African Philosophy: Traditional Yoruba Philosophy and Contemporary African Realities

By Segun Gbadegesin | Go to book overview

Islam. Both of these religions insisted that the indigenous religions they met on arrival should be abandoned. It is significant that the devotees of Yoruba religion were willing to accommodate these new religions; but the new-corners were not ready to accommodate the hosts! This is what led to several violent clashes between the religions. It is the same attitude of intolerance on the part of the native evangelists of these proselytizing religions that is creating religious crises in Nigeria today.

In other words, it is in the process of evangelization that those religions normally betray their tendency to promote conflict and violence in spite of their teachings. While they may be able to contribute to peace in religiously homogenous societies in virtue of their teachings, they are most unlikely to succeed in doing so in heterogenous societies in virtue of their proselytizing activities. It thus appears that in a plural society, it is only a religion that is non-evangelical that can effectively promote both personal and social peace. Such is the nature of Yoruba traditional religion in particular, and African traditional religion in general. Maintaining this distinction seems to me more important in virtue of its lesson and hope for a peaceful world than the efforts of African theologians to force an identity between African Gods and the Christian God.


Summary

Let me now summarize. In this chapter, I looked at the question whether traditional Africans may be truly said to live in a religious universe. With the support of oral tradition, I answer the question in the affirmative. Second, addressing the question whether there is any notion of a Supreme being in African traditional religion, I also answer in the affirmative, again with the support of oral tradition. Finally, regarding the question whether the Supreme beings in the variants of African traditional religion can be identified with the Christian God, I answer in the negative, again utilizing oral tradition. My focus in all these is the Yoruba oral tradition with which I am familiar, though in a few cases, I refer to the Akan world view using the available literature. I have, however, not attempted any

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