African Religions: A Very Short Introduction [#377]
African Religions: A Very Short Introduction [#377]

African Religions: A Very Short Introduction [#377]

Jacob K. Olupona


  • A comprehensive look at African religious traditions
  • Provides a historical overview of the field while also demonstrating new areas of inquiry
  • Compares African religious traditions with other world religions

Africa is home to hundreds of ethnic groups, who together speak more than a thousand languages. It is not surprising, then, that Africa's enormous range of peoples, cultures, and ways of life has engendered a wide diversity of religious practices.

This Very Short Introduction offers a wide-ranging look at the myriad indigenous religious traditions on the African continent. Drawing on archeological research, historical evidence, ethnographic studies, and archival materials such as missionary records, Jacob Olupona-one of the world's leading authorities on African religions-captures a wealth of information in a short compass. The book not only gives the reader a full and vivid sense of African religious belief-exploring myths, gods and local deities, ancestor worship, rites of passage, festivals, divination, and much more-but it also underscores the role these religions play in everyday African life. Indeed, traditional religions inform everything from birthing and death, marriage and family dynamics, to diet, dress and grooming, health care, and even governance. Monarchs, chiefs, and elders play both political and religious roles, imparting secular and spiritual guidance to their subjects, while also being guardians of religious centres such as shrines, temples, and sacred forests. The author also examines the spread of Christianity and Islam throughout Africa, both the moderate sects (which often blend aspects of indigenous faith into their own practice) and the more extreme fundamentalist sects, which the author states have had a dire effect on African life. In fact, radical forms of Christianity and Islam-both of which decry tradition religion as paganism—have driven a near total collapse of indigenous practice. But if traditional religions are engaged in a battle for their lives in Africa, Olupona shows that they are thriving elsewhere in the world-particularly in the Americas and in Europe.


List of ilustrations

Chapter 1 Worldview, cosmology, and myths of origin
Chapter 2 Gods, ancestors, and spirit beings
Chapter 3 Sacred authority: Divine kingship, priests, and diviners
Chapter 4 Ceremonies, festivals, and rituals
Chapter 5 Sacred Arts, verbal and ritual performances
Chapter 6 Encounter with the incoming world: Christianity and Islam in Africa
Further reading


Jacob K. Olupona is Professor of African Religious Traditions at Harvard Divinity School, with a joint appointment as Professor of African and African American Studies in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. A noted scholar of indigenous African religions, his books include City of 201 Gods: Ilé-Ifè in Time, Space, and the Imagination, Òrìsà Devotion as World Religion: The Globalization of Yorùbá Religious Culture, co-edited with Terry Rey, and Kingship, Religion, and Rituals in a Nigerian Community: A Phenomenological Study of Ondo Yoruba Festivals. In 2007, he was awarded the Nigerian National Order of Merit, one of Nigeria's most prestigious honors.


ISBN : 9780199790586

Jacob K. Olupona
176 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions





African Religions: A Very Short Introduction [#377]

African Religions: A Very Short Introduction [#377]

African Religions: A Very Short Introduction [#377]