Wade W Nobles
In traditional African societies, as well as embedded within the value systems in contemporary African communities worldwide, to live to an old age was and is considered a blessing. Eldership is, however, more than mere aging. The difference is important to understand. Being an elder is fundamentally different from just being old. In regard to African religion, the purpose and practice of eldership is found in the spiritual meaning of eldership. In fact, in traditional life, elders were the undisputed repositories of both the spiritual essence and practice of the community. The Bantu-Congo, for instance, believed that human development was a process of spiritual evolution and cultural maturation. Accordingly, elders being those persons with decades of experiential learning and spiritual refinement were more spiritually evolved and culturally mature. This entry looks at the role of elders in the Yoruba tradition and more generally. In the Yoruba tradition, the distinction between ...