Concepts of God, Divinities, Ancestors, and Spirits in African Traditional Religious Thought: Conceptual Analysis

Concepts of God, Divinities, Ancestors, and Spirits in African Traditional Religious Thought: Conceptual Analysis

AniediAbasi Okon Ekpatt
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4595-9.ch002
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


The concept of god, divinities, ancestors, and spirits in African traditional religious ontology has been misunderstood by many scholars to the point of seeing Africans as people who did not know the supreme being nor worship him. Africans were seen as worshipping strange god(s). Against this backdrop, the researcher undertook this study to show that the concept of god is not strange to Africans and that in traditional Africa there is no atheist. Africans rather see the divinities as special beings, offspring, and/or apparitional beings who receive their authority from the supreme being to serve in the unitary theocratic system of the supreme being's government. This study adopts the descriptive and analytical research methods to investigate African traditional religious lifestyle, beliefs, and practices. This chapter concludes by suggesting that there is the need for proper religious education, a theology of enculturation, and understanding of African worldviews in order to sustain Africans' beliefs and practices.
Chapter Preview

Conceptual Analysis

The conceptual analysis is borne out of the need for meaningful understanding of the concepts as follows: Concept of God, Divinities, Ancestors and Spirits in African Traditional Religious Ontology.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Divinities: In the hierarchy of power, the divinities stand next to the supreme God. The believed to be Go’s lieutenants who are given ministerial functions by God. As such, they are ministers of god with derived power. Their major function is mediation between God and man.

God (Supreme Being): There is a widespread belief in God who is believed to be supreme and above all; God is essentially a spirit and is recognized as such in all the African tribes. He is invisible and infinite and cannot be comprehended by the finite man. This is why the Africans do not use any image to represent Him. He is believed to be the creator of the world the sovereign ruler of the whole universe and all that is in it – man, animal, and plants. God is everywhere and is all knowing. He is believed to be both distant from men and near to him.

Ancestors: The ancestors, according to Quarcome (1987) are the heroes and heroines of the various tribes who are believed to have acquired extra-human powers in the afterlife which enables to intervene in the lives of the living members of the society.

Ontology: A set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and the relations between them.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: