Being detached from their traditional backgrounds and

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being detached from their traditional backgrounds and environments.3938David T. Adamo 2008. ’ Christianity and the African Traditional Religion(s): The Postcolonial Round ofEngagement.’Verbum et Ecclesia. 2.39Mbiti 2008: 4.
122.2.1 THE SUPREME BEINGAn important element in African Religion is the ‘incomprehensible and mysterious’40Supreme Being. The entity that did or did not create the world, depending on what scholarsone agree with,41does not usually have a name. If it has a name, it is seldom spoken. Namingmeans asserting control, and leaving the deity without a name maintains its dignity. Thisalso helps with separating the Supreme Being from humanity. Contact with the SupremeBeing can only be done through councillors and mediators. However, the Supreme Being is‘in theory transcendent, but in practice immanent.’42Emefie Ikenga‐Metuh attempts toexplain African religious cosmogony in focusing on the essential difference between aWestern God and an African Supreme Being. West African systems of belief do not see theSupreme Being as creator, even though there exists an image of a superior being. Despitebelieving in a Supreme Being, African religion cannot be referred to as a monotheisticreligion. It cannot be called a polytheistic religion either, as other divinities are not equal inposition to the Supreme Being. Therefore there are no words in Western philosophy thatcan correctly explain African religion.43Professor Gloria Emeagwali argues that Africanreligion reflects monotheistic orientations in a polytheistic form. She explains this throughOrisa and Ifa, deities of the Yoruba, which are characterised by paying homage to ancestorsand constructing shrines, at the same time as submitting themselves to the differentmanifestations of the Supreme Being.44The ancestors can communicate with the SupremeBeing on behalf of persons in the still‐living family of the ancestor(s). Julius Gathogo usesexamples from Southern and Eastern Africa to explain how common characteristics ofAfrican Religion can be found across Africa. The Xhosa of South Africa call their SupremeBeing Qamata and the ancestors mediate between Qamata and the human beings. This sameworldview imagery is found among the Kikuyu of East Africa, where the ancestors mediatebetween the humans and Ngai.4540Mbiti 2008: 4.41Mbiti 2008: 4, Emefie Ikenga‐Metuh 1982. ’Religious Concepts in West African Cosmogonies: A Problem ofInterpretation.’Journal of Religion in Africa. 21.42Mbiti quoted in Beyers 2010: 4.43Sandra E. Greene 1996. ’Religion, History and the Supreme Gods of Africa: A Contribution to the debate.’Journal of Religion in Africa. 123‐124, Ikenga‐Metuh 1982: 21‐23.44Gloria Emeagwali 2006. ’Africa and the Textbooks,’ in Gloria Emeagwali (ed.):Africa and the Academy:Challenging Hegemonic Discourses on Africa.Trenton/Asmara: Africa World Press. 8.

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Term
Spring
Professor
OKOTH GIFT
Tags
African traditional religion, African Traditional Religion

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