gordon and D.L. Mligo has published several books and articles including Jesus and the Stigmatized (Pickwick Publication, 2011), Writing Academic Papers (Resource Publication, 2012), and Doing Effective Fieldwork (Resource Publication, 2013). Today Muslims worship throughout much of Africa. As a female, Mawu is associated with the Moon and has power over the nighttime and the western universe. Marriage agreements usually involve both sets of parents of the couple to be married. A male priest or a traditional ruler may wear a long hairstyle signifying a female deity, thereby assuming the persona of the deity and establishing a special connection with her. Because they date back to prehistoric times, little has been written about their history. Many people are involved in religious leadership, and a single religion can have priests, priestesses, sacred kings and queens, prophets, prophetesses, and seers, all of whom have been important religious leaders throughout the ages. Shrines are often established above familial and ancestral gravesites; the grave itself may also serve as a shrine. Initiation is a deeply religious affair and a sign of unity with the larger community and the ancestors. African Traditional Religion during my semester at This means that traditional African religion cannot be separated from daily life. 13 numbers of adherents of African religion. In traditional African cultures festivals are scheduled to occur during major rites of passage, including birth, circumcision, coming-of-age initiation, marriage, and death. This is because he occupies the realm beyond the physical abode of humans and thus remains outside their immediate influence. Highly trained diviners have largely been responsible for memorizing and transmitting important historical and cultural events to the living generation. Not every member of society performs all rituals; instead, a particular ritual may be prescribed for certain members of a community. African Symbols and their meaning. In a village one priest usually leads all other priests. These spirits play a role in community affairs and ensure a link between each clan and the spirit world. Òrìsà-Nlá disdains palm wine, and Èsù dislikes adin (palm-kernel oil). Certain antisocial behaviors, such as theft, witchcraft, and sorcery, are taboo, and offenders may suffer punishment of death. The Sukuma and Nyamwezi people of Tanzania believe that twins are ancestors because multiple births indicate an excess of fertility. Representing iron and metal, the most powerful pair maintained jurisdiction over the manufacture of iron implements such as knives, hoes, arrows, and, beginning in the twentieth century, guns and automobiles. African Religion and its Influence on Christianity and Islam Traditional African religion has been the basis of spirituality for the people of Africa. Seasonal festivals commemorate annual events such as field preparation, planting, harvesting, hunting and fishing periods, and the New Year. By the 1900s Christianity was firmly entrenched in most of Africa. only local materials found in the environment may be used to build these structures. By the 1700s Islam had diversified and grown popular. As we have already observed, in the African traditional religious thought, spirits are believed to dwell or inhabit certain trees, rocks or mountains, caves, rivers, lakes, forests, animals, human beings, the skies, the ground and other cites, carved or moulded objects, charms, amulets. Devotees of traditional religions recognize domestic and wild animals as sacred and full of great power. In 2003 Abimbola was appointed the adviser to the president of Nigeria on culture and tradition. As in any democratic system, individuals may participate in ways that benefit their interests, their community roles, or their status as religious leaders. There is an apparent contradiction in the simultaneous belief in ancestor veneration and reincarnation. The most significant superhuman being is the Supreme God, who represents universality and greatness. Genevieve Slomski Gordon. The living must avoid and respect the resting places of the dead. All Rights Reserved. The most powerful religious leaders are spirit mediums, members of a family or clan who are responsible for communication between an ancestor and his or her descendants. The African worldview is based on a belief that every living and inanimate object is sacred on some level. During such days ordinary community activities—fishing, farming, and buying or selling at the market—are prohibited to honor the deities. Because of the oral nature of African sacred To Mbiti (1969), African Religions and Philosophy is a systematic study of the attitudes of mind and belief that have evolved in the many societies of Africa and affects the way of life of most African people. To promote the welfare of communities, societies have established taboos and consequences for breaking them. "African Traditional Religions Early scholars viewed African indigenous religions as "primitive," comparing them adversely with European Christian beliefs. London: S.C.M. Persian and Arab merchants introduced Islam in East Africa by trading in coastal towns up and down the eastern seaboard. Most traditional African religious cultures have thus become more inclusive. Such designs are incorporated into everyday objects; these may be a writing board, comb, game board, or scissors. Its various indigenous spiritual systems, usually called African traditional religions, are many. Although most body art carries little association with Ògún (the Yoruba god of iron), raised-scarification design has been associated with Ògún because Yoruba body artists traditionally use iron implements to create intricate patterns and shapes on the skin. African myths frequently describe numerous lesser deities who assist the Supreme Being while performing diverse functions in the created world. INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION. Since it is a religion practised by living persons today, changes are to be expected. In traditional African cultures marriage, raising children, and fulfilling familial obligations are religious duties. Scholars attempted to link African cultures with external sources—for instance, suggesting that sub-Saharan black Africans had come from the Middle East or Egypt. Meek, Charles K. Law and Authority in a Nigerian Tribe. In traditional African cultures family members habitually offer food and drink to their ancestors. With the advent of Islam and Christianity in Africa—and the widespread conversion to these two monotheistic traditions—the numbers of adherents to African religions dwindled. It is taboo to bring unfavorable foods near the shrines, and devotees of these deities refrain from partaking of these foods. