Traditional African religions are distinguished by a wide array of beliefs and practices. The most common beliefs among different traditional African religions include belief in a supreme being (creator), belief in the influence of the living dead (veneration of the dead), and belief in spirits.
Belief in Supreme Being
African traditional religions have consensusin the belief that there is a supreme creator who has powers to create and destroy his creation (Gehman 14). The Supreme Being has different names in different groups within the traditional African religions. Prayers are normally directed to the creator and sacrifices are made occasionally to appease the Supreme Being. Different groups in Traditional African religions have different versions of creation stories that indicate the vital role played by the Supreme Being in the creation of all visible things.
Belief in Spirits
In Traditional African religions, notions of destiny and authenticity are mainly governed by the spiritual world (Gehman 3). The will and actions of spiritual beings significantly impact social and spiritual phenomena in the African traditional society.Members of the traditional African religions seek divination from spirits on certain aspects that are beyond human control. The diviners and witchdoctors seek revelation and enlightenment from the spirits to give guidance on certain events.
Veneration of the Dead
The living dead (ancestors) are considered the vital part of traditional African religious systems (Gehman 31). The ancestors are normally consulted for direction on various events to avoid failure and unexpected calamities. Ancestors are considered vital mediators between spiritual and natural world. However, death is not the only sufficient requirement for becoming an ancestor in the traditional African religions. Those who qualify to become ancestors are those who cultivated good moral values, had influential personalities, lived full measures of life, and achieved social distinctions when they were living. These vital character traits qualify the ancestor to reprimand people who breach or neglect moral duty and order.
Gehman, Richard J. African traditional religion in biblical perspective. East African Publishers, 2005.