Friday, February 25, 2011

African Religions


African Religions
A Kwa Ba of the Ashanti
Religion has always played a major part in the different cultures of Africa.
Each group of people in separate regions of the continent have creation stories that tie them directly to the God or Gods they worship.
Usually the God would create the Earth and animals and last would create the humans to take dominion over the region in which the people happen to inhabit.
The four primary sources for the study of African religion are the:
1. Oral traditions that are told from parents to children and priests to the people for centuries.
2. Archeological and linguistic evidence tells of the remaining of the ancient people1s beliefs by physical evidence of their religion and way of life and the speech patterns
that have evolved over the years.
3. The religions that are still practiced give a definitive view of the way religions were practiced in the old days.
4. The arts and sacred spaces have to do with what is considered Holy by the different practicing groups.
Many beliefs common among different African religions appear in their creation stories such as:
1. The spiritual cosmos populated by divine beings, sometimes in a hierarchial order.
2. The belief of Earth and material life as created.
3.A multitude of Gods and other spirits.
4.The role of ancestors.
5.A belief in sacred places and spaces such as a mountain that God inhabits.
6.Males and females as parts of the cosmic scheme.
7. Idea of society being organized around values and traditions drawn from common beginnings in history.
The religious leaders in many of Africa's religions have tried, sometimes in vain, to preserve the society from foreigners encroaching upon their lands and customs.
Their role has always been to preserve the histories and traditions of the people. They teach the ways of survival to the people, be it wedding procedures or planting times
the village priest is there to and serve through the God. The rituals practiced in many traditional African societies are all connected by the belief of being stepping stones to the ultimate goal of death and the afterlife. There are rituals that enhance all of the transitional stages of life such as birth, puberty, initiation into adulthood, marriage, having children, old age, death and life after death. The rituals allow the people celebrating to know what is expected of them in the next stage of their life and what is socially acceptable.


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