African Traditional Religions, The Elephant In The Room

A dancer in Zambia in a ritual performance

A dancer in Zambia in a ritual performance

Many Africans in one way or another have paid a visit to a traditional priest at some point in their lives in search of divine intervention. Do you remember the rituals? The sharp razor cuts on your body? Do you remember taking a bath with some horribly smelling liquid concoction? Do you remember being told to go for a week without taking a shower?

What is particularly interesting is that many people who turn to these ancestral ways of spirituality may often be born-again Christians or Roman Catholics. I am talking about the morning mass, evening mass, charismatic, Sunday service going, elders in the church, rosary praying, speaking in tongues kind of Christians.

My question though is, why is Christianity given the positive treatment, while traditional forms of worship on the other hand, are thrown under the rug of ‘pagan religions’, ‘black magic’ and ‘satanic practices’, and yet many still turn around and  secretly seek out their services?

In Africa and to an extend Latin America, ancestral religions have largely been pushed to the side to embrace Christianity and Islam. In Asians, many are still deeply rooted in the beliefs of their ancestors. Here are some images of ancestral spirituality in Africa and the diaspora.

 

In Igbo culture, masquerades are a symbolic representation of the spiritual world

In Igbo culture, masquerades are a symbolic representation of the spiritual world

 

Mayra, a Cuban spiritualist and fortune teller, performs a Santeria ritual on a beach in Havana, October 17, 2012. Mayra is a practiser of Santeria, a fusion of religions of West African origin with Roman Catholic Christianity that was not allowed after the 1959 Revolution but was eventually tolerated and today even thrives. The center of Santeria is Cuba, but it has spread to the United States and other nearby countries. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (CUBA)

Mayra, a Cuban spiritualist and fortune teller, performs a Santeria ritual on a beach in Havana, October 17, 2012. Mayra is a practiser of Santeria, a fusion of religions of West African origin with Roman Catholic Christianity that was not allowed after the 1959 Revolution but was eventually tolerated and today even thrives. The center of Santeria is Cuba, but it has spread to the United States and other nearby countries. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (CUBA)

 

BENIN, PORTO NOVO. Ceremony ending initiation to the god Loko in March 1998. Picture by Jean-Claude Coutausse

BENIN, PORTO NOVO. Ceremony ending initiation to the god Loko in March 1998. Picture by Jean-Claude Coutausse

By Julius Timgum |Published In Dikaloo on September 17, 2013

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One response to “African Traditional Religions, The Elephant In The Room

  1. Every people have things, systems that define them. but the mark of an honest man is that he constantly seeks out and adopts a thing or system that proves superior to that which he has been used to. it is both foolish and dishonest to dismiss your opponent’s superior logic without offering a counter reasoning.

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