history, religion and even philosophy; but cannot say that they have no culture. God(s) and forces in the public square, 2. Download PDF. Beyond the experience of individuals, states also seek divine blessing. Traditional African Religion • 1. Indeed, whether it is the disruptions of religion-led revolution, the work of religious development agencies responding to natural disasters, peace-making efforts of religious diplomats or a myriad of other examples, even a glance at global affairs over recent decades seems to support the comment of sociologist Peter Berger that ‘the world today … is as furiously religious as it ever was, and in some places more so than ever’ (1999, 2). 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. Sacred stories, ideas and teachings from the past have a richness and power that can influence political affairs today and the aspirations we hold for tomorrow. Like almost all civilizations and cultures, flood myths have been circulating in different parts of Africa. The following four elements of religion may provide a useful introduction. Although the word ‘faith’ can be associated with belief in unseen realities, humans throughout time have needed to see, touch and smell the sacred. Thomas Merton once described his experience of watching Trappist monks perform the rituals of the Catholic Mass in very political terms. It can be strongly argued that neither scenario exists in pure form. Do you think religious influence on global affairs is a welcome inclusion or a significant problem? Likewise, in Myanmar (formerly Burma) an influential group of religious monks has started a movement intent on imposing Buddhist principles on the whole country, including non-Buddhist minorities. It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. Watch the recordings here on Youtube! Sacred stories connecting past, present and future, 4. Lines are drawn by religions even though many look to religion as a way of life. Traditional Religion as a source of African theology just as Christian theology is. Likewise, in Myanmar, the so-called Saffron Revolution of 2007 saw Buddhist monks stand with the poor against the ruling military dictatorship and support the beginnings of multi-party democracy. 1. worth. ÛzÃ*sxÑ ²äQ*Êk”–ÜÅ׋7Eèâ€Už{wÒ,ó@~•»2@cHÒy뀫$Ød¬d™¤¡§óħX_ðÆ4êÖázא\ØèíńÿÖ+à´Zl{QµV[»ûØJ4i§PœÀ,1ú»æó),“€3=o=5ÖB'@¼ÃJ¶j;Ôdòj1§)Æ%¦6»1ÿ. Likewise, when religion has been expelled from the public domain, religious actors and interests go underground waiting for a chance to re-emerge. The traditional values of the African includes among others: large family, love for and practice of the extended family system, respect for old people, ancestor worship, traditional religion, African loves nature and seeks harmony with it. Local African culture was oppressed for many years by white South Africans, who find their cultural roots in … b. African Traditional Religion (ATR): African traditional religion is the belief system that has been handed down from one generation to another. Traditional African religion is very popular and arrived here with our North and West African ancestors. This contrasts strongly with secular approaches that demote, and sometimes deny altogether, a role for religion in political affairs. The Main Characteristics of African Traditional Religion.ATR) to the two mission religions. The concept of culture includes not For more information contact us at info@libretexts.org or check out our status page at https://status.libretexts.org. In the 1990s members of both communities appealed to one aspect of Jubilee – a tradition of debt cancellation found in the Hebrew Bible – as the basis for addressing the debt crisis facing developing nations. The people were born, nurtured and they grew in it. This court has the power to veto laws of parliament and decide who can hold power. These men, hidden in the anonymity of their choir and their white cowls, are doing for their land what no army, no congress, no president could ever do as such: they are winning for it the grace and the protection and the friendship of God. This implies that there is no tension between the major elements of African Traditional Religions and … connotes some element of primitiveness, I have nevertheless used it in this essay for lack of a better term. Our senses are portals to the spirit. African Traditional Religion (ATR) and cultural practices in most parts of African communities are environmentally friendly and sustainable, contributing so much to natural resource sustainability and conservation (International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), 1992). AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION Religion is a difficult subject to inquiry including attempts at definition and conception. For example, over one-fifth of states today have a monarch (such as a king, queen or emperor). African Traditional Religion during my semester at This means that traditional African religion cannot be separated from daily life. Africa Traditional ... African understanding and the interpretation of Christianity have deep roots in these fundamental beliefs of the African traditional religions. While some religious rituals are private or hidden, many are performed in public spaces or in ways that are openly accessible to wider society. The religious beliefs, practices and the€human characteristics (such … Roman For many Africans and Ghanaians, in particular, it is religion more than anything else that shapes their worldview and participation in … What is common to both fundamental and contextual religious traditions is an understanding that politics is in some sort of interactive relationship with the intentions of, or traditions shaped by, gods (or God) and spiritual forces. Missed the LibreFest? For some religions, however, time itself is an illusion and the main focus is living in the now according to sacred ideas rather than the connection of past–present– future. 