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Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience

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Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience

Clifton D. Bryant & Dennis L. Peck

Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: September 17, 2009 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412972031 | Print ISBN: 9781412951784 | Online ISBN: 9781412972031 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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African Beliefs and Traditions

Ronald K. Barrett

Most African people regard death with great reverence and awe. Researchers and practitioners in death care have observed that in the study of crosscultural differences, considerations of culture/subculture, spirituality/religion, and social class are important factors that influence attitudes, beliefs, and values in death, dying, and funeral rites. Crosscultural research reports that factors such as social class and spirituality are important in explaining the range and diversity of beliefs, values, and practices observed among African people. Africa is a vast continent with considerable diversity among its people. A number of distinctive cultural traditions concerning births and deaths have been observed across its various subcultures, societies, and tribes. Many Africans observe and identify with a variety of spiritual beliefs and many of their attitudes, beliefs, and values about life and death are aligned with their spiritual beliefs. For example, although many West Africans subscribe to elaborate funerals, West African Muslims have characteristic ...

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