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
In African religion, children are of primary importance. Indeed, children fulfill two significant roles. First, they remember and honor their departed parents. Second, they allow departed ones to come back into the world of the living. This entry looks at the underlying beliefs about ancestors and explains each of the child's critical functions in turn. In the African worldview, there is no fundamental difference between life and death because the latter is perceived as being simply a different mode of existence. Life, by definition, is infinite and eternal, and can, therefore, never end. Death, in that context, is a rite of passage that allows one to enter the ancestral realm. The primary difference between the world of the living and the ancestral universe has to do with their respective level of materiality, with the world of the living being totally visible and the realm of the ancestors being partially visible. ...