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1 ATR IN KEY THESES: SUMMARY OF CRITICAL POINTS ON THE STUDY OF AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS “Africans are civilized to the marrow of their bones! The idea of the barbaric Negro is a European invention.” (Leo Frobenius, German Africanist) “If archaeologists are correct in believing that the first human beings came from Africa, then it stands to reason that the first religions also originated there… It is possible that, as the earliest humans slowly migrated to other continents of the world, they carried with them religious ideas and practices that originated in Africa.” Robert M. Baum, “Indigenous Religious Traditions” in Willard G. Oxtoby and Alan F. Segal, A Concise Introduction to World Religions. (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 15-17. “Almost all the names of the gods came into Greece from Egypt… There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race... My own conjectures were founded, first, on the fact that they are black-skinned and have woolly hair… but further and more especially, on the circumstance that the Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians, are the only nations who have practised circumcision from the earliest times.” Herodotus, History, Book II (paragraphs 50,51,52 and 104)

“Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a man with power both in his speech and his actions.” (The Jerusalem Bible, Acts 7, 17-22). “African wisdom is not merely a convenient expression; it is something that exists. It is a collection of unique precepts that enable the people of traditional Africa to settle as harmoniously as possible the disputes that mar human relationships.” Balandier, Georges and Maquet, Jacques, Dictionary of Black African Civilization. (New York: Leon Amiel, ); p.336. “Undoubtedly prompted by the demon of literature, the ethnographers who tell us of African trances emphasize their brutality. But African mysticism has its nuances, half-tones, and melodic lines. Among the Yoruba and Fon there is an entire civilization of spirituality comparable to that of the wood carvings and bronzes of Benin…”

Zahan, Dominique, The Religion, Spirituality, and Thought of Traditional Africa. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS (BIG PICTURE)

You will find here, in 5 sections, an excellent summary of knowledge pertaining to African traditional religions Here is all that is necessary for a better understanding of African traditional religions

SECTION 1. INTRODUCTION: GENERAL EPISTEMOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK (WHAT, WHO, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, HOW, HOW MANY?) Part 0. How many practitioners of ATR? (see section II on the religious landscape) Part 1. Official recognition of indigenous or “pagan” religions in the world

1.1 Recognition by various governments in Europe, Africa and the Americas 1.2. The rise of religious tolerance and the recognition of other religions: some fundamental guiding principles of religious tolerance

Part 2. Why Study Africa? Why does Africa matter to us? 2.0. Summary of the fundamental reasons for studying Africa 2.1. Cradle of humanity

2.2. Implications of “cradle of humanity theory” for civilization and world religions 2.2.1. African contribution to world civilization and religion in general 2.2.2. African contribution to Western Civilization and Spirituality 2.2.2.1. Contribution to the Religions and Spiritual Values of the West or Europe 2.2.2.1.1. Contribution to ancient religions of Greece and Rome 2.2.2.1.2. Contribution to the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity 2.2.2.2. Contribution to Western civilization 2.2.2.2.0. Western civilization in general 2.2.2.2.1. African contribution to the Roman Empire 2.2.2.2.2. Contribution to ancient Greece 2.2.2.2.2. 1. Greek religion (Herodotus) 2.2.2.2.2. 2. Greek Philosophy and Science 2.2.2.2.2. 3. Democracy, Human Rights, and the “Rule of Law” 2.3. The Egyptian Problem and Eurocentrism: Educational Propaganda and Miseducation. 2.3.1.The Egyptian Problem 2.3.2. Foreign Stimulus Ideology and The Zimbabwe Gambling

3 Part 3. How to properly study ATR? 3.1. Overcoming Miseducation and the colonial educational propaganda

of Eurocentric scholarship 3.2. Historical context and Epistemological Framework 3.2.1. Principles of Religious Tolerance and the Recognition of Traditional Religions 3.2.2. The “Cradle of Humanity” theory and its implications for world civilizations

and religions 3.2. 3. Beyond Colonialism: African Renaissance, Multiculturalism and the Revival

of Traditional Religions 3.2. 4. Revisiting the Sources of Knowledge 3.3. Outline of Key points in the study of ATR 3.4. African Moral Values 3.4.1. Major African moral values (Virtues) 3.4.2. Recognition of African moral qualities and spiritual values

SECTION 2. RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE OF AFRICA AND THE WORLD

Part 1. Practitioners of ATR in Africa and the World Part 2. Religious Landscape of Africa and the World

