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
Ancestors and Harmonious Life
Molefi Kete Asante
The ancestors are at the center of African religion because they are at the core of all harmony or disharmony in society. No specific African cultural community exists apart from the dynamics provided by the ancestral realm. In fact, the causes of all good deeds, fertility as reflected in the abundance of harvest or the productivity of women, and joy of family are the result of the ancestors. One could also say that all misfortunes, misdeeds, famines, and difficulties of living are caused by the ancestors in African religion. Nothing in society is immune from the influence of ancestors. The ancestors are responsible for beneficence and afflictions. However, harmonious living in society can be achieved only by following the ritual paths of the elders. Malevolent actions are attributed to unhappy ancestors and those spirits that might assist the ancestors such as local or nature spirits. Affliction and chaos can be ...