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Paper Presented At Berkeley-Stanford
Joint Center for African Studies
FROM AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE
Saturday, April 27, 2002Dwinelle Hall
University of California, Berkeley
In reviewing the literature on globalization one realizes that much of what has been written on the subject is very much concerned with economics and the world. However
if one will speak about globalization in light of humanity, it becomes important to look at the human being in terms of what the human being objectively is. In the course of history the human being has been identified as a being which generically enjoys a variety of characteristics. These characteristics include: rationality, wisdom, sociability, skillfulness, politicality and religiosity. These are elements of the human condition. They are innately part of the integral make up of the species known as, man as man, in the sense of the human being.
In spite of the semantic subjectivity advanced about the African condition, the African person is as human as any other humans under the sun. However it is a fact that subjectivism has for many years motivated many writers to globalize semantic characterizations which are instrumental in marginalizing Africa. Marginalization happens in a variety of ways. This paper addresses the marginalization of African beliefs, ritual and thought. At the base of the African being are systems of beliefs, ritual and thinking ,which are expressive of the sum total of the being, existence and identity of an African. They are summarized into his and/or her soul and spirit. In the course of time, the way this soul and this spirit have been globalized calls for some attention.
Globalization may bear a variety of meanings. It can be positive, as it can also be negative. It is its negativity regarding the African soul and spirit which is the main point of concern in this paper. Etymologically considered globalization reflects the making of something to become worldwide in scope and/or in application. By points of emphasis globalization may be understood in terms of universalizing, westernizing which has often come to be generalized into modernizing.
Case in point, African systems of beliefs, rituals and thought, have semantically, negatively and profusely been globalized. This has been done in terms which include Kafir, Witchcraft, Fetishism, Animism, Primitive, Savage, Uncouth, Primal, and Tribal. It is the position of this paper that all these stereotyping epithets are based on subjectivism. Gradually, these stereotypes are being replaced by an autochthonally and geontologically objective concept of Africism. Africism is the system of African autochthonal beliefs, ritual practices and thought regarding the Supreme Being, superhuman beings, human beings, extra human beings and the world.Introduction
Here are reflections on the invitation to deliberate on “Rethinking Globalization from an African Perspective”. The call for the papers suggests a consideration relative to the marginalization of Africa.In a way this recalls some episodes of my stay at Oxford University during the latter part of the nineteen sixties. In 1966 as a postdoctoral scholar, at Oxford, I studied with the late Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. He was the Professor and Head of the Oxford Institute of Social Anthropology. The first assignment I got from him was to write a paper with the title of “ Primitive Religion in Africa. Instead I gave my paper the title of “African Religion in Uganda”, not “Primitive Religion in Uganda”. The Professor was not pleased with the title. He suggested that in the future I use the term “Primitive Religion at least between inverted commas, when I write papers for him. He added that when I am done with my studies at Oxford, and I am back in Africa, I would then do things as I like. Let me, here, try to do things not as I like but as things should objectively be.
Globalization is not a fashion show. Its intricacies, niceties and question marks are not cornered in France in the same mode Paris is considered to be the world capital of fashion. Globalization, unfortunately, mainly addresses world issues in the sense of being universalization and modernization with proclivities of facing Mount Westernization.
The leanings of this paper is towards globalization in relation to ideas pertinent to the worth of the human being. Considerations patterned to logical universals, identify man, in a generic sense. This identification is done in a variety of ways. By such identification a human being and /or a person is characterized as a Homo erectus, the upright human being, Homo faber, the skillful human being, Homo sapiens, the wise human being. Particularly in the case of this paper the characterization of a person is that of a Homo rationalis, the rational human being, Homo politicus, the political human being, Homo socialis, the social human being, and Homo religiosus, the religious human being.
These characteristics are innately part of man as man in terms of the belief held by millions of people that human beings are all created in the image of the Creator, thereby rendering equality in as far as membership to the human family is concerned. However, some scientists, have expressed themselves differently about the essential equality of human beings. Louis Agassiz, of Harvard University, had the following to say:“the brain of the Negro is that of the imperfect brain of a seven-month infant in the womb of the white”. [1986:38].
