SELECTED ASPECTS IN AFRICAN RELIGIOUS HERITAGE;
African concept of God, Spirits and Ancestors
- All African communities believe in a supreme being who is the origin and sustainer of all things.
- He is the creator of the universe and all that it contains.
- All Africans agree that nobody has ever seen God.
Attributes of God as understood by African people
- God is the creator of the universe and everything in it.
- God is a provider. He provides and sustains his creation.
- God is merciful. He removes suffering from communities.
- God is all powerful / omnipotent. He has power over all creation and controls nature.
- God is holy/ pure seen from the nature of sacrifices and the purity of the people involved in sacrificing.
- God is all-knowing /omniscient. He knows and sees everything e.g. Zulu of South Africa refer to him as the “wise one”.
- God is everywhere/ omnipresent in the universe e.g. when a person is on a journey, members of the family ask God to be with the person.
- God is immanent because he is not limited to space and time. He is both very far and very near.
- God is transcendent. He is beyond human description/beyond human comprehension and cannot be limited.
- God is self-existent. He exists on his own and existed before creation. He continues to exist.
- God is a spirit. He has no physical form and is invisible.
- God is everlasting/eternal. He is immortal and lives for ever.
- God is good. He is not evil and did not create evil.
(b) African concept of spirits
- They are invisible beings second in Seniority in the hierarchy of beings.
- Some spirits are believed to have been created by God as spirits/ divinities.
- Others are spirits of people who died long ago and are no longer remembered by the living.
- Spirits are subordinate to God and depend on him for survival.
- God uses them to perform certain things such as causing floods and lightening.
- They can be reborn among the living.
They are of two types
(i)Spirits of the sky
- They are associated with the sun, moon, stars, thunder and lightning.
- Are associated with natural phenomena such as hills, mountains, rocks, forests, lakes, rivers, animals and insects.
- They are believed to control the force of nature
- Some may be manipulated by human being for good or evil purposes.
- They are of two categories
- Belonging to those who died long ago and whose names cannot be remembered.
- These are dead people whose identities are still alive in the memories of people
- Communities in Africa e.g. the Ashanti of Ghana believe in a category of spirits between God and the spirits.
- They are believed to have been created by God.
- They are founders of African clans and tribes.
- They are people who died and whose names and identities are still remembered by their relative
- As spirits, they are concerned with the people’s welfare and are close to them.
- They speak the language of human beings when they appear to them in dreams or visions.
- They participate in the activities of the living relatives.