African Religions

“African religions: Indigenous religions of the African continent. The introduced religions of Islam (in northern Africa) and Christianity (in southern Africa) are now the continent’s major religions, but traditional religions still play an important role, especially in the interior of sub-Saharan Africa. The numerous traditional African religions have in common the notion of a creator god, who made the world and then withdrew, remaining remote from the concerns of human life. Prayers and sacrificial offerings are usually directed toward secondary divinities, who are intermediaries between the human and sacred realms. Ancestors also serve as intermediaries. Ritual functionaries include priests, elders, rainmakers, diviners, and prophets. Rituals are aimed at maintaining a harmonious relationship with cosmic powers, and many have associated myths to explain their significance. Animism is a common feature of African religions, and misfortune is often attributed to witchcraft and sorcery.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

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