World Life Ministry of Faith

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African Traditional & Diasporic Religion


African Traditional & Diasporic Religion


African traditional religions are those practiced by the original inhabitants of Africa and can be divided into four different groups: the Nilo-Saharan, the Niger-Congo, the Khoisan and the Afro- Asiatic Religious Traditions. African diasporic religions, however, are those that developed when African traditional religions practiced by African slaves in New World regions like the southern United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean Islands were mixed with other religions being 


There are many different traditional and diasporic religions, and each has its own history and origin. Among traditional religions, for example, one Nilo-Saharan group was monotheistic, while another was non-theistic (as were the Khoisan groups); the Niger-Congo group, moreover, was concerned with the manifestation of spirit in nature, while the Afro-Asiatic group was henotheistic. As sub-Saharan slaves were brought to the New World, they often merged their traditional religion with the predominant non-African religion of their New World region, such as Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritualism or Native American traditional mythology.

Different people have been responsible for influencing the development of the various traditional and diasporic religions. In the Yoruba traditional religion, for instance, one of the present leaders in the faith has been Prince (Babalawo) Adigun Osolun, who also serves as high priest of several other sects, including Oke, Egbe and Obatala. Another example is the influence that Marie Laveau and her daughter had on the development of the diasporic religion Vodou in 19th-century New Orleans.

Reach & Spiritualism

Taken together, traditional and diasporic religions have been designated as a "major religious group" and are believed to have approximately 100 million adherents worldwide. Approximately forty-five per cent of the people living in Africa today are followers of traditional religions, although this figure may be significantly higher as some of those who'are deemed adherents to Islam also follow Yoruban traditional religion. Diasporic religions are also still extensively practiced today in the southern United States as well as Central and South America.

How basic religious concepts are defined in African traditional and diasporic religions also differs from religion to religion. The diasporic language of Wintf as practiced in Suriname, for instance, is based on a belief in the personification of supernatural spirits, while followers of Yoruban traditional religion believe that it is the manifest destiny of all human beings to merge with the divine creator.