African spirituality introduction (2)


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  • Notice how America and Europe dominate this map, along with Japan (yes – that huge dark-green island on the right really is Japan), while Africa dwindles almost to invisiblity.
  • Quality of life measured by child mortality
  • African spirituality introduction (2)

    2. 2. Lecture outline  A. Introduction – why study African Spirituality?  B. Approaches to tradition  C. Misconceptions about African Spirituality  D. African Spirituality – outline based on Mbiti‟s reading  E. Exam preparation for this section
    3. 3. A. Why study African Spirituality/ies?  1. Basis of African culture  culture, religion and spirituality are inter-related and are basis of African culture  2. still practiced today either independently or with other religions e.g. Christianity & Islam
    4. 4. Why study African Spirituality cont..?  3. Enter into dialogue with Christianity ◦ Inculturation ◦ Partner together in confronting issues in our context
    5. 5. B. Three approaches to Tradition 1. Return to tradition = Past orientation that romanticizes and mystifies culture –„return to past‟ 2. Dismisses tradition as irrelevant - - „forget the past‟ 3. Critical dialogue – search for continuities and discontinuities critically bridges past and present „reinterpret past in light of present‟
    6. 6. First approach-Return to tradition This view defines tradition  “narrowly as an unchanging or static corpus of representations, beliefs, ideas, values, rules or customs that are handed over by the ancestors of the tribe to subsequent generations” (Makang 1997:324)  Uncritical (often selective) acceptance of culture “its my culture”
    7. 7. First approach cont.  „tradition‟ is used to designate a mode of thought and a praxis proper to a certain kind of society known as tribe or clan, and is conceived in opposition to modernity or progress‟ (:324)  -does not take into account socio- political context that have affected African life such as colonialism, apartheid
    8. 8. Weakness - strips African people of their historicity -reduces culture to dress, music, ritual etc -reduced culture to a fixed past that is out of touch with realities of people -fail to engage with economic and political realities that continue to deprive Africans of a life of dignity
    9. 9. 2nd Approach- tradition = irrelevant  Beliefs and practices of past are irrelevant  “a mythical and nostalgic universe does not affect the ordering of things in the present; it is therefore, incapable of helping present generations of Africans in their striving for control over their own destiny” (:327)
    10. 10. 2nd approach cont. -ignores reality that persons exist in cultural context that shapes values and beliefs -humans have social and historical identity
    11. 11. 3rd Approach Critical dialogue -middle ground -acknowledges importance of  past tradition, beliefs and spiritualities  Colonial history  Political and economic systems  Westernization As factors which have influenced African life and spirituality
    12. 12. Way forward Way forward as we study African Spirituality Apply African wisdom (two principles) 1. “Sankofa” is an Akan (Ghanaian vernacular) word that means, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today”.
    13. 13. Sankofa - go back and retrieve Symbol of a mythical bird that flies forward with its head turned backwards – means that -the past is guide for future -wisdom of learning from the past for the future -critical application – discover value of cultural practice before either rejecting or uncritically accepting
    14. 14. 2nd principle -Bujo‟s principle  Any cultural change or transformation needs to  -discover the deepest meaning behind a practice i.e. Positive aspect  -and offer a new alternative that will do justice to the positive purpose of the abandoned practices (1998:132)
    15. 15. C. Misconceptions about African Spirituality  Pagan – no consensus on meaning of word. Historical usage Some believe that in the early Roman Empire, "paganus" came to mean "civilian" as opposed to "military." Christians at the time often called themselves "miles Christi" (Soldiers of Christ). The non- Christians became "pagani" -- non-soldiers or civilians. No denigration would be implied. -By the fifth century CE, its meaning evolved to include all non-Christians. Eventually, it became an evil term that implied the possibility of Satan worship. The latter two meanings are still in widespread use today.  htm
    16. 16.  The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines "pagan" as: "belonging to a religion which worships many gods, especially one which existed before the main world religions.“  Pagan negative judgement term to imply inferiority of a particular religion to Christianity
    17. 17.  Heathenism – Offensive. One who adheres to the religion of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.  Such persons considered as a group; the unconverted  Read more: oCfmO  Fetishism – worship of objects like charms etc - Fetishism means the religion of the fetish. The word was probably first applied to idols and amulets made by hand and supposed to possess magic power.
