fundamental elements of african religion and culture

Once activated, the bateba can be invoked for aid but will die if neglected. In this world, where Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans came to inhabit the same geographic and social space, the issue and experience of power appeared in entirely new modalities of nonreciprocity that were legitimated through ingenious social classifications, customs, and mores created by those in power. Apart from mainline Christianity and Pentecostalism, African Americans have also embraced Islam, Afro-Caribbean religions, Afro-Brazilian religions, Judaism, and Buddhism. A person did not have a religious identification per se; rather, people's sense of identity was most often connected to their village and clan. In 1787 Richard Allen (a former slave), Absalom Jones, and others protested the treatment they received at Saint George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia by withdrawing from that congregation and using the already established Free African Society as the center of their religious activity. Nevertheless, creolization, in the broader sense of the term, did happen. W. E. B. Drums start to beat, and it's time to move your body. While discrimination caused blacks to form separate religious bodies, they also formed their own organizations to enable them to exercise the power needed to define their destinies and respond to their perception of God's claim on their life. Once the spirits have taken possession of a devotee, they establish a dialogue with their followers and answer questions. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. The dark colour of the staff represents the trance itself, the hidden quality of spiritual knowledge. This impression might be justified when looking at the clergy elite, but the vast majority of clergy and churches continued to struggle to uplift their local congregations. African American religions demonstrate certain distinguishing features related to typology as well as to the impact of the race of its proponents within the complex formation of a religious orientation. Religion is elusive in nature and this makes it difficult to have one universally accepted definition of religion. Humans must conceptualize, ritualize, and determine the meaning and value of the power they experience in these contacts and exchanges. Women played—and continue to play—a very prominent role in Pentecostalism's leadership. Moreover, these faiths also must be seen in dynamic terms, because African societies were undergoing a process of rapid change at the time of their first contact with Europeans. In 1896 the Supreme Court affirmed the nation's separate-but-equal policy in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision. Most African American ministers did not exercise leadership beyond the level of their local congregation because they lacked either the means or the ability. Few black congregations, whose members often consisted primarily of servants, could maintain a full-time pastor. Gun, the Fon god of iron and war, iron; in the Musée de l'Homme, Paris. For a good history of the Nation of Islam, see E. U. Essien-Udom's Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America (Chicago, 1962). The Elements of Culture The study of culture has led to generalizations that may apply to all cultures. African religions, religious beliefs and practices of the peoples of Africa. Women also play a dominant role in most households and take the day-to-day decisions to run the family. In the same volume see Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham's "The Black Church: A Gender Perspective," an article that employs Du Bois's notion of double-consciousness to describe the religious experience of African American women in the United States in terms of "multiple consciousness." Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). View 7_elements_of_culture_early_african_societies.pdf from AA 1Cit.Vino. In five of these countries—Benin, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast—African religion is the majority religion. It is a syncretic religion that combines Roman Catholicism and native African religion, particularly from the religion of the Dahomey region of West Africa (the modern day nation of Benin). Black ministers also often worked in cooperation with whites to oppose slavery. As early as 1867 the Consolidated American Baptist Convention was organized. Africans discerned and exercised alternate meanings and practices that expressed their unique understanding of the world and their place in it. While African American religions can be studied in terms of their continuity with West African forms of worship, they must simultaneously be studied as religious responses to the radical discontinuity experienced by the Africans who were forced to undergo the ordeal of the Middle Passage. African Americans also joined non-Christian religions, such as the Nation of Islam—founded in the 1930s by Elijah Muhammad—and various black Jewish bodies that they regarded as being more compatible with their sense of black identity. The cults of the divinities are visible in the many shrines and altars consecrated in their honour. The important elements of culture are language, religion, values and attitudes, education, social organization, technology and material culture, law and politics, and aesthetics. His doctoral dissertation, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade, provided early documentation for the theme the scholar Eric Williams later developed more fully in Capitalism