What is the world’s oldest religion? What is the true religion for Black individuals? What was Africa’s original religion?
If I earned one pound for each time I was requested these questions, I would be a wealthy man by now.
As a Black Studies lecturer of many years event, no course module generates more controversy and debate amongst the grownup students than religion. Everyone has anything to say or contribute.
I have never presented any definitive solutions to the huge questions of the nature of the divine force or forces, human existence, ethics, destiny, etcetera. I have at all times left this up to the students to make up their own minds. What I actually have done, and continue to do even in this lecture-essay, is to provide grownup students with the intellectual data with which to believe. In doing this, I only present data that can be verified.
In teaching this module I used to recommend perhaps a dozen books for the grownup students to read. Sometimes it was a page here and there. Sometimes it was a chapter. With some books, I advised reading them from cover-to-cover. However, I never came throughout any self-contained e book on religion that said everything I wanted it say. Consequently, I wrote this lecture-essay directly in line with one of my classes so that it would say everything that I wanted it to say.
This lecture-essay traces the origin and evolution of religious ideas in early Africa. The paper additionally highlights parallels between the religious ideas in early Africa and the ideas believed in and practiced by traditional African societies uninfluenced by Islam or Christianity.
As with my other writings, I highlight unapologetically what Africa and Africans contributed to human culture. To this purpose, I challenge each the racism and the religious bigotry that has conspired to bury the contributions of Africans to religion. Just for the record, some of the religious bigotry is even perpetuated by Black believers themselves.
I owe major intellectual debts to scholars who have gone earlier than me in this endeavour. Chief amongst these were Dr Femi Biko, Professor Yosef ben-Jochannan, Professor John Jackson, Professor George James, Professor Charles Finch and the Reverend Mbiti.
This lecture-essay presents what is currently known concerning the early religious history of the human race. Yes I tackle questions such as: What is the world’s oldest religion? However, I prefer to reframe the question as: What is the world’s oldest religion that we can document? If this question interests you, read on.
There are other difficult questions such as: What is the true religion for Black individuals? What was Africa’s original religion?
I trust that the question on the true religion for Black individuals cannot be answered definitively. Each grownup must make their own decisions. That decision, however, should be told by verifiable capabilities. I present some of that capabilities here.
On the question of Africa’s original religion, this can be answered definitively. African regions had regionally defined religions. No single tradition covered the length and breadth of the African continent. However, these religious traditions shared many common facets with each other. If these facets interest you, read on.