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Pan Africanism : christian worship vs. ancestral worship...

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by mkhaya lo', Nov 21, 2002.

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    mkhaya lo'

    mkhaya lo' Member MEMBER

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    Hi Guys, I know I've been quite...I've been finishing my studies but its all systems go..

    Here in South Africa, amongst the black people, there's been an age old divison between two schools of thought. One is that once you become a born again christian and believe in God, you should let go of ancestral worship as it goes against scripture and the bible states that you may not have other mediums..

    Now, to describe briefly my experiences, I grew up in a deeply traditional yet equally religious family. Us black people here believe that u need to slaughter a goat or a sheep for your ancestors to say thank u when you've had a series of good things happen, to ask as well, we would maybe slaughter a white chicken just to ask for protection and we'll light up traditional incense and brew traditional beer and and call other family to be with us...We also believe in going to the grave of the dead family member to talk to them and ask for protection before a trip or before undertaking something big...like a business. The thinking basically is that our ancestors are mediums that can talk to God for us. In the Zulu culture that I'm from in paticular, we believe that there has always been a bigger and greater spiritual being and we called him "umvelinqanga"-don't even try to pronounce that..you might bite your tongue...but u can always make a quick call to South Africa if u really want to know. anyway, like I was saying..this has been the way for us to express ourselves and we believed in the guidance of the elders and the "healers", using traditional medicne, because we usually use leaves and barks and roots to make aloe-which has great health and healing powers, infact most medicne has a herbal variant that has always been there in Africa...

    But, when the white man came, he introduced the concept of "God", infact, Shaka, once asked the missionaries who constantly came to teach him about God in his Royal kraal, if this "God" could help him become a stronger king! But, as the christianity spread, ancestral worship has significantly decreased.

    I grew up in a home where both cultures where both were practised...but I'm very confused about the whole thing and I 'm sometimes involved in arguments and debates with other friends about the whole thing...any thoughts..
     
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    PositiveMindset

    PositiveMindset Active Member MEMBER

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    I have always believed that your ancestors are like your representatives, or spokespersons, in the other world. They help you here by speaking for you there, but they have to answer to someone a lot more powerful than they.

    I wholeheartedly believe in God and his angels, heaven and hell, but not as they've been taught by Christians. I believe that to remain spiritual is the true religion. All organized religions are quick to tell you which religion is right or wrong, that their's is the best. Each religion has its faults. They've all participated in murdering their brothers. Christians have killed Muslims, Muslims have killed Jews, etc., but the holy scriptures say that "thou shalt not kill", for any reason. Therefore I remain humbly spiritual. I follow no set religion. I just live my life the way that I believe is the right way.
     
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    mkhaya lo'

    mkhaya lo' Member MEMBER

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    thank you my brother, for sharing your insight on the matter. It really is important, I think to discuss these matters from time to time. In a matter of speaking I suppose even in places like America where the debate is not that huge, there are a lot of African in America who could share from first hand experience..

    I really appreciate what I could call your mature view on religion..I did organised religion most if not all of my life..MY father was a prominent Reverend and we had to go to church all the time and i loved it...then in 98' I joined the Church of Christ and I was a "disciple" for almost four years until I left to discover my "spirituality"...I believe in the concept of discipleship-that we should help others and be helped into attaining a closer relationship with God...but I won't go back to that "organised religion" system anymore....God is absolut-not determined or possessed by any group of people hence I don't believe the church of christ anymore when they claim they are the onlly true christian-don't the Jehovah's witnesses and the likes also think so?

    lo'
     
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    ifasehun

    ifasehun Member MEMBER

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    its sounds as if you are postulating that Africans dont believe in God. which is of course not true, as we taught the concept to white folks and not the other way around. In addition I have read interviews and text written by African shaman/priests/medicinemen - whatever term you are more comfortable with - and they of course agree that there is a God, just by other names.

    Of course Ancestral worship remains paramount to our spiritual and physical health and represents the cornerstone of ALL spiritual life in indigneous religion. It also forms the basis for community ethics, but it is not in lieu, but in ADDITION to a belief in God.