SECTION 3. AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS IN 80 KEY THESES SECTION 4. CHRONOLOGY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AFRICAN RELIGIONS Part 1. Chronology and General Bibliography Part 2. Thematic Bibliography

I. General History of Africa II. African Traditional Religions: Important Works III. Sacred Texts of Africa

1. Sacred Texts of African Traditional Religions 2. Sacred Texts of Ancient Egypt 3. African Bibles

IV. Christianity as an African Religion V. The Egyptian Problem VI. Colonialism, Intellectual Racism, and Genocide

SECTION 5. MISCELLANEOUS DATA

4 DETAILED TABLE OF CONTENTS SECTION 1. INTRODUCTION: GENERAL EPISTEMOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK (WHAT, WHO, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, HOW, HOW MANY?) Part 0. How many practitioners of ATR? (see section II on the religious landscape) Part 1. Official recognition of indigenous or “pagan” religions in the world 1.1. Recognition by various governments in Europe, Africa and the Americas

1. 2. The rise of religious tolerance and the recognition of other religions: some fundamental guiding principles of religious tolerance

- 1. Impact of the UN declaration of human rights, article 18 - 2. Change of attitude among Western scholars (Durkheim, Huston Smith) - 3. Paradigm shift in Christian Consciousness - 3.1. Biblical Foundation of Religious Pluralism - 3.2. Revolutionary views in the Catholic Church (Councils, Popes, Theologians)

o Jean Danielou o Nostra Aetate (Vatican II) o Pope John-Paul II o Schillebeeckx o Jacque Dupuis o Panikkar PROTESTANTS o Cantwell Smith

- 4. Islamic attitude toward other religions (Koran, Muhammad, Ibn Arabi, Rumi) - 5. Buddhist attitude toward other religions - 6. Hindu vision of other religions - 7. African view of religious tolerance (Wole Soyinka, Abimbola, Bujo, Mazrui,)

5 Part 2. Why Study Africa? Why does Africa matter to us? 2.0. Summary of the fundamental reasons for studying Africa 2.0.1. A message from the Rig Veda 2.0.2. Indigenous religions are the majority of world religions 2.0.3. Terence’s vision 2.0.4. Huston’s Smith’s challenge 2.0.5. George C. Bond (to be human is to be African) 2.0.6. Robert Baum (the message of Archaeology) 2.0.7. African contribution to the World

o African contribution to Humanity o African contribution to Western civilization

(science, philosophy, democracy, indigenous Greek and Roman religions) o African contribution to the Bible, Judaism and Christianity

2. 1. Cradle of humanity Text 1. Jackson Spielvogel Text 2. Robert Fisher (American missionary) Text 3. A summary of the controversy by Stephen Howe Text 4. A summary of the theory by John Reader (Out of Africa) Text 5. Out Of Africa' Theory Boost (Max Planck Society)

2.2. Implications of “cradle of humanity theory” for civilization and world religions

2.2.1. African contribution to world civilization and religion in general - 1. Robert Baum - 2. Robert Fisher - 3. Bernard Comrie, Stephen Matthews, and Maria Polinsky (Linguistics) - 4. Jared Diamond

2.2.2. African contribution to Western Civilization and Spirituality 2.2.2.1. Contribution to the Religions and Spiritual Values of the West or Europe 2.2.2.1.1. Contribution to ancient religions of Greece and Rome

- 1. Herodotus - 2. Isis

2.2.2.1.2. Contribution to the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity

- 1. Isis in Europe - 2. Egyptian origin of Monotheism (Assmann) - 3. Testimony of the Bible - 4. Testimony of Scholars of world religions - 5. Jared Diamond - 6. Egypt and Israel - 7. Testimony of Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI

6 2.2.2.2. Contribution to Western civilization 2.2.2.2.0. Western civilization in general

- 1. Jackson J. Spielvogel, - 2. Guy MacLean Rogers, - 3. M.C.F. Volney, - 4. Egyptian origin of our Calendar

2.2.2.2.1. African contribution to the Roman Empire (African Popes and African Roman Emperors, African intellectuals)

2.2.2.2.2. Contribution to ancient Greece

(Greek miracle mythology and the Egyptian problem): African origin of science, philosophy and democracy

2.2.2.2.2. 1. Greek religion (Herodotus)

