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Religion In Africa Essays

The systematic, comparative study of African religion and culture largely began in the colonial era, when Western anthropologists were preceded by Christian missionaries. Historians took up studies even later, but the important introduction and case studies in Ranger and Kimambo 1972 show what historians should and can do. Vansina 1985 is a guidebook to recovering history from oral traditions, while Herbert 1993 uses physical objects as a basis for exploring ideas and beliefs. Horton 1993 is an intellectual rigorous effort to define the cultural boundaries of African religious thought, though nonspecialists may find the account of African religions in Ray 1999 more accessible. Lapidus 2002 places African Islam in the larger Islamic world. Mintz and Price 1992 is essential reading for the development of African-derived cultures in the Americas.

  • Herbert, Eugenia W. Iron, Gender, and Power: Rituals of Transformation in African Societies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

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    A sophisticated cross-cultural study that explores the underlying gender symbolism in African iron making and pottery and their connections to beliefs about power.

  • Horton, Robin. Patterns of Thought in Africa and the West: Essays on Magic, Religion, and Science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139166232E-mail Citation »

    Taking off from an attempt to understand African religion, these essays by an influential anthropologist range over many aspects of African intellectual life and propose an original way of thinking about religion.

  • Lapidus, Ira M. A History of Islamic Societies, 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    This sweeping history of the entire Islamic world allows one to understand the Islamization of African societies and the Africanization of Islam.

  • Mintz, Sidney W., and Richard Price. The Birth of African-American Culture: An Anthropological Perspective. Boston: Beacon, 1992.

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    This reissue of a classic, brief introduction to the issues of cultural continuity and change among African-derived societies in the Americas in the era of slavery is the starting point for all subsequent debates.

  • Ranger, T. O., and I. N. Kimambo, eds. The Historical Study of African Religion. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972.

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    A pioneering work on religion from antiquity through the colonial period, this scholarly collection is primarily concerned with traditional religions in eastern Africa.

  • Ray, Benjamin C. African Religions: Symbol, Ritual, and Community. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

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    This wide-ranging, well-organized introduction to African religious history focuses primarily on traditional African religions but also includes substantial treatment of religion, nationalism, African Islam, and African independent churches.

  • Vansina, Jan. Oral Tradition as History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

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    This classic study explores the utility and limitations of recovering African cultural history from oral poetry and epic tales as well as from dramatic performances and music.

  • Traditional African Religion Essay

    2461 Words10 Pages

    Traditional African Religion

    Before one starts to outline the traditional religion in Africa, one must first explain the way Africa is as a whole. Without the knowledge of the past combined with knowledge of culture, one would have a very vague, if any, understanding of traditional religion. Out of all of the continents, Africa is the most central. It is told that the first man was found in Africa, so with this, many feel that Africa is the birthplace of human culture. Within this continent, there are many different lifestyles, which are lived. Many blame the variety of lifestyles on western influence, but the truth is that different lifestyles began thousands of years before the west had influence on Africa. African’s…show more content…

    It moves “backwards” rather than “forward”, and people set their minds on what has taken place, not the future. No time, in turn, is defined as what has not taken place or what has no likelihood of an immediate occurrence. According to traditional concepts, time is considered to be a two-dimensional phenomenon, with a long past, a present, and virtually no future. The linear concept of time is western thought, with an indefinite past, present, and future, is practically nonexistent to African thinking. The future is absent because the events that lie in it have not taken place, they have not been realized, and therefore, they cannot constitute time. The Africans use what is called a phenomenal calendar, rather than a calendar that is based on traditional time. Time is established by using events rather than time itself. A day is also constructed this way. Time is not known, it is perceived. Nine o’clock is not nine o’clock; rather nine o’clock is when the cattle are milked. Time is referred to as the event in which is taking place during that part of the day. Understanding time is important in understanding the thoughts and beliefs of the African people. Understanding ontology is important as well. As defined by Webster’s ontology is “a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being.” Ontology is the way in which the Africans believe. Expressed ontologically, God is the origin and creator of all things. A number of

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