Essay about Indigenous African Religions

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There are two schools of thought on the use of the singular and the plural in describing the African indigenous religion(s). The first perception is that the religions have common features, religious philosophy and thought forms. The latter identifies Africa’s numerous cultures, different ethnic nationalities, and varying practices.
The indigenous people (the first inhabitants) of southern Africa can be categorised into two groups, the San hunter-gatherers and the traditional African farmers.

Whereas historians tend to emphasize the changing nature of cultures and religions, the conceptualisation of the term ‘indigenous’ refers to the native people of a given territory, and connotes a set, unchanging people. Historians, however, prefer
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I will compare and critique the traditional ‘indigenous’ religions whereof I speak. In addition, I will determine whether it is appropriate to refer to one or to many traditional African religions.

The Drakensberg rock paintings, depicting the beliefs and traditions of the San, indicate the belief in a spirit realm behind the rocks. They believed in spirit animals and strange rain, humans that were half-eland or -antelope and dangerous spirits of those who had died. San shamans believed they could plead with their ‘god’ and that this spiritual ‘god’ would grant the shaman powers to heal and hunt and bring rain. Their belief system was linked to hunting and served to bind their group as a whole.

The San hunter-gatherers’ most essential ritual was the trance dance. Some men fell into a trance (the spirit world) as a result of dancing with rattles in short steps for hours on end around a fire while the women sang and clapped rhythmically. The San men that entered this ‘spiritual world’ through trance are said to have seen rain animals. The significance of entering the spirit realm was that those who did could bring rain to the land and have the super-ability to heal.
The rock paintings depicted these trance dances and the altered experiences, such as being under water or capturing rain-cows or -bulls, Sans with bleeding noses and arms swung back (signifying being in a trance) among other drawings.

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