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The future of African Religion part3



What would you think of an Edo who accepted Chinese ancestors as his own? We would find it quite interesting and wonder how it came to be. But what of Africans acceptance of other Gods? Is there no tradition with these Gods? of course there is tradition with these Gods! To accept the Jews god or the Arab God or the hinduīs god and so forth is to valorize those histories above your own. Indeed, it is to honor the names in those myths and stories higher than your own stories, it is to love the language, the places in their stories above your own. Why is Mecca, Rome, or Jerusalem more sacred than Bosumtwi? Quite simply, Is is imperialism not by force of arms, but by force of religion which sometimes comes armed.


Joel Kotkinīs Tribes-a book about people ready for the 21st century claims that only the Jews, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and the British are ready. These groups have some commonalities which include (1)Strong sense of identity,(2)international network, and (3)a passion for technology.

He does not include any African community or ethnic group. In fact, Marcus Garvey who believed that Africans were not only capable without the whites in order to be seen as fully participating in the drama of history. Kwame Nkrumah believed in much the same idea.

Samuel Huntingtonīs The clash of Civilization claims that there are six Major civilizations; Chinese, Japanese, Orthodox, Hindu, Western, Islamic.  

He says each one has a nation that his vanguard, deeply committed to its religion and history. Africa has no such vanguard nation and furthermore Africa has yet to emerge from under the cloaks of its interventionists. Of 53 nations only one is more African in religion than either Christian or Muslim. That nation is small Benin.

Benin is 87% popular African Religion. But it is small nation with limited influence in a propaganda fashion. As such we do not expect African Traditional religion to play a major part in the civilization of Africa for a long time come, but we can begin to examine the questions, to raise the issues, and to interrogate our practices.

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Let me explore African Religion with you to provide some common understanding. African Religion.

In the first place it is important we call Tradtitional African everywhere by a common acronym PTARE. This means that Akan, Yoruba, Edo, Igbo, Zulu,and the Shona are the same religion with different branches. Just as Christians may be Baptists, Methodist, and Catholics, and just as Muslims may be Mourrides, Sunni, or Shiites. There is no difference in speaking of PTARE as one religion and speaking of Christianity or Islam as one Religion.

I believe that popular Traditional African Religion Everywhere (PTARE) is as old as civilization, indeed, it is much more older than either Christianity or Islam. The major characteristics of PTARE are found in all of the traditions from East to West and North to South. The fact that we have misunderstood the legacy is not the fault of those who left it; it is our fault for preferring the oppressors legacy over that of our own ancestors.

Culled from Professor molefi kete Asante lecture on The future of African Gods: The clash of Civilizations at the Dubois Center Accra, Ghana. To be continued.........