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. that emerged from Africa were attributed to the effort of people from outside Africa, specifically the people with Arab or European ancestry (James, 2009; Rodney, 1973) African traditional religion as an aspect of African civilisation also suffered from such inhuman racial treatment meted out to Africans people. It will show that traditional practices disclose that African societies were conscious of the need to protect their environment in the past. The LibreTexts libraries are Powered by MindTouch® and are supported by the Department of Education Open Textbook Pilot Project, the UC Davis Office of the Provost, the UC Davis Library, the California State University Affordable Learning Solutions Program, and Merlot. It is true that based on the consideration of culture as that . For example, religious development organisations such as the Aga Khan Development Network (also from the Shia branch of Islam) work in areas of health care and education in countries of Africa and Asia without seeking to control entire political systems. which marks a people out from others, groups one can rightly say that there are many cultures in Africa. The fourth element common to most religions is the need for believers to belong to a faith community in order to practice sacred rituals and reinforce the truth of sacred stories. (Merton 1948, 325). Legal. In Iran, for example, the highest court in the land is a religious one, drawing its principles from the Shia branch of Islam – the second largest Islamic tradition worldwide after the majority Sunni tradition. [ "article:topic", "showtoc:no", "license:ccbysa", "authorname:smmclincheywalters" ], https://socialsci.libretexts.org/@app/auth/2/login?returnto=https%3A%2F%2Fsocialsci.libretexts.org%2FBookshelves%2FSociology%2FBook%253A_International_Relations_(McGlinchey)%2F09%253A_Religion_and_Culture%2F9.01%253A_Elements_of_Religion, Stephen McGlinchey, Rosie WAters & Christian Scheinpflug, 1. African Religions Philosophy. They counteracted various derogatory names given to AIR. Folklore and religion See also: African traditional religions and Religion in Africa Central mosque in Nouakchott, Mauritania Like all human cultures, African folklore and religion represents a variety of social facets of the various cultures in Africa. When we speak of African Traditional Religion, we mean the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Africans. In Africa, the traditional belief systems hold the ascription These figures represent peo-ple who primarily follow African traditional religion; however, there are also Christians and Muslims who still practice elements of traditional African religion alongside their professed beliefs. Do you believe that religion has a role to play in public debates or should it be confined to private spirituality only? What would the benefits and losses be in each situation? Missiologists have worked more broadly on a correlation of Christianity with African culture as a whole, speaking in terms of an ethnotheology. Unless otherwise noted, LibreTexts content is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. Rosa Parks, an African American woman who famously refused to obey American racial segregation laws and sparked a nation-wide civil rights movement in the 1960s, is often lauded as a heroic individual. Therefore, rituals function as tangible symbols of the intangible realm. Different religious traditions understand the influence of religion upon politics in different ways. African Traditional Religion: A Definition (1973), Omosade Awolalu in Yoruba Belief and Sacrificial Rites and John Mbiti in The Concept of God in Africa (1970) are a few examples of postcolonial scholars of religion who have resisted and denounced colonial idea that Africans do not know God. Although many dimensions of the religious experience can be ‘politics-free’, both history and contemporary events remind us that these combined elements of religion can have a political impact on individuals, nations and international society. This may be true, but as a member of a religious community that affirmed human dignity and the divine principles of racial equality, Rosa Parks was never acting in isolation (Thomas 2005, 230–240). It originated from the soil of Africa. When we speak of African Traditional Religion, we mean the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Africans. Click Download or Read Online button to get African Religions Philosophy book now. African culture has experienced rapid change since the colonial invasion. Both forms of faith commitment are expressions of religion as ‘identity politics’ connected to who we are (that is, who we understand ourselves to be) and how we live. 