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Unformatted text preview: The Conception of African Time
Ayele Bekerie John Mbiti's "Concept of Time" Based on the study of two East African languages (Kikamba, Gikuyu). "Man is a deeply religious being living in a religious universe." Five Categories of African Ontology
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. God is the ultimate explanation of the beginning and after. Spirits Human beings who are alive and those about to be born. Animals and plants Phenomena and objects without biological life. African Ontology Cont'd
God is the originator and man is the center of this ontology. This is an anthropocentric ontology--interrelated. There is a force, power or energy which the spirits have access to. Concept of Time
a. b. c. Potential and actual time Time reckoning and chronology The concept of past, present and future Concept of Time Cont'd
a. The concept of history and prehistory African peoples have no belief in progress (pg. 23) No plan for the distant future (pg. 23) The evolution of their language and customs did not deny future, it was a very short future. Time has no end to Africans. Concept of Time Cont'd
e. The concept of human life in relation to time: birth, puberty, initiation, marriage, procreation, old age, death, entry into the community of the departed and finally entry into the company of the spirits. Captured through rites, rituals and ceremonies. Concept of Time Cont'd
f. Death and immortality There is two types of immortalities. One is personal which is associated with the belief of living dead. The second is collective. a. Space and Time closely linked; both defined by content and attached to land. "What matters most to the people is what is geographically near; tied to the land." Concept of Time Cont'd
a. Discovering or extending the future as a dimension of time. New introduction through Christianity--partly African origin. The new discovery of the future dimension instability--pie in the sky--heaven millennial expectation. The Akan calendar, Egyptian calendar, Dogon calendar Akan Six day week Fo Council or Judgement Day Nwuna Funeral Day Nkyi Behind (hate taboo) day Kuru Town or royal day Kwa For nothing (free) or servant day Mono Fresh (starting) day The SASA Period, The Zamani Period
How long is SASA period? How long is the Zamani period? The acts of pouring out libation (of beer, milk or water) or giving portions of food to the living dead are symbols of communion, fellowship and remembrance. The SASA Period, The Zamani Period Cont'd
An extended SASA period as a result of the collective immortality. 1. African time is event centered, experienced and immediate. 2. Time is a two dimensional phenomenon, with a long past, a present and virtually no future. 3. The Linear concept of time in Western thought, has an indefinite past, present and infinite future is practically foreign to African thinking. 4. Potential timeevents that will inevitably take place. Actual time is what is present and what is past. Time moves forward; it is only because it moves forward that we are able to recognize the past. The SASA Period, The Zamani Period Cont'd
Time has to be experienced in order to make sense or to become real. 2. Future not entirely denied falls within the rhythm of natural phenomena. 1. Muller's Conception of Time Comparable methods of measuring time Pastoralists (Nkole in Uganda) relationship to time is based on: a. Time as it relates to days Milking the cows time Break time Watering time More grazing time Muller's Conception of Time Cont'd
a. Connected with the movement of the sun. Sun rise Morning Sun set Afternoon No Shadow Noon a. Agrarian peoples relationship to time is on: Time as it relates to months Sowing time Weeding time Harvest time Muller's Conception of Time Cont'd
a. Connected with year Summer (Dry season) Winter (rainy season) The Moon and Sun Tells the Time The appearance and orbit of the moon Month is determined by the amount of time between two new moons A full moon equals half of a month Clocks of the sun and moon coincide with the stars, with flowering of some plants, with arrival or departure of birds. Life Cycle as Measurement of Time The king's time in office (Egypt), birth, naming ceremonies, teething, puberty, marriage, 1st motherhood Time as Concrete In rural Africa, time is experienced in concrete terms. Time is multidimensional. It is defined by personal and community life. It is linked to natural events and daily work. Time connects life, space, and society. Ritual & Time 1. 2. For time to be a reliable tool, time requires ritual to anchor it down. Rituals are performed at most important of life Rituals are always performed at the most important events in life: The start of a new life stage The beginning and end of an agric phase Rituals bring a framework to society and nature. There is a commitment through a cycle. Ritual & Time 1. 2. 3. In between ritual times there are creative moments. Three types of rituals: Rituals of bonding initiations Rituals of fertility birth, naming ceremonies Rituals of strengthening wedding, new year, sowing Concept of Time Notes Concluded For kings, long genealogies without gaps are essential. "The order of the royal stools among the Akan is the material representation of the dynasty's genealogy." Mbiti and Muller are in agreement, that the future is not important. Why? The initiations, harvesting, and life after death (immortality) proves that Africans believe in the future's importance. ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2009 for the course AS&RC 205 taught by Professor Bekerie, a during the Spring '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).
- Spring '07
- BEKERIE, A