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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


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Sacred-texts home OCRT: Santeria OCRT: Vodun Australian Native American Buy CD-ROM Buy Books on African Spirituality

African Religion
South Africa The Bantu West and Central Africa Comparative African-American Caribbean Rastafarianism VodunHistory
Ultimately, we are all Africans. Studies of mitochondrial DNA have proven that all human beings are descended from a small population (less than a hundred individuals) that emerged from Africa about 60,000 years ago. The earliest written religious texts as well as the first documented monotheistic religion also developed in Africa. During the European dark ages, many ancient manuscripts were preserved in African libraries in places such as Ethiopia and Timbuctoo.
This section has texts on the traditional spirituality of Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as their descendants in the New World.
Finding books about African religion and spiritual beliefs in the public domain was not difficult. These books have a great amount of useful information on this topic, some of it written before colonialism destroyed or greatly modified aspects of traditional culture. The problem with these works is that they were for the large part written by Europeans with their particular biases and agendas. For this reason, we encourage you to 'read between the lines'.
The texts here are provided for scholarly purposes. They may contain racist characterizations, errors of interpretation, or misrepresentations of traditional culture. For instance, the term 'Kaffir', which is used in many of these texts to refer to the Xhosa (Nelson Mandela's tribe), is now considered derogatory.
This page also has texts and books with alternate views, primarily written by African-Americans, which, in our opinion, also deserve consideration.
Africa is home to a rich religious tradition. Refer to Ancient Egypt, Islam, and Christianity.
South Africa The Religious System of the Amazuluby Henry Callaway [1870] Specimens of Bushman Folkloreby W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd [1911] South African Folk-Talesby James A. Honey [1910] Kaffir (Xhosa) Folk Talesby Georg McCall Theal [1886]
The Bantu Myths and Legends of the Bantuby Alice Werner [1933]The rich traditions of the Bantu.Most of the books below also have material on the Bantu of West Africa.
West and Central Africa
The West African area is important because this is where the majority of slaves departed for the New World. Hence large elements of West African, particularly Yoruba, religion (blended with Catholicism) can be found in religions such as Vodun (also known as Voodoo) (Haiti), Candomblè (Brazil) and Santeria (Carribean). For more information on New World African-derived religions, refer to the The Santeria page at Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance. Myths of Ífèby John Wyndham [1921] Notes on the Folklore of the Fjortby R. E. Dennett [1898] At the Back of the Black Man's Mindby R. E. Dennett [1906] Folk Stories from Southern NigeriaBy Elphinstone Dayrell, Introduction by Andrew Lang. [1910] Fetichism in West Africaby Rev. Robert Hamill Nassau. [1904] Hausa Folkloreby Maalam Shaihu, translated by R. Sutherland Rattray. [1913]One of the few African folklore books actually written by an African, not a European. Woman's Mysteries of a Primitive Peopleby D. Amaury Talbot [1915] The Yoruba Speaking Peoplesby A.B. Ellis [1894] Yoruba Legendsby M. I. Ogumefu [1929]
Comparative Religion and Mythby James Macdonald [1883]One of the first comparative studies of African spirituality.
Drums and ShadowsGeorgia Writer's Project; Work Projects Administration, Mary Granger supervisor [1940]Coastal Georgia folklore from the 1930s and connections to African spiritual practices.
Caribbean Jamaica Anansi Storiesby Martha Warren Beckwith [1924].Jamaican folklore, music and riddles, featuring an indominable trickster hero.
Rastafarianism The Kebra Nagasttranslated by E. A. Wallis Budge [1932]The legendary history of Ethiopia.
The Holy Pibyby Robert Athlyi Rogers [1924-8]A classic--and very rare--Afrocentric religious text from the early 20th century, acclaimed by many Rastafarians as a forerunner of their beliefs.
The Royal Parchment Scroll of Black SupremacyBy Fitz Balintine Pettersburg [1926?]A rare proto-Rastafarian text from Jamaica.
The Promised KeyBy G.G. Maragh (Leonard Percival Howell) [1935?]Howell advanced ideas similar to later Rastafarian beliefs, particularly casting Haile Selassie as the Black Messiah.A heavily edited version of the Royal Parchment Scroll.
The Wisdom of Rastafariby Haile SelassieA short anthology of quotes from Haile Selassie compiled by a Rastafarian group.
Two short articles by Lafcadio Hearn about New Orleans Voodoo. Hearn, a New Orleans native, also wrote extensive works about Japan, available in the Shinto section. Last of the Voudoos [1885] New Orleans Superstitions [1886]