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. For ... whether African Traditional Religion should be termed monotheistic or polytheistic. This site is like a library, Use search box in the widget to get ebook that you want. From our own study of the African Traditional Religion, we find there are unmistakably elements of animism. 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. This is enfolded in religious beliefs, partly because religion permeates nearly all aspects of African life. God(s) ... Rosa Parks, an African American woman who famously refused to obey American racial segregation laws and sparked a nation-wide civil rights movement in the 1960s, is often lauded as a heroic individual. Religion in Igbo traditional society partakes fully of all the features of world traditional religion, including its beliefs, sacred myths, oral qualities, strong appeal to the hearts of adherents, high degree of ritualization, and possession of numerous participatory personages such as officiating elders, kings, priests, and diviners. They echoed the fact that “Africans had known God before the missionaries came” (Ray XI). Great African civilizations such as Pharaonic Egypt, etc. This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. These beings are sometimes understood as a knowable God or gods, sometimes as mythical and symbolic figures from our ancient past and sometimes as impersonal forces beyond the physical realm. From an individual point of view, we could address this question by asking what it would be like to live in societies that are either entirely controlled by religion, or entirely without religion. In the words of Robert Keohane, the events of 9/11 provoked the realization that ‘worldshaking political movements have so often been fuelled by religious fervour’ (2002, 29). The elaborate rituals of monarchies worldwide are understood by their subjects to symbolise divine blessing for the realm and its citizens, redefining where the real power lies. African Traditional religion (ATR) is one of the world religions with a great people and a great past. In these examples, religious politics is adapted to changing circumstances and takes into account diverse interests and beliefs across society. Following the Al Qaeda attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 (often called 9/11), studies of religion in world politics increased sixfold. Although monarchs differ in the extent of their powers – from figureheads controlled by parliaments to absolute rulers to variations of these – they all draw their power from some form of religious or spiritual authority. protection efforts. The third element of religion is teaching traditions based on stories of significant figures, events and ideas from the past and beliefs about the future of time itself – like a spoiler alert about the end of the world. The following four elements of religion may provide a useful introduction. Such a view also seems supported by the numbers as ‘worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group’ (Pew 2012, 9). African scholars like John S. Mbiti and E. Bolaji Idowu, in 1970s and 1980s, set out to refute some of the erroneous claims about African religions. Sacred symbols (re)defining what is real, 3. take more objective view, seeing some value in social functions of African religions • 3. Africa's influential university departments of religion have usually approached the theme in terms of establishing correlations between Christianity and Africa's traditional religions. Native African historians and scholars, from mid-20th c. Download African Religions Philosophy PDF/ePub or read online books in Mobi eBooks. If African traditional religion is studied just … This book highlights and discusses the common elements which introduce African Traditional Religion as one unified religion and not a collection of religions. The following are the useful basic themes in exploring the African worldview: Supreme Being In traditional African society, there is implied and widespread belief in a Supreme Being, God. The traditional African religions or traditional beliefs and practices of African people are a set of highly diverse beliefs that includes various ethnic religions. These elements – interpreting the past, projecting the future, living now – are basic to the development of political ideologies also. This view gave Africans and their religion, which was battered and ...Elements of Religion James Morales REL-133 April 17, 2013 Joseph Becker Elements of Religion Religion is a way of life for much of mankind, and though all religions are not the same, do all religions do the same thing? As such, they are a part of public life – which is one of the original definitions of the word politics. Are you numbered among the 20 or 80 per cent? Regardless of where we stand, it appears a closer look at the ‘religion question’ is in order if we are to establish a fuller picture of IR. Faso more than 33 percent follow African religion, although it is not the religion of the majority. Only a few years later, this sacred story was used for very different purposes by US president George W. Bush, who celebrated the 2003 invasion of Iraq by quoting a Jubilee text from the Book of Isaiah: ‘To the captives come out, and to those in darkness be free’ (Monbiot 2003). Inter-religious relations, especially, among African Traditional Religion (ATR) worshippers, Muslims and Christians are becoming sources of social tension and violence. ó9Ž“ Aõg,¥¶(Óßԏ£jµj*E?