Normally, the belief and view in the equality of human beings includes the Homo Africanus.
Human worldly existential continues concomitantly to imply the existence of the positives and negatives within and among human beings. Given a variety of circumstances, humans have been subjected to negative considerations. In that sense, the African condition relative to systems of beliefs, rituals and thought, has often been semantically, smugly and globally marginalized. The paper is intended to contribute to the process of redressing the imbalances of semantic marginalization regarding the African systems of beliefs, rituals and thought by introducing the concept of Africism.
The paper proceeds by circumspectively considering three steps. First, it considers the negatively semantic globalization of the African beliefs, rituals and thought. Second, the paper takes cognizance of the idea of Afrocentrism and Africanity as an effort towards positive globalization. Third the paper proposes Africism as the concept for the way forward regarding the positively semantic globalization of the African systems of belief, ritual and thought.
Questionably Semantic Globalization
In the course of recorded history, there have been many statements about Africa. Particularly interesting among them is the one expressive of both
Aristotle’s (384-322 BC), [c.340, BC] and the one by Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79),[c. A.D.70]. This, according to Erasmus  is the proverbial form which derives from the two classical writers, mentioned above. It says that:
“Out of Africa, there is always something new”.
As a follow up to the above observation one notices a continued interest which has attracted Western scholars to African affairs, in a variety of ways. These ways include African aspects which relate to beliefs, rituals and thought as may be standardized by the phraseology Religion and Philosophy. For further standardization, African beliefs , rituals and systems of thinking were pegged to approaches and theories which include evolutionism, functionalism and structuralism. Out of these theories, African beliefs, rituals and thought have effectively been subjected to name calling and stereotyping the results of which have been highly globalized. The process of the globalization of African beliefs, rituals and thought, professionally, has been carried out by a variety of agents. These include, theologians, sociologists, historians and anthropologists. Theologians focus attention to the understanding of beliefs and their accompanying rituals. They raise questions, which they try to answer, about the truthfulness or falseness and/or the validity of those beliefs. Obviously they spend a lot of thoughtful moments investigating about beliefs. Sociologists concentrate on the social dimension of beliefs and rituals. Historians address, chronicle, describe beliefs and rituals in light of the circumstances which surround events in relation to the signs of the time. Anthropologists focus on studying human behavior. Beliefs, ritual and thought by African aptitudes are encapsulated in Religion. Religion is one of the African patterns of behavior which like any other human behavior has been observed by anthropologists. Evolutionism is one of the theoretical ways anthropologists, and scholars of related subjects have taken to observe the beliefs, rituals and the systems of thinking of African origin.
Evolutionism is a theoretical approach to the study of beliefs, rituals and thinking systems of peoples in the form of what we call religion. James Waller and Mary Edwardsen observe that Evolutionism
“is a term commonly employed to designate a number of similar, usually nineteenth-century anthropological theories that attempt to account for the genesis and development of religion”. [1987:214].
Amongst theorists of religion Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917), particularly stands out as the dean of “ evolutionists”. Tylor’s two voluminous publications titled Primitive Culture has been the vehicle of his marginalizing propaganda about the people he categorizes as “lower races”. Tylor as an evolutionist has spearheaded the semantic globalization of three negative concepts which specifically are pertinent to the deliberations which may be based on this paper. Tylor borrows the term “fetishism” from Charles de Brosses (1709-1777), . He tells the reader of his Primitive Culture that “fetishism” [1874: Volume II: 143] is “another branch of the lower religion of the world. For Tylor, the term “primitive” according to the extensive references in his publications means “lower races” in the sense of savages and other marginalizing signification. Then comes the word “Animism”. This is the most confused terminology of evolutionism. Apart from the uncertainties of its grammatical application its relation with the coinage of Physician George Ernest Stahl remains in balance. However the meaning given to the term “animism” by Tylor is both religious and philosophical. Thus apart from globalizing “animism” as the “religion of lower races”, Edward Tylor wishes his readers to understand “animism” in terms of what he states as:
“Animism is, in fact, the groundwork of the Philosophy of Religion, from that of savages up to that of civilized men” [1874:426].
