ASPECTS OF TRADITIONAL AFRICAN RELIGION
The traditional beliefs and rituals of Africans are quite varied and incorporate many different ethnic religions. These traditions, which are typically oral rather than written and handed down through folklore, songs, and festivals, include adoration of the dead, belief in ghosts, worship of multiple higher and lower gods, the practice of sorcery, and traditional African medicine. The majority of religions are animistic with varying polytheistic and pantheistic elements. Most people believe that humanity’s purpose is to balance the natural and supernatural worlds.
Over 100 million people in Africa practice traditional religions, which are practiced in 43 different nations. Africans frequently practice their traditional beliefs alongside Abrahamic religions, despite the fact that the majority of them are Christians or Muslims nowadays. Although primarily concentrated in different regions, the two Abrahamic religions are practiced widely throughout Africa. They have taken the place of native African faiths, yet they frequently incorporate African cultural backgrounds and religious practices. Early on, historically polytheistic African faiths began to include Abrahamic religious ideas, particularly monotheistic ones like the belief in a single creator god. The foundational idea of traditional African religions is animism. This encompasses the veneration of avenal gods, worship of the natural world, ancestor worship, and belief in the afterlife. While some religions have embraced a pantheistic worldview, the majority adhere to a polytheistic system with a variety of gods, spirits, and other paranormal beings. Fetishism, shamanism, and the adoration of artifacts are also components of traditional African religions. In Ganvie, Benin, a traditional Vodun dancer charms the gods and spirits. The majority of historic traditional faiths in the globe, including traditional African religions, were built on oral traditions. These customs are not religious doctrines but rather a cultural identity that is transmitted from one generation to the next through stories, myths, and tales. The environment, together with one’s family and community, is crucial to one’s personal life. The followers trust in the guidance of the ghosts of their forefathers. There are several types of priests and spiritual leaders in various traditional African religions. These people are crucial to the community’s survival on a spiritual and religious level. Similar to shamans, there are mystics who are in charge of healing and “divining,” or fortune telling and counseling.These ancient healers must be summoned by gods or ancestors. They receive rigorous instruction and pick up numerous useful talents, such as how to employ natural herbs for healing, as well as other, more esoteric abilities, including the ability to locate a hidden object without knowing where it is. In traditional African religion, relatives who have passed on are still connected spiritually to their ancestors. Ancestral spirits are typically benevolent and compassionate. Ancestral spirits may harm people in order to warn them that they are on the wrong road by causing minor ailments. Native African religions emphasize the veneration of ancestors, the concept of a spirit world, the existence of supernatural creatures, and free will (unlike the later developed concept of faith).
In the afterlife, there are still living humans, animals, and significant things that have power on or can interact with the physical world. Before Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were introduced, polytheism was practiced widely over most of ancient Africa and other parts of the world. The brief monotheistic religion founded by Pharaoh Akhenaten, which made it essential to pray to his own god Aton, was an exception (see Atenism). The following Pharaoh of Egypt reversed this major alteration to the old religion of Egypt.
Traditional African religions frequently feature lofty gods, along with other more specialized deities, ancestor spirits, territorial spirits, and creatures, emphasizing the sophisticated and complex culture of ancient Africa. A supreme deity or force, together with numerous other gods, deities, and spirits, often viewed as middlemen between humanity and the creator, is one of the monotheistic ideas that some research suggests may have existed in Africa prior to the spread of Abrahamic faiths.
These native ideas were distinct from the monotheistic practiced by Abrahamic religions. A clear connection exists between traditional African religions and traditional African medicine. According to Clemmont E. Vontress, a fundamental Animism unites the many religious traditions of Africa. He asserts that the most crucial aspect of African religions is the belief in ghosts and ancestors. Gods were either self-created or descended from ancestral spirits or other beings who were revered by the populace. Additionally, he points out that non-African faiths, particularly Christianity and Islam, had a significant influence on the majority of contemporary African folk religions, which may explain why they diverge from the traditional ones. Traditional African faiths typically uphold the notion of an afterlife (a spirit world or realms wherein spirits as well as gods exist), however some do not.
Rituals and practices
All traditional African religions share more commonalities than distinctions. Offering libations or making sacrifices is how the gods and spirits are worshipped (of animals, vegetables, cooked food, flowers, semi-precious stones and precious metals). The believer also seeks the will of the gods or spirits by consulting with divinities or through divination. Traditional African religions honor natural occurrences like the tides, the moon’s phases, rainy and dry seasons, and the repetitive patterns of agriculture. Traditional African religions and cultures have a strong connection to the natural world and the environment. This is largely due to the deep relationships between cosmology and beliefs and the environment and natural phenomena. Through the African people’s cosmology, all aspects of the weather, including thunder, lightning, rain, day, moon, sun, stars, and so on, may become subject to control.
The daily necessities of mankind are provided by natural events.