Black Spirituality Religion : Reconstructing African Wisdom Traditions

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Aaluja Vol. II: Cyena-Ntu Religion and Philosophy (Jan. 2020) has a mission that is unique from most texts written about African religions. One major difference is that it is a comparative study that seeks connections between African wisdom traditions based on their language family connections (i.e., Cyena-Ntu or Negro-Egyptian). Another major difference is that it seeks to measure the antiquity of certain modern African practices by comparing them to similar practices evident in ancient Egyptian and Sumerian texts. The combination of the language ties, plus the concepts and practices written down in ancient texts as old as 3000 BCE, grounds certain modern African practices in antiquity and can be assumed to be present among the original speakers of the proto-language (i.e., Post-Classic Cyena-Ntu). Some of the objectives of Aaluja Vol. II are as follows:

  • To seek out valid and accurate information about indigenous African ways of knowing and being from the perspective of their own epistemological orientations.
  • To properly define key terms and concepts in indigenous African wisdom traditions.
  • To provide valid etymologies for some of Africa’s major religious vocabulary to better understand African religious concepts in order to extrapolate the initial motivations for certain religious practices and motifs.
  • To be able to distinguish priestly knowledge based in reality vs. information rooted in speculation (e.g., based in paronymy).
  • To discover, document, and organize indigenous African pedagogical techniques.
  • To reconstruct African wisdom traditions of related African communities using modern scientific tools of analysis.
  • To mine timeless values and useful practices as conceptual grounding to construct an African-American wisdom tradition without all the baggage and shortcomings of traditional African systems.


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The following excerpt is very informative for a number of reasons. In one sense, although focused on the Yoruba of Nigeria, it applies to the ancient Egyptian Nile Valley culture as well. Secondly, it underscores the fact that when you see “conflicting” stories or variations in myth in culture among one “tribe” of people, that this is more than likely reflective of a number of cultures converging in a single territory. Lastly, there is no such thing as a “purely” traditional way of doing culture and religion in these areas. Each subtribe alters, adds, does-away with various aspects of the tradition to make it unique and practical in their own time and geographical space. Thus, when these traditions travel and find new homes in the diaspora, it is not going to be exactly the same as in the home territory because it must adapt in its new space. The difference between the diaspora version of the religion and that at home is the same as one version in Location A at home with another variant found in Location B 50 miles away from Location A at home. Thus, the version in the Diaspora is just as valid as the version in Location A or B at home. This happens all over Africa. The same happened in ancient Egypt, which is how we get the god Ra.w “Re” in Location A and the god Jtn.w “Aten” in Location B. They are dialectical variants of the same deity. There is no such thing as “religious purity.” That is a myth.

<< In the face of the evidence presented above, it is no longer valid simply to compile a list of Yoruba gods and goddesses as if they originated in their present form -- their genealogical order, their substantive attributes and their hierarchical stratified statuses -- by means of an original primeval revelation to the Yoruba ancestors. Instead, we must see the divinities in terms of the social-political struggles within and between the various Yoruba groups, for their present form has been shaped by their history.

There are many Yoruba groups. Each Yoruba tribe or sub-tribe has its own cult considered by local people to be of the greatest social significance for themselves. In each locale, the cult which provides the overall festival and ceremony of the year is considered to be the most important cult. There are many cultural strands among the Yoruba. Therefore, we should expect to have various religious strands and traditions. >> (Adegbola, 1984: 417)



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