In this process of marginalization, Tylor sets pace not only for evolutionists. He sets pace also for functionalists.
During the twentieth century there came a shift in questioning about religion. As Douglas Davies has noted: “Instead of asking the evolutionary question of how religion first originated, anthropologists chose to ask what function was served by religion in each particular society [1994:13]. Most recognizable functionalists in this direction include Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942)  and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard (1902-1973). . These two scholars are distinguished for their prolific writing on the subject. The latter focused attention on the role played by religion within the society of the Trobriand Islands, in the Pacific Ocean where as an Austrian citizen was interned during World War One. The former excelled in his writings on Religion in Africa. However it should be noted that these two notable scholars on the role of religion affected the change of asking questions about religion. Besides they liberated themselves from the limitations of arm-chair scholarship. They did field work. They advocated for field work in order to feel that were attaining and maintaining objectivity in their work. They spent time among the people whose religion they were observing. They also picked up something of the language of those people whose religion they studied. They seemed as if they were taking heed of the advice Friedrich Max Mueller (1823-1900) had given in 1898.
Time wise, Max Mueller as a scholar belonged to the 19th century. He was a man of his own community and time. His keen observation, when writing in 1898 makes him turn out to be a solitary voice sounding out of the wilderness. He writes the following:
“The Religious map of the world may show as violent convulsions as the geological map of the earth, and what is on the surface may belong to the lowest azoic rocks. But this would have to be proved, and cannot simply be taken for granted. What I have ventured to say on several occasions to the enthusiastic believers in this contorted evolution of religious thought is, let us wait till we know a little bit more of the Hottentots and Papuan; let us wait till we know at least their language for otherwise we may go hopelessly wrong. Their religions are probably as old as their languages, that is, as old as our own language; but we know nothing about their antecedents, nothing except the mere surface of today, and that immense surface explored in a few isolated spots only, here and there, and often by men utterly incapable of understanding the language and the thoughts of the people” [1889:216]
As if the two functionalists under consideration followed the advice by Max Mueller, certainly they did effect a shift regarding the questions they asked. They brought about a new approach of acquiring source materials for their study. However they did not secure a paradigm shift relative to questionably semantic globalization of the religions and thought systems of Africa. To them those systems remained within the marginalizing purview of the “primitive” with all its negative concomitants.
To underscore the importance of the role of religion in African perspective, E.E. Evans-Pritchard in functionalist terms defines religion saying that
“religion is what religion does”. [Douglas Davies, [1994: 13].
In spite of the plausibility of this theoretical approach to the study of the religions of Africa, in the late ninehundred-and-fifties, scholars mainly from continental Europe suggested an additional theoretical approach. It is structuralism.
Douglas Davies succinctly summarizes what Structuralism is about.
“After 1950s, anthropologists turned their attention more to the role of religion as an expression of the structure of the ideas, values and beliefs of society. They drew a picture of the relationships which existed between doctrines. They asked how people argued, how they organized their beliefs, and what was the inner logical pattern of a religion” [1994:13].
French Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss is a touted proponent of Structuralism with regard to the religions of Africa. Relative to the focal points of the discussion of this paper, the book titled The Savage Mind has won him sizeable accolades. E. Nelson Hayes and Tanya Hayes in prefacing the book Claude Levi-Strauss: The Anthropologist as Hero, report the following:
“ In Susan Sontag’s phrase, structuralist Claude Levi-Strauss has become ‘anthropologist as hero,’ not only in his native country of France, but also throughout much of the Western world, and especially in the United States” [1970: vii].