    18. 18.  Animism – belief that all objects/animals have spirits  The term animism is derived from the Latin word anima meaning breath or soul. The belief of animism is probably one of man's oldest beliefs, with its origin most likely dating to the Paleolithic age. From its earliest beginnings it was a belief that a soul or spirit existed in every object, even if it was inanimate. In a future state this soul or spirit would exist as part of an immaterial soul. The spirit, therefore, was thought to be universal.
    19. 19.  Primitive and native – backward, uncivilized  adjective  of or existing in the beginning or the earliest times or ages; ancient; original ◦ characteristic or imitative of the earliest ages ◦ crude, simple, rough, uncivilized, etc.
    20. 20. C. African Spirituality  Definition of Spirituality  All spirituality is particular. It takes place in a particular context; in a particular location (including its own geography and climate), particular historical setting (including its political economic and social elements), and a particular culture (including its language, symbols, myths and values)” (Perrin 2007:58)
    21. 21.  African spirituality:  “Traditional [African] spirituality is the fruit of African Religion. It is found in all areas of this religious heritage” (Mbiti 2006:4)  “ it is a largely communal spirituality, a mirror of past generations, a response to the contemporary situation, and an anticipation of subsequent generations” (2006:4)
    22. 22. Context - Africa
    23. 23. Some facts  2nd largest continent – 52 countries  Over 700 million people and over 800 different languages  Diverse landscape  World‟s largest desert – Sahara  World‟s longest river – Nile  3 main religions African Traditional Religions, Islam and Christianity
    24. 24. Map of world
    25. 25. Economic Map
    26. 26. Child Mortality
    27. 27. HIV & AIDS
    28. 28. Context = challenges  Our studies on African spirituality are done in this context  To respond to challenges  To critically appropriate positive aspects and replace practices that do not contribute to development and community
    29. 29. How? Plan for course  Define and describe aspects of African Spirituality in general acknowledging that there is great diversity  Focus on African beliefs about health and healing and compare these to western bio-medical models and Christian faith healing. Apply lessons in the context of HIV & AIDS  Conclude with discussions on relationship between African Spirituality and Christian faith
    30. 30.  Hand out course outline
    31. 31. MBITI - African Spirituality - One of pioneers of scholarship on African religion - He defines the relationship between African Spirituality and religion as follows: “Traditional Spirituality is the fruit of African Religion” (:2006:4) -
    32. 32.  Our key source is Mbiti‟s paper on African Spirituality presented at St Augustine 2006.  His description of African Spirituality based on study of prayers of African people  Latin phrase “lex orandi, lex credendi” which can be translated “as we pray, so we believe” or “praying shapes believing.”
    33. 33. African religion -11 characteristics  Brief overview of each one  Particular emphasis on  -God  -Ancestors  -Community  -Ethics  -ubuntu  For exam preparation pay attention to areas of emphasis
    34. 34. African Spirituality 4 aspects  Spirituality of death  Spirituality of the land  Spirituality of life and health  Spirituality of joy, peace and hope  The result of spirituality is formulation of a particular world view
    35. 35.  Worldview is “set of basic assumptions that a group of people develops in order to explain reality and their place and purpose in the world. These assumptions provide a frame of reference to address problems in life.” (Mkhize 2004:35)  The impact of worldview will be clear when we look at health issues in contemporary society and in the context of HIV & AIDS.
