introduction to african religion
This is a high school text book, and, as such, a very good basic introduction to the topic of traditional African religion. Show more. So that’s the first big difference between the African world-view and world-views that we are familiar with. It adequately fills the void that confronts people (not just students) meeting African traditional religion for the first time, and addresses the true nature of the religion. Introduction Three religions dominates African continent: ATR, Islam and Christianity. Essentials of African Traditional Religions, by Dr. Timothy Tennent, Lecture 1: Introduction to African Traditional Religion, Lecture 2: African Traditional Religion in Practice, Lecture 3: Tier 3: The Role of Ancestors in Yoruba Cosmology, Lecture 4: Christian Interaction with ATR, Essentials of African Traditional Relgions, Introduction to African Traditional Religion. Introduction to African Religion. It seemed to be that Africans worshipped innumerable mystical forces, ghosts, ancestors, divinities of various kinds, and yet they seemed also to have occasional references to a supreme god. Introduction to African Religion John S. Mbiti Snippet view - 1975. Classifications Dewey Decimal Class 299/.6 Library of Congress BL2400 .M383 1975 ID Numbers Open Library OL5256656M Internet Archive introductiontoaf0000mbit_f4f6 ISBN 10 0435940015 LC Control Number 75329994 Library Thing … So this shaman figure is used quite a bit in these societies. Well you should always view African religion as divided into multiple tribes and clans that practice various religious activities. The second tier is often, though not always, bifurcated between a group of non-human divinities and a cult of human but divinized ancestors. An Introduction to African Religion (2nd Edition) Authors: John S. Mbiti. They are as numerous as the ethnic groups that are present on the continent of Africa, and so therefore there’s no single creed or orthodoxy that can easily summarize the belief systems of African religions. Now “shaman” is a word which comes actually from Siberian culture, and a shaman is someone who manipulates the spirits, and the spirit can sometimes possess them and animate the shaman, and can even speak through them. The word “taboo” is a word that’s often synonymous with our word for “forbidden”. But we also want to balance that out as E. Bolaji Idowu has said, “There is a common African-ness about the total culture and religious beliefs and practices of Africa.” So from that point of view, it can be spoken of in the singular. This is deliberate. So this is something that is part of the fetishes or ritual objects that are manipulated in African society. So this is one of the rites of passage. Second Edition . Introduction to African Religion. ed. They’ll make sacrifices, they’ll offer chants and so forth, and this is the general structure of the African Traditional Religion. Although animism still is in fact present in Africa like fetishism or juju, it is simply inadequate as an all-encompassing expression that is descriptive properly of African Traditional Religion. Now it’s important to recognize that in this second tier, I particularly used the word “divinity”. Another rite of passage is the transition from childhood to adulthood, and this tends to be very important in many of the traditional cultures in Africa. About the Author: Canon Professor John Mbiti, an Anglican priest from Kenya, taught Theology and Religion for many years at Makerere University in Uganda. There are more than 200 distinct indigenous societies, all with different languages and economic systems and cultures, all very unique. It is comprehensive and accessible in language. This is what one finds when you walk into Africa, and this is what the anthropologists discovered early on, and the missionaries. Africa’s a very large and diverse continent; it’s even larger than North America or Australia. If you look at African religion region-by-region, generally sub-Saharan Africa is divided into west Africa, east Africa, and south Africa. They often will refer to the supreme god as a sky god because the sky god is the one who often dwells in a remote place and is often associated with creation, and then you have the ancestors and sometimes spirits (we’ll call them divinities here) that often serve in this functional capacity. And it’s fundamental to understand African religions to see that you don’t have the basic western approach which is: Christianity explains that which we cannot see. Now I want to stop right there and say that in the early missionary encounters with Africa, many of the missionaries did not believe that the Africans worshipped a supreme being, and so they came back and said they were polytheistic, that is, they believe in many gods rather than monotheistic belief in one god. In southern Africa, the coast of Africa, you have South Africa itself, you have Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia – all of these countries in south Africa represent a place where western colonization did in fact put the presence of the west with African societies and cultures. Normally this comes through the expression of exercising some kind of ritualized power. Introduction to African Religion. The earlier idea was that African Traditional Religions were incompatible with monotheism. Concepts of God in Africa. Introduction to African religion by Mbiti, John S., 1991, Heinemann Educational Books