RELIGION is a fundamental and one of the most essential influences in the lives of most Africans, yet it’s also one of their least understood facets. And this is where you get terms like “Witchcraft”, “Black Magic” and “Juju”; ascribed to African indigenous religions. But what do Africans actually practice?
Africa is a very big and very diverse continent. It is packed with dramatic geographical differences and cultural diversity. There are more than 40 separate countries in sub-Saharan Africa alone, each with its own history, political situation, numerous ethnic groups, and multiple languages. And that’s why it’s not possible to talk about the African Traditional Religion as a single coherent body of belief and practice that can be identified as “African Religion.”
Traditional beliefs and practices of African people(or Traditional African Religions) are a collection of varying beliefs that include multiple ethnic iterations. These beliefs are usually oral rather than doctrinal/scriptural, which includes belief in a variety of higher and lower gods, belief in spirits, veneration of ancestors, the use of magic and traditional African medicine in healing practices.
And although non-Africans have historically highlighted the multiple divinities and ancestral spirits in indigenous African religions, other notable features exist. African cosmogony, for example, posits the existence of a Supreme Being who created the universe and everything in it, as well as a well-defined cosmology that describes the nature of the universe and how it came to be.
Religion also has a clear and well-established ancestral ritual process that links the living with their deceased family members (ancestors) to seek guidance in times of hardship while offering sacrifices in times of prosperity. These spirits also play a prominent role in community affairs, thus ensuring a connection between each clan and the spirit world.
In addition, Africans are profoundly spiritual people and rituals are a very important part of their religion. Themes like rites of passage, harvest, conflict, peace, etc; have each its own distinctive ritual. This is because rituals give a concrete expression to religious practices, and make the whole process a communal endeavor.
Join us as we dive deeper and take a closer look at the African spirituality that for centuries shaped African peoples’ philosophy and world-view.