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Welcome to the Traditional African religions portal


Local ceremony in Benin featuring a zangbeto.

The beliefs and practices of African people are highly diverse, including various ethnic religions. Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural and are passed down from one generation to another through folk tales, songs, and festivals, and include beliefs in spirits and higher and lower gods, sometimes including a supreme being, as well as the veneration of the dead, and use of magic and traditional African medicine. Most religions can be described as animistic with various polytheistic and pantheistic aspects. The role of humanity is generally seen as one of harmonizing nature with the supernatural.

In the past, Africa religion used to be referred to as 'traditional' but this is no longer appropriate. 'Traditional' was used to distinguish Africa religion from Abrahamic religion which came to the continent as a result of religions colonisation. Colonialism supported the false view that Africa had no religion. (Full article...)

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The Okuyi is a rite of passage practiced by several Bantu ethnic groups in different countries mainly across the west coast of Central Africa. Some of the countries where the rite is exercised include Cameroon in West Central Africa, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Traditionally, the rite is performed at numerous special occasions including funerals and weddings. Usually when an infant reaches four months of age or when a child becomes an adolescent, an Okuyi ritual is applied as well. Today, the Mekuyo rite is exercised by a range of ethnic peoples within the Bantu cluster. The coastal community known as Ndowe, also known as playeros, is a primary example, as peoples across Equatorial Guinea frequently perform the ritual in public. Gabon has two chief ethnic groups that exercise the Okuyi rite including the Mpongwe and Galwa from Lambaréné, Gabon.

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There are several religious festivals found in the various Traditional African religions. Some of these are listed below next to their corresponding religion :

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Ogotemmeli (died 1962) was the Dogon elder and high priest (Hogon) who narrated the cosmogony, cosmology and symbols of the Dogon people to French anthropologist Marcel Griaule during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, that went on to be documented and adapted by contemporary scholars. A lot of what we know about Dogon religion, cosmogony and symbolism came from Griaule's work, which in turn came from Ogotemmeli—who taught it to him.

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Source: Diouf, Babacar Sédikh, Le Sérère, Paganism Polythéiste ou Religion Monothéiste [in] Camara, Fatou Kiné (PhD) & Seck, Abdourahmane (PhD), "Secularity and Freedom of Religion in Senegal: Between a Constitutional Rock and a Hard Reality", p 860-61 (PDF - p. 2-3) [1]

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