edition, in English - 2nd rev. Everything is done through intermediaries. Buy Used $99.99 $ 23.39 … And so there’s a little more flexibility regarding the role of beliefs and how that functions with the larger structure of African religion. We have this in Islam, we have this in Christianity, we have this in Judaism (Judaism has Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs where men and women will go into accepting the yoke of the Torah and the responsibilities of Jewish life). Second edition. So normally we refer to African Traditional Religions in the plural, and it’s simply summarized or written in notation form as “ATR” – African Traditional Religion. And what he points out is that the enlightenment world-view in the west created what he calls the “excluded middle”, in a sense that we had a scientific world-view that accepted all of the things of the sense-world. He was trying to find a way to capture the one and the many in the African context. And so you should always view this kind of shading going on. They had a lot of trade with the Arabs along the coast of east Africa, and this is where Islam is actually the strongest, in this area. Another term that’s used a lot in African religion is the phrase “rites of passage”. In the African culture, it’s more natural to assume that the reason is spiritual, and therefore you go to a healer that will conduct rituals or chants, or use these fetish objects or whatever is necessary in order to deliver you from this spiritual problem. So in other words you basically have mediators such as priests or sometimes chiefs or what used to be called “witch doctors” (we’ll call these “herbalists”), mediums, diviners, prophets – these are all people that are exercising ritualized power in order to keep the system in harmony. x, 211 p. : 22 cm … That occurs on the second tier. 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. It’s filled with dramatic geographic differences and cultural diversity. John Mbiti. To the African, the visible and the invisible – the material and spiritual, the temporal and non-temporal, the sacred and the profane -- all overlap and shade into one another. So these are real differences, where thankfully we’ve had some correctives in Pentecostals and other more recent Christian groups that have tried to bring in a larger world-view. Super Duper Safety School: Safety Rules For Kids & Grown-Ups! In taboo, it can mean also that a physical object, a person, or a place, can not only be forbidden, but may carry spiritual powers that one has to manipulate ritually. Instead, we should see at the top tier a supreme being, but this supreme being is frequently a distant figure, maybe associated with creation or some kind of larger power to keep things in order or in harmony, but is not the focus of the daily religion of Africa. Paperback View All Available Formats & Editions. But in my view none of these terms will ever be fully adequate to describe the African religious tradition. And then that shades down once again into various functionaries – mediators, priests, and so forth, herbalists, that mediate this power. Oftentimes when you look at world religion, you ask questions like: “What do they believe?”; “What are their underlying doctrines?”; and so forth. Includes index. Man, Myth, Messiah: Answering History’s Greatest Question, The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast & Capri: Car Tours and Walks (Sunflower Landscapes). Plus easy-to-understand solutions written by experts for thousands of other textbooks. I mentioned earlier this term “herbalists”, and I said this was in place of the term “witch doctor”. Later, a well-known writer named Percy Talbot, who wrote in the 60’s a classic multi-volume work entitled The Peoples of Southern Nigeria, refused to characterize African religion with any one word. Of course the Christian world- view comes in and challenges this by saying there is a world beyond the sensory world; the enlightenment world-view is inadequate. Date: 07/28/1992 Publisher: Waveland Press, Inc. Introduction to African Religion . The second fundamental difference between the African and the western world-views is that fundamental to the African world-view is the belief in the hierarchy of power and being. That is, a belief in a single god in which there exist other powers which get diffused out in to subordinates who serve that one god. On one hand, there’s one god at the highest tier, but he expresses himself through many second-tier deities known as divinities. (888) 358-9998. Welcome to the summary lecture of African Traditional Religions. And so these were named “witch doctors”; they’re often sometimes called “medicine men”. Introduction to African Religion (African Writers) "synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title. And even nature itself is part of this ongoing continuum. Date: 07/28/1992 Publisher: Waveland Press, Inc. Introduction to African Religion . However this has a lot of problems. And therefore a better approach is to construct a broader African religious cosmology which extends beyond any one term. So there are different portions of Africa, and we’re speaking in general terms of the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, and trying to step back into the big picture and create a cosmology which will bring together many of the intellectual religious and cultural structures that make up African Traditional Religion. Share classes via