mixing of christianity and traditional african religions apush

Religious pluralism serves peace. While the recourse to traditional healers may be motivated in part by economic reasons and an absence of health care alternatives, it may also be rooted in religious beliefs about the efficacy of this approach. Then was he not there in other times and in such places as Mount Fuji and Mount Kenya, as well as Mount Sinai? It will keep me chewing for a long time, and it will most certainly feed my theological development. In Kenya I grew up in home, school and church milieus which held that the African religious and cultural background was demonic and anti-Christian. 0000000016 00000 n %%EOF All too often, the result is conflict and radicalisation. They depended on the labor of enslaved Africans who often constituted the majority of the population in these areas and developed their own forms of cultural and religious autonomy Examples: plantation agriculture, the Carolinas (rice), Barbados (sugar), tobacco Colonial government Some of these African diaspora religions include Cuban Regla de Ocha, Haitian Vodou, and Brazilian Candomble. OLUPONA: My father, a faithful Anglican priest, was a good example. For instance, in a few years time, I pray that I will be participating in an age-grade festival for men around 70 years of age called Ero in my native Nigerian community in Ute, in Ondo state. On returning home, the learned professor wrote an article using my brief answer as his title. Omissions? 300 ce). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). In most countries, however, less than one-in-twenty say this is their primary religious affiliation. But today that is not the case due to more exclusive-minded types of Christianity and Islam that see patronizing indigenous African beliefs and practices as violating the integrity of their Christian or Muslim principles, but I believe that one can maintain ones religious integrity and also embrace an African worldview. The continued influence of traditional African religion is also evident in some aspects of daily life. Religion Online is designed to assist teachers, scholars and general seekers who are interested in exploring religious issues. I want to walk with Jesus of Nazareth on the shores of Lake Galilee and the hillsides of Judea, through the gates of Jerusalem. Our editors will review what youve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Humans are spirits who inhabit the visible world. They write new content and verify and edit content received from contributors. v6 -j>,>Or%I&!To !{vgrh7xxDs}d[!$8k1zX+@}~ This chapter includes information on: Download chapter 1 in full (6-page PDF, <1MB), 1 The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in the easternmost part of North East Africa, on the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. I had it. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. The word Vodou means spirit or deity in the Fon language of the African kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin). /// Dans le nord-est du Zare, la communaut rurale Bira a t expose depuis plus de cinquante ans au message chrtien. That book was followed by a flurry of literature on the so-called "death of God" theology (if "theology" it was, for I would call it "atheology"). w?0t7/Oa84P]T}T}?gHq.qsRnkc;]X*s1!E"l^~K_/|j p z|9~p uf:}[Mc|4!#"Zg!/vc _~|oyuQ'dX :?NmU)?oPSw?6#?[OUN@6oz{j;\e7nWsV~XyU4vMm4#f4c:[Wefkd&88XB|cMh6)mt<4M8}; *:7??+0:0$! %PDF-1.3 As for the belief in God, it appears that the Bira have utilized Christianity to make their traditional God Mbali less remote and more caring, a change which has also made the Christian God more compassionate and forgiving of sins. Some people tried to involve Africa in the debate. Awolawu and Depamu (1979) According to all the major surveys, Christianity and Islam each represent approximately 40 percent of the African population. The rural Bira of northeastern Zaire have been exposed to the Christian message for well over half a century. For example, sickness in the indigenous African worldview is not only an imbalance of the body, but also an imbalance in ones social life, which can be linked to a breakdown in ones kinship and family relations or even to ones relationship with ones ancestors. When this happens, then a passage such as Hebrews 1:1-3 rolls down like mighty waters, full of exciting possibilities of theological reflection. They write new content and verify and edit content received from contributors. ancient Rome: Religious and cultural life in the 3rd century, This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/topic/religious-syncretism, Academia - Religious Syncretism as a Syncretistic Concept: The Inadequacy of the " World Religions " Paradigm in Cross-Cultural Encounter. xref Christianity is more dominant in the south, while Islam is more dominant in the north. Did he then reveal himself only in the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel and other personalities of the Bible? Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer, By Anthony Chiorazzi Harvard Correspondent. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. x\u}4`P}E#(9q"%LCl'KLb)Sfgdq N In respect and honor of my culture, I also dress in my traditional Nigerian attire when Im in my country. A semi-annual journal, it publishes peer-reviewed articles in both French and English devoted to social and cultural issues whether they are pre-historic, historic, contemporary, biological, linguistic, applied or theoretical in orientation. