Black Spirituality Religion : Interreligious Dialogue in Black Africa Among Christianity Islam and ATRs Part 2

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Sekhemu, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    lll. A Common Ground for the Dialogue


    Exploring the possible foundation for Jewish-Christian-Muslim "Trialogue", the common history, and to some extent, common cultural worldview summarized in the adjective "Abrahamic" used to express the common origin and the basic unity among these three religions. According to Swidler this unity is rooted in the covenant, the divine law, the faith, the conception of God and human nature, the conception of history and the creation of the world, the sense of community, and many other religioius elements shared by Jews with Christians and Muslims. Other common factors are mentioned such as the belief that God acts through human history and that God is communicated and revealed to human beings through things, events and human beings. however, recognizing this common ground, it is recognized that these "common elements" likewise apply to non-Abrahamic religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. I would like to move one step furhter by adding ATR to this "common religious ground." Given that many scholars have already written on the common ground between Islam and Christianity. I will limit my contribution to ATR's, which communicate an important bridge between Christianity and Islam in Africa, given the centrality of African culture for believers of different religions on that Continent.

    Even though ATR cannot historically qualify as an "Abrahamic religion," we find in it a conception of God human nature, religious law, and a relationship between God and creationo and between God and Humankind that share similarities with Christianity and Islam. I will limit my analysis to ATR's which are not well known in the academic arena of this century, but which are important for the future of any religious dialogue in Africa. I will point to just a few elements necessary for the interreligious dialogue, in trying to describe the conception of God and the basic components of the African ethic. The ethnological studies developed since the seventeenth centurey have impressed on world knowledge the image of ATR as "animism" and "polytheism." Based on a misunderstanding of African culture, these adjectives were used in a colonial context to stress the superiority of Christianity and the necessity of spreading gospel. Since 1970, even the most conservative European scholars have abandoned the negative vocabulary, and others are on the way to conversion. Vatican official text have also changed their language. The growing respect for ATR is not an expression of a superficial kindness or "political correctness." The international community is changing its language because researchers have sufficiently proved the value of the traditional African Religions.

    Regarding the conception of God, several African and Western scholars have shown that iin ATR there is only one Creator, one Supreme God. The Baluba (a Bantu people of Zaire, which is my ethnic group) have several names to express the attributes of God. They call God "Shakapanga, Wa bumbile ngulu ne minonga" (God of love and compassion), "Tata" (Father), "Mama" (Mother) or "Leza Muya" (good God). African traditional names of people are an interesting "theological locus" that give us the attributes of God and at the same time explain how people understand their relationship with God. Here are several examples:

    In Uganda there are such names as the following

    Byakatonda (for or by the creator, Bya+ Ruhanga, one of the names of God); and

    Takacunguaruhanga (we were saved by God


    In Rwanda and Burundi we find names such as:

    Bizimana (God knows everything; Imana is one of the names used for God in the Kirundi and Kinayrwanda languages);

    Ndayaizinga (I depend on Him); and

    Ndihokubgayo (I am alive because of him)

    In Nigeria we find some significant Igbo names such as:

    Chukwuemeka (God marvelous thing to me);

    Chukwuka (God is almighty, God is the highest);

    Chimuanya (God is awake, God does not sleep);

    Chidiebere (God is merciful);

    Chiamaka (God is beautiful, God is Good); and

    Ikechukwu (God is my force).

    The Baluba people have some names that express the relationship with God without explicitly using the name of God:

    Lusa: Merci (it stand for "V' uiye I wa Lusa, "God is merciful);

    Dyese (blessing; it stands for "Vidye wangesele dyese, God blessed me);

    Nsengha (worshiper; "Nsengha wa Leze, " one whow worships or praises God);

    Katokwe (God is my chance); and

    Atotwe (let God be praised, may God be praised).




    The highest attribute of God in traditional religion is surely holiness expressed in African languages as "purit" or "cleaness." The myth of origin suffering stresses the responsibility of human beings and presents God as pure (Utoka). "Leza kadi katonye" (God is stainless, spotless, unblemished) expresses simultaneously holiness and wholeness. In fact, "katonye" has a physical meaning of "dirty" and a moral meaning of "blemish, fault, crime, discrimination, wrongdoing." God is not only perfect but also wants people to be like God; hence, God punishes any wrongdoing. The Baluba, like many other Africans, conceive of God, the perfect judge who is the source of moral vaues.

    Regarding ethics, there is no "Decalogue" defined in a set of ten commandments. We do not have enough information about the concept of revelation. However, it is self-evident that, in ATR's GOd is considered the source of religious ethic. In fact, talking about someone's bad behavior, the Baluba people always say, "Leza Kaswele nenki" (God does not like this or that). One Proverb, "kosepa lemene, Vidye muntanda ukipanga" (do not laugh at a handicapped person, God has not yet finished the creation) means God will punish you and alter your body through and accident or other means). People often bless the traveler by saying "Vidye akluame" (may God pProtect you) There is a clear conception of God as a protector who cares about our daily life. It is this concern of God for our daily life that founds the whole ethic, which is based upon a clear distinction between the notion of "Bubi" (evil, ugliness) and the notion of "Buya" (goodness, righteousness, puirty, beauty) The criterion of distinction is the attitude toward human life. Everything (word, thought, action) that threaens, destroys, and belittles the "bumi" (human life) and the "buleme" (hunman dignity) is considered evil. Being a human being is an on-going process. We become fully human according to our behaviou.

    In the Bantu philosophy the "being" is divided into two categories. Muntu (Bantu is plural, existent-with-intelligence: human-being) and Kintu (exisent-without-intelligence: animal, plant, thing) The Bumuntu (humanness) oscillates between the status of Kintu and that of Muntu, so a human being behaves badly falls into the category of Kintu.

    In African society, as Pierre Notomb pointed out, "the perfect man is the man with a good heart, i.e. a man who has learned the art of living and promoting the essential harmonies of life." Notomb continues: "Such a person must have aquired certain virtues and the whole traditional process of education in the African family and in the initiation school consists in inculcating these virtues. The most important of these virtues are: self-control, politeness, moderation, humility, friendship, goodness and kindness. According to Mbiti, among the basic principles of "African ethic" are truth and rectitude as essential virtues, justice, generosity, hospitality, protecting the covenant, and avoiding hypocrisy stealing, and falsehood. Using Mbiti's analysis and the Luba ethic based on the distinction between muyampe (good person) and Muntu mubi (evil person), we may summarize some main aspects of a "decalogue" of ATR as follows:

    Buya (goodness)

    Lusa (compassion)

    Buswe (love)

    Bukwashi (helpful)

    Boloke (righteousness)

    Bubine (truth, honesty, integrity)

    Buntu (generosity)

    Butundaile (hospitality)

    Butalale (peace)

    Bulohwe (freedom, being his own king)

    Buleme (dignity, respect)

    Bubi (evil)

    Mushikwa (hatred)

    Butshi(witchcraft, sorcery)

    Bwivi (robbery)

    Bunzazangi (hypocrisy)

    Bubela (falsity)

    Mwino (selfishness)

    Ntondo (discrimination)

    Kibengo (arrogance, insolence)

    Bulobo/Bukalabale (violence)

    Busekese (sexual misconduct)

    This ethic is not only anthropocentric but much more sociocentric, because in the African worldview bad behavior is not a "private" matter. Any bad conduct breaks social relations and the cosmic order. Therefore, African ethics seriously take into account the principle of "reperation" alongside "forgiveness." Such an ethic is based upon principles that be summarized as follows:

    1. God did not create wha is evil and never does evil to any human being

    2. Human beings are endowed with freedom, and they can do good or evil

    3. The evil can be done by heart (mucima mubi), by speech (ludimi lubi), by "evil eye" (diso dibi), by deeds, or by omission.

    4. God is good and pure and wants people to behave like God

    5. No one can escape God's judgement.

    6, Any wrongdoing can be forgiven, but the person who has done evil must confess the fault and, if possible repair in one way or another the broken social order and harmony and then be purified, in order to reintegrate the family

    There is no doubt that this vision of religious law shows many similarities with Islam and Christianity. Such a common ground among Christianity, Islam and ATR suggests an optimistic view of the possibility of interreligious dialogue in Black Africa
     
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    Oh my! Well, from your lips to God's ear! So let it be!

    Amen! and In šāʾ Allāh!
     
  3. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    In the Spirit of Sankofa!





    Sekhemu,



    In my view, this dissertation you have posted passes the grade and magnifies an excellent point concerning synergy between otherwise rival cultural beliefs. In fact, this concept which is penned so uniquely is tantamount to latter rain teaching, and lays a foundation upon which so-called appreciable differences, central to ATR’s, Christianity and Islam, may some day be removed. Where is part 1? I would like to read it!


     
  4. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Interreligious Dialogue in Black Africa Among Christianity Islam and ATRs Part 2

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    lll. A Common Ground for the Dialogue




    Brother Sekhemu,

    The more I thought about this thread, the more I recognize it's value...Did you ever find part 1?

     
  5. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    I, too, am interested in reading Part I....Have you had any success finding it?
     
  6. Chevron Dove

    Chevron Dove Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Wow! Amazing!

    I believe this. i've always believed this but just haven't seen anything written like this in order to bring it out. i believe there are amazing similarities because of the origins of us.

    But, I also believe too, that white people [with evil intent] have tried to get inbetween this too in order to confuse and divide. I also believe that the white people actually got into Africa a long time ago, even longer before slave ship times and we don't go back far enough to deal with this too. White people with evil intent have went into africa in ancient times to confuse too and i believe that this is a bearing on what also happened in slavery times. we need to come together to work this issue out, in my opinion. When you say:


    Even though ATR cannot historically qualify as an "Abrahamic religion,"
    we find in it a conception of God human nature, religious law, and a relationship between
    God and creationo and between God and Humankind
    that share similarities with Christianity and Islam
    .

    I think this is interesting and I believe that this may be based upon the idea that ATR goes much farther back in time, much farther than Abrahamic religion, which in affect means that we come from a much deeper realm. You know i was recently watching my film on Harriet Tubman again [played by Cicely Tyson] and i find it fascinating that a lot is not taught about her experience in schools. Base on a little of what I've read, both of her parents were actually stolen from Africa and by 1850s when Harriet began to be apart of the underground railroad system, her parents were still alive. This means to me, that she was heavily influenced by ATRs and this would be the basis of her inner spiritual strength, in my opinion. Like you said, todays western world are revisiting these issues on how they wrote about ATRs but, I don't think I want to know what they have to say today or yesterday. They've done enough confusion. I'd rather find out another way...straight from the mouth and pen of black/Africans.
     
  7. Chevron Dove

    Chevron Dove Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thanks for bumping. part II was good enough...for me.
     
  8. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Unfortunately sisters, I haven't found it, yet.
     
  9. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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  10. Chevron Dove

    Chevron Dove Well-Known Member MEMBER

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