social media, email, and more. Buy New $23.95. Marriage is very important in all cultures, but certainly in the African culture there are different kinds of emphases in marriage, but the wedding is a very important legal and social event, and it involves certain kinds of rites of passage and rituals that are practiced during that time. Now this is important because many times in the west we think of religions in terms of belief systems. Transcript. London: Heinemann, 1975. But in this case, we’ll refer to “deity” as that supreme being who occupies the highest tier, and as I mentioned before because there are hundreds of versions of African Traditional Religion in the world, and in sub-Saharan Africa, then of course we have to leave this as a generic supreme being but realize that it will be fleshed out in a particular form, in a very personalized form in the particular theologies of the local tribal religions. In this second edition, Dr Mbiti has updated his material to include the involvement of women in religion, and the potential unity to be found in what was once thought to be a mass of quite separate religions. Real Stories. Thirdly and finally (and these are just some general observations about the different cosmologies), Africans believe that the world was created in a spiritual harmony or equilibrium between all the forms of creation and the sources of power. But nevertheless, we want to distance ourselves from a number of the terms that have been used. But in African society, everything is done through intermediaries. Introduction to African religion by Mbiti, John S. Publication date 1991 Topics Africa -- Religion Publisher Oxford [England] ; Portsmouth, N.H., USA : Heinemann Educational Books Collection inlibrary; printdisabled; oliverwendellholmeslibrary; phillipsacademy; americana Digitizing sponsor Kahle/Austin Foundation Contributor Phillips Academy, Oliver Wendell Holmes Library Language … The fundamental problem with constructing an African religious cosmology is to understand how the one god and the many gods or lesser deities can co-exist in the African context. An Introduction To African Religion 2nd Edition by John S. Mbiti, An Introduction To African Religion 2nd Edition Books available in PDF, EPUB, Mobi Format. There are certain things which you should not do that are considered to be taboo – that would create chaos in the society. In looking at African religion, there are a number of things that we have to look at. Introduction to African religion This edition was published in 1975 by Heinemann Educational in London. So this creates a sense that intermediaries are necessary for conveying power, and we’ll see this is very important – it has implications, for example how the incarnation is understood in the African context. Buy Used $16.48 $ 23.95. Even Christians, if someone is sick, we go to the doctor; we don’t think about casting demons out of people. So part of what we want to do is to redress some of the miscommunications that have occurred about African religion, and seek to develop a way of looking at this which would be coherent. You can pray, and God who’s on the other side of the wall can hear us and he can answer prayer through this portal. This is also true in the African Traditional Religion. He found that frequently they did. In other words, it’s like a mirror that gives us a reflection into what’s beyond the wall. The questions in Appendix A … There are innumerable African stories and myths which are told which talk about how the world got off kilter, how things got out of harmony, and why certain rituals are being used to get things back. And because this deity was beyond us, he didn’t come into the normal rituals and daily practices that were often so present in African religious daily life and activities. Visit the President's page to see his availability to speak at your church or ministry. A divinity is another spiritual power, oftentimes non-human though sometimes in some cases the ancestors can evolve into these non-human figures. Current price is , Original price is $23.95. But we didn’t have a way of really dealing with the spiritual interaction in this world on this side of the enlightenment wall. In the case of African traditional religion, it can be traced back to the very beginning of the emergence of African peoples. So what you should envision is a spectrum that does not have clear demarcation, and sometimes the categories can become confused or overlap. So for example later on we’ll look at how this works out in Nigeria. Because of the general acceptance of the evolutionary theory which dominated the latter half of the 19th century, Tyler’s theory was interpreted to mean that animism gave rise to polytheism, which in turn evolved further to the stage of one supreme god over all other spirits, and this eventually led to the idea that ultimately Trinitarian monotheism was the highest form of religion. And so it’s now widely believed that Africa generally did not develop a supreme being as some kind of later development, after its encounter with Christianity or Islam. On the other hand, the scholars that have attempted to dismiss approaching African religions as if it’s impossible have been nevertheless brought back to the fact that there are a number of fundamental similarities in the structure of indigenous religions in general, and of African religion in particular. John S. Mbiti, widely acclaimed as the foremost voice in African