The problem with Levi-Strauss, is intellectualizing at the expense of others. La Pensee Sauvage which is translated into English as The Savage Mind could have literally been translated as Savage Thought or by paraphrased translation of “the thinking system of savages.” A self respecting African might as well transliterate the title as “Obfuscated Thinking about Non-Western People. Structuralist Claude Levi-Strauss, given the adulation he receives, because of his writing relative to African Beliefs, Ritual and Thought , make him turn out to be an influential contributor to the semantically marginalizing globalization of Africa. For the common good rethinking his approach would be beneficial to all. In rethinking the marginalizing elements of Structuralism one should take cognizance of ideas which have been advanced in the effort of establishing a semantically positive globalization of African beliefs, rituals and thought. The effort has, among others, come up with outright rejection of the stereotyping of African beliefs, rituals and thought. Forward looking concepts like Africanity, Afrocentricity and/or Afrocentrism have been proposed, in the effort of endeavoring to cater for positive approaches.Towards A Positively Semantic Globalization
There are many scholars who during the latter part of the twentieth century have made the effort and have taken the initiative of contributing to the process of redressing the imbalances created by semantically negative globalization. Among such scholars one may mention Ashley Montagu , who is dismayed by the fallacy of the primitive as applied by his colleagues in the academia. Francis L. K. Hsu in his words:
“ The most troublesome meaning of the term “primitive”, is that it is connected with various shades of inferiority” .
Okot p’Bitek decries the colonialist use of the term “tribe” and/or “tribal” as means of keeping Non-Western people under the lid of the inferiority complex . Alexis Kagame pioneered an intercultural exploration of African Thought about the concept of “ Being” . Jacques Maquet identified the cultural unity of the people of Africa . He proposes the concept of Africanity as the overarching idea regarding the understanding of the African heritage. However one should also recognize that culturally, Africa is not made up of a monolithic culture in which everyone manifestationally lives, feels and thinks alike. Still beneath the diversity of cultural expressions and manifestations one detects an essentially large unity. According to Maquet’s coinage, the cultural unity of the diverse African peoples manifested through ecological affinities, similar physical and human conditions, social and psychological adaptations as well as innumerable cultural reciprocal influences result in what has been accepted today as Africanity . The distinctive characteristic of the concept of Africanity, is that the concept reflects the state of being African, not the very being of being African. Maquet’s conceptual contribution towards redressing the imbalances created by semantically negative globalization should be appropriately recognized.
The effort by Molefi Kete Asante, by which he laboriously addresses the Afrocentric idea, ought to be appreciated for being in the right direction towards the positively semantic globalization of the African heritage. The focusing taken, helps uplift and maintain the semantic picture of the African condition. This is done both by looking at the big picture as well as focusing on the semantic state of the globalization of Africa. Taking it from the point of view of the growing literature on Afrocentrism and/or Afrocentricity one may note that the effort is worthwhile. We should therefore familiarize ourselves with The Afrocentric Idea.
Author Molefi Kete Asante, however, refers to the
“Gye Nyame” [1998: 213]
symbol in a circuitous way. Gye Nyame is normally intended to reverberate a message like:
“Except the Supreme Being, I fear none”.
The author has clearly declared the aim for writing the book under consideration as follows:
“ My aim in writing The Afrocentric Idea was to inject the agency of Africans into the equation of social and political transformation.” [1998: 20]Consequently the Afrocentric idea may be understood as meant to deal with modalities or circumstances around things African in connection with social and political conditions.
Morphologically afro- is an adjunctive form in an ablative case indicative of the manner or instrument and /or agent connected with the African condition. Something Afrocentric looked at from a morphological point of view refers to the manner, instrumentation or agency that has something to do by way of orienting situations towards Africa. In that sense something Afrocentric may indirectly have something to do with the marginalization of African Beliefs, Rituals and Thought. However Asante in his book Afrocentricity  makes it clear that Afrology and Afrocentricity bear the meaning of the modality of being African. It takes a concept which comprehensively is integrally consolidated regarding the very being of Africa rather than one which focuses on the circumstantial existence of Africa, in order properly and semantically to address the marginalizing globalization of African Beliefs, Rituals and Thought. Such concept is what this paper proposes as: Africism. Here one can address Africism by answering a double sided question. The question is: “What is Africism and why is Africism in relation to the globalization of African beliefs, rituals and thought?
