Syncretism In West Africa

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The enslaved Africans had long contact with Catholicism which lead to syncretism between their aboriginal religious beliefs, doctrines, and rituals. According to Nathaniel Murrell (2010) Syncretism “implies the blending of different religious elements into an undifferentiated religions”. In order words, syncretism is the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties as in philosophy or religion. Religious syncretism is the blending of a foreign belief and an indigenous belief systems and teachings. Syncretism has been a key part of the survival of African practices on the plantation. The enslaves were forbidden to practice their faith publicly. The planters believed that the Africans were Eden…show more content…
The history is very important as it goes way back to West Africa. In the 16th century slave trade, Africans were transported to the Caribbean to work as slaves on European owned plantations. They were taken from different tribes, regions and countries in West Africa such as: Senegal, Gambia, Congo regions, Nigeria and Dahomey. They brought with them their oral traditions that blossomed in some West Indian countries such as; Cuba, Haiti and Brazil. The enslaved Africans had a very rigid daily routine as they had to wake up 3am and stopped working 6pm. This gave them little or no time to practice their traditional African Voodoo. Patrick Taylor stated that “Haitian Voodoo consists of primarily four different nanchon or nations; Rada (Arada or Dahomey), Petro, Kongo and Ibo”. These spirits served as links to Africa and the new world. It also provided the enslaved with various means to survive in the new world. However, the Haitian voodoo could not be compared with the traditional African Voodoo because syncretism weakened the practice. This was mainly because their Supreme Being was worshipped through secondary divinities that emerged from nature and the ancestors. The Orishas served as the lesser deities in the form of Catholic Saints. On the plantation each clan or family has a specialized priests or priestess (sorcerer or soceress) who used various herbs, poisons, and ritual charms and amulets intended to protect one’s…show more content…
Desmangle argues that the relationship between Haitian voodoo and Roman Catholicism was “symbiosis” because the spatial juxtaposition and blending of the religious traditions from Africa and America coexist without replacing one another”. (Murrell, 2010, p.72). There are evidence to show that none of the religions actually changed but instead one had to compromised, leading to both religions being syncretic. Syncretism was shown through the Vodou pantheon, liturgy and chromolithographs. The African war God Ogun was highly venerated by Haitian voodoo as he guarded the sacred altar of the voodoo temple. The Ogun loa include several gods who are generally regarded as brothers. Ogun Ferraille is syncretized by Saint James, while Ogun Balandjo, a deity who gives “remedies” to cure the sick, is identified with Saint Joseph because the picture of this saint shows him holding a child, his hand raised in the blessing which

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