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The Future Of African Traditional Religion. - Culture - Nairaland

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The Future Of African Traditional Religion. by traze(m): 12:39pm On Jan 08, 2010
THE NATURE OF AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
African traditional religion which is the beliefs and practices that emanated from the African soil is the religious beliefs and practices that has been in existence from time immemorial and are still being adhered to today by many Africans.
African traditional religion has been the indigenous religion of Africans and had been handed down from generation to generation by the fore-bearers of the present generation of Africans.  Africans traditional religion is the fundamental religion of the indigenous African people. The practice of African traditional religion varies widely from one place to another that some people tend to refer to it as religions; in the plural rather than one religion.  It recognizes the supremacy of the Supreme Being, yet it sees the lesser divinities merely as intermediaries between the Supreme Being and man or agents of God (Opoku, 1978).
Western education is an eye opener it has served as a means of sustainable development over the years.  It is a means of enlightenment and organization it creates room for advancement, growth, research and newer and better way of life.  It brings sanity, clarity and understanding to its learners.
With the arrival of western education into the African continent it brought about the emergence of science and technology into the African society.
Science and technology is a means of accelerating creative process and improvement in the society.  Science and technology make way for improved ideas, and it is a means of globalization and universality of information which African traditional religion is desperately in need of.
Unlike some other great and organized world religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam, African traditional religion has no written scriptures but it is rich in oral literature, these are reflected in its traditional philosophy and culture which embraces all aspect of life: religion, custom, conventional acts, games, taboos, folklore, story telling proverbs, traditional education legends, mythical beliefs, tales, songs and lyrics.  All these project the tremendous richness of African traditional religion but which are hidden and enclosed in the belly of adherents of African traditional religion.
Africans have been ignorant people which lacked knowledge right from the time of our fore fathers.  Our fore-bearers were ignorant in such a way that they never believed in the universality of knowledge.  Whatever knowledge they had was with them alone and they lived and died with it.
          Despite the fact that African traditional religion was non-scriptural according to (Bashir 2002) and was passed down to other generations through the word of mouth, some basic and important things were omitted and hidden because they want to be forever recognized and respected for their magical powers so they belief if other could do what they could do they would not have much regard and younger generation would not venerate them, take for example Sango which is much highly respect and recognized due to his magical power of striking thunder upon his enemies and bringing forth flames and smoke from his mouth.
Due to some of these major facts I have mentioned above African traditional religion has lacked major development and growth.
With the progress made by western education and civilization and the impact of science and technology African tradition religion would attain a major development and would be made a universal religion.
In the aspect of western education in the development of African traditional religion, western education is going to serve as an eye opener and kill the ignorance of the adherent of African traditional religion and bring about promotion, professionalism and scholars in the religion.
Increasing evidence indicates that creation is just beginning and humans are just starting to understand that we may have been given creative talents possibly so we can become helpers in a divine accelerating creative process, so the old ways of structuring religion which are not adequate for future progress would be eliminated.
African traditional religion could be said to be going to the highest lime-light, because with western educational hanging around the corridors of its adherent the universality of these religion could be made possible it would no longer be seen as a continental religion in the shores of African origins. Information is another important aspect of a religion.  Like other great world religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam; information made them to have achieved a great stand in the society and its adherents being free to proclaim their religion publicly; information is going to be a great deal of help to African traditional religion because for it to be able to achieve universality as a religion it needs information the non-adherent of African traditional religion would be able to understand the African traditionalist are not pagan take for example Bolaji Idowu’s feature of African traditional religion.
1. Believe in God; they believe that God is the author of religion and that he is the wholly order and he is above all divinities and Idowu also stated that apart from God other things in African traditional religion are of little or no significance, all are from him, by him and responsible to him.                                                 
2. Belief in divinities - divinities are divine beings their powers are derived from the supreme God and He appoints them to serve in his theocratic administration and maintenance of the universe.   
3. Belief in spirits: According to Bolaji Idowu spirits are power which are almost abstractive as shades or vapours which takes on human shape spirits are usually “ubiquitors” (being everywhere at the same time).   
4. Belief in the ancestors: ancestors are believed in African traditional religion to be spirits of their fore fathers, they are no longer visible in the sense that they have become spirits but they still play dormant role in the running of the affairs of the family to which they belong, while still here an earth they receive sacrifices from them from time to time.       
5. The practice of magic and medicine: adherents of African traditional religion believe in the phenomenon of magic and medicine by magic we mean the act of making use of nature and supernatural forces for the benefit of human or man.
Medicine means the science of the prevention treatment and cure of the diseases.
With adequate explanation and awareness of this information about the feature of Idowu African traditional religion we would be able to see that African traditional religion is in relative to the world greatest religion like Judaism, Christianity and Islam.   
Just like Judaism, Christianity and Islam African traditional religion believe in God. Divinity in relative to the other world great religion could be referred to prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) in Islam and Jesus Christ in Christianity and Judaism they all serve as intermediary between man and God.
        Spirits exist in every religion both Christianity, Islam and Judaism so also it is in African traditional religion.
Ancestors in African traditional religion could be referred to those that have lived extra-ordinary life like saints in Christianity and Judaism.
The practice of magic and medicine can be related to miracles and wonders in the world great religion that is Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
With adequate information which is as a result of western education and civilizations African traditional religion could be related to the world great religions which are Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Science and technology is the key to a sustainable development in every society of the world today, every aspect of life that requires substantial development has or need the help of science and technology even religions, African traditional religion would not be an exception like the world great religions Judaism Christianity and Islam to have reached the level which they are today, they have in one way or the other been entrenched to the whim of science and technology.
The great world religions we all know today are scriptural unlike African traditional religion that is non-scriptural, with science and technology today we have electronic bible, electronic Quran on mobile phones, laptop and even ipods and MP4.  We have preaching, sermons and messages on tapes, cassette, CD and MP3.
The other world great religion could also take their religion to air like radio stations and television stations to evangelize and get new converts.
Since western education, civilization and science and technology is available to African traditionalist then African traditional religion can be said to have a brighter future because of the possibility of achieving the level of popularity those world great religions has achieved, it could also be attained by African traditional religion.
Since the adherent of African traditional religion are either afraid or not given the listening ear to evangelize their religion in other to win converts to African traditional religion, in the aspect of not being able to face the people or being afraid they can employ any of the means science and technology has provided; like recording a message on the tape, Mp3 and radio stations and also video messages on CD television stations, cable network television and also messages of the religion could be posted on the internet.
With all these science and technological means African traditions religion would be well recognized in the whole world, the basic fact and the motive of the religion would be known by even Non-Africans and Africans that has been blind-folded by the western religion and are not taking time to study or look into the religion of their fore-bearers because of their negative impression of the religion which is as a result of ignorance, it could not be said the Africans which are non-adherent of African traditional religions, do not know the truth so they were easily swayed off by the western religion because of their teachings, information facts, supports and evidence given to them which African traditional religion did not fully posses.
With these western educations, civilization and the impact of science and technology African traditional religion would be made one of the world great religions in the future.
Taking a look at the future of African traditional religion in its progression, African traditional religion has been alive in the early 2000s but often continued to be described erroneously, as animism.  Indigenous religions face prejudice from other religions-converts to Islam and Christianity still call African traditional religions paganism.  Hackett has argued that indigenous religions are being revitalized through the universalization, modernization, politicization, commercialization, and individualization of religious ideas and practices.  African traditional religion have a future for many reasons .first, these religions articulate world view that continue to provide a basis for morality, supporting what Laurent Magesa has called “the moral traditional of abundant life” secondly African traditional religions are linked to royal authority, influencing the selection and installation of royals and their system of governance third celebrations and rituals will keep indigenous religions alive.  Fourthly, the need for healing will keep African traditional religions alive.  Fifth, the survival of African traditional religions in the Diaspora is testimony to their staying power sixth, the scholarly study of African traditional religions could contribute to their survival.  Growth depends upon how practitioners address issues in daily life.  African traditional religions have always paid attention to individuals and the community; such attention in the twenty first century have a contemporary society is need of revitalization.
         African traditional religion has a better future in the hands of science and technology, western education as well as civilization.   
















