Portal:Traditional African religions

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Brooklyn Museum 1989.51.39 Nommo Figure with Raised Arms.jpg
Welcome to the Traditional African religions portal


Local African ceremony in Benin featuring a zangbeto.

The traditional African religions or traditional beliefs and practices of African people are a set of highly diverse beliefs that includes various ethnic religions. Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural and passed down from one generation to another through folk tales, songs and festivals, include belief in an amount of higher and lower gods, sometimes including a supreme creator or force, belief in spirits, veneration of the dead, use of magic and traditional African medicine. Most religions can be described as animistic with various polytheistic and pantheistic aspects. The role of humanity is generally seen as one of harmonizing nature with the supernatural. ( Full article...)

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Òrìṣà (original spelling in the Yoruba language), known as orichá or orixá in Latin America, are the human form of the spirits (Irunmọlẹ) sent by Olodumare, Olorun, Olofi in Yoruba traditional identity. The Irunmọlẹ are meant to guide creation and particularly humanity on how to live and succeed on Earth (Ayé). Most Òrìṣà are said to be deities previously existing in the spirit world (Òrun) as Irunmọlẹ, while others are said to be humans who are recognized as deities upon their deaths due to extraordinary feats.

Many Òrìṣà have found their way to most of the New World as a result of the Atlantic slave trade and are now expressed in practices as varied as Santería, Candomblé, Trinidad Orisha, Umbanda, and Oyotunji, among others. The concept of orisha is similar to those of deities in the traditional religions of the Bini people of Edo State in southern Nigeria, the Ewe people of Benin, Ghana, and Togo, and the Fon people of Benin.

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There are several religious festivals found in the various Traditional African religions. Some of these are listed below next to their corresponding religion :

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Babacar Sedikh Diouf ( Serer: Babakar Sidiix Juuf) is a Senegalese historian, author, researcher, campaigner against " Wolofization", a Pan-Africanist, and former teacher. He has written extensively about the history and culture of Senegal, Africa, and that of the Serer ethnic group to which he belong. He usually writes by the pen name Babacar Sedikh Diouf.

Diouf was one of the first (if not the first) to explain the Serer religious significance of the Senegambian stone circles. His work published on July 7, 1980 on the Senegalese newspaper Le Soleil became headline news and was picked up by the prehistorian and archaeologist Professor Cyr Descamps and his colleague Professor Iba Der Thiam. Professor Descamps was one of the archaelogisgts who excavated the monuments back in the 1970s. On July 28, 1980, Professor Descamps issued a response to Diouf—thanking him for explaining the significance of the Senegambian megaliths which until then were unknown or undocumented. Some of that included the arrangement of the stones and their religious symbolism based on Serer numerlogy. In his joint paper with Iba Der Thiam – titled: La préhistoire au Sénégal: recueil de documents, published in 1982, Descamps and Thiam republished Diouf's work and reiterated their thanks to him for his work two years earlier.

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Source: Diouf, Babacar Sédikh, Le Sérère, Paganism Polythéiste ou Religion Monothéiste [in] Camara, Fatou Kiné (PhD) & Seck, Abdourahmane (PhD), "Secularity and Freedom of Religion in Senegal: Between a Constitutional Rock and a Hard Reality", p 860-61 (PDF - p. 2-3) [1]

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