    36. 36. 1. Definition (11 chracteristics) African religion is  “rooted in our languages, customs, traditions, histories, cultures and worldviews” (2006:4)  Evolved over time based on experiences & interaction with nature  Communal in “origin, practice and self propagation” (4)  No founder
    37. 37. 2. Sources of African religion  no scripture or written form  Oral forms e.g. in history, myths, proverbs, songs, prayers, customs  rituals e.g. funeral, marriage, birth, initiations  symbols e.g. Sacred places, objects,  Art music, artwork, dance, celebrations, drama
    38. 38. examples  Batammaliba of Togo and Benin republic  (hand out)  Creation stories from different ethnic groups  Example of artwork from East Africa
    39. 39. 3. Monotheistic  “belief in God is the central element and force that holds African Religion together” (5)  In every language there is a name for God  Ghana – (Akan) Nyame  Uganda – (Baganda) Katonda  South Africa – (Zulu) Umveliqanga (Ndlovu 2009)  Bavenda – Mwari  Sotho - Modimo
    40. 40. Descriptions of God  Concepts of God –what God does: - creator of all things – many names that describe God as creator of all things; potter, Originator, Fashioners  God sustains universe and all of creation; provides and rules  Who God is – powerful, kind, great, good  Human images of God: Parent, Father, Mother, Grandfather, F
    41. 41.  Images of bodily parts of God – people say that God sees, hears, smells, has ears, eyes or wings – speaking metaphorically  no physical representation of God  God as distant – need for intermediaries between humanity and God e.g. Ancestors
    42. 42. Proverbs about God  “God is never in a hurry, but is always there at the right time” (Ethiopia)  “God knows the things of tomorrow” (Burundi)  “God drives away flies from the back of a tailless cow” (Nigeria)  (Class discussion – proverbs about God from students‟ cultures)
    43. 43. Praise song for God Axe that fears no thistle, Hoe that fears no soil Ram of majestic sinews and majestic carriage Hero who never flees before the enemy Big boundless hut Victory over death! Response: Protect us
    44. 44. Approaching God  1. Prayer - God is approached through (Mbiti 1991:61)  Anyone can pray to God at any time and place  But there are people who pray or intercede to individuals, families and communities – priests, rain- makers, chiefs, kings  African traditional prayers include praise, thanksgiving, celebration and requests – prayers for health, protection etc
    45. 45.  2. Sacrifices and offerings – blood is shed in making sacrifices – human or animal „ life is being given back to God who is in fact the ultimate source of all life –  Kinds of situation that require sacrifices – droughts, epidemics, war, calamity, flo ods, any danger
    46. 46.  3. Singing and dancing in worship – beating drums playing musical instruments – participation emotionally and physically in worship (:67)
    47. 47.  4. Intermediaries  Belief that intermediaries important in approaching God – they are closer to God e.g. Priests and ancestors  People fear to come too close to God  But do not worship intermediaries
    48. 48. Example  Yoruba – Nigeria  Supreme God is Oludumare  Lesser gods – orisha each orisha has own priesthood, temples, religious community and special sections in town (Ray 2000:28)  For example goddess Oshum is important for women seeking to become pregnant and give birth safely
    49. 49. 4. Spiritual beings  Spiritual realm populated by spiritual beings  Created and subject to God –  Are everywhere – good and evil spirits  Different categories of Spirits  -lesser deities or gods e.g. Yoruba religion Nigeria  -nature spirits associated with nature e.g. Mountains, rivers, animals and sky, sun, etc  -human spirits e.g. Ancestors, ghosts
    50. 50. People and Spirits  people communicate with Spirits through rituals, sacrifices, and prayers  Continuous interaction between spiritual and human/natural world  Spirits impact lives of people for good or bad
    51. 51. 5. Mystical power  There is a vital force in universe or mystical power that comes from God – hidden/mysterious – available to spirits and certain people –healers and sorcerers/witches  mystical power is neutral – can be used for evil or good by spirits or people  Evil usage – causing others misfortune, illness  Witchcraft, sorcery  Good usage – reverse misfortune, illness etc
    52. 52. Witchcraft-  Dreaded element – cause of misfortune/illness  -embodiment of evil (  Symbol of evil use of mystical power  People seek protection through prayer, charms, amulets etc  Disrupts relations in families and communities  Witches/wizards – abathakathi (Zulu)
    53. 53.  Sorcerers use poison or natural substances  Both deliberately aimed at harming people  Role of diviners and traditional healers – use mystical power for good to;  -identify person responsible  -prepare ritual to remove effects  -restore broken relationship
