|Catholic Bishops Protest Exploitation of Africa
Overview of African Religions
RELIGION IN THE AFRICAN UNION
African Religion is religion that African communities have developed without being proselytised by religions based outside of Africa. African religions which do not clearly belong to the major world religions are diffused throughout African society, and their personnel, organizations, and values are hard to separate from general social institutions. Consequently there is hardly any distinction between sacred and secular dimensions of African life. Between 30% & 40 % of the population of the African Union still practise traditional African religion. If Christians, Muslims and Hindus who still occasionally practice are included, the percentage reaches 80%. Almost all Africans culture and therefore every African who participates in the life of the community has a access to the sacred aspect of African spirituality.
Religious beliefs and practices, characterized by the two principal elements of prayer and sacrifice, form part of the daily life of the blacks. What is also true, however, is that no body of doctrine, properly so called, exists anywhere with interpreters bound to ensure its integrity, to explain and to hand it down to others. There is, therefore, no distinct religious code, no official teaching, no books, no schools, as in Islam, Buddhism, and other positive religions.
What is known concerning supernatural matters is a common deposit, guarded by everybody, and handed down without any intervention on the part of an authority; fuller in one place, scantier in another, or, again, more loaded with external symbols according to the intelligence, the temperament, the organization, the habits, and the manner of the people's life. Certain specialists, however, exist, known to us as prophets, teachers, priests, healers, diviners, etc., who are familiar with the mysterious secrets of things, who make use of them on behalf of those interested, and hand them down to chosen disciples. There are also secret societies which guard what may be called the preternatural tradition of the community, and deduce therefrom the decisions to be arrived at. Finally, it is understood that certain things are forbidden; there are prohibitions which cannot be defied save at the risk of disorder, social or psycholgical.
African religion is a coherent body of doctrine, with correlative precepts and settled practice which may be reduced to a system. The idea of a Being higher than humans, higher than community, invisible, inaccessible, master of life and death, orderer of all things, exists everywhere in Africa. This Being has a name: "Great", the "Ancient One", the "Heavenly One", the "Bright One", the "Master", sometimes the "Author", or "Creator".