What is Africism?
A Threefold Answer
The definition of Africism will be approached in a threefold way. First it will be an etymological definition. Second it is a nominal definition. Third is the real definition.1. The Etymological Definition of Africism:
Africism is a term, which is derived from geontological, historical and linguistic origination to signify the unity and diversity of African religions.
Etymology is succinctly described as “ The study of the derivation of words.” In the case of the term “Africism”, the involvement is to try and answer the question: What is Africism? Since this is a word, in defining this word, it becomes important first to go the etymological way. Hence the suggestion of an etymological definition. This calls for some explanation of the historical background of this word “Africism”. It also calls for the breaking down into basic elements of the word as well as trying to figure out the meaning this word bears.
The term “Africism” is tied up with geontological as well as geopolitical circumstances, which have affected the African continent for a long time. It is for that reason that in order appropriately to define what “Africism” is, one has to delve first into martial, colonialist, and imperialist relationships between the northern part of what is known as the Continent of Africa and the City State of Rome.
The particular developments of what is being referred to here are largely connected with the three Punic Wars which took place in the years 264-242 BC, 218-202 BC, 149-146 BC, between Carthage and Rome. Brian H. Warmington has succinctly pictured these wars [1985:8-9]. The primary military rivals of these campaigns, as generals, were Hannibal on the side of Carthage and Scipio Africanus on the part of Rome. After Hannibal’s epic descent onto Italy across the Alps with herds of elephants Carthage was realized as being Rome’s most formidable enemy. Hence came Cato the Elder’s injunction that
“Carthage has to be destroyed.” (Delenda est Carthago).
The end of the third Punic War in 146 BC saw the total destruction of the city of Carthage. In what is now Tunisia, Rome established a province in North Africa in the fertile region behind the ruined city of Carthage. This came to be known as Roman Africa. The province is said to have prospered greatly and became the granary of Rome.
Later the province was extended to present day Libya, the Tripolitan coast. In 46 BC modern Algeria known then as Numidia was added first as a separate province called Africa Nova. In 25 BC Emperor Augustus united the two provinces and called them
Africa Proconsularis. In 42 AD, Emperor Claudius formed two new provinces in Mauritania an area which today comprises Western Algeria and Morocco.
This part of the African Continent became so acculturated to the Roman culture and civilization to the extent that Latin became the official language of the area. Classical writings make it abundantly clear that the autochthonally ethnic people of the region were known as afer in the singular, and afri in the plural.By Latin word formation the land of the afri was in Roman parlance to be known as Africa. In other words Afric- becomes the root word onto which a gender modifying suffix is added like in the case of Afric-us in case of something in the masculine gender or like in Afric-a, in case of something in the feminine gender, or like in Afric-um, in case of something in a neuter gender. By the same consideration an “-ism” as a suffix to Afric- can be added to affect the root word in terms of a signification relative to religion and or philosophy.
2. The Nominal Definition of Africism:
Africism is the name of the religious umbrella of the ethnically religious and thought manifestations of Africa.