    54. 54. Example  Beliefs about how one becomes a witch  -Azande in DRC - inherited -  - Yoruba, Nigeria - deliberately chosen by individual before birth  Examples of witchcraft  -send animals e.g. Snake to harm person  -during the night their spirit leaves to harm  -change into an animal and harm
    55. 55. 6. Ethical and moral values  “African communities believe that their future depends on the ethical conduct of their members. Education in ethical conduct that promotes the good of the community plays a decisive role here...[..] for example fairy tales and legends that are told to children again and again with especial emphasis on the vices and virtues of the protagonists. The children internalize these as lessons for daily dealing with their fellow human beings. Proverbs are equally important. These play a decisive role in communicating ethical goods and correct behavior, and they often supplement and correct one another by means of contradictory assertions” (Bujo 2003:45)
    56. 56.  Hand out on proverbs and discussions in pairs on importance of each proverb for ethical behaviour  See if there are contradictory proverbs that correct each other
    57. 57. Ethical and moral values cont..  2. Initiation – important in education of the young  -learn history of their ancestors and ethnic group as a whole  -internalize values and traditions  -attain „a new birth and become a new person, in order to contribute a new dynamism to the community and to pass on to the next generation virtues acquired through new birth”
    58. 58.  3. Communitarian ethics – individual as part of community not separate – ethics lived by individual for the benefit and strengthening of relationships in community  “Ones actions can either contribute to the growth in life of entire community or loss or reduction of life”  -two way relationship of ethical responsibility – individual towards community and community towards individual
    59. 59. Community  To be human is to belong to a community  To live according to traditions, values and morals of community  Community =  Living dead – i.e. Ancestors  Living (family and community)  Yet-to-be-born
    60. 60. Quote  “in the African way of looking at things, it was not God, but the human who was responsible for the appearance of sin and evil. The moral order is thus seen as a matter, not of the relationship between human and God, but of the relationships between human beings themselves” (Bujo 1992:31)
    61. 61. 7. Celebration of life  “African religion affirms and celebrates life” (7)  Life is understood as fullness of live in all aspects – health, wellbeing, harvest, family, community – holistic and  Harmonious relatioship  “Bophelo” -- Sotho  “Impilo” --Zulu
    62. 62.  events are celebrated – birth, marriage, death, success etc  Celebrations strengthen communities and families  -dance, music, eating and ritual  -secret of fullness of life – following traditions of ancestors
    63. 63. 8. Marriage as religious duty  Marriage is “religious or sacred duty” for everyone. It is also for  -transmission of life  -continuity of family  -transmission of cultural values  -Children given identity and belonging  -context for sexual expression  -Building block of community
    64. 64. Preparation for marriage  Initiation rites and rituals  Transition from childhood to adulthood  E.g. Circumcision “shedding of blood from organs of reproduction ...profound religious act by means of which the young people accept that they have to become bearers of children and their communities give approval to that step” (Mbiti 1991:104)
    65. 65. Bride wealth  “Lobolo” (Zulu) “bogadi” Sotho  Not a commercial transaction – deeply religious  integrating families both living and dead  Ritual – involves animal sacrifice to thank ancestors  -receiving of couple in each others families and communities
    66. 66. Different types of marriages  Polygamy  Levirate – brother marries wife of deceased brother  Ghost – deceased man who dies without children a wife is found to give birth to his children  Sororate barren woman asks sister to be co-wife – bear her children „
    67. 67. African wedding  Watch a video clipping – will end class with this
    68. 68. 9. Life after death  Life does not cease at death  death transforms person into spiritual being –continuation of life  Involved in lives of living  Appear in dreams, divinations  Sacrifices used to communicate appease spirits of the dead
    69. 69. Ancestors- “badimo” “amadlozi”  Who are they?  „Living dead‟ those who have died and are part of spiritual realm.  Are spirits but not all spirits are ancestors  Only those who lived high moral standards, promoted harmony in family and community become ancestors when they die
    70. 70. Ancestors cont...  Relationship with the living  Interdependence  -the ancestors need the living to perform rituals on their behaviour as it elevates their status and brings them closer to God so they can negotiate with God on behalf of descendents – important for family unity and prosperity.
