African Traditional Religions in Contemporary Society

By Jacob K. Olupona | Go to book overview

Introduction

Jacob K. Olupna

IT Is QUITE EVIDENT that African traditional religion plays an important role in shaping the character of African society and culture today.Yet, this tradition continues to suffer from lack of acceptance and inadequate understanding of its central tenets and essence. The two monotheistic traditions, Islam and Christianity, to which most Africans have converted over the century, have developed a hostile attitude to this tradition; Islam relegates it to al-Jahilliyya, the time of barbarism, and Christianity views it as pure paganism.

It is in response to these trends that the Council for World Religions (CWR) agreed to bring together scholars, leaders, and practitioners of African traditional religion to engage in a dialogue, to exchange ideas, and to discuss issues of common concern.This is part of the CWR's ongoing efforts to promote intra and inter-religious dialogue and harmony among world religions.The conference, " The Place of African Traditional Religion in Contemporary Africa," took place in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 10-14, 1987. To maximize results, the CWR invited several eminent scholars and practitioners to prepare written papers on chosen topics from the perspectives of their various disciplines and traditions.The essays collected in this book deal with most of the issues and themes addressed at the conference.

This volume of fourteen chapters examines the nature, structure, and significance of African traditional religion(s) as dynamic changing tradition(s). It analyzes and interprets several significant aspects of African religions and explores their possible contributions to national development and the modernization process.It also discusses the impact of social change on African religion today.The contributors are scholars from several disciplines (anthropology, sociology, history of religions,

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