Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Molefi Kete Asante
The rain dance is a functional action form used to appeal to the ancestral spirits or deities during periods of drought. As an ancient ritual, the rain dance harks back to the time when humans believed that the lack of rain was caused by some wayward action or lack of action on the part of the human society. There had to be propitiation of the gods for the proper order to be reestablished. Thus, one can often find, even today, in the arid parts of the African continent many people who use rain dances, and the accompanying offerings and rituals, to end drought. For example, among the Dogon in Mali, the use of dances for rain is attached to the majestic Dogon-Tellem figures that are known as “they who request of the spirits that the rain be released.” The powerful ancestral figures are a collective prayer for rain. Singing and ...