African Spirituality

Central Belief

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If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African proverb

In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ~ Nigerian proverb

The fool speaks, the wise man listens. ~ Ethiopian proverb

When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him.
~Ashanti Proverb

Wisdom is wealth. ~ Swahili

Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~ Akan proverb

The fool speaks, the wise man listens.
~ Ethiopian proverb

Wisdom does not come overnight.
~ Somali proverb

The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water. ~ Cameroon proverb

Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others. ~ Hema (DRC) proverb

Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem. ~ Akan proverb

Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. ~ Guinean proverb

In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.
~ Nigerian proverb

If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African proverb

A wise person will always find a way.
~ Tanzanian proverb

Nobody is born wise. ~ African proverb

A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan proverb

Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan proverb

Sacrad Text

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Special Days

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Additional Information

(Please bear in mind, Africa is a large and diverse continent.  There are huge lengths of history involving different beliefs rising and falling.  These are only a few of the more widespread and generic beliefs of Afrocentric Religions)

Religious Beliefs

  • There is widespread belief in a supreme God, unique and transcendent.
  • There is a deep sense of the sacred and a sense of mystery; sacred times are celebrated.
  • Belief in the afterlife is incorporated in myths and in funeral ceremonies.
  • The invisible world of spirits and ancestors is always present; the intentions of these spirits can be discerned.
  • Religion enfolds the whole of life.
  • Ancestors mediate between God and man.
  • Belief in the use of intercessory prayer is widespread.
  • It is believed that sin harms public good, periodical purification rites promote public welfare.
  • Worship requires a fundamental attitude of strict discipline and reverence.
  • Pardon is final and acknowledged by all: an offense, once forgiven, is never recalled.


  • Rites form an essential part of social life; rich and meaningful traditions.
  • Ancestors and the dead are invoked by rites.
  • The seasonal cycles and the stages of life are sanctified by ritual action.
  • The whole person, body and soul, is totally involved in worship.
  • In worship and sacrifice there is co-responsibility; each person contributes his share.
  • Symbols bridge the spheres of the sacred and secular for a balanced, unified view of reality.
  • Rites of passage, of initiation and of consecration are widespread.
  • There are many rites of purification of individuals and communities.
  • The sick are healed in rites involving their families and the community.
  • Religious sacredness is preserved in ritual, in dress and the places of worship.

Cultural Values

  • Attention is given to locating man within his environment and making him feel at home in it.
  • Tradition is handed down through stories, poems, hymns, proverbs, art.
  • The whole community is involved in the training and education of the young.
  • The moral education of youth is taken seriously.
  • Life has a festive dimension and is celebrated in adequate rites.
  • Old folk are held in high esteem. The community regards their wisdom as prophetic, to give direction for living in the present day.
  • Silence is treasured as a value.
  • Marriage is an alliance between families and persons; cultural provisions support it. 

Social Values

  • Hospitality is a duty and is the most common value in African Traditional Religion all over Africa.
  • Between people of the same clan, there is a very strong sense of sharing and of solidarity and belonging.
  • Efforts are made to secure and promote justice and peace within the community.
  • The nuclear family and the extended family have been the pivots of the African social system.
  • Respect for authority, sanctioned by the ancestors, is strong and represents the common will.
  • Care for the poor and the sick, widows and orphans.

Moral Values

  • There is respect for life: children are treasured, abortion is not condoned.
  • The sacredness of human life is guarded by taboos and rituals.
  • There is respect for the dignity of man; each man has his own inalienable chi (“selfhood”, “destiny”).
  • To be faithful in undertakings is regarded as becoming a man.
  • Sin is perceived in both its personal and communal dimensions.
  • Moderation in the use of alcohol and required in every aspect of behavior; only adults may drink.
  • Drunkenness is shameful.

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