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
Origin of Religion
Religion does not appear as a separate word in Africa. In fact, there are no words in African languages that refer to religion as a specific activity. To a large extent, this is a borrowed concept in African culture coming from the influences of Europeans and Arabs with the religions of Christianity and Islam. In Africa, what one calls religion is simply the way that a particular people live their lives. For example, the origin of what one calls Yoruba religion is the people themselves. The religion and the people are coexistent. One cannot be Yoruba without also practicing the naming patterns and certain rituals of identity, music, dance, and festivals of the Yoruba people. Thus, there are no separate identities of the Yoruba people. The question of polytheism or monotheism is not an African question and has limited value in trying to understand how Africans came to view their ...