2.2.2.2.2. 2. Greek Philosophy and Science - 1.Bertrand Russell (Greek miracle ideology) - 2. Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins (Greek myth, no Greek miracle) - 3. Diané Collinson (Greek myth, no Greek miracle) - 4. Serge Sauneron (Greek myth, no Greek miracle) - 5. The myth of Greek Rationality (Martin Bernal)

2.2.2.2.2. 3. Democracy, Human Rights, and the “Rule of Law”

-1.Human Rights controversy -2. Egyptian origin of Democratic ideals, human rights and the rule of law -3. Women’s Rights in ancient Egypt and the rest of black Africa

2.3. The Egyptian Problem and Eurocentrism: Educational Propaganda and Miseducation. 2.3.1.The Egyptian Problem

- 1.1. Defining the Egyptian problem - 1.2. The Race of ancient Egyptians: Were they really African? - 1.3. The Controversy surrounding the Egyptian problem

2.3.2. Foreign Stimulus Ideology and The Zimbabwe Gambling

7 Part 3. How to properly studey ATR? 3.1. Overcoming Miseducation and the colonial educational propaganda of Eurocentric scholarship Miseducation and Eurocentric educational propaganda 3.1.1. Prejudice 3.1.2. Religious prejudice and patriotic propaganda 3.1.3. Civilization and Greek miracle propaganda 3.1.4. Human Rights ideology (Thomas Pakenham, Arthur Schlesinger) 3.1.5. Feel good education 3.1.6. Chinua Achebe 3.1.7. Max Weber 3.1.8. Karl Marx 3.1.9. Joseph Conrad 3.1.10.1. Jahn Janheinz and “the real Negro” mythology 3.1.10.2. Frobenius 3.1.11. Cheikh Anta Diop 3.1.12. Martin Luther King, Jr. 3.1.13.Malcolm X 3.1.14. Basil Davidson 3.1.15. Connah 3.1.16. Richard Wright 3.1.17. Jean-Paul Sartre 3.1.18. The Miseducation of the Negro and pauperisme anthropologique 3.1.19. Kant 3.1.20. Rene Descartes 3.2. Historical Context and Epistemological Framework 3.2.1. Principles of Religious Tolerance and the Recognition of Traditional Religions (See Introduction, part 1) 3.2.2. The “Cradle of Humanity” theory and its implications for world civilizations and religions (See Introduction, part 2) 3.2. 3. Beyond Colonialism: African Renaissance, Multiculturalism and the Revival of Traditional Religions 3.2. 4. Revisiting the Sources of Knowledge

8 3. 3. Outline of Key points in the study of ATR

I. Misconceptions about ATR (Hegelian Paradigm yesterday and today): colonization of knowledge

II. Persecution of ATR and African Genocide (Slave trade and colonialism) III. Recognition of the spiritual values of ATR (Decolonization of knowledge) IV. Origin and Evolution of ATR V. Sources for a genuine understanding of ATR VI. Major centers of production of academic knowledge about ATR and

Major authors and works (African and Western scholarship) VII. ATR in Africa and the Americas (continent and Diaspora) VIII. Population (how many people and what kind of people practice ATR) IX. Why does ATR matter? (ATR’ contribution to World Spirituality) X. Content of the religion

3.4. African Moral Values 3.4.1. Major African moral values (Virtues) 3.4.2. Recognition of African moral qualities and spiritual values SECTION 2. RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE OF AFRICA AND THE WORLD Part 1. Practitioners of ATR in Africa and the World Part 2. Religious Landscape of Africa and the World SECTION 3. AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS IN 80 KEY THESES THESIS 1-11: GENERAL INTRODUCTION

We identify societies with their best achievements (guiding principle for research) Recognition of African civilization and its values Africa: origin of humankind, civilization and religion

THESIS 12-32: AFRICA ORIGIN OF HUMANKIND , CIVILIZATION AND RELIGION THESIS 33-49: SPIRITUAL VALUES (holistic approach, religious tolerance,…) THESIS 50-80: HEGELIAN PARADIGM THESES IN DETAIL THESIS 1-11: GENERAL INTRODUCTION Thesis 1: MacGaffey : We identify our society with its best achievement Thesis 2: Robert Baum: If Archaeologists are correct… Thesis 3: African contribution to Judaism and Christianity

- Acts 7:17-22 - Akhenaton and the origin of Monotheism (Assmann)

African Civilization Thesis 4: Leo Frobenius (Africans civilized.. barbaric negro a European invention) Thesis 5: Roger Bastide (an entire civilization of spirituality) Thesis 6; Georges Balandier, Jacques Maquet: African wisdom is not merely a

Convenient expression.