During the time of the Roman occupation of parts of North Africa, Africa signified the Roman Territorial Provinces. Obviously the Roman Provinces was not the end of the existing block of land whose unbroken extension was understood to be continuing southwards to form the entire main land beyond the Roman Provinces. The unknown extension beyond, came to be known as terra incognita. While the objective translation of terra incognita would mean “the unknown land”, the obliquely transposed rendering of terra incognita generated the loaded and smugly applied phrase, the “Dark Continent.” The oneness of “Africa” includes both Africa as the Roman provinces together with “Africa “ as terra incognita. Similarly Africism is one in the oneness of Africa Africism is a religious and philosophical umbrella for under it is a variety of autochthonal religious and thought manifestations the classification of which may be shown according to the geontological positioning of African ethnicities. Religious and thought manifestations in autochthonal Africa represent the African systems of religious beliefs, ritual practices and thought systems, which in essence appear to be the same, but being expressive of differences in manifestations. It is hereby considered appropriate to come up with a coinage of a terminilogy, which meets the need of being able to express the African religious and thought phenomenon in a comprehensively consolidated way. This is done by the proposition of the term Africism. Africism is arrived at by agglutinating the root word “Afric-“ with the suffix “–ism”. It is linguistically sound to apply the suffix “-ism” in the process of forming the name of a system of a theory or practice which can be religious, ecclesiastical, philosophical, etc. according to the circumstances at hand. As Heinrich von Stietencron testifies, for “Africism”, Hinduism is a case in point. 
3. The Real Definition of Africism
Africism is hereby defined as: The system of African autochthonal religious beliefs, ritual practices and thought, concerning the Supreme Being, superhuman beings, human beings, extrahuman beings and the world.
According to this definition Africism stands for the essence and unity of African religion and thought as well as for the existence of the plurality of the manifestations of African religions and modes of thinking. It is in this sense that Africism becomes the umbrella name of the systems of beliefs, thought and practices of the peoples of Africa.
Salient Features of Africism
Salient features of Africism as constituted in the real definition may synoptically be viewed as follows:
(1) The Supreme Being
The Supreme Being, in Africism, is a being above which there is none.By reason of this supremacy, the most auspicious attribute of this Being is one of being the originator of whatever exists. African peoples recognize the existence of the Supreme Being by identifying the existence of this Being through a variety and multiplicity of names. In the pyramidal conceptualization of existence Africans consider the Supreme Being to be at the apex of things. The Supreme Being is the uniquely one whose divinity commands the monopoly of God with a capital “G”.
(2) The Superhuman beings
(3) Human Beings
The hierarchical structure of Africism is one of the cardinal elements of the autochthonal religions of Africa. Superhuman beings are those beings, which fall under the category of the spirit world. Spirits are also hierarchically considered. Among spirits there are gods of a variety of ranks. Some are considered to be associates of the Supreme Being, others are regarded as heads of departments and functionaries in the service of the Supreme Being in such a way that Africism becomes a religion which hierarchically entertains the existence of a Monotheism that goes hand in hand with Polytheism of gods with lowercase “g”.There are also tutelary spirits believed to have been so created by the Supreme Being for purposes of exercising some guardianship in the interests of human communities. There is also the belief in the spirits of the departed. The spirits of the departed human beings are the sustaining elements of life in a human being, which are known as souls as long as the human being lives. They turn into immortal spirits after, as souls in living human beings they have separated from the human bodies. In Africism such spirits become the basis of the belief in spiritual immortality.
Human beings form the third salient feature of Africism. What some colonialist
Administrators have observed about Africans that they are“incurably religious”, [Parrinder 1962:9]
testifies to the fact that human beings are the key players in as far as believing and ritual practices in Africism are concerned.
(4) Extrahuman Being
In the world of beliefs and ritual practices there are mystical powers that in a variety of ways do preoccupy the minds, feelings and beliefs of people in African communities as the case may happen to be in many other human communities. These mystical powers are perceived to be agents beside human capabilities. Hence the reference to them in terms of extrahuman beings. These mystical powers include:
a. Magic, the influences of which are steeped in neutrality.
b. Witchcraft, the adverse influences of which are believed to be natural.c. Sorcery, the adverse influences of which are believed mainly to be artificially nurtured and induced.
(5) The World
Believers of Africism live in the world. As observers of the world around them they are induced to draw conclusions, which religiously affect them relative to the phenomenal and ineffable experience, they encounter about the world in terms of time, space and elements.
The salient features of Africism, which have been summarized above are essentially, present in each of the variety of manifestations of religiosity of the many peoples of Africa. These people of Africa are found on the continent in geographical areas as regions, nation-states or ethnic homelands. Some of the religious and thought systems of the African people have been rendered obsolete like in the cases of the systems of the Aksumites, the Berbers, the Cushites and the Egyptians. Otherwise the systems continue to be living among the variety of the people of Africa.
