Wednesday, April 6, 2011

African Spirituality

One of the commonest notions, I keep running into is the term African Spirituality, Africa's spiritual notion religion, her world view, metaphysics, values, etc. In the West the term that is given is animism, for all african religions and spirituality.

What is african spirituality? African spirituality is rooted in her value system and world view and there have been four broad value systems, that have survived into modern times, around ethno-linguistic groups: the Afro-Asiatic, the Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo, and the Khoisan. There is overlap among the groups or hybrids.

The different family was constructed based on the root words they have in common, which can reveal technology and values. In the Afro-Asiatic family, evil is caused by evil spirits. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism(Abrahamic religion) is rooted in this world view.

This book goes into details. All of the Afro-Asiatic groups are in Africa except Semitic which includes Arabic, Hebrew. Ancient Egyptian, Berber, Amhara, Tigrinya, Oromo, Somali, Hausa belong to this family. The Horn of Africa has the greatest diversity of the family.

Among the Nilo-Saharan, evil is caused by Divine retribution or judgement. The Nubian Language belong to this family and world view. The ancient Egyptian religion fused the Afro-Asiatic with the Nilo-Saharan or Sudanic, the practice of burying the servants and possesions of the pharoah at death is Nilo-Saharan.

Among the Niger-Congo, evil is caused by ignoring the ancestor spirits, honoring your ancestor is critical, if you want good fortune. The Mandinka, Soninke, Asante, Yoruba, Fulani, Baluba, and Zulus all belong to this group. The importance of ancestors in vodun, condomble, santeria, and some of the Christian groups in southern Africa attest to this.

Among the khoisan, what causes evil is uncertain. They don't have gods, but believe in a spiritual force, that is behind reality.

In the Western world, African spirituality and religion is discarded as animism, which is the simple belief that objects have souls. African spirituality/religion is far from that. The Abrahamic religion(Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) is one form of African spirituality.

No comments:

Post a Comment