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Thesis 7: ATR source of the values of African civilization Thesis 8: Africans notoriously religious (John Mbiti) Thesis 9: No opposition between Bible and ATR as God’s will for the salvation

of Africans (Kalilombe) Thesis 10: ATR willed by God (Kofi Opoku) Thesis 11: ATR’s resistance to Christianity THESIS 12-32: AFRICAN ORIGIN OF HUMANKIND , CIVILIZATION AND RELIGION Thesis 12: Cantwell Smith: those who believe in the unity of humankind… Thesis 13: All humans from Africa and European civilization from Egypt (Jackson Spielvogel) Thesis 14: if the foundations of Western civilization were multicultural (MacLean Rogers) Thesis 15: Origin of humankind and language (Bernard Comrie) Thesis 16: Origin of humankind and religion (Robert Fisher, American missionary) Thesis 17: African origin of Modern Humans (Max Planck Society) Thesis 18: Africa and the Bible

- African origin of the languages of the Bible and the Koran (Jared Diamond) - Moses the Egyptian, and African origin of monotheism (Jan Assmann)

Thesis 19: Herodotus (African contribution to the religions of Europe) Thesis 20: Isis (Dr. R.E. Witt) Thesis 21: Testimony of the Bible on Moses (Exodus 1-2; Acts 7) Thesis 22: Egypt and Israel (in The Legacy of Egypt, by J.R. Harris) Thesis 23-25: Views by scholars of world religions on the contribution of Egypt to Judaism and Christianity Thesis 26: Testimony of Pope John-Paul II Thesis 27: Early Christian theology and literature by African writers (Mudimbe) Thesis 28: Christianity has never really been a Western religion (Alister E. McGrath) Thesis 29: Africa more Christian than Europe?

- When Africa evangelizes Europe (Gerrie Ter Haar, How God Became African) - Africa is more Christian than Europe (Niall Ferguson) - Jenkins, Mbiti, J. Peel

Thesis 30-31: Greek miracle Thesis 30: Greek Miracle (Robert C. Solomon) Thesis 31: Serge Sauneron’s Priests of ancient Egypt. and African contribution to Western Art (Picasso,..) Thesis 32: African conception of God and no need for Temple for God THESIS 33-49: SPIRITUAL VALUES (holistic approach, religious tolerance,…) Thesis 33: Testimony of Gerhardus Cornelis Oosthuizen Thesis 34: ATR and religious tolerance Thesis 35: Religious Tolerance (Abimbola) Thesis 36: Abimbola Thesis 37: African Ethics and the centrality of silence, mysticism, and asceticism (p.138) Thesis 39 (Pope John Paul II praises Africans “priceless human qualities”) Thesis 40 Yoruba Ethic (Testimony of Thomas Bowen, American missionary) Thesis 41: Iwa Lesin Thesis 42 Meru Prayer and attitude toward foreigners Thesis 44 Cosmotheandric nature of African Ethic Thesis 45: Incest Thesis 46: Major Moral taboos (Kaoze and Tshiamalenga Ntumba)

10 Thesis 47: Proverbs Thesis 48: Sage King doctrine (pp. 149-154) Thesis 49 African vision of wisdom THESIS 50-80: CHALLENGING THE HEGELIAN PARADIGM Thesis 50-52: on the ideology of idolatry Thesis 53: The Myth of Polytheism (Bowen) Thesis 54: Fisher and AAR on the exclusion of ATR Thesis 55: Jahn Janheinz and the invention of “the Real African” (and Alexis de Tocqueville) Thesis 56: Max Weber Thesis 57: Joseph Conrad Thesis 58: Chinua Achebe Thesis 59: Malcolm X and European educational propaganda Thesis 60: Carter G. Woodson: the Mis-education of the Negro Thesis 61: Richard Wright Thesis 62: Sartre (Colonial education and the manufacturing of a token elite) Thesis 63: the concept of Anthropological pauperization (Pauperisme anthropologique) Thesis 64-65: Basil Davidson Thesis 66: Graham Connah (Precolonial civilization and the foreign-stimulus mythology) Thesis 67: The Egyptian problem and the Zimbabwe Gambling Thesis 68-69: African Rationality (Science and Technology) Thesis 70-71 Overcoming Colonial Christianity Thesis 72: Eboussi Boulaga Thesis 73: V.Y. Mudimbe Thesis 74: Mveng Engelberg Thesis 75: Tissa Balasuriya and Mariology; Dominique Zahan, Robert Baum Thesis 76: Kajsa Ekholm Friedman and the myth of “traditional Africa” Thesis 77: the concept of Primitivism: an obsolete mystification Thesis 78: Beyond Animism, Paganism and Fetishism Thesis 79: Dianne M. Stewart (onVodou and evil sorcery) Thesis 80: Evans-Pritchard reply to the “religion of fear” label SECTION 4. CHRONOLOGY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AFRICAN RELIGIONS Part 1. Chronology and General Bibliography Part 2. Thematic Bibliography I. General History of Africa II. African Traditional Religions: Important Works III. Sacred Texts of Africa