    (I have been a devotee of the west african indigenous faith of Orisa for over 10 years by the way.)
     
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    mkhaya lo'

    mkhaya lo' Member MEMBER

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    Well, I think u misread a lot of what i said here, or alternatively u understood only what u wanted to understand. what I was saying (not that I in the least bit think that I need to defend, but maybe more explain what i'm writing), i'm definately not postulating that Africans do not believe in God, if anything we knew God even before we knew of the word "God"...in my culture, umvelinqanga is the spiritual being that we prayed to and we knew guided us in everything way before we put the name "God". Read the Post again, I'm probing questions, not making statements here... In west Africa, by the way, africans dont have an inter-continental universal worship system, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, so, while i'm not familiar with your western african Orisa worship, i know for a fact that while some people can embrace both christian and ancestral worship, some have difficulty doing...personally for me ( I had hoped to leave myself out of the picture because i wanted a neautral debating forum but since i ther's some misunderstanding, let me just say, that I am an African and I believe, in fact not just believe, i live, and breathe and have my existance in God, since I am in his image, i believe he is everything I am...as I am everything (or at least try everyday) to be what he desires me to be... So, back to your first line, u were saying that I'm postulating what?....
     
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    ZeroGravity

    ZeroGravity Member MEMBER

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    Greetings lo' ...

    I find this discussion very intriguing, especially the spiritual division that you talked about. Is the division between the two schools of thought separated along age or generations? What I'm trying to ask is, does more of the elders remain stronger on the ancestral worship than the younger generations? I can understand where the younger generation might be more accepting of the christianity concept, but I find it difficult to envision elders relinquishing "umvelinqanga" (I won't even try to pronounce it :D ), the belief system they have embraced for many generations.

    As I read your post I was thinking of a similar situation here in America when Islam was first introduced, (or when I first heard about it), it created a similar division. The christians I knew, especially the elders, didn't want to hear it! They held strong in their belief in God and denounced Allah, however the younger generation were more curious and accepting.

    You said you are somewhat confused about whole thing...I can relate, because I was confused also. I was raised a christian and even though I had thousands of question within my own faith, I was reluctant to even be open-minded to another religion.

    Very interesting parallels. Thanks for sharing
     
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    mkhaya lo'

    mkhaya lo' Member MEMBER

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    ifasehun, My brother, i think u missed the point here...to say I'm postulating that Africans don't believe in God, is a total lack of understanding of what i'm trying to say...if anything, Africans have been believing in God way before the concept of "God" as understood in christian terms was brought to Africa. In my culture Zulu, we've had "umvelinqange" from way, way before the the first recorded existance of the Zulus. He's always been a supernatural being, a guiding force, someone that we prayed to and when missionaries came to South Africa and started preaching about God, we understood what they were talking about because we understood him in terms of "umvelinqange".... I was not so much trying to make a statement as opposed to sparking up debate about such issues because (while I don't have to defend what I say-I feel that maybe seeing that u misunderstood I should expand), there are hundreds of thousands of different tribes throughout the vast continent that believe in different forms of ancestral worship and so, while i may not be familiar with your Orisa indigenous faith from West Africa (simply because I think u know that because i'm from Africa doesn't mean I know everyone from every tribe) but I do know that while some people are comfortable embracing the God/ancestors in their worships, I know for a FACT that there are many people who've turned their backs on ancestral worship when they became Christian/born-again. So what I'm asking, is what do people think? is there space for both paradigms to be embraced or should we chose? what about u out there what do u do, how u find the balance... As for me, though as the author i'd wished to keep my personal beliefs out of it...well, I believe in God, whole heartedly, in the book of ACTS it says that in him we live and breathe and have our being (para-phrased) and in God I have my future and faith and hope... I am a believer through and through... and u were saying i'm Postulating what..my brotha? I think u should re-read the post and understand what I was attempting to spark up in a debate form..

    lo'
     
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    MAGDEL

    MAGDEL New Member MEMBER

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    HI,
    I'M SORRY, BUT I NEED SOME ADVICE ON THIS TOPIC ALSO. PLEASE EXCUSE FOR DIVERTING THE ORIGINAL TOPIC SOMEWHAT?

