African Religion Hinduism Similarities

I was surprised at the limited and sanitized version of Religion in Africa.


The impact, the subsequent colonization and the effort of Islam and Christianity) in trying to portray the Africans more or less animals and


uncivilized(Gandhi subscribed to this view), that there is great difficulty in understanding what the African Religion in its true form.


There is a wanton effort to obfuscate the issue by saying and confusing the readers by stating Indigenous and traditional.


The indoctrination and doctoring of the History of Religion in Africa, as in India, is to such an extent that ‘Christianity is reported to have been



practiced by the Africans before Christ!


Religion in Africa
Religions in Africa Image Credit.




 Early 20th century Yoruba divination board.
Yoruba, Supreme God Divination Board.

1.The African Religion does not have a Text and its traditions are transmitted orally like the Vedas  and does not have Missionaries to spread it.


2.They do not have a founder.


3.They do not proselytize.


4.Just as in Hinduism African Religion is not a Sunday Religion but a way of Life.


5.They have one Supreme Deity and other Deities under it, functionality wise.


6.There are multitudes of sects but all are accommodated .


7.There is Legend of Creation as in Purans.


8.Worship of Ancestors like the Pitru Worship of Hinduism is given priority.


9.Strict moral Code of Conduct like the Laws of Manu are existent.


10.Practice of appeasing Gods as in Hinduism with and without animal sacrifice is mentioned.


11.Other faiths starting from Bahai, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity are present among the Africans.


12.They believe in Fate.




Often spoken of in the terms of a singularity, deliberate; yet conscious of the fact that Africa is a large continent with multitudes of nations who have complex cultures, innumerable languages and myriads of dialects.



Followers of traditional African religions pray to various secondary deities (Ogoun, Da, AgwuEsu, Mbari, Thiorak, etc.) as well as to their ancestors.

These divinities serve as intermediaries between humans and the primary god. Most indigenous African societies believe in a single creator god (ChukwuNyameOlodumareNgaiRoog, etc.).


 Some recognize a dual or complementary twin Divinity such as Mawu-Lisa.


For example, in one of the Yoruba creation myths, Olodumare, the ‘Supreme’, is said to have created Obatala, as Arch-divinity, who then created humans on earth. Olodumare then infused those human creations with life. Each divinity has their own priest or priestes.



The essence of this school of thought is based mainly on oral transmission; that which is written in people’s hearts, minds, oral history, customs, temples and religious functions.


 It has no founders or leaders like Gautama the Buddha, Christos, Ashoka, Christ or Muhammad.


 It has no missionaries or the intent to propagate or to proselytise….



There are more similarities than differences in all traditional African religions.

 Often, the supreme god is worshiped through consultation or communion with lesser deities and ancestral spirits.

The deities and spirits are honored through libation, sacrifice (of animals,vegetables, or precious metals).

The will of God is sought by the believer also through consultation of oracular deities, or divination.

 In many traditional African religions, there is a belief in a cyclical nature of reality.

The living stand between their ancestors and the unborn. Traditional African religions embrace natural phenomena – ebb and tide, waxing and waning moon, rain and drought – and the rhythmic pattern of agriculture. According to Gottlieb and Mbiti:

The environment and nature are infused in every aspect of traditional African religions and culture.


This is largely becausecosmology and beliefs are intricately intertwined with the natural phenomena and environment.


All aspects of weather, thunder, lightning, rain, day, moon, sun, stars, and so on may become amenable to control through the cosmology of African people. Natural phenomena are responsible for providing people with their daily needs”


n spite of these similarities there are important differences in the way God and the supernatural are viewed in African religions in comparison to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. In most African religious systems, God (or the Gods) after creation was not directly involved in the human society or the individual lives of people. Remember how in the creation stories the Gods were engaged in the creation of people, but after creation, the Gods usually withdrew from direct contact with human-beings?

The idea of an isolated God does not make the supernatural un-important in Africa religions. Indeed, the supernatural, or spiritual realm, is most important to African religious belief. Between an all-powerful God and humans is a pantheon of spirits. These spirits are directly engaged in the lives of human beings, and can act as intermediaries between God and humans.




African Religion


African Deities


Exploring Africa


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