Religion In West Africa

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The religions, or beliefs, of the people of this particular region of Africa may be divided for convenience into Christianity, Islam, and paganism, the two former having been introduced from the outside in more modern times. In describing paganism as a religion, we use the term religion in its widest sense, i.e. a system of faith worship, and before dwelling on the advent of the Crescent and the Cross into this part of West Africa, we will glance at some of the pagan beliefs of the natives, for, savage thought the various tribes may be, there is none devoid of a belief in some deity, and most have an idea of the soul and of an afterlife. These ideas may be confused, and to the Christian or Muslim absurd, but after all they are no more peculiar…show more content…
In most primitive religions, almost the earliest form of worship, after that of trees and stones, was that of the heavenly bodies, the principal of which were regarded as man-like gods. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Hindus, Persians, New Zealanders, Norsemen, and others, all bowed down before the sun, the moon and the stars. But as a rule West African apparently pays no attention to these things; they do not appeal to him, though not uncommonly his principal deity is the general controller of the sky – a Jupiter or sky-god in fact. Lighting, he knows, harms him; rain assists in the production of his crops; wind and tornadoes work destruction; such things, therefore, are controlled by a god, whom it is necessary to worship. The stars, the moon, and the sun remain in the heavens, and do not concern themselves in the affairs of this world, for which reason the African regards them merely as harmless ornaments hung in the skies. With regard to the gods of the elements, the wind-god of the Yorubas is shut in a cave under a guardian called Wuo-hun-to, who, after oiling his own body, which would otherwise be cut up by the wind, opens the gate and lets his charge issue to torment the world. Shango the god of thunder and lightning dwells in the clouds in an immense brazen place, where he maintains a large retinue and keeps a great number of horses; for besides being the thunder-god, he is also the god of the chase and of pillage. From his palace Shango hurls upon those who have offended him red-hot chains of iron, which are forged for him by his brother Ogun, god of iron and of war. The god of the sea is Olokun, of human shape and black in colour, with long flowing hair, and he resides in a vast palace under the sea, where he is served by a number of sea-spirits, some of whom are human in shape, while others take the shape of various fishes. These gods and many more of the same kind are all
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