African Traditional Religion : African Traditional Religion (ATR)

Discussion in 'African Traditional Religion Study Group' started by Chinelo, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. Chinelo

    Chinelo Third Eye Is Always Open MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    5,087
    Likes Received:
    1,631
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Removing LIES And Spreading The Truth
    Location:
    UNIVERSE
    Ratings:
    +1,632
    When we speak of Africa in this context, we refer to Africa south of the Sahara desert. The North belongs more to the Mediterranean world and the religion of Islam is well established in that part of Africa.

    A definition?

    ATR has proved to be very difficult to define. There is no single simple and precise definition to describe it. Unfortunately, many writers have misunderstood ATR by trying to define it under misleading terminologies such as animism, fetishism, magic, superstitions, primitive religion, ancestor worship, paganism etc.


    The difficulty to define ATR seems to come from the fact that its propagation is carried out by living it other than by preaching it. Its followers are more preoccupied with its practice than with its theory. In ATR, dogmas and doctrines have a very little role to play in the life of its followers. Its definition becomes even more difficulty because of its integral / holistic character. There is no separation between the religious (sacred) and the profane. Its influence covers all aspects of life, from before the birth of a person to long after s/he has died. It is a way of life and life is at its centre. It is concerned with life and how to protect it and augment it. Hence the remark such as: For the African, religion is literally life and life is religion.


    Whoever, therefore, is looking for a single, simple and precise definition of ATR will most likely end up being disappointed! But, it is possible to find ATR and observe its influence if one knows where to look for it.

    Where to find ATR?

    ATR has no sacred writings. Whoever would like to observe or study it has to do it in practical life. Mbiti gives a summary of where to look for and find ATR: rituals, ceremonies and festivals; shrines, sacred places and religious objects; art and symbols; music and dance; proverbs, riddles and wise sayings; names of people and places; myths and legends; beliefs and customs.

    One or many African Religions?


    There are two opinions. The first opinion is that there are several African Religions. The reason given is that these religions are tribal / clan based and therefore there are as many religions as there are tribes / clans. The second opinion is that there is one African Religion whose essential beliefs (about the Supreme Being, man, universe, life, death, and life after death, etc.) are comparable in their main themes, though there are many differences between particular places. For this second opinion, the similarities are more important than the differences.


    A traditional religion in comparison to foreign religions:


    The beliefs and practices of ATR are based upon the faith of the ancient indigenous people (Ancestors). This is why it is qualified as traditional, (from latin verb tradere = to hand down doctrines, customs etc., from generation to generation), in comparison to the other religions, e.g. Christianity and Islam, which are considered as foreign since their doctrines and practices came from outside of Africa.

    *********************************************************

    Statistics and geographical distribution of the followers of ATR:


    Presently, they are around 20% of the total population of Africa which is estimated to be around 760 m. This percentage has been declining since the arrival of Islam and especially of Christianity at beginning of the 20th century. Here below are some general statistics of the different countries.

    From 50% onwards: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Swaziland, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

    From 30% to 49%: Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Gabon, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

    From 10% to 29%: Angola, Gambia, Guinea, Lesotho, Niger, Nigeria, Sao-Tome and Sudan.

    Less than 10%: Cape Verde, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Seychelles and Somalia.

    (Cf. Comboni Missionary Magazine, New Africa - Leadership. Special Issue of January 2000.)

    However, the influence of ATR goes well beyond these statistics. ATR beliefs and moral values continue to influence, consciously or unconsciously, many Christians and Muslims. Also, many New Religious Movements have taken over ATR beliefs and moral values. Leopold Senghor, reflecting on this seemingly ambiguous religious situation of his fellow Africans, said that he prefers to speak about it as religious symbiosis, and therefore a religious enrichment, rather than religious syncretism, a concept he found meaningless in an african religious context!

    ********************************************************

    Future of the African Traditional Religion:

    Inspite of the declining numbers of the followers of ATR mentioned here above, there seem to be reasons to conclude that ATR will continue to be a living religion in many years to come. Some of these reasons are the following:



    - ATR continues to be the source of meaning, direction and security of the lives of many Africans, including followers of other well established religious traditions.

    - In these last few years, there has been a revival in the practice of ATR in different parts of Africa.

    - Today, as the spirit of religious intolerance and exclusivism is being replaced slowly by the spirit of interreligious tolerance, dialogue and mutual respect, ATR is also slowly finding its place in the orchestra of the world religions. Its true spiritual and moral values (e.g., profound sense of the sacred, of the existence of God the Creator and of the spiritual world; importance of family life, love and respect of life, sense of solidarity and community life etc., cf. Ecclesia in Africa, para. 36), have been recognised as part of the religious and moral patrimony for humankind.

    - This tolerant and respectful atmosphere has given confidence and self-esteem to the followers of ATR. Many are no longer ashamed of their religious heritage, as they had been in the past. They are proud of being its heirs and consider it their duty and right to pass it on to the next generations.

     
  2. RAPTOR

    RAPTOR Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2009
    Messages:
    6,893
    Likes Received:
    3,609
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +4,097
    The term, “atr”, though used as a means of convenience (and I'm guilty),
    is generally a term used to suggest that they are systems of inferiority.
    It pays to study particular afrikan (non-abrahamic) religions, instead of
    putting them all in one bag, because there are so many. I miss awo dino in this regard.

    It is here were we get, according to fela sowande “black experience of
    religion’: “questionable findings of even more questionable authorities, and
    that a great show of seriously considering this perversion is made, while in
    the face it is being used as a foil to highlight the virtues of “Christianity”
    or “Islam” over all traditional beliefs in Africa”…. The propaganda is, ‘all these
    religions are confusing. Sense can not be made of this stuff'. Yet we find in
    part of the legacy of xianity and islam much intra-conflict based on
    interpretation..., understanding or lack thereof.


    If religion is the deification of culture and culture isn’t (or shouldn’t be)
    stagnant then it makes since that we won’t find much written dogma in many
    of these belief systems.

    I opine that this is the problem we find with abrahamic faiths. First, there is
    an assumption that these faiths exist beyond/outside of culture(s), which is
    erroneous. Second, as the world changes, those of the abrahamic
    faiths work hard to bend doctrine to conform to zeitgeist. A clear example
    of this is all the conferences xianity has had in trying to stay ahead of
    doubt and manufacture explanations, so not to get caught on a ‘snag’. One
    being, consubstantiation transubstantiation and the trinity. However, the
    institution had to reconcile on something, so not be seen as to have
    credibility issues.
     
  3. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Messages:
    21,179
    Likes Received:
    9,463
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Creative Industrialist
    Location:
    Temple of Kali, Yubaland
    Ratings:
    +9,585
     
  4. Corvo

    Corvo navigator of live MEMBER

    Country:
    United States
    Joined:
    May 9, 2003
    Messages:
    3,529
    Likes Received:
    1,769
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Furniture maker, a sculptor, and fight instructor
    Location:
    LaLa land
    Ratings:
    +1,771
    Perhaps we can state what is it, that most traditional Afrikan systems practice? What are the mayor believes they share?

    If any one can find any studies, please post.
    I can only state what I have lived, for what my group practice.

    AXE
     
  5. Knowledge Seed

    Knowledge Seed Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,747
    Likes Received:
    549
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Ratings:
    +551
    All ATRs share a belief in the supremacy of the Creator, a belief in emissaries between us and the Creator which go by different names depending on the ethnic group and a belief in the influence and power our ancestors hold over our daily lives.
     
Loading...