Home | Features | Inspiration | Reflections | Profiles | Resources | All articles | Back Issues | About Cafh | About Seeds
Site Search


:: Quotes

"African traditional religions constitute life itself. Consequently life and everyday activities are immersed from the start in a religious context-while one is eating, working or relating to others. All of these acts are religious because they are life, which is why it would be inappropriate to speak of an intermediary (with regard to day-to-day religion)"


 


:: More articles

A Time to Listen

Common Ground

Weaving the Fabric of Relationship

Perspective: It's a Funny Thing



» All articles


Home » Features » A Dialogue with Boubacar Traore

Religion and Spirituality in Africa
by Juan Carlos Benegas and Dolly Basch
Translated by Bill Poehner and Michael Danciger




Is this related to the idea of reincarnation, or is it a different concept?

Yes, it must be related to reincarnation in some way. Traditional religions take the view that generally those who are now divine beings were once hard-working and dedicated human beings. As a reward, they became divine beings after they died. That divine beings are not abstract concepts but rather beings that once lived and fulfilled certain requirements demonstrates the idea that life is central to the traditional religions.

Which is why after death they are transformed into divine beings.

Another way to think of this is that their work and dedication had a trajectory that led to this transformation. Many times beings such as these have been called "creator ancestor," "first ancestor," or "original ancestor." Everything that I am trying to explain here has content that is practical, content that has been lived. It is not an abstraction. Accordingly, these divine beings are very close to human beings. This is why it is important to be aware that Africans regard the Supreme Being as an abstract entity, a rational entity. Because of this, they don't call upon the Supreme Being when trying to solve everyday problems. Rather, they call upon the divine beings that had the privilege to live and to return in some way.

And who therefore have a close relationship with the living.

Absolutely! Also, the fact that they once lived enables them to better understand what is going on.

They know what they are dealing with.

Of course.

In general, is there a need for an intermediary between an average person and one of these divine beings, or can the average person relate directly to the being?

I think that to speak of intermediaries between the African and the divinities would be to somehow disregard what we have been saying about traditional religion. African traditional religions constitute life itself. Consequently life and everyday activities are immersed from the start in a religious context-while one is eating, working or relating to others. All of these acts are religious because they are life, which is why it would be inappropriate to speak of an intermediary (with regard to day-to-day religion). However, while it is true that life and activities are immersed in a religious context, there are priests who can get closer to divine beings in given moments, not just any moment, because of their initiation. They interpret certain events or situations and ask of the divinity solutions for problems.

There are no intermediaries but there is a place for interpreters.

That's the way it is.

Each person has a direct relation to the divinities in a religious realm, which is all of life. In this context then, what type of situation would require an interpreter?

One example could be a country where there has been no rain for more than a year. In this event it is thought that there is a reason for the drought, but the reason is unknown. This takes us to another level because we are no longer dealing with a common, everyday event such as getting food. We are faced with a situation beyond that, which threatens the stability of the group. What is called for then is an interpretation of what is happening. For this it is necessary to resort to someone who has had some initiation or spiritual training, someone who is versed in matters that go beyond the religious relationship that the ordinary person has with the divinities and who can give explanations of what is happening in critical times. Such a person is one who has received an initiation that enables him/her to penetrate the mysteries of creation. Clearly, everyone does not resort to intermediaries for the problems of everyday life. However, during critical times such as the case of a prolonged drought, the people may turn to those who can penetrate the mysteries of creation. Only they are able to explain what is happening by virtue of their intimate relationship with the divinities.

next...

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]




Copyright © 2002-2017 Cafh Foundation. All rights reserved.