African Religions

Traditional and Animism

What is Animism?

Animism is a Latin word that means soul and life. The idea of animism is that in all cultural systems, people experience phenomena—such as dreams, visions, sudden insights, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, and trances—that simultaneously conjoin perceptions of being "elsewhere" with the knowledge of being "here."
The idea of an animating spirit similar to the soul to include many different forces in nature and culture is what animism can be described as. The term animism is often used to describe the most common thread of indigenous tribes peoples' spiritual or supernatural perspectives.
Animist religion believe in the importance of spirits of nature.

Animistic Worldview

About it!

In the Animistic Worldview there is a fixed amount of stuff and energy in the world. This means that for one person to gain, another has to lose. If one wants to be less poor or more rich, then one has to take from others or through the spiritual world cause the transfer of stuff from one person to another. Most hexes and curses are for this purpose.

Origins of the Religion

The Animist Worldview was originated in the Paleolithic age or 10,000 BC. The basis for animism is acknowledgment that there is a spiritual realm which humans share the universe with. The concept that humans possess souls and that souls have life apart from human bodies before and after death, along with the ideas that animals, plants, and celestial bodies have humanly spirits. Animist Worldview is classified as an ethnic religion because it appeals primarily to a specific group of people from a specific place. As of currently, there is no branches or divisions of this religion - a united religion.

Geographic Distribution

Animist was diffused by Native Americans and most other religions such as Buddhism by relocation diffusion. Because Animist Worldview is the, for lack of a better word, view of the world as natural and pure. Therefore, holy places are generally outside in nature. Today, it is mostly Hindus and Muslims in Central and Southeast Asia, and Buddhists in China and Japan which combine their own religion with various animistic beliefs and practices. Even though these large countries participate in part of the Animistic Worldview, only 4% of the world's population actually believe in this.

Unique Features

There is no known documented leaders, no sacred text, and no symbols for a worldview religion. For place of worship, theoretically people would worship this in nature - with natural animals, plants, trees, and not with man-made, constructed materials.
A Dogon Funeral in Mali (HQ)

Akan Religion

Origins of this Religion

Origin of the religion: Religion beliefs and rituals of the Akans have many different origins. Some elements of this culture have originated from Guan people, the people that have occupied the area before them. Other elements came with the arrival of the first Akan.
Basic religious beliefs the akan believe that each human being is made up of blood, soul, and personality. The soul is said to return to one’s ancestors after death. The akan believe that the high god created each person’s soul, and therefore creates an individual bond with each person
Classification of religion akan is a monotheistic religion, however it has lesser deities in the religion
Branches or divisions of the religion: Ashanti, Akwamu, Denkyira

Geographic Distribution

The Akan Religion diffused through relocation diffusion. To worship, people of the Akan Religion would go to a Pentecostal church which are located throughout Africa. Today, it is practiced in southern Ghana, the eastern Ivory Coast, and the coastal Fanti to the south. Number of followers are from five to six million people throughout the globe.

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Unique Features


Ancestors are the most important people in the Akan religion because the younger ones think of the past as old and wise. The youth all hope to one day be old and wise like their ancestors.
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Holy Texts

There is no holy texts in the Akan Religion.

Place of Worship

The primary place of worship for the Akan Religion is within a family/ individual in nature.
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Impact on social and family structures the family is centered and structured around dead ancestors.
Impact on cultural beliefs and expectations many tributes and much respect is given to the ancestors.

Essential Question

What impact does traditional and animist beliefs have on African lifestyle.