Africism is not a stereotype of African beliefs, thought and rituals. It is a name. It is a consolidated name of the beliefs, thought and rituals of Africans. It is a name, which aspires to abide by a piece of African wisdom. The piece of wisdom maintains that Sserinnya bbi litta nnyini lyo [. That is, “A wrong name disadvantages its bearer.” Africism as a name is arrived at through autochthonism and geo-ontologism. While autochthonism assures of a grounding in African soil geo-ontologism assures of being African. That way misnomers, like Fetishism, Animism, Primitive Religion, Savage Mind and many others are avoided and eliminated. Africism by objective description is a geo-ontological name. A geo-ontological name is intended to mean that African beliefs, rituals and thinking systems are being looked at in pertinent terms akin to a concept like “geopolitical”. As something geopolitical makes reference to something based on the interrelation of politics and geography, so something geo-ontological is intended to mean something which is based on the interrelationship of being and geography.
For the purpose of clarification, one may apply the analogy of a passport. A passport, as a document, with all its geopolitical and geo-ontological links, gives assurances as to who the bearer of this document objectively is. In pursuit of the establishment of a name which aptly designates what the religions and thinking systems of Africans are, it is imperative that one tries to be as objective as possible. In the words of Ashley Montagu:
“…the true scientist endeavors to see things as they are, not the way they ought to be or what is considered
desirable”. [1968: 4-5].
Intentionally or not, when Tylor refers to the religion and philosophy of Africans according to his subjective perception of Animism, to mean the“religion and philosophy of lower races” ,
the scientific approach he espouses becomes a debatable issue. Taking the criterion of being and that of the geographical origination is the starting point in the endeavor of trying to contribute to the establishment of a comprehensively objective name for the religion and philosophy of Africans. African beliefs, thought and rituals are what John S. Mbiti has popularized as African Religions and Philosophy . Geo-ontologically descriptive this is what the author of this paper understands as African Autochthonal Religionand Philosophy. Geo-ontologically and consolidatively this is what is understood under the terminology Africism.
Afrcism should be viewed as a comprehensive expression of the aboriginal systems of beliefs, thought and rituals of Africa. The concept is so inclusive by the fact that regarding African beliefs, thought and rituals, it is integrally encompassing. It inspires ideas of originality, aboriginality, traditions and belongingness to land and to the people thereof. It encourages “to thinking globally while acting locally”. It makes people feel proud of what they are without turning them into an arrogant lot. Africism uplifts the sense of respectability in the minds of the citizens, of good will and of the homeland known as the globe.Conclusion
Some weeks back President Bush made a speech on the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Within the speech, he made a statement which might not have easily caught the attention of many listeners and readers. In effect what the statement was saying was that Palestinians must also be respected. The same can be said about the religions and philosophies of Africa. Very often one hears speakers talk about the worth of the monotheistic religions. Generally, the presumption is that the religions of people like those of Africa are not monotheistic. They feel that those religions are just polytheistic and idolatrous. This easily makes some people to feel that the religions of Africans are marginal relative to the acclaimed monotheistic religions. The truth is that the religions of Africa are monotheistic. They are monotheistic with a difference. Africism is involved with African beliefs, rituals and thought systems which acknowledge a Monotheism-cum-Polytheism. It is not based on the “supernatural existential” like western understanding of monotheism does. It is based on the “hierarchical existential” which recognizes the existence of a Supreme Being, above which, there is none. African Autochthonal Religions and Philosophy need to be understood before one stereotypes them with all sorts of epithets. They should not simply be tolerated just to be used and be thrown away after, like the case may happen to be in today's worldwide fashionable process of inculturation and /or interculturation. Africism should be respected and accepted for what it is. In that way a healthy move towards the lessening of global marginalization of African beliefs, rituals and thinking systems will be effected.
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