    I AM A WHITE SOUTH AFRICAN FEMALE AND AM ROMANTICALLY INVOLVED WITH A COLOURED SOUTH AFRICAN MALE. MY "PROBLEM" IS THAT THIS GUY WAS BROUGHT UP BY A ZULU BLACK FAMILY. (HIS MOTHER IS BLACK, FATHER WHITE).

    HE IS STILL TAKING PART IN ANCESTRAL WORSHIP, BUT HAVE HIDDEN THIS FROM ME FOR 3 YEARS. I WAS REALLY SHOCKED WHEN I DISCOVERED THIS, PLEASE TRY TO UNDERSTAND THAT BEING WHITE, ANCESTRAL WORSHIP IS LIKE SOMETHING STRAIGHT FROM HELL!

    I REALLY LOVE THIS MAN AND NEED TO UNDERSTAND ALL THE TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS AND CEREMONIES RELATED TO THIS?

    ANY SUGGESTIONS?

    MAGDEL
     
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    mkhaya lo'

    mkhaya lo' Member MEMBER

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    Hi Magdel, Guess what???? I'm also from South Africa!!! so, if u would like to talk to me sometime, pvt me or e-mail me and we could call each other and if u in Jhb somewhere we could meet for coffee or something and talk..don't worry, u aren't diverting from the subject, its vital that we address all issues surrounding the topic..i'll be more than happy to talk to u about it...


    But my initial thoughts would be to tell him how u felt about him concealing the information from him, make him understand that the relationship should have been based on honesty etc..

    secondly, u must look at yourself and your view of things, and try and see where the two of u could reach a middle ground. U must remember that u met him practising these rituals and surely he shouldn't have to stop because he's dating a white woman! I don't know why he hid this from u, but maybe he feared what I'm sensing is a distorted view on ancestral worship on your part (..."ANCESTRAL WORSHIP IS LIKE SOMETHING STRAIGHT FROM HELL!) unquote.. why do u feel like its straight from hell, what do u associate it with? witchcraft or something? these are the questions u need to ask yourself and then work them out and see what u are willing to relinquish-in terms of your point of view, and figure out what's important, the relationship with this man, or your problem with his ancestral worship...but please, e-mail me and i would love to get together...good luck.

    lo'
     
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    ifasehun

    ifasehun Member MEMBER

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    mkhaya lo' - you wrote , Well, I think u misread a lot of what i said here, or alternatively u understood only what u wanted to understand. (which by the way is a little harsh as it implies that i was trying to misconstrue you words as opposed to having just read them wrong.)

    okay, i re-read your original comments, then i read your second set of comments. i guess i know understand what you want me to understand.

    but as for your third round of comments which are again directed at me -- i havent a clue why you presented them. i only posted once before today, so you may be answering someone else's question, not mine. that is unless you wrote two seperate sets of replies to my one post for good measure.

    in any case, i worship the Orisa and Egun (ancestors) exclusively. I am aware that others choose to do both or to practice some european religion and from time to time come back to traditional beliefs to solve particular problems, but i can't for the life of me imagine why...

    Perhaps having been born into christianity and seeing what i was missing in traditional religion and the lapses in foundation in christianity i just dont understand why anybody would walk towards a religion that passes to us during slavery as a means of ruining and eradicating our own cultural and spiritual foundation.

    Classic Account of Slave Master Willie Lynch: The man that convinced white slaveowners and missionaries to share Christianity with Africans (circa 1712)
    http://www.reynos.com/ComicsTRIP/14-Brainwashed/willie-lynch1.htm
    http://www.ybmb.com/slave_control_1712.html (mirror site)

    Modern Classroom Curriculum that makes reference to Bible as tool of Control:
    http://www.uark.edu/depts/arkhist/home/AHSI/2001/madelyn.htm

    knowing what i do, and presenting these links only as a small representation of that truth, why would i need to strike balance between my ancestral traditions and the traditions of my ancestors enemies?

    You mention the book of Acts - in him we live and breathe and have our being . I would never use the bible to describe or explain my relationship with God. absolutely never.
     
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