Traditional African religion and other religions

Traditional African religions have shared notable relationships with other religions, cultures, and traditions.

Throughout the history, they are often noted for having one of the oldest presence in the world, and also applauded for its tolerance with other religions.[1][2]


Like Hinduism, the traditional African religion recognizes the presence of one supreme deity as well as the existence of God in multiple aspects.[3]

Traditional Igbo doctrine of reincarnation and connection to the spiritual mortal identity of the culture, themes about spiritual instrumentality based on the traditional Igobo beliefs and practices with the Hindu mantra, specifically the doctrine in the creative power of the spoken word are identical.[4]


God is esteemed by both African religion and Christianity as both the very ground being, and the necessary of life, and any form of being or existence, such as the creation itself. Anthropology is the basic starting place for both religions, human beings are the temporal mirrors and mediators (imago Dei) of God in the feature world.[5]

The Christian idea of church has similarities with African traditional life in which brotherhood and the extended family play a central role. The Church is the Christian family, in which all are accompanied to one another through belief and baptism in Jesus Christ. The Church also combines those who have died and those who still live. This is parallel view to the African view of the family of both the living and the omitted.[6]


African traditional religion is also regarded to have influenced Islam, but despite this African customs were simply rejected by the Muslims. Muslim missionaries in Africa have often used violence as a means of conversion.[7] It also notable that before the expansion of Islam, human sacrifices were common in Egypt, Egyptians conducted to sacrifice female to River Nile, every year when it was flooded. The flood would remain until a young female was thrown into it as a sacrifice. During the reign of Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab, Amr bin al-Aas, the governor of Egypt, wrote to Umar askin his direction for such activity. There is a story that Umar answered by writing a note to be thrown into the Nile river instead of sacrificing a female to it. The note enclosed verses from the Qur'an and a command from Umar asking the Nile to flow fluently in the name of Allah without causing any damage to inhabitants. When the note was thrown into the Nile, the flood dissolved. After that they won't sacrifice human.[8]

Today, even after the suppression of African traditional religion, the religion has its notable traces in northern Africa. Followers of African religion in Muslim dominated areas can be found, adhering their beliefs, rituals, magic, medicines. Generally they have adopted the Muslim way of dressing but in matter of deeper subjects such as life, birth, marriage, death, they remain the followers of African religion.[9]


Relations of African religion with Buddhism dates back to 17th century. After the establishment of the Dutch settlement at Cape Agulhas, some Buddhists paid short, coincidental visits to the Cape Agulhas - such as the few Thai monks who were aboard the Portuguese ship which ran aground off.[10]

Like Hinduism, Akan tradition shares belief in reincarnation with Buddhism.[11]


  1. Religious Plurality in Africa: Essays in Honour of John S. Mbiti. Walter de Gruyter. 1993. p. 67.
  2. Ali AlʼAmin Mazrui, Christophe Wondji (1993). Africa Since 1935. University of California Press. p. 502. ISBN 9780435948146.
  3. Sushama Londhe (2008). A Tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and Wisdom Spanning Continents and Time about India and Her Culture. p. 79.
  4. "Gendering Global Transformations: Gender, Culture, Race, and Identity", p. 114, by Chima J. Korieh, Philomina E Okeke-Ihejirika, publisher = Routledge
  5. Emmanuel K. Twesigye (1996). African religion, philosophy, and Christianity in Logos-Christ: common ground revisited. Peter Lang Publishing. p. 9.
  6. "Introduction to African Religion", by John S. Mbiti, p. 190 publisher = Heinemann,
  7. Elias Kifon Bongmba. The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to African Religions. John Wiley & Sons. p. 328.
  8. p. 329 - 330 by Elias Kifon Bongmba
  9. "An Introduction to African Religion (2nd Edition)", by John S. Mbiti, p. 191 publisher = East African Publishers
  10. Piet Meiring (1996). A World of Religions: A South African Perspective. Kagiso Publishers.
  11. Yoshinobu Hakutani. Cross-Cultural Visions in African American Literature: West Meets East. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 5.


  • African traditional religion and Christianity in a changing world: issues in comparative religion by Joseph S. Gbenda, 1997
  • African Traditional Religion in South Africa: An Annotated Bibliography by David Chidester
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