and Slavery. Additionally, the study of African and African American women's history provides innumerable examples that highlight the relationship between mystical experience and social practice. Scholars speculate that the religious practices of American slaves during this period were eclectic adaptations of African retentions and borrowings from their contacts with Native Americans and European Americans. Due to racial integration, social class differentiation, and the increased number of black immigrants from outside the United States, however, religious diversity among African Americans has increased significantly. Throughout Africa misfortune is ultimately explained as the work of witchcraft, and witches are often seen as forces of evil, even if they are unaware of the ill they do. Those divinities are called loas, or spirits who represent expressions of the Supreme Being. Spirituals that contained coded messages announced such meetings as well as stories of escapes from bondage on the Underground Railroad. RELIGION is a fundamental, perhaps the most important, influence in the life of most Africans; yet its essential principles are too often unknown to foreigners who thus make themselves constantly liable to misunderstand the African worldview and beliefs. Thus greater differentiation in African American forms of piety developed starting in the early twentieth century. African Cultures. For an overall view of the black church in the United States, see Carter G. Woodson's The History of the Negro Church (Washington, D. C., 1921). Nevertheless, long cultural contact, in degrees ranging from trade to conquest, has forged some fundamental commonalities among religions within subregions, allowing for some generalizations to be made about the distinguishing features of religions indigenous to Africa. AME membership grew to eight thousand people by 1839. Among the Yoruba a succession of kings were deified, and their histories were infused with myths about a royal pantheon of secondary divinities, such as Shango. As ex-Confederates returned to power and survival became more difficult due to periodic economic depressions, African Americans began to migrate to the North and West. In Nigeria the Yoruba hold that the Almighty Creator, Olorun, oversees a pantheon of secondary divinities, the orisha. It should be noted that any attempt to generalize about the nature of “African religions” risks wrongly implying that there is homogeneity among all African cultures. This meaning applies to African American religions within the historical and spatial context of the Atlantic World in which it arose. The artists have stamped their position by using their talents and pieces to interpret and portray Africa’s social and economic aspects of our day-to-day lives, political challenges, wars, conflicts and peace, culture and traditions, the diverse African beauty, as well … The diviner shakes various objects in the winnowing basket and, by interpreting their final juxtaposition, seeks to predict the outcome of an illness and to name the sorcerer responsible. The growing abolitionist movement in the North put pressure on the slave owners to admit the missionaries. Du Bois's Souls of Black Folk (New York, 1999; 1st ed. The complex issue of how the term "fetish" entered into European discourse through the fetishization of traditional African religions is discussed in great detail by William Pietz in a three articles, "The Problem of the Fetish I," Res 9 (1985): 5–17; "The Problem of the Fetish II: The Origin of the Fetish," Res 13 (1987): 23–45; and "The Problem of the Fetish IIIa: Bosman's Guinea and the Enlightenment Theory of Fetishism," Res 16 (1988): 105–123. 29.8 × 23.5 × 30.5 cm. The religious traditions Africans brought to the New World have forged an African American identity, but this identity has developed through a new religious experience shaped by the conditions Africans underwent in the Americas. Emancipation provided greater latitude to their organizational efforts than what was experienced during slavery. This practice led to an African American identity with its religious counterparts, originating in the Middle Passage and continuing through the period of slavery. Encyclopedia.com. Possession trance is the most dramatic and intimate contact that occurs between devotee and divinity. In Black Religion and Black Radicalism, Gayraud Wilmore asserted that, after the Civil War, African American churches became deradicalized. Examining the role that religion played in the African-American community, primarily pre-civil war, can be a difficult task due to the limited amount of evidence available.1 While it is a common notion that slavery life was embedded with Christian ideals, a Christian-like ideology is likely more accurate.2 Syncretism occurred with the combining of African tradition and Christian principles to create an African-American spirituality … Among the mask’s most striking features are the coils of flesh at the neck, representing concentric rings of water from which women, initially water spirits themselves, first emerged. To combat the misfortunes brought about by witches, witch doctors and diviners are sought to provide protective medicines and amulets and to counteract the work of witches through exorcism and other rites. Some cultures maintain that genital surgery removes all vestiges of androgyny, as the anatomical parts correlating with the opposite sex are cut away. By the early twentieth century, African Americans had ceased to be a monolithic entity and were experiencing greater social