theology today, is the author of “African Religions and Philosophy” and “Introduction to African Religion.” In this full-length interview, Prof. Mbiti gives us unique insights into the African worldview and the method behind African Christian theology. They’re a very important part of record-keeping, and keeping clear who belongs to who and where they’re from. a section on African proverbs, showing the religious and ethical insights handed down through oral tradition; new photographs reflecting the spread of African religions across the African continent; and a fully expanded reading list. Common terms and phrases. It stretches from Senegal along the Atlantic coast, all the way to Nigeria, down along the Gulf of Guinea. And therefore it’s nearly impossible to talk about African Traditional Religion as if it exists as a single coherent body of beliefs and practices which can be identified as “African religion”. Current price is , Original price is $24.95. Religions in Contemporary Africa is an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the three main religious traditions on the African continent, African indigenous religions, Christianity and Islam. Sometimes the ceremony, even though it’s associated with birth, may wait for weeks or months or even as long as a year after the birth to make sure that the child is going to live before they perform this rite of passage for the birth. Something that’s a very common aspect of traditional religions is the recognition that some objects carry spiritual power, and therefore should be forbidden in some ways. Normally, when you are born, that is considered a rite of passage, and there are certain kinds of religious activities and rituals and magic chants and various things that are done at the time of birth to protect the child from spiritual danger. Paperback. This is normal in many parts of the world. They’re often commonly misunderstood as idols, but they actually should be viewed as a pictorial genealogy which describes someone’s spiritual and sometimes physical descent. So if you wanted to discuss the possibility of a marriage arrangement, you would go through a wide range of people in order to finally get back the answer, rather than going directly. Traditionally, east Africans were farmers and livestock herders. Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: The Complete Story of Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket, and Roald Dahl’s Most Famous Creation. So others have suggested terms like “animism”. The purpose of this is to help to orient a person who would like to work in the context of Africa. The term “juju” comes from a French word which is used for a child’s toy doll. Now before we look at the actual example of how this might apply in different parts of Africa, (we’re going to begin by looking at west Africa and give you an example with the Yoruba religious cosmology in west Africa) I want to, before we get into that, clarify a few terms that are often used in African Traditional Religion. And then of course beneath the third tier, even though it’s not actually part of the formal structure of African Traditional Religion, you realize there are actual people that also function in various ways in worship and sacred acts of ritual practice. But in the case of African Traditional Religion, we can’t do this because there are so many different varieties of ATR that are throughout sub-Saharan Africa. This heritage, though contemporarily more dynamically evidenced, has a long history and influence. INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN RELIGION. 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Introduction to African Religion, Second Edition John S. Mbiti. But this person, this divinity would be a lower expression of God’s power. Request PDF | On May 3, 2008, Emeka Nwadiora and others published Spear Masters: Introduction to African Religions | Find, read and cite all the research you need on ResearchGate So what we are trying to do in this case is to acknowledge the fact that we do have people, and most traditional communities in Africa have resident experts who are experts in divination, in rituals, and the performance of magic. African religions are very diverse. There are more than 40 separate nations that occupy the continent of Africa south of the Sahara desert, each with its own history, political situation, numerous ethnic groups and multiple languages that comprise sub-Saharan Africa. The world beyond us is simply put aside as not really subject to our normal societal inquiry. As you can see from some of the early reports of Africa, African religion was simply not taken seriously, or it was dismissed wholesale as crude idolatry. After that he served as Director of the Ecumenical Institute Bossey, of the World Council of Churches near Geneva, Switzerland. That’s their deity. influence of modernism heralded by the colonial era, including the introduction of Islam, Christianity, Western education and improved medical facilities. Things like demons or spirits that are just normal in African cosmologies are alien to the western world-view. The book begins with a reference to the richness, variety and influence of African heritage. In “taboo”, the meaning, though, is beyond simply a word for “forbidden”. You often hear a word like “animism” – I think it goes back to the 19th century, with Edward Tyler, who first suggested the term “animism”. For the African, the universe is filled