    71. 71. Ancestors cont...  Living need to follow moral example of ancestor and offer sacrifices  Ancestors can withdraw blessings when the living turn away from morals or fail to carry out sacrifices
    72. 72. Communicating with Ancestors  Families communicate with ancestors through sacrifice – to give thanks or ask for help  Sacrifice slaughtering animal let its blood flow into ground  Examples of sacrifices (Basotho)  At funeral – pheletietso  Marriage – tlhabiso  Birth of child- kananelo
    73. 73. Ancestors  At numerous feasts mekete ea balimo  Ancestors communicate through  -calamities – indicating something is wrong  -visions, dreams, divination  Ancestors are part of the family, involved directly in lives of members for good or evil  Important to maintain good relations with them
    74. 74. Example – funeral rites  Among Behema in DRC  “during the funeral rites, the sons, as heirs, all „receive communion‟ from the hand of their dead father. Grains of millet are placed in the hands of the corpse, and each son licks them off four times, four being the masculine number. The significance...the dead man‟s children receive his strength, and they must not be unduly depressed by their loss” (Bujo 1992:24)
    75. 75.  “The father who becomes an ancestor blesses his descendents with everything needed for a full life: peace, gentleness, fruitfulness, health, steadfastness” (25)
    76. 76. 10. Relationship with other religions  New religions in Africa  -Christianity  Islam  Judaism  African religion has impacted all and is impacted by all  (will discuss African religion and Christianity in separate lecture)
    77. 77. 11. Resilience of African Religion  African religion persists.  African Christianity is rooted in African religion and spirituality
    78. 78. FOUR SPIRITUALITIES  Spirituality of death – affirmation of death  Spirituality of land  Spirituality of health and life  Spirituality of joy, peace and hope
    79. 79. SPIRITUALITY OF DEATH  explains origin of death – stories (9- 10)  “this spirituality is directed at; keeping death at bay, facing death, dealing with death, accepting death as inevitable, and looking beyond death. The struggle with death goes on everywhere and it is primarily a spiritual struggle.” (11)  Prayers offered at every stage of
    80. 80. Lessons from prayers  “God is central, death is inevitable and devastating”  Communication goes on beyond death as seen in ancestors  Legends and myths explaining origin of death  Read page 9 Mbiti
    81. 81. Spirituality of the Land  Land spiritual inheritance given by God  Rituals performed before working, planting  Prayers said by community  Harvest time – celebration, thanksgiving to God who “gives rain harvest health and peace”
    82. 82. Relationship with land  “Earth is the mother of all” (17) land feeds everyone  “The earth opens its mouth for all.” the land buries all.  Land is sacred – provides life and death
    83. 83. Spirituality of Life and Health  “Sickness is a daily experience in African life..there are prayers for healing and help in times of sickness” addressed to God and ancestors  Discuss further on section on health and healing
    84. 84. Spirituality of Joy, Peace and Hope  “Africa has every reason to be or to look gloomy, miserable, unsmiling and even weeping” (21)  Political, economic and social context  African spirituality transcends these experiences and it a spirituality of joy  Music – drum vibrates inside urging people to dance, celebrate
    85. 85. Exam preparation  Focus on these topics - Remember to include indigenous terms (extra marks for inclusion)  -Ancestors  -Monotheism and Spirits  -Marriage  -Ethical and Moral values (include community)  Celebration of life (include land) and  Mystical power (include witchcraft, sorcery, role of diviners)
    86. 86. Bibliography  Bujo, B. 1992. African Theology in its social context. Trans. By John O‟Donohue, M. Afri. Revised Edition. Nairobi:Pauline Publications  Lugira, Aloysius M. 2004. African Religion. World Religions. Revised Edition. New York: Facts on File  Magesa, Laurenti 1997 African Religion: The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis books  Mbiti, John S. 1991 Introduction to African Religion 2nd Edition Heinemann Publishers: Johannesburg  Perrin, David B. 2007. Studying Christian Spirituality. New York: Routeledge  Ray, Benjamin C. 2000. African Religions. Symbol, Ritual and Community. Second Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
    87. 87.  Molebatsi, Xolile et al. 2009 “Xhosa funeral rites” in Class discussions on African Spirituality. Johannesburg: St Augustine College  Maluleke, Mlamani. 2009. “Tsonga funeral rites” in Class discussions on African Spirituality. Johannesburg: St Augustine College  Ndlovu, Lindiwe. 2009. “Zulu names for God” in Class discussions on African Spirituality. Johannesburg: St Augustine College  Nishimwe, Clementine. 2009. “Rwanda funeral rites” in Class discussions on African Spirituality. Johannesburg: St Augustine