1. Sacred Texts of African Traditional Religions 2. Sacred Texts of Ancient Egypt 3. African Bibles

IV. Christianity as an African Religion V. The Egyptian Problem VI. Colonialism, Intellectual Racism, and Genocide SECTION 5. MISCELLANEOUS DATA SINCE THIS FILE IS LONG WE BEGIN WITH A SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS, THEN WE PROCEED WITH A MORE DETAILED SURVEY OF KEY THESES

11 The fundamental question any student or scholar needs to ask when studying Africa is the question of origin. Who created this knowledge about Africa that we find in our libraries and our textbooks. Who wrote these books and why? In which historical context and from what perspective did these authors build their knowledge about Africa How accurate is this knowledge. Can the authors be trusted? So what extent? It is a fundamental fact that knowledge about Africa is largely produced by outsiders, often scholars from dominant colonial powers in the context of colonialism and neo-colonialism. It is in this colonial context that one has to understand the nature of the kind of knowledge produced on Africa by Western universities, researchers, explorers, and missionaries. In many ways, this is a colonized and colonizing knowledge tailored to serve the economic, political, cultural, intellectual, religious and moral interests of colonial powers. And to Africans much of this knowledge is a machine of alienation and oppression. And most textbooks promote miseducation instead of properly educating students and the large public. Much of what is written on Africa is pseudo-scientific hocus pocus, and emerges as “manufactured barbarism,” sheer invention of otherness, a collection of distortions, absurd reconstructions, unsupportable hypotheses and conjectures, wild speculations, suppositions and assumptions, inappropriate analogies, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations, and, in some cases, just “plain nonsense”. But let us listen to the testimony of a British scholar and a German scholar: The rise of the West to global supremacy by the path of empire and economic pre-eminence is one of the keystones of our historical knowledge. It helps us to order our view of the past. In many standard accounts, it appears all but inevitable. It was the high road of history: all the alternatives were byroads or dead ends. When Europe’s empires dissolved, they were replaced by new post-colonial states, just as Europe itself became a part of the ‘West’ – a world-spanning league under American leadership…. The extraordinary course of the African scramble raises a whole series of questions. Why in the first place did the European governments believe that they had the right to propose rules for the grand larceny of Africa? Much of the answer must lie in their hostile view of African states and cultures… It was widely assumed that the interior states were a chaos of barbarism, where slavery thrived and civilization had stalled. (But was their negative view of Africa based on facts, or on racism or ignorance or a combination of both?). Little was known about the African interior, and most of what was reflected the self-serving bias of the missionaries, explorers and dubious businessmen who had made a career there. A good case can be made that much of what was reported by travelers as fact about the ‘dark continent’ was the imaginary product of minds fuddled by drink, fuelled by drugs (the cocktail of medications to ward off disease) and filled with dreams of glory and gold. (…) The frontier interests were extremely adept at the art of lobbying through their backers at home. They played upon religious and humanitarian feelings, as well as patriotic emotion, and commercial greed. They touched a raw nerve of economic anxiety in an era of falling prices that lasted into the mid-1890s. They exploited to the full the new means of publicity in the popular press (like Le Petit Journal, with its 1 million readers). Since they usually controlled what information there was, their version of events was often hard to challenge. From John Darwin, After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400 – 2000. (London: Bloomsbury Press: 2008); pp.313-314 John Darwin is a university lecturer and a fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford (England)