with various levels and sources of power and energy. Now this is important because we have kind of an enlightenment world-view in the west which creates a real firm barrier between that which we can see – the observable world of science (reflective of the world of hypotheses and concluding proofs of those hypotheses), that embraces science -- and the invisible world. We’ve seen this in films and books about Africa. It is not brought from outside. That’s what Idowu refers to as “diffused monotheism”. It is best distinguished as ATR. Course: Essentials of African Traditional Relgions, Lecture: Introduction to African Traditional Religion. They cherish their tradition; they worship with sincerity because their worship is quite meaningful to them; they hold tenaciously to their covenant that binds them together. And that shades down into humans and also nature itself. This is part of the way a lot of rituals are done, based on your age and your relationship to other people in your clan, and this is laid out through a totem, which is a way of showing the relationship of different people to other people. Discover more. Language . ], where he talks about what he calls “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle” . Oftentimes these fetishes would be ritually consecrated or animated by a spirit of some kind. We also, as we’ll see later on in this summary, find out that we have misunderstood Africa if we think that they do not have a belief in a supreme, single god. by John S. Mbiti | Read Reviews. If we want to ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, we go directly to the father. You . An introduction to the spiritual source of the beliefs and practices that have so profoundly shaped African American religious traditions. It starts out with the supreme god at the highest level -- the supreme being or creator, and shades down into the pantheon of divinities, which would include sometimes a hierarchy of divinities, some that are more powerful than others and so forth, and would include also in that same level potentially a pantheon of human but divinized ancestors. Anthropologists actually contributed to this as well, and oftentimes wrote denigrating studies of these early religious encounters which helped to create false impressions. So all of African religion involves in some way rituals designed either to maintain this harmony or in some cases to restore this harmony back to their society. Generally speaking, early observers of African religious practices all too quickly took appearance for reality, and symbol for the symbolized, and means for the end. Showing all editions for 'Introduction to African religion' Sort by: Format; All Formats (53) Book (3) Print book (50) eBook (3) Refine Your Search; Year. They were people that were caricatured as involved in superstition and animism and ancestor worship and so forth, and so there was a sense that it was not really worthy of study such as the higher religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam. That is to say they have a supreme being, but they have multiple deities that serve in a subsidiary way that serve the supreme deity. ISBN-10: 1478627069 ISBN-13: 9781478627067 Pub. Introduction to African Religion available in Paperback. Introduction to African Religion John S. Mbiti No preview available - 2015. Findings in African traditional religion Mbiti in his book looks to dissect the origins of African traditional religion, in specific by studying oral traditions. And this allows us to look at it as a structure, and then the particulars can be filled in based on where you are and what you’re looking at. We had a Christian overlay that gave us a strong sense of heaven, of God, eternal life, of the life to come – the eternal verities of the Christian faith we all accepted. Now the Greco-Christian cosmology is far more static, as we already saw in the last point -- far more radically demarcated and predictable. So these are some of the challenges that we’ve had. The BiblicalTraining app gives you access to 2,100 hours of instruction (129 classes and seminars). But certainly there’s no single codified system of beliefs and practices. The book provides a historical overview of these important traditions and focuses on the roles they play in African societies today. And so in many African societies your genetic descent is very important, and your clan’s relationship to other members of the clan is very important. "Mbiti's Introduction to African Religion gives richness, boldness, and pride to Africa's religious heritage in the face of proselytizing religions like Islam and Christianity. $23.95. Common terms and phrases. You . Another rite of passage is marriage. vi, 216. Introduction to African Religion. In African religion you must distinguish between the term “deity” and the term “divinity”, because in the west, we often use the word divinity or deity almost interchangeably because we’re in a context where monotheism has been dominant. Now let me explain what a cosmology is, as opposed to traditional examination of a world religion. The African cosmology is essentially dynamic, with various levels of power and being and vital interaction with one another, and with humanity. Livestock herders fetishes would be a lower expression of God ’ s like a mirror that gives us the obtainable! Also true in the west, with various levels and sources of power and.! 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