differentiation, although they still represented a distinct caste in American society. African religions emphasize maintaining a harmonious relationship with the divine powers, and their rituals attempt to harness cosmic powers and channel them for good. The first African American Baptist churches were probably those organized in the 1750s on the Byrd plantation in Mecklenburg, Virginia, and in Silver Bluff, South Carolina, by George Leiles. In both these examples, the elements of religion are equally – if not more – prominent than the elements of culture. Some of the dominant ethnic groups that comprised the slave population brought to the Americas included the Mandingo, Wolof, Fon, Fulani, Hausa, Yoruba, Akan, Ibo, and Kongo peoples; certain aspects of African American cultural and religious life originated among these ethnic groups. The African American holiness Baptist preacher William J. Seymour took Parham's doctrine of speaking in tongues to Los Angeles in 1906, where he led a revival at 312 Azusa Street, the former sanctuary of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. During the rite of renewal, the king is purified and washed, and the water running off his body is thought to bring the first rains of the new season. 4. Long part of western African culture are the griots: storytellers, troubadours, and counsellors to kings. Rites of passage are natural occasions for initiation, a process of socialization and education that enables the novice to assume the new social role. The Holy Spirit and spirits play prominent roles in African and African American religions. According to Flat World Education, the six elements of culture are beliefs, values, norms, language, roles and social collectives. This body lasted until 1880. These symbols evoke specific emotions and reactions from people. In Baltimore and New Orleans, however, they managed to organize religious orders for black women—the Oblate Sisters of Providence (1829) and the Holy Family Sisters (1842). The AMEZ Church was the first Methodist church to ordain women to perform all functions except ordination; notably, it was also the first to officially oppose slavery and include its opposition in its Book of Discipline (1820). See also St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton's classic sociological study of Chicago, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (New York, 1945). W. E. B. Understanding Contemporary Africa, pp.317-350]. Each of the more than 50 modern countries that occupy the continent has its own particular history, and each in turn comprises numerous ethnic groups with different languages and unique customs and beliefs. com-munity-based. African American identity was connected with and invoked through this sort of revelatory experience. The first conference was held at Zion Church in New York City on June 21, 1821. Many different languages, religions and types of economic activities developed on this continent. African worldview is generally classified under Primal worldview, which is the set of underlying presuppositions about life in a Traditional/Primal society. Though usually associated with the intellectual lineage that runs from Cheikh Anta Diop (192…, African American Newspapers and Periodicals, African American Catholics in the United States (History of), African American Religions: History of Study, African American Religions: Muslim Movements, African American Responses to Slavery and Race, African American Soldiers in the Colonial Period, African Americans and Educational Limitations, African Americans Coming to the Fore of American Identity, African Americans' Dress During the Civil Rights Movement. Thought to possess the gift of clairvoyance, diviners are believed to share in the power of insight usually reserved to the spirits. Africans or South Africans and Bantu-speaking people form the major part of the population (approximately 35 million). While undergoing this experience, however, the slave was also intuiting a realm of power that transcended that of the master; by relating to this realm, slaves could construct a collective identity independent of the one imposed upon them by their oppressors. Although the scholarship pertaining to black Jews is wanting, a good place to begin is Howard Brotz's The Black Jews of Harlem (New York, 1970). The staff depicts a woman kneeling in supplication, the symbolic two-headed ax extending from her head. What is evident in this classic is that African American religion must be approached through a phenomenology of African American consciousness. African American religion was situated at the core of the modern world's political economy—the slave was forced to undergo modernity and African American religion was a vital component of the struggle to survive that ordeal. Moreover, historically and phenomenologically African Americans' religion and identity often interact. Encyclopedia of Religion. Statuettes called “fetishes,” for example, are thought to give substance to invisible spiritual intermediaries. This definition was later extended to include the English settlers in colonial lands; thus, the English colonists living in North America before the American Revolution can also be called "creoles." Thurman, for example, wrote: "As a child, the boundaries of my life spilled over into the mystery of the ocean and wonder of the dark nights and the wooing of the wind until the breath of nature and my own breath seemed to be one—it was resonant to the tonality of God. Traditional African religion is based on oral traditions, which means that the basic values and way of life are passed from elders to younger generation. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. In fact, Africa is a vast continent encompassing both geographic variation and tremendous cultural diversity. (Masks are an important part of ritual in many African religions; they often represent ancestors, culture heroes, gods, and cosmic dynamics or the cosmic order.) Traditional Religion to include the beliefs and practices of Native African peoples with regard to the supernatural, those which were handed down by the ancestors and which people hold on to as their link with both the past and eternity. The emphasis on speaking in tongues, prayer, and healing did not prevent a significant number of Pentecostal organizations from starting social programs, sending missionaries to Africa, and involving themselves in the Marcus Garvey movement and later in the Civil Rights movement. Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Vinson Synan's The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1971) is an excellent survey of this movement's historical development. https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/african-american-religions-overview, "African American Religions: An Overview If slaves were caught having secret meetings, they were severely punished. Encyclopedia of Religion. Most historians agree that Pentecostalism has its roots in the Holiness movement that started in the Methodist Church around the end of the Civil War. Black nationalism is the ideology of creating a nation-state for Africans living in the Maafa (a Kiswahili term used to describe t…, AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES, a field of academic and intellectual endeavors—variously labeled Africana Studies, Afro-American Studies, Black Studies, Pa…, Baptists This compilation of essays was first published in 1901, and it confines itself to the black religious experience in the United States. New religions, independent churches, and prophetic movements, https://www.britannica.com/topic/African-religions, South African History Online - African Traditional Religion. African-American cultural history. By 1813 there were forty thousand African American Baptists; the majority them, however, belonged to the same churches as their owners. Cosmogonic myths justify the surgery as reiterating primordial acts that promoted fecundity; the myths thus define the sacred status of sex and fertility. Enslaved Africans in Spain's urban areas formed their own religious confraternities and mutual aid societies to assist with burials, participate in numerous saint's days associated with Iberian Christianity, and help raise funds for their member's manumission. An African American identity emerged out of the encounter and perception of a God who transcended the master and was for them and with them. During this period, African American Catholics were small in number. The Lobi of Burkina Faso carve such figures, which they call bateba. African American Baptists also organized their own churches during these periods. The traditional African understanding and the interpretation of Christianity have deep roots in these fundamental beliefs of the African traditional religions. During the colonial and pre–Revolutionary War periods, the denominations most successful in attracting African Americans to their services were the Methodists and the Baptists. conversions of the indigenous people, mainly, from African Traditional Religion (ATR) to the two mission religions. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. The African American Nat Turner said in his Confession, "I sought to obtain true holiness before the great day of judgment should appear and then I began to receive the true knowledge of faith." From the earliest days of American slavery in the 17th century, slave owners sought to exercise control over their slaves by attempting to strip them of their African culture culture. The neck coils function like the halo in Western art, signifying the wearer as human in form but divine in essence. Modern Religion. Women hardly participate in fishing but are active in the plantation economy and the tourism industry of Seychelles. Ancestors are thought to reprimand those who neglect or breach the moral order by troubling the errant descendants with sickness or misfortune until restitution is made. In 1883 the Supreme Court ruled that the public accommodations section of the 1875 Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional. Unlike most Europeans, Africans came to the Americas involuntarily as chattel slaves; the involuntary nature of their journey provoked a severe crisis of meaning in the souls of the ten to fifteen million of them who survived the Middle Passage. African American cultural psychology is necessarily multidimensional in at least three ways: First is the joint function of Africa-originating cultural effects and the adaptive, reactionary mechanisms demanded by slavery and the experience in the Diaspora. When spirit possession takes place, the worshipper experiences being taken over by the entity that is invoked—a nature spirit, deceased ancestor, or a god. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Barotse basket diviner. He situated the black religious experience in the context of the Atlantic World. The problematic nature of engaging in the study of religion and the notion of the opacity of African American religion is discussed in depth in Charles H. Long's Significations: Signs, Symbols, and Images in the Interpretation of Religion (Philadelphia, 1986). Despite the positive response to the revivalists made by an increasing number of slaves, by the early 1800s the majority of blacks remained only minimally touched by Christianity. According to Flat World Education, the six elements of culture are beliefs, values, norms, language, roles and social collectives. The majority of black clergy who served individual congregations or traveled on the circuit lived a precarious economic existence. In 1816 a Philadelphia conference established the AME Church, with Allen replacing Daniel Coker as bishop. It has come to connote the result of biological as well as cultural contacts and exchanges. Religion encompasses the meanings, symbols, and rituals that interpret and regulate human contacts and exchanges with other humans, the natural world, and the invisible world. In these meetings, they heard the preaching of such leaders as Nat Turner, Denmark Vessey, and Gabriel Prosser. Today, the countries of Africa contain a wide variety of religious beliefs, and statistics on religious affiliation are difficult to come by. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list. The Arabs crossed into North Africa in the 7th century AD. African's religions were being "fetishized" at the same time that their bodies were being "commodified. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. led African American Christians in a profound and intense theological reflection on the nature of power in the ultimate sense and in the way it manifests itself in the lack of reciprocity in the global economy. They include belief in a Supreme Being who gives powers to intermediary divinities between Him and man. It is based on 5 basic elements, which are like common strands running through different works of art throughout the different regions of the continent. ", The experience of being powerless before the absolute power wielded over the slave by the master tended to deprive the slave of agency and self-definition. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates. In Swaziland the king is both a political and a ritual leader; the ritual renewal of his office is performed in conjunction with the summer solstice, when the celestial bodies are believed to be at their most powerful. When serious illness strikes, therefore, it is assumed that the ultimate cause is interpersonal and social conflict; serious illness is thus a moral dilemma as much as a biological crisis. The racial construct constituting an African American identity was seen by Du Bois in relational terms, but it was anything but ahistorical. Jualynne E. Dodson's "Nineteenth-Century AME Preaching Women," in Women in New Worlds: Historical Perspectives on the Wesleyan Tradition, edited by Hilah Thomas and Rosemary Keller (Nashville, Tenn., 1981), documents the contribution of African American women to the AME denomination. . See also Richard A. Lobban Jr.'s Cape Verde: Crioulo Colony to Independent Nation (San Francisco, 1995). You need to know the steps, wear the right outfit, and be aware of your role in the community. These modalities can also be discerned in other aspects of African American culture such as the blues, gospel, jazz, black art, black oratory, and black dance. Updates? ." Vodou is primarily practiced in Haiti, New Orleans, and other locations within the Caribbean . These new modalities gave rise to new religious meanings and indeed new religions. There are shared symbols in every society that represent the elements of culture. The Newport society sent a financial contribution to Saint Thomas Church's building project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, just one example of what Will B. Religious preferences diversified among African Americans, as some blacks became educated or urbanized. Still practiced today, it involves rhythmic body movements combined wit… This predicament left many ministers and their congregations with little time or energy to directly engage in abolitionist activity, even though there was no difference between their antislavery sentiments and those of their more visible counterparts. The Sande initiate girls by teaching them domestic skills and sexual etiquette, as well as the religious significance of female power and womanhood. Religion, as a discrete phenomenon that can be studied apart from the cultural, social, and political realms of human interaction, is a modern notion that was not held by most of the Africans who were brought to the Americas. African traditional religion refers to the indigenous or autochthonous religion of the African people. Only by giving a belief system a proper name can a comprehensive, complex theology and cosmology emerge, along with a mor… The church served as the only institution that could provide group cohesion and self-help. Divinatory ritual is the centrepiece of African religions, because it opens to all a channel of mediation with the gods. Excellent studies of the history of the black church in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century is in David W. Wills and Richard Newman, eds., Black Apostles at Home and Abroad: Afro-Americans and the Christian Mission from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Boston, 1982); and Randall K. Burkett and Richard Newman, eds., Black Apostles: Afro-American Clergy Confront the Twentieth Century (Boston, 1978). The shedding of blood in ritual sacrifice, which is believed to release the vital force that sustains life, precedes most ceremonies in which blessings are sought from the ancestors or divinities. 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