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 agrarian societies, cultivation and its different phases often dictate the social and religious calendar. The time of harvest, in particular, is a special one for obvious reasons. Indeed, the survival of the community depends on the yield of good and plentiful crops. It is therefore no surprise that much care is taken to ensure the fertility of the land. Offerings and sacrifices to the ancestors and other spiritual entities credited for sending good crops to the living are performed before sowing. The purpose of such rituals is to place the ancestors and other divinities in a favorable disposition toward the living, thus encouraging them to bless the living with enough food. This entry looks first at the series of rituals that surround agriculture and then focuses specifically on harvest festivals. Among the Moba people of northwest Togo, for instance, an elder will offer a libation to the ancestors, ...