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
Purification, the process of rendering a person or a thing free of pollution or contamination, is pervasive in the structure of thought of most Africans. Like all religious rituals, purification seeks to provide communion between the individual or community and the divine or spirit(s). Purification rites in Africa have an ambivalent character: They are performed to both drive away evil and confer divine life. Purification, performed to remove pollution from either an individual or the society as a whole, is associated with emissions from the human body, life crises and transition events, and maintenance of sacred boundaries. Examples of pollution associated with bodily functions include blood encountered during warfare or menstrual blood. Major life transitions (birth, adolescence, marriage, ...