Are These Beliefs Still Practiced?
The idea of a supreme being is arrived at each time the question of identity springs up.The African Beliefs On Religion. The undying desire to find oneself is inevitable; hence, at the back of every mind, the question of “who are we?” “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” always pops.
The quest to figure out humanity leads to the belief that there has to be a higher power source. Hence communities from all over the world belong to a religion that speaks to their innermost person. These religious affiliations are also sorted for one primary purpose: protection from adversities both seen and unseen.
According to most people’s belief, their religion gives hope for answers to most of their deep and soul searching questions. Africa carries one of the fascinating religious beliefs. This post seeks to demystify the African religious beliefs during the precolonial era.
The nature of religion in the precolonial era
The precolonial era is that period before colonialism. During this period, Africans were not exposed to any other form of religious belief; all they practiced was their indigenous beliefs.
What was the nature of their indigenous religious beliefs?
At this juncture, it is vital to note that the religious beliefs of Africans differ depending on their region of origin. Most of these beliefs revolve around animism. Animism is the belief that all creatures, objects, and places have a specific spiritual essence. Animism depicts the communal nature of African tribes. The very nature of the collective way of life gave animism so much relevance because as it is, activities like working in farms, walking to the well to fetch water, construction, and even storytelling brought the community together hence giving life to all things, including words.
In the precolonial error, Africans would worship ancestors, nature, or even tutelary deities. This was evident through the heights of importance attached to climate seasons, the act of pouring libations to the ancestors, and the importance they gave to their gods.
What roles have ancestors played in traditional African societies?
Africans are convinced beyond reasonable doubt of ancestors’ ability to provide the living with good honor and fortune gracefully. Also, the living are obliged to follow the command of their ancestors. For instance, if ancestors are not happy with their shrines, they issue an order to refurbish them.
Here are the primary ways in which the traditional African religious beliefs are practiced
Millennials ought to understand that parties have been and will always be here. In the west and central Africa, communal ceremonies still involve sessions in practicing some indigenous rituals. Throughout the precolonial era, Africans would incorporate their religious beliefs in all traditions. No ceremony would come to existence without adequate preparation.
Religious affiliation in traditional African settings was inclusive of spirits and ancestors. According to some, there are spirits with tremendous and strong powers than the gods. Also, some spirits are deemed less potent. Some communities like the Igbo of Nigeria and Kikuyu of Kenya strongly believe in one Supreme Being and refer to him as Chukwu and Ngai.
All African communities have a special place for rituals in their hearts. The core propeller for this is that it is almost impossible to have religious practices without following some chronology of events that seek to uphold honor to the gods, spirits, and ancestors.
Part of the rituals involves making sacrifices of the best animals, freshly picked vegetables, precious stones, and even cooked food served to the spirits. Ancestors also get a share of these sacrifices through the libations poured from time to time during meals.
In their practices, Africans hold a special place for the environment in their hearts. Things like thunder, lightning, and rain are not taken lightly. The different weather conditions are highly symbolic and can determine the land’s fate on food security, peace, and above all, a sense of direction for the communities.
Such practices have always been present in all African settings only that it differs across the African communities. Diviners hold a special place in the communities; they are dimmed to be very wise hence totally trustworthy to guide the society to the right path. Objects like feathers, stones, bones, shells, wood, and leather strips are the most common objects used in divination. In instances where divination calls for a more sacred approach, the items used must also match the level of purity.
Do Africans still practice their precolonial religious beliefs?
It is safe to say that the desire to diligently uphold the traditional beliefs has slowly faded thanks to modern religious settings, mainly Islamic and Christianity. The former is more dominant in the north while the latter in the southern parts of Africa.
However, this is not to mean that African religious beliefs are no longer practiced. In any case, some communities still live by their traditional indigenous ways and are not likely to withdraw from their courses. A good example is the lughya community, which is found in the western part of Kenya.
Civilization has also caused a paradigm shift in how religious believes are perceived. As it is almost 70% of millennials hardly speak their mother tongue. That alone is a significant setback on the enthusiasts of African religious beliefs.
With a will, you can rest assured there is going to be a way. African religious beliefs have slightly made strides in conforming to the fast changing digital world. Traditional marriage ceremonies still take place. The only difference is that the settings are slightly modernized. On the same note, customary laws of Africa are recognized in law. They are instrumental in governing modern societies on core issues like inheritance and transgressions like stealing.
It is prudent to conclude that there is difficulty in abolishing the African religious beliefs altogether because people will always find their true identity by identifying with their forefathers’ ways at the end of the day. That’s how it has and will always be.