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. Its consequences for theological and ecclesiological developments are yet to be faced. Par consquent, Mbali-Dieu est la rponse crative des Biras une rencontre religieuse syncrtique. First, the association of traditional African religion with an other-worldly orientation may appear problematic, given the "pragmatic" basis of this religion. African spirituality simply acknowledges that beliefs and practices touch on and inform every facet of human life, and therefore African religion cannot be separated from the everyday or mundane. While Islam and Christianity tend to . But in practical terms, there is a Christian Yes to African religiosity. He must have been active among African peoples as he was among the Jewish people. The bottom line then is that Africans who still wholly practice African indigenous religions are only about 10 percent of the African population, a fraction of what it used to be only a century ago, when indigenous religions dominated most of the continent. Vodou, also spelled Voodoo, Voudou, Vodun, or French Vaudou, a traditional Afro-Haitian religion. I have been greatly enriched by working at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, 1974-1980. They derive from traditional African religions with some influence from other religious traditions, notably Christianity and Islam . The beliefs and practices of the traditional religions in Africa can enrich Christian theology and spirituality." Aujourd'hui, la plupart des Zariens sont soit catholiques, soit protestants; les Biras pour leur part sont principalement catholiques. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. 0000001519 00000 n 0000002026 00000 n OLUPONA: We would lose a worldview that has collectively sustained, enriched, and given meaning to a continent and numerous other societies for centuries through its epistemology, metaphysics, history, and practices. Unlike in Europe and the United States, very few people in sub-Saharan Africa say they are unaffiliated with a particular faith. OLUPONA: If we lose traditional African religions, we would also lose or continue to seriously undermine the African practice of rites of passage such as the much cherished age-grade initiations, which have for so long integrated and bought Africans together under a common understanding, or worldview. Supreme Court may halt health care guarantees for inmates, Why police resist reforms to militarization, Historian says Fla. dispute shows why AP class in African American studies is needed, Low-carb diet can help manage progression of Type 2 diabetes, Those breezy TV drug ads? Ifa is an indispensable treasure trove of knowledge that cant be duplicated elsewhere; much of its knowledge has been handed down from babalawo [Ifa priest/diviner] to babalawo for centuries. No viable theology can grow in Africa without addressing itself to the interreligious phenomenon at work there. The introduced religions of Islam (in northern Africa) and Christianity (in southern Africa) are now the continent's major religions, but traditional religions still play an important role, especially in the interior of sub-Saharan Africa. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). hb```b``g`a`.ef@ aV68+ +$.0t9$r8A2Or}6=<4. In 1900 there were an estimated 9 million Christians (accounting for about 7 per cent of the population of Africa). C'est l'poque de la colonisation belge que les premiers missionnaires catholiques et protestants sont arrivs dans cette rgion du Zare. In its place there emerged the word "also." I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge in 1963, the year that Honest to God, by J.A.T. GAZETTE: What will Africa lose if it loses its African indigenous worldview? For terms and use, please refer to our Terms and Conditions <> (I myself have consulted with several diviners for my research on specific academic topics regarding African culture and history; consequently, if we were to lose Africas diviners, we would also lose one of Africas best keepers and sources of African history and culture. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. OLUPONA: No, this type of binary thinking is simplistic. African development. This is not an empty coincidence. This number has since grown rapidly, to the point that in 1980 there are estimated to be 200 million Christians (or about 45 per cent of the population). These were not empty names. In the end, I believe that Africans can make room for a plurality of religious points of view without one religious point of view excluding or compromising the other. The rapid growth of many religions in Africa and the revival of AIR in postcolonial Africa have made inter-religious dialogue an urgent necessity. Oxford: Clarendon, 1994. This item is part of a JSTOR Collection. X0#J++?U;_3_gmx9[F\"{,Um1yu 9 ?ce%9EG`N: &U0EHC$p4=$'=DlX6M_7,--" This massive expansion within a short time is unprecedented in the history of Christianity. There are also secret societies, called Bizango or Sanpwl, that perform a religio-juridical function. Corrections? But they used the names of the God who was and is already known by African peoples -- such as Mungu, Mulungu, Katonda, Ngai, Olodumare, Asis, Ruwa, Ruhanga, Jok, Modimo, Unkulunkulu and thousands more. L'interdiction de pratiquer le culte des anctres est l'unique domaine dans lequel la mission chrtienne a triomph de la vie religieuse traditionnelle des Biras. Nevertheless, I am convinced that the World Council of Churches is a great witness of the Christian response to the prayer of our Lord that we may all be one. Spirit possession plays an important role in Afro-Haitian religion, as it does in many other world religions. I have seen the quest more sharply. Christianity in Africa dates to the very inception of the church. But it is nevertheless a working Yes and one that demands theological understanding. This approach is intended to shed further light on the problem of African cultural influence and . It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. The statistical expansion of the Christian faith in Africa in this century is one of the considerations that led me back to the issue of its relation with African religion. Vodou is a worldview encompassing philosophy, medicine, justice, and religion. Oral tradition says the first Muslims appeared while the prophet Mohammed was. But the basic truth seems to be that Gods revelation is not confined to the biblical record. Modernity has not put a total stop to its influence. It was during the Belgian colonial period that the first Catholic and Protestant missionaries came to this region of Zaire. (a) The Structures of African Traditional Religions: Sometimes it is a difficult task among scholars to choose a unanimous name for the religious traditions and beliefs of the African people. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock. God is not insensitive to the history of peoples other than Israel. He went on to conduct some of the most significant research on African religions in decades. 0000005714 00000 n GAZETTE: How would you define indigenous African religions? The success of Christianity and Islam on the African continent in the last 100 years has been extraordinary, but it has been, unfortunately, at the expense of African indigenous religions. It may be, and needs to be, a qualified and critical Yes. This re-ligion is found in almost all the activities of the African man. Their history has a theological meaning. African Traditional Religion in the Context of increasing Christian and Islamic Encounter . For over 200 years, Africans, largely from the west coast of Africa, were brought to the United States in the slave trade. One important task, then, is to see the nature, the method and the implications of Gods revelation among African peoples, in the light of the biblical record of the same revelation. Holding or maintaining to a uniform doctrine is not the essence of indigenous African religions. This article appeared in the Christian Century, August 27- September 3, 1980, pp. This rapid spreading of the Christian faith where people have been predominantly followers of African religion provokes interesting questions. That would be a serious loss not only for Africans, but also for academics, researchers, writers, and general seekers of wisdom the world over. He later earned both an M.A. Amen. But I am grateful for that one step I may be taking under the light of this vision. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. 0000002505 00000 n I told my father that I was coming home, he recalled. The church is composed largely of people who come out of the African religious background. That which had been seen as the enemy of the gospel turns out (to me) to be indeed a very welcoming friend. GAZETTE: How do you balance your Christian and indigenous African identity? Since I myself had never heard any lectures on African religion, I set out to do research on the subject in order to teach the course adequately. For instance, the Yoruba religion has historically been centered in southwestern Nigeria, the Zulu religion in southern Africa, and the Igbo religion in southeastern Nigeria. The councils programs in response to these problems are impressive. The numerous traditional African religions have in common the notion of a creator god, who made the world and then withdrew, remaining remote from the concerns of human life. My interpretation of Israels history demands a new look at the history of African peoples, among whom this same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has indeed been at work. Religion informs everything in traditional African society, including political art, marriage, health, diet, dress, economics, and death. Orthodox Christianity, although influenced by other religions, generally looked negatively upon these syncretistic movements. What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S. In one case the thinking and experience of the people produced a written record of Gods dealings with the Jewish people in particular. But I have discovered that there is also the fundamental factor of African religion, without which this phenomenal expansion of Christianity would not be a reality. In most countries surveyed, at least three-in-ten people believe in reincarnation, which may be related to traditional beliefs in ancestral spirits. OLUPONA: The role of ancestors in the African cosmology has always been significant. {PB,`s Our editors will review what youve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Request Permissions, Published By: Canadian Anthropology Society. In contrast, witchcraft beliefs persist. It is essentially a postcolonial approach to what AIR and its essential characteristics is: God and humanity, sacrifices, afterlife and ancestors. OLUPONA: Indigenous African religions refer to the indigenous or native religious beliefs of the African people before the Christian and Islamic colonization of Africa. They constitute an important channel of the churchs prophetic witness today. 0000008365 00000 n The Yoruba, however, do have a concept of a supreme being, called Olorun or Olodumare, and this creator god of the universe is empowered by the various orisa [deities] to create the earth and carry out all its related functions, including receiving the prayers and supplications of the Yoruba people. They have also fostered a greater feeling of individual self-worth by acknowledging important milestones in ones life, including becoming an adult or an elder. African diaspora religions, also described as Afro-American religions, are a number of related beliefs that developed in the Americas in various nations of the Caribbean, Latin America and the Southern United States. Olupona, professor of indigenous African religions at Harvard Divinity School and professor of African and African-American studies in Harvards Faculty of Arts and Sciences, recently sat down for an interview about his lifelong research on indigenous African religions. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree. mixing of Christianity and traditional African religions What were maroon communities? Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World, Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa, Next: Chapter 2: Commitment to Christianity and Islam, Chapter 2: Commitment to Christianity and Islam, Chapter 3: Traditional African Religious Beliefs and Practices, Chapter 4: Interreligious Harmony and Tensions, In the U.S. and Western Europe, people say they accept Muslims, but opinions are divided on Islam, In Western Europe, familiarity with Muslims is linked to positive views of Muslims and Islam, Q&A: Measuring attitudes toward Muslims and Jews in Western Europe, Europes Muslim population will continue to grow but how much depends on migration, The Growth of Germanys Muslim Population, Size & Demographic Characteristics of Religious Groups, Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, 60% of Americans Would Be Uncomfortable With Provider Relying on AI in Their Own Health Care, Gender pay gap in U.S. hasnt changed much in two decades. A follower of African diaspora religions has many choices in terms of seeking spiritual help or succor. The conviction that people will be reborn in this world again and again tends to be more common among Christians than Muslims. Maybe this is why I am not an Anglican priest. Dr. Mbiti is on the staff of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Switzerland. It is in this complex of religiosity that the preaching of the gospel makes sense; it is this preparedness that has undergirded the spreading of the gospel like wildfire among African societies which had hitherto followed and practiced traditional religion. Most people in sub-Saharan Africa now identify with either Christianity or Islam. GAZETTE: What is the state of indigenous African religions today? Animism is a common feature of African religions, and misfortune is often attributed to witchcraft and sorcery. This is not a biblical distinction. The decisive word here is "only." 817-820. Its aims were to encourage formal and informal dissemination of knowledge through an annual conference and publications; promote relations with other academic and professional associations, aboriginal groups, and governments; and publicize ethnological research and activities to further understanding of ethnological practices. What factors are responsible for it? Africans consequently played a crucial role in establishing the doctrines and theology of the early church. African spirituality has always been able to adapt to change and allow itself to absorb the wisdom and views of other religions, much more than, for example, Christianity and Islam. 0000000676 00000 n Olupona earned his bachelor of arts degree in religious studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1975. (back to text), 3 Nigerias 2006 census did not ask about religious affiliation, and recent estimates of the numbers of Muslims and Christians in the country vary. Take em with a grain of salt. Vodou, also spelled Voodoo, Voudou, Vodun, or French Vaudou, a traditional Afro-Haitian religion. So I read on and on, and conducted field research to learn more and more. Anthropologica, journal of the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) was created from the merger of the Society's former journal, Culture, with Canada's oldest anthropology journal, Anthropologica. That is anathema to the fundamentalist faith movements that have been gaining momentum in recent decades. During religious rites, believers sometimes enter a trancelike state in which the devotee may eat and drink, perform stylized dances, give supernaturally inspired advice to people, or perform medical cures or special physical feats; these acts exhibit the incarnate presence of the lwa within the entranced devotee. The council made me aware, perhaps even frightfully so, of the problems of our world. Yet consider that in 1900 most Africans in sub-Saharan Africa practiced a form of indigenous African religions. Outline of the Curricular Framework: Anglicanization Atlantic slave trade "Atlantic World" Barbados (sugar) British-American system of slavery the Carolinas (rice) Caste system cereal crops Colonial resistance Dominion of New England Enlightenment Furs Great Awakening Indentured Servants Mercantilism Metis Models of colonization Molasses Act Because of this, Africa is now home to some of the world's largest Christian and Muslim communities. They are not mutually exclusive. In particular, the concepts about God provide one area of great commonality. In four countries, for instance, half or more of the population believes that sacrifices to ancestors or spirits can protect them from harm. % This article concerned itself with the modern encounter between Christianity and African Indigenous Religion (AIR) in Africa. So the church which exists on the African scene bears the marks of its peoples backgrounds. As the map in the preface to this report shows, sub-Saharan Africa is much more religiously mixed than northern Africa, where the population is overwhelmingly Muslim. The Church in Africa, 1450-1950. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. Wendy Sherman, who was the lead U.S. negotiator in the nuclear deal with Iran, was welcomed by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. The more I peeped into African religious insights about God, the more I felt utterly unable to use the word "only" in this case. For instance, if we were to lose indigenous African religions in Africa, then diviners would disappear, and if diviners disappeared, we would not only lose an important spiritual specialist for many Africans, but also an institution that for centuries has been the repository of African history, wisdom, and knowledge. A belief in ancestors also testifies to the inclusive nature of traditional African spirituality by positing that deceased progenitors still play a role in the lives of their living descendants. This bitter conflict has led to wanton destruction of lives and property, and this has become a source of great worry to the writers. One of the things these diaspora African religions testify to is the beauty of African religions to engage a devotee on many spiritual levels. The first African captives entered England's North American colonies through Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. Liberia is the only country where more than one-in-ten (12%) identify primarily with an African traditional religion. << /Length 5 0 R /Filter /FlateDecode >> The amount of devotees to indigenous practices has dwindled as Islam and Christianity have both spread and gained influence throughout the continent. All these spirits are believed to live in a mythic land called Ginen, a cosmic Africa. The God of the Christian Bible is understood to be the creator of both the universe and the spirits; the spirits were made by God to help him govern humanity and the natural world. A conference of mainly African theologians, held in Ghana in December 1977, said in its final communiqu: "The God of history speaks to all peoples in particular ways. The defining line between deities and ancestors is often contested, but overall, ancestors are believed to occupy a higher level of existence than living human beings and are believed to be able to bestow either blessings or illness upon their living descendants. Its aim is to develop an extensive library of resources, representing many different points of view, but all written from the perspective of sound scholarship. 43. In 1900 there were an estimated 9 million Christians (accounting for about 7 per cent of the population of Africa). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Fewer say it is paramount to their faith to attend religious services (39%), avoid sex before marriage (30%) or oppose abortion . 0000005005 00000 n But after braving that first blizzard in a land far from his native Nigeria, Olupona stuck it out and earned his Ph.D. Instead, God brought them. And in Botswana, Rwanda, South Africa and Zambia, the survey finds that 5% or less identify as Muslim. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree. For the full article, see, New religions, independent churches, and prophetic movements, https://www.britannica.com/summary/African-religions. Corrections? I am tantalized by the fact that my vision cannot cope with that horizon. Some individuals have criticized these books -- and no book is perfect. Indigenous Religion (AIR) in Africa. Some African diasporans are returning to the continent to reconnect with their ancestral traditions, and they are encouraging and organizing the local African communities to reclaim this heritage. There is not space here to argue the case for the role played by African religion in the establishment of the Christian faith in Africa. I should also state that there are signs of the revival of African indigenous practices in many parts of Africa. The editor of The Christian Century has given me an undeserved privilege in asking me to contribute some reflections on "How My Mind Has Changed" in the course of the past decade. 0000015705 00000 n Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree. Vodou represents a syncretism of the West African Vodun religion and Roman Catholicism by the descendants of the Dahomean, Kongo, Yoruba, and other ethnic groups who had been enslaved and transported to colonial Saint-Domingue (as Haiti was known then) and partly Christianized by Roman Catholic missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. Again, it doesnt reflect the multiplicity of ways that traditional African spirituality has conceived of deities, gods, and spirit beings. In Africa the traditional religions are a major source for the study of the African experience of God. That experience gave me a face-to-face encounter with the ecumenical movement and left a lasting mark on me. 93 0 obj Omissions? African spirituality is truly holistic. These statements await further exploration by African theologians. Didnt our Lord let it be clearly known that "before Abraham was I am" (John 8:58)? Download chapter 3 in full (3-page PDF, <1MB), Photo credit: Sebastien Desarmaux/GODONG/Godong/Corbis, Part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, 1615 L St. NW, Suite 800Washington, DC 20036USA The original constitution defined the organization's mandate as providing a forum for the exchange of ideas among ethnologists. The WCCs very existence as a council of churches is a living hope. 75 19 (See the glossary for more information on the evil eye.). It publishes a journal Anthropologica and has reclaimed the name of its former journal, Culture for its occasional online bulletin. God was not a stranger to African peoples. Overall, however, Christians outnumber Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa by about two-to-one. Ancestors also serve as intermediaries (see ancestor worship). Some scholars choose to call it the African Traditional Religion, while others prefer to name it the African traditional Religions. There is no centralized hierarchy, no single leader, and no official spokesperson, but various groups sometimes attempt to create such official structures. jennifer holliday parents,

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