ßúÒö Merton’s experience of redefining power and influence through sacred symbols is true for millions of people practising thousands of different religious rituals each day. For instance, empowered by belonging to a faith community, individuals can act in ways that they might not otherwise have done in isolation. For example, both Jews and Christians uphold the idea of ‘Jubilee’ as central to understanding the story and/or future promise of a Messiah who would usher in a new era of justice with peace (or ‘shalom’). Thus, some religious politics is based on ‘fundamentals’ that, in the view of adherents, cannot be changed without the standards of society also being compromised. Foreign anthropologists from late 19thc. Other traditions are low demand, adopting a more flexible approach to the requirements for belonging faithfully to the community. Therefore, sometimes religious and political groups can appeal to the same stories or ideas even though the interpretation or intent may differ significantly. When religion has been used to dominate the public square, a diversity of groups (non-religious and religious) have risen in opposition. We also acknowledge previous National Science Foundation support under grant numbers 1246120, 1525057, and 1413739. :t\.1biti's approach assumes that "Christianity comes to enhance African traditional religions." The first element of religion is the belief that divine beings and/or forces hold relevance to the meaning and practice of politics today and throughout history. For examples of different studies that consider the public rituals of Judaism, Islam and Hinduism respectively see Beck (2012), Bronner (2011) and Haider (2011). European Christian missionaries from 16th century onwards see African religions as demonic, primitive, evil & stupid • 2. It is embraced by Africans within and outside the continent despite the various ethnic religious practices and beliefs. It is the religion which resulted from the sustaining faith held by the forebears of the present Africans, and which is being practised today in various forms and A community worshiping and acting together. religion a vehicle through which Christianity could be propagated had for long dominated the thought of the African indigenous Christian theologians who could aptly be described as confessional scholars” ( Onunwa, 1990 ). Contemporary African culture is a mixture of traditional elements and alien features. It is a tolerant, accommodative and peaceful religion that … By contrast, traditions that adopt a ‘contextual’ approach hold that politics is a matter of influencing society according to divine principles but as part of a wider tapestry of influences. The symbol can be found throughout Ghana. For religious adherents, rituals symbolise spiritual truths but they can also redefine how power can be understood in the material world. This Ghanaian Adinkra symbol means \"except for God\" and symbolizes the supremacy of God. The second element of religion are rituals that re-order the world according to religious principle. Have questions or comments? The connection between religion and identity politics can have individual and international significance. The four elements of religion described above – the significance of gods and spirits, the power of holy rituals, the telling of sacred stories and belonging to faith communities – seem in their own ways to be a core aspect of the human condition in the twenty-first century. In this paper, we shall be dealing with African culture and drawing examples from Nigerian culture. He wrote: The eloquence of this liturgy [communicated] one, simple, cogent, tremendous truth: this church, the court of the Queen of Heaven, is the real capital of the country in which we are living. hand with the study of the people who practise the religion. The most important thing is that in the new South Africa religion and spirituality are used to create greater understanding and harmony rather than to divide people as was done in the past. Traditions that we might call ‘fundamental’ propose that politics is a matter of organising society according to divine commands. Can religion be considered as a way to unite mankind, or viewed as a way to segregate them. This can be understood internationally also, as many (if not most) faith communities have a transnational membership, and some of these exert significant influence on political issues varying from religion-inspired terrorist action against ‘Western’ values (after all, not all religious politics is peace-orientated) to faith coalitions for environmental sustainability. It is no wonder that the anthropologist Talal Asad once observed that what we today call religion has ‘always been involved in the world of power’ (2003, 200). Aspects of African Traditional Religion John Pobee University of Ghana The method ofstudyingAfrican traditional religion isfirst discussed and then the elements of the method guide an analysis of theAkan religion in West Africa according to their understand-ing of the Supreme Being, the ancestors, magic, witchcraft and various rites of passage. 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