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Africa:

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Africa: Africans do not have a word equivalent to the term religion there are a number of terms in African languages that describe activities, practices, and a system of thought that corresponds to closely to what most Westerners mean by religion. African religions are often closely associated with African peoples concepts of ethnic identity, language and culture. They are not limited to beliefs in supernatural beings [God and spirits] or to ritual acts of worship, but effect all aspects of life, from farming to hunting, from travel to courtship The Supernatural in Indigenous African Religions Scholars who study religion in Africa tell us that all African societies have a belief in God. Some African religions believe in one supreme God who created the world and all that is in the world. Other African religions believe that there is more than one God; however even in these religions, usually one of the Gods is claimed to be the supreme God who was responsible for creating the world. Since there are many different language groups in Africa, there are many different names for God. Even within a single country there are often a number of different names for God. Similarities between Monotheistic and African religions Conception of God 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? God is creator of all things. God sustains creation God provides for and protects creation God rules over the universe God is all powerful (omnipotent) God is all-knowing (omniscient-knows everything that happens in the world) God is viewed as parent (sometimes as a father and sometimes as a mother) God supports justice Human-beings cannot directly know God. Spirits in African religious traditions share some of the same characteristics of angels in the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. Good spirits help to protect against illness and misfortune and assist humans by providing rain needed for crops, as well as, fish and game animals used for food. However, not all spirits are good, some spirits are viewed as evil and are believed to be responsible for illness, premature death, and other forms of suffering and misfortune. Healers Healers, often referred to as traditional doctors, are important in all African societies. Given what we know about African religious traditions, including healers as religious leaders should not be surprising. Good health is the believed to be the result of appropriate behavior, that is living in accordance to the values, norms of traditions of the society. One of the primary causes of illness, then, comes from inappropriate behavior. In addition, illness can be the result of the work of bad spirits. In either case, illnesses have a spiritual basis, that in turn, requires a spiritual remedy. In most African religious traditions, there are two methods of healing. In some traditions, these two methods are practiced by the same healer; in other traditions, there are separate practitioners. To be a practitioner of either type of healing takes experience and great skill developed over many years of training. Training to be a healer in Africa takes time and effort just as does training to be medical doctor in North America. Herbalists: Extracts from plants-fruits, berries, roots, leaves, bark-provide the basis of the medicines used by traditional healers in Africa. Herbalist healers go through a rigorous training through which they learn about the healing properties of a wide variety of plants. When they finish their training, herbalist healers will be able to prescribe herbal remedies for many different illnesses. On occasion, a healer will be confronted with a new and strange disease. In these situations, the herbalist will seek assistance from the spiritual world. As described above, the healer will enter a trance in which she or he is possessed by a spirit. The spirit will lead the healer to an appropriate remedy. Spiritualists/Diviners: Diviners treat illness primarily through facilitating the direct intervention of the spiritual world. If an illness is believed to be caused by inappropriate behavior on the part of the patient, a remedy or cure for the illness can only come through spiritual intervention. While a herbal healer uses plants to treat diseases, a diviner seeks input from the spiritual world to understand the cause of the illness and prescribe a cure. Usually a diviner is possessed by the same ancestral spirit with whom she or he has developed a special relationship. In addition to treating specific illnesses, African healers-herbalist and diviners- also practice preventative medicine. Patients may come to the healer seeking protection from misfortune. Or a person undertaking a long journey may want a remedy that will provide safety on her trip. Another patient may want a remedy that will provide wisdom and clarity in making an important decision. When Europeans were first observed African medicine and healing practices, they often had a negative reaction. They viewed these practices as being based on magic and not on science. These judgments were based on a misunderstanding of African views on disease and healing. Indeed, like western medicine, African healing is based on close observation of the patient and his or her disease and on the use of remedies-medicines-that have a track record for successfully treating a particular ailment. During the past thirty years, Western trained doctors have gained a greater appreciation for African healing techniques and practices. Indeed, throughout Africa it is now fairly common to have Western trained doctors working with traditional healers in the treatment of patients. ITS FUNNY, RELIGION SEEMS TO BE KILLING AND CAUSES MORE DISCRIMINATION THAN ANYTHING. EVERY SCREAMS DEMOCRACY, BUT HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT WITH A DICTATOR RELIGION. BELIEVE IN OUR WAY OR DIE. SIMILAR TO MUSLIMS KILLING PEOPLE IF THEY DONT BELIEVE IN THE KORAN. WHY ARE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE BENT ON DESTROYING OTHERS CULTURE. WHAT HAPPEN TO NATIVE AMERICANS WAY OF LIFE. HOW DID THEY CONNECT WITH GOD, HOW DID THEY RULE, AND DID IT WORK. WHY DIDNT THEY KILL AND CONVERT EVERYONE THEY MEET? HMMM! FUNNY THING IS AFRAKANS AND NATIVE AMERICANS NEVER HAD A WORD FOR RELIGION.- KHEPRI NETERU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu0z6zyc2J8