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This Far by Faith

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1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA
Next Journey
Religion in Africa: Common Themes 1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR



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Timeline: 1526-1775 View Detailed Timeline
1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues



1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA
Religion in Africa: Common Themes



"I am child of God, a servant of Allah, a child of Shango, a child of Oshun, no matter what anyone does to me." --This Far By Faith, Episode 1: There Is A River


Africa is a vast continent, with many ethnicities, languages, and cultures. The Sahara Desert divides the continent geographically and spiritually. North Africa belongs to the Middle Eastern world, with Islam established as early as the seventh century A.D. Christianity, meanwhile, held the ancient Coptic churches in Egypt; flourished for a long time in the Sudan; and still survives in Ethiopia, the only African kingdom with a Christian state church. Most Africans, however, came from societies with traditional African religious backgrounds, unrelated to Islam or Christianity.

As a whole, African religious traditions combine belief in a Supreme Being with the worship of other gods and ancestors. They use ritual and magic to communicate among human beings, nature, and the gods. In many African languages, there is no word for God, because in their tradition, every thing and every place embodies God.


"The Bamboula" from Century Magazine, 1886.

"The Bamboula" from Century Magazine, 1886.


Many African religions have common tenets. They share a belief in a community of deities, the idea that ancestors serve as a way to communicate with these deities, and the belief that society as a whole is organized around values and traditions drawn from a common origin, which was created by one Supreme Being.

The rituals practiced in many traditional African societies are considered to be stepping-stones to the ultimate goal of death and the afterlife. There are rituals that guide one through all of the transitional stages of life, such as birth, puberty, initiation into adulthood, marriage, having children, old age, death, and life after death. These rituals allow participants to know what society expects of them in the next stage of their lives.

Despite the universality of belief in a Supreme Being in Africa, formal, church-like worship of God was not widely practiced. Nevertheless, the concept of God is transcendent, and there is a popular myth, told from West Africa to the Upper Nile, which says that He or the sky, his dwelling place, was once much nearer to the earth.

In addition to the Supreme Being, Africans believe in many other spiritual entities, roughly divisible into nature spirits and ancestors. Some of them have both human and natural origins. It is said, however, that in sacrifices offered to other deities, the essence of the gift still goes to the Supreme Being.



CONTENT CREDIT:

People of Faith


 Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano


Did You Know?



30% of the Enslaved left from the coast of Nigeria.
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Most enslaved Africans ended up in Brazil.
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The first blacks to arrive in the Americas were Catholics.
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