12 “Africans are civilized to the marrow of their bones! The idea of the barbaric Negro is a European invention.” (Leo Frobenius, German Africanist) Pitfalls in the Study of African Religions (by John Mbiti) It needs to be emphasized that African religions are historically older than both Christianity and Islam. The world has now begun to take African traditional religions and philosophy seriously. It was only around the middle of the twentieth century that these subjects had begun to be studied properly and respectfully as an academic discipline in their own right. During the preceding one hundred years African religions were described by European and American missionaries and by students of anthropology, sociology and comparative religion. It is from these writers that we have most of our written information, although some of them had never been to Africa and only a few had done serious field study of of these religions.In the early part of that period, the academic atmosphere was filled with the theory of evolution which was applied in many fields of study. It is this theory which colours many of the earlier descriptions, interpretations and explanations of African religions. We shall consider briefly some of the early approaches before coming to the present situation. The early Western approaches and attitudes. One of the dominating attitudes in this early period was the assumption that African beliefs, cultural characteristics and even food, were all borrowed from the outside world. German scholars pushed this assumption to the extreme, and have not all abandoned it completely to this day. All kinds of theories and explanations were put forward on how the different religious traits had reached African societies from the Middle East or Europe. It is true that Africa has always had contact with the outside world, but religious and cultural influences from this contact cannot have flowed only one way: there was always a give-and-take process. Furthermore, African soil is not so infertile that it cannot produce its own new ideas. This game of hunting for outside sources is dying out, and there are writers who now argue that in fact it was Africa which exported ideas, cultures and civilization to the outside world. But surely a balance between these two extremes is more reasonable. These earlier descriptions and studies of African religions left us with terms which are inadequate, derogatory and prejudicial. They clearly betray the kind of attitude and interpretation dominant in the mind of those who invented or propagated the different theories about traditional religions. Animism is a word derived from the Latin anima which means breath, breath of life, and hence carries with it the idea of the soul or spirit. This term has become the most popular designation for African religions and is found in many writings even this day. It was invented by the English anthropologist E.B. Tylor, who used it first in an article in 1866 and later in his book, Primitive Culture (1871). For Tylor the basic definition of religion was the ‘belief in spirit beings’. He saw the anima as a shadowy vaporous image animating the object it occupied. He thought that the so-called ‘primitive peoples’ imagined the anima to be capable of leaving the body and entering other men, animals or things; and continuing to live after death. Pursuing the theory further, Tylor went on to say that such

13 ‘primitive’ men considered every object to have its own soul, thus giving rise to countless spirits in the universe. Tylor’s ideas were popularized by his disciples. Since then, the term animism has come to be widely used in describing traditional religions of Africa and other parts of the world. In an atmosphere filled with the theory of evolution, the notion of countless spirits opened the way for the idea of religious evolution. This led on to the theory that single spirits existed over each major department of nature. For example, all the spirits of the rivers would have one major spirit in charge of them, and the same for trees, rocks, lakes and so on. Accordingly, this gave man the idea of many gods (polytheism), which in turn evolved further to the stage of one supreme God over all the other departmental spirits. This type of argument and interpretation places African religions at the bottom of the supposed line of religious evolution. It tells us that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are at the top, since they are monotheistic. The theory fails to take into account the fact that another theory equally argues that man’s religious development began with a monotheism and moved towards polytheism and animism. We need not concern ourselves unduly here with either theory. We can only comment that African peoples are aware of all these elements of religion: God, spirits and divinities are part of the traditional body of beliefs. Christianity and Islam acknowledge the same type of spiritual beings. The theory of religious evolution, in whichever direction, does not satisfactorily explain or interpret African religions. Animism is not an adequate description of these religions and it is better for that term to be abandoned once and for all. In classifying the religions of the world, we hear that ‘redemptive religions’ like Christianity, Judaism and Islam incorporate into their teaching the doctrine of the soul’s redemption in the next world. ‘Morality religions’ like Shintoism and the teachings of Confucius lay a great emphasis on moral considerations. Finally, ‘primitive religions’ are those whose followers are described by some writers as ‘savage’, ‘primitive,’ and lacking in either imagination or emotion. Of course the word ‘primitive’ in its Latin root primus has no bad connotations as such, but the way it is applied to African religions shows a lack of respect and betrays derogatory undertones. It is extraordinary that even in our day, fellow man should continue to be described as ‘savage’ and lacking in emotion or imagination. This approach to the study of African religion will not go far, neither can it qualify as being scientifically or theologically adequate. Some traditional religions are extremely complex and contain elements which shed a lof of light on the study of other religious traditions of the world. In his book, Principles of Sociology (1885), the anthropologist Herbert Spencer used the phrase ancestor worship to describe speculation that ‘savage’ peoples …