Demystifying African Spirituality

Demystifying African Spirituality

“[…] intuitively there is a fear of the spiritual, the cultural, and the political power that these rituals can have. That us coming together and performing libation together – they know that there is power in that act. And so that [sic] if they can make us feel ashamed of that and that there is something wrong with it, they are weakening us and cutting us off from our source of power”

– Dr. Marimba Ani

 

 

What is spirituality?

 

Spirituality is a belief in the Spiritual. It is a belief in the unseen, the non-physical part of the Universe. A belief that there is a physical part to us and the world, and a non-physical, invisible one that is far greater and more important than the physical part, because it is from it that physical life springs, grows and flourishes. In this belief system, the spiritual aspect of the world is seen as a force that supports life here in the physical world.

 

What is African spirituality then?

 

African spirituality, then, refers to the collection of ways in which African culture and Peoples relate to the Spiritual. It refers to the philosophies and belies behind it as well as the practices and rituals that give expression to that relationship.

 

The current state of African spirituality

 

African forms of spirituality are currently not being openly practiced by the majority of Africans either in the continent or among its diaspora (I use the terms African and diaspora in the broadest sense of the words, which includes descendants of the Africans taken from the continent for the purpose of providing free labor under conditions of enslavement). There are deep fear and shame associated with practicing African spirituality, which stops people from embracing it even when they yearn for it. This pushes the practice of African spirituality underground and into the hands of those with the least noble intentions, thus reinforcing the negative stereotypes that have plagued it since the first Europeans set foot on African soil. It also reduces African spirituality to trickery, charlatanism and ‘dark magic’. But African spirituality is, like any other system of spirituality found in other cultures around the world, simply a system of relating to the spirit world for strength, personal power, and healing.

 

This current state of affairs is a direct result of colonization. Part of the process of colonization was to gain control of people’s minds and cut them off from their source of spiritual solace and power in order to dominate them. There was a deliberate campaign to denigrate anything African and spirituality was especially targeted. Efforts to demonize, Satanize and associate African spirituality with backwardness created a stigma that prevails until today, alienating us from this important cultural resource. The result of this alienation from our own spiritual traditions on such a mass level is that we are disconnected from who we are and cannot find solutions for our own problems.

 

Many Africans today who long for spiritual connection but do not embrace the religions brought to us by our oppressors have for a long time felt spiritually disenfranchised. I believe that the time has come for us to remove the barriers that stand between us and our authentic spirituality, for us to openly embrace it and tap into the power that is available to us through it – the power to heal, the power to restore our dignity as a people, the power to create a future for ourselves and for humanity that is beyond anything we can imagine in our current state of spirit.

 

The fear of African religion must itself be understood as a form of trauma that needs to be healed, as it is the result of sustained violent actions overtime which aimed at disconnecting us from it. The effects of that violence on our Ancestors has been passed on to us both genetically and through socialization and we are still trying to stay safe and be considered good enough people by distancing ourselves from our spiritual traditions. The good news is that many of us are indeed returning to our ancestral spiritual home and, in this way, beginning to heal the personal as well as the collective.

 

While it is perfectly legitimate for anyone to choose the religion or spiritual practice that best suits them, it is also important that, if we feel the call of our own roots, we are not deterred from it by the heavy stigma that shrouds it and go for something that is second best and unsatisfying just because it is accepted by society.

7 Comments

  1. Kaye on November 18, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    In the name of our Ancestors, let it be so.

  2. Awokeami Ase on November 18, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you for this article

    • Yema on November 18, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      Thank you for reading it!

  3. Maria Carter-Evans on November 19, 2018 at 3:16 am

    Yes! Preach!

  4. Carey on November 19, 2018 at 5:39 am

    Thanks for your clarity and wisdom.

  5. Geoff Walker on November 19, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    There is in my experience a strong connection between traditional spiritualities and connection to the land that religions and colonialism disrupt. It is stringly manifested in urbanisation…… paradoxically the spirtual connection to the land is commonly replaced by man made spirits of religion and alcohol which is of course know as a spirit…

  6. Frank E on November 20, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I recently read that Earth fits into Sun one million plus times. What a conscious flip !!!! “Vanity, vanity….all is vanity.” In light of Sun , Earth is invisible and humans even less so. SPIRIT IS ALL ….INVISBLE and ALMIGHTY.

Leave a Comment





Join Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Facebook

3 days ago

Yema Ferreira

When was the last time you took yourself out on a date? Where would you go or what would you do if you did take yourself out on a date? What would feel absolutely delightful and indulgent? Can you give it to yourself? #SelfCareWednesday ... See MoreSee Less

When was the last time you took yourself out on a date? Where would you go or what would you do if you did take yourself out on a date? What would feel absolutely delightful and indulgent? Can you give it to yourself? #SelfCareWednesday

5 days ago

Yema Ferreira

Today I bring you a little prayer of gratitude for help in those difficult times, from Sonia Choquette's Uplifting Prayers to Light Your Way.

Holy Mother-Father-God,
Divine Loving Light and Heart of the Universe,

Thank you for lighting my way through the darkness and for keeping my heart open to your love and guidance. I feel your presence in my heart and in my bones, clearing and cleansing the old and making way for the new. I am grateful for your love.

Amen and with infinite gratitude.
#TGIM
... See MoreSee Less

Today I bring you a little prayer of gratitude for help in those difficult times, from Sonia Choquettes Uplifting Prayers to Light Your Way.

Holy Mother-Father-God,
Divine Loving Light and Heart of the Universe,

Thank you for lighting my way through the darkness and for keeping my heart open to your love and guidance. I feel your presence in my heart and in my bones, clearing and cleansing the old and making way for the new. I am grateful for your love.

Amen and with infinite gratitude.
#TGIM
Load more

Twitter

Self-awareness is the first step to meaningful change. Are you highly sensitive? What does that mean for your mental health? What does it mean for who you want to be in the world?
https://t.co/GsUxfS1ZKN

"Those of us who are healers in these modern times and contexts... are reduced to going about it in the only conventionally acceptable way: getting a Western education as doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychotherapists and other helping professions."

Yema Ferreira on Twitter

“What is a therapist anyway? In today's blog post I offer one perspective. #Healing https://t.co/5b7cZZSWWa”

twitter.com

Load More...