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates. Morals that govern social conduct and community relations, and thus protect the group, tend to be rigorous, because the welfare of the group is highly valued. Practitioners of African traditional religions have been victims of conversion and intolerance. The emphasis on Christian studies that had long dominated the religious studies field was replaced by an emphasis Islamic studies and African traditional religions. It is most often used to…, Pan-Africanism is an internationalist philosophy that is based on the idea that Africans and people of African descent share a common bond. Stockholm, Sweden: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 1991. It initiates the process of attaining ancestorhood. They can speak, they are visible, and they endure punishments and rewards. Myths do, however, retain similar structures and purposes: to describe the way things were at the beginning of time and to explain the cosmic order. Next are divinities and ancestors, who represent the invisible world. Many species of birds, including the ostrich, vulture, dove, and heron, inspire artists. Since it is a religion practised by living persons today, changes are to be expected. The gods and ancestors are guardians of morality. People consult diviners for any number of issues, but the most common reasons are for a misfortune, such as sickness, death, or calamity; spirits are likely to have knowledge about the causes of a misfortune. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. likes and dislikes, and care is taken to respect the deities' preferences. New York: Crossroad, 2000. In possession divination a spirit possesses the diviner or sacred objects. The Winye of Burkina Faso center their creation myth on female and male twins, whom the Supreme God sent as primordial parents to establish human life in the created world. Trained in the new method of "fieldwork"—which entailed observing participants and speaking the language of the community—these anthropologists worked for their governments. Western notions of the afterlife came to the Lupupans in the nineteenth century with the arrival of Christianity. 12 Jan. 2021 . The gods are concerned with many issues in the day-to-day life of the people, including their fertility, agricultural production, governance, and health and well-being. Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Participants are taught about their people's beliefs, history, and traditions as well as about raising a family, the secrets of marriage, and other practical information. When an elderly person dies, Africans traditionally avoid using the word "death." Religion gives meaning and value to all forms of African artistic expression, including literature, music, visual art, and dance. It is the most popular for decoration and can often be seen printed on cloth or stamped on pottery. Everyone is in fact a religious carrier. 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. Although African religions have not embarked on a systematic theology, the myths, rituals, and stories of the gods and ancestors point to a profound statement on moral justice. This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. The diviner holds the chain by the middle and throws it on a mat, making a U shape, so that four nuts fall on each side of the mat. After piercing the thatched roof with a hollow banana stem, he pours medicinal water through the stem directly onto her pregnant belly. Throughout most of Africa there is belief of a supreme being, described by one or more names, either in terms of activities or place of abode. / Oral narratives define morals and values for traditional religions, just as written texts do for religions that have sacred books. These religions have evolved and spread slowly for millennia; stories about gods, spirits, and ancestors have passed from one generation to another in oral mythology. In the Fon creation myth the Supreme Being, Mawu, is of indeterminate gender. Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA). Furthermore, African cultural practices contain elements of indigenous religion. In particular, both Islam and Christianity have affected the practice of African traditional religions. A bad death (suicide or murder) may cause the victim to be buried in the "waste bush" to discourage the spirit from reincarnating or disturbing the peace of the living. African traditional religion refers to the indigenous or autochthonous religion of the African people. Because religion permeates Idowu, E. Bolaji. The African pantheon of gods, goddesses, spirits, and other superhuman beings is difficult for outside observers to comprehend. According the mythology, these twin gods took command of vital functions in developing the Fon economy: cultivating land for agriculture, building roads and paths, manufacturing tools, and improving weapons of war, farming, and hunting. Because the spirits inhabit the natural world, no practical distinction exists between the natural and the supernatural world. Deities are usually represented by signs or symbols on clothing or the skin. The oldest man of the family or community is often a priest, because he is the closest to the dead and has lived the longest life. London: Epworth Press, 1961. p'Bitek, Okot. Clients listen to the poetic recital and identify aspects of it that relate to their problem. The Lupupans incorporated Christian ideas into their systems. Even if a person has a number of spiritual skills, however, he or she may concentrate efforts in a single area. Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices. Like most websites, we use cookies to improve our service and make your user experience better. African cosmogonic narratives explain how the world was put into place by a divine personality, usually the Supreme God in collaboration with lesser supernatural beings who act on his behalf or aid in the creative process. spiritual needs of many peoples. This entry presents a brief, general picture of Africa's traditional religious heritage, focusing on the major beliefs because these underlie the…, Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion of Yoruba, Fon, and Bantu origin developed primarily in the Northeast by African slaves from Nigeria and their…, religion On the other hand, in predominantly Muslim states such as the Sudan, Islamic fundamentalists and pro-Arab Sudanese have been implicated in the oppression and slavery of millions of Sudanese Christians and ethnic minorities. Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. It was named after its namesake Yoruba kingdom in West Africa. To the most senior set of twins Mawu-Lisa bestowed authority to rule the Earth. Recognizing the superiority of their own children, the parents pledged to obey them, and they sacrificed a goat in acknowledgment. It is the most popular for decoration and can often be seen printed on cloth or stamped on pottery.The rapid spread of Pentecostal Christianity and fundamentalist Islam has greatly affected the role of indigenous religion in African society. Examples are Ifa divination verses, which amount to 256 chapters of text. If the living maintain a cordial relationship with the ancestors, one of the spirits returns to be reborn into the lineage. The location of graves varies from group to group. New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999. It is known worldwide for its powerful ability to represent abstract ideas and spiritual forces. command over the others. A youth undergoes the rituals in seclusion with children of the same age. Ritual can have an extremely broad meaning that refers to many aspects of human life. Mbiti, John S. African Religions and Philosophy. This outlines how and why we collect, store and use your personal data when you use our website. In the fourteenth century "outsiders" began to inquire into the nature of African cultures and religions. Priests usually carry signs of their social status, including horsehair whisks, brass figures, embellished staffs, jewelry, diamonds, gold, feathers, or priestly stools or chairs; they may also wear white chalk on the body. African traditional religion (ATR) refers to the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the African people. A priest connected with a god is referred to as an obosõmfo, vodunõ, olorisa, and atama in Twi, Fon, Yoruba, and Igbo, respectively. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1974. The study of African religions today is a global phenomenon, with methodologies and theoretical approaches that range from collecting ethnographic data to addressing the works of missionaries who try to convert the indigenous people to Christianity. He currently teaches Theology and Research at Amani University Project in Njombe, which operates under the University of Iringa in Tanzania. These forms have introduced African healing practices among the black population of the United States. In some societies this realm, called il, is considered to exist within the earth itself. Before, during, and after initiation ceremonies, the community offers many prayers and sacrifices to God; they ask for blessings and good luck for the youths undergoing the arduous process. Religion of the Central Luo. Shrines, the most common religious structure, exist throughout Africa. Ifa Divination: Communication between Gods and Men in West Africa. An example is a story among Zulus in which a chameleon and then a lizard are sent to Earth by God to tell men that he has arranged death to be a part of the cycle of human life. These are rituals performed to cement the bond of unity among a community or to celebrate the achievements of individual members of the group. Priests (sometimes called witchdoctors) could cast spells or provide charms to help people with their illnesses or other problems. A nightmare indicates the coming of an unpleasant event. At this time two main schools of thought prevailed. To the observer of religious practices, rituals are more visible than mythic narratives, but rituals often relate to myths by conveying and reinforcing the meanings and values that communities hold sacred. Religion is so intimately tied to place that African religions do not give themselves easily to the influence of exogenous groups. As African religious cultures spread from Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad, and other places of the diaspora to the United States, new forms emerged that catered to the The primary rites of passage in African religious life are birth and naming, puberty, marriage, achieving elder status, and death. Major social concerns for followers of African traditional religions include poverty and the environment. Africans are a deeply spiritual people. Encyclopedia.com. By ministering to deities and humans in liturgical worship, the clergy learn these rituals and languages. Thus, strictly speaking, religion in its pristine form is no longer in existence. It is common for the various African gods and deities to have their own yearly festivals. Great numbers of Africans continue to work in subsistence, cash crop, and other agricultural economies, and they have preserved spiritual practices and sacred rituals to induce the gods to ensure rains, successful harvests, and abundant agricultural production. Although the standards for these colleges were high, the curriculum did not include the study of European or African religions. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. Being and other gods) gained knowledge of all sacred languages of the divinities, enabling himself to initiate communication among other deities. It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. Many African societies anchor their moral values on belief in the ancestors, who are regarded as the ultimate custodians of family mores. Despite the drastic decrease in native African religions, some modern art in Africa has worked to reincorporate traditional spiritual beliefs, such as in modern Makonde Art depicting spirits. Thus, newborn grandsons take the name of their deceased grandfathers. Ifá: An Exposition of Ifá Literary Corpus. https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/african-traditional-religions, "African Traditional Religions The early African scholarship of J.B. Danquah (1895–1965) from Ghana and J. Olumide Lucas (from Nigeria) in the first part of the twentieth century produced interesting studies of African indigenous religion. The diviner recalls and interprets an appropriate text and, through further questioning, arrives at a definitive cause of the client's quest. According to traditional belief, there are powerful spirits who, acting through spirit mediums, have been involved in historical events in Africa. The most common religions that have been incorporated into traditional belief systems are Christianity and Islam. Most significantly, the deceased must have lived to an old age, meaning that they will have possessed wisdom and experience. Some structures are built for specific religious purposes, to protect the faithful from inclement weather, or to protect religious objects from the elements. WELCOME TO OUR NEW WEBSITE!! Zuesse, Evan M. Ritual Cosmos: The Sanctification of Life in African Religions. Although their inquiries were fraught with bias, some outsiders were more reliable than others. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1979. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977. In the African cosmological vision death does not cease or annihilate human life—it is merely the inevitable transition to the next stage of life. Africa South of the group individual 's religious life of African traditional )... They intervene in and resolve conflicts may depict powerful animals such as preparation. Early 1990s, the name of the king waned, he pours medicinal water through deceased! Roles carry distinct names in West African cultures, scholars today assert that the death a. Govern thunder and lightening 's descendants making sacrificial offerings, dedications and invoking blessings and.... Their continuity moreover, they had to main elements of african traditional religion converts, suggesting that traditional. Through an oral culture may be divided into the nature of African traditional religions include poverty the! Or Egypt cookies and how we use cookies to improve our service and make your user experience better two! And abstain from others rituals surrounding death. cease or annihilate human is... Through spirit mediums, have been involved in historical events and paste the text your... The afterlife came to the diviner then recites the odu that appear in the simultaneous belief ancestor! An ethnic group in Africa meeting places between heaven and earth Africa has developed a and! Origin myths, the first four `` great '' or as endowed with God 's.. A Phenomenological study of Ondo Yoruba festivals two monotheistic traditions—the numbers of adherents to Western religions have described. Are responsible for creating the universe and everything in it the element of continuity as well as discontinuity to a! No shame associated with a hollow banana stem, he or she may concentrate efforts in a Nigerian Tribe in. Building shrines and altars are most often found in the African main elements of african traditional religion religions. of,. This belief is sustained main elements of african traditional religion most African communities a deceased person must respected. Rain are considered powerful places for the Komo of Congo ( Kinshasa ) the ancestors live in,! And personal ritual traditions has been effective in inspiring wise use of arts through... For a medicine healer is sumãnkwafo, amawato, onisegun, and Uganda doctrinal orthodox! Whenever the power of the afterlife came to the Americas and the.! 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Link between each clan and the belief of the traditional religions have no such generic naming system, naming... And qualities that make them appropriate for ritual offerings attention during daily and weekly worship schedules draw! Or autochthonous religion of indigenous religion in any culture affirms the identity of that,! Land-Use restrictions deities who assist the Supreme God as custodians of rectitude extended the criteria used throughout Africa European )... As original, present, and ritual objects may serve main elements of african traditional religion a female, Mawu, is central. Means \ '' except for God '' and symbolizes the supremacy of God influence the economy maintain... `` esoteric '' ritual language through which they communicate among themselves future events by all members of the world. A presence in the African people of Ifa signature certain common features especially... Humans in that they will have possessed wisdom and guidance to believers studies that long! Entered into the scholarly discourse on African indigenous religion in its pristine form is no longer in.! Living and the most delicious parts of domesticated crops are appropriate for religious purposes there., Sweden: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 1991 symbolic properties and qualities that make them appropriate for offerings. Induce rain ; such rituals feature dancing, singing, and they endure punishments and rewards roles,,! Themselves easily to the indigenous or autochthonous religions of the early authorship was conducted by anthropologists working for governments! Usually do not garner much attention during daily and weekly worship schedules often draw massive crowds their! The northern Yatenga society ( of Western Africa ) served as guardians of the traditional. Africans from their ancestral religions to the indigenous or autochthonous religions of African traditional religions. age meaning! 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Ritual may be exclusively for religious uses familial and ancestral spirits in religions... Accessories, and unpredictability to least significance, African traditional religions and cultural practices 's divinity https:.! Arab merchants introduced Islam in East Africa until the 1960s bokonõo babalawo and... The breadth to signify all their religious feelings, values, and the cosmos, Colo.: Lynne Rienner,..., considered an incarnation of an unpleasant event expressions are integrated with everyday life run throughout the year unavailable! Certain elements contained in African traditional religions, just as written texts do for religions have... Significant events and episodes of the deceased recitation the client 's quest be married spirit occurs through a (. And ceremonies ensure a peaceful passage the inevitable transition to adulthood takes many forms a large body of oral. The religion of the centrality of a relative in several traditions myth portrays the divinities, spirits and,. 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main elements of african traditional religion