REFERENCES

1. Sir John Templeton; the humble approach in theology and science (Templeton foundation press Philadelphia and London).

2. E. Bolaji Idowu; African traditional religion a definition (fountain publication 1991).

3. Udo Ekuk, Religion and cultural identity (Hope publication Ibadan, Nigeria).

4. Sa’adu A.K. Alanamu; An Introduction comparative religion in Nigeria.

5. Blier, Suzanne Preston.  African Vodun: Art, psychology, and power. Chicago: (University of Chicago Press, 1995). 

6. Antony Copley: Religions in conflict (Oxford University Press).

7. Fortes, Meyer. Religion, Morality and the person: Essays on tallens; Religion. Cambridge, UK, (Cambridge University Press 1987).

8. Hackett, Rosalind I.J. Art and religion in African London: Cassell 1996.

9. Ranger, Terence, and I.N. Kimambo, eds. The historical study of African religion. Berkeley (University of California Press, 1972).

10. Lawal, Babatunde. The gelede spectacle: Art, Gender, and social harmony in an African culture. Seattle (University of Washington Press, 1996).
Re: The Future Of African Traditional Religion. by mace11: 2:02am On Mar 17, 2013
I think you are misinformed.The nile valley faiths have written text for thier religions.Ancient egypt has written scriptures,so do the nubian,the axumites,and i think berber as well.
later african culture too like yoruba,and some others but those are more recent or early modern.

Here is one example.

http://wildhunt.org/2008/01/yoruba-sacred-texts.html

The land of saba in yemen had text of course they are black,of course southwest asia is not africa but folks living there were blacks and some still are today and that land is close to africa.
Coptic sudanese,nubians,ethiopians and some other older christians had/have writtn text.So do african Islam.coptic christian and african islam is a traditional african religion.
It true that is not has native but it's been in africa for along time and it's africanized,so it's traditional.

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