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What is Pa divination in Nigeria? Who or what is Mami Water? Does a single African spirituality exist across all indigenous cultures, even after their contact with Western religions such as Christianity? In this illustrated book, a perfect introduction to the fascinating world of African religion, spirituality, and cosmology, writers from Margaret R. Miles and Kathleen O’Brien Wicker to Ogbu Kalu and Abdulkader I. Tayob lead us into discussions of the diversity of African spiritual traditions and the forms and patterns that link them. Special topics include Dagbamba, Haitian Vodun, shrines, divination, candomble, and Sufism and the role of Islam.
Dominique Zahan, from whose essay the soccer metaphor is lifted, sets the tone of the book by explaining that traditional African religion has no concepts of original sin and redemption. That huge departure from what many Westerners see as the basis for Christianity is a gulf of understanding the authors work to bridge.
Issues such as the endurance of traditional African religious imagery and symbolism to the strains of incorporating new religions into old societies are examined. The size of the text reflects the variety of expressions of African spirituality, as the authors discuss not only traditional practices, but the impact of the revealed religions of East and West. The volume is part of an encyclopedic series on world spirituality produced by Crossroad Publishing. Its editor, Jacob K. Olupona, was well-chosen. The book's major theme is one of religious understanding and tolerance, goals which have become the life work of Olupona. The Nigerian professor, who now teaches at the University of California at Davis, was a leader in the push for multi-faith education in Nigerian schools.
The authors speak with different voices but deliver a similar message: understand what you see before you pass judgment. G.C. Oosthuizen, in his essay on South African religion, makes a persuasive plea for less dogma and more understanding of African modes of modern worship: "It thus becomes disastrous... to produce theology for its own sake. Its usefulness to the religious and cultural situation should be closely analyzed and evaluated. This means that the emphasis is not to be put on the church as an institution but rather on the church as an organism."
The writers of the twenty essays do a careful and caring job of describing African religious organisms. They help a reader understand not only how religions work, but also why men and women, of Africa or any continent, would let faith rule their lives. (February)
|Preface to the Series|
|Pt. 1||Cosmologies and Sacred Knowledge|
|1||Some Reflections on African Spirituality||3|
|2||African Shrines as Channels of Communication||26|
|3||The Lake Goddess Uhammiri/Ogbuide: The Female Side of the Universe in Igbo Cosmology||38|
|4||Ancestral Spirituality and Society in Africa||54|
|Pt. 2||Authority, Agencies, and Performance|
|5||Pa Divination: Ritual Performance and Symbolism among the Ngas, Mupun, and Mwaghavul of the Jos Plateau, Nigeria||87|
|6||Some Thoughts on Ideology, Beliefs, and Sacred Kingship among the Edo (Benin) People of Nigeria||114|
|7||Spiritual Beings as Agents of Illness||152|
|8||Witchcrarft and Society||176|
|9||Mami Water in African Religion and Spirituality||198|
|10||Art and Spirituality||223|
|11||Spiritual Foundations of Dagbamba Religion and Culture||257|
|Pt. 3||African's Encounter with Other Religions|
|12||The Task of African Traditional Religion in the Church's Dilemma in South Africa||277|
|13||African Muslim Spirituality: The Symbiotic Tradition in West Africa||284|
|14||Patterns of Islam among Youth in South Africa||305|
|15||Sufism in Africa||324|
|16||Roman North African Christian Spiritualities||350|
|17||Asante Catholicism: An African Appropriation of the Roman Catholic Religion||372|
|Pt. 4||African Spirituality in the Americas|
|18||Forms of African Spirituality in Trinidad and Tobago||403|
|19||The Music of Haitian Vodun||416|
|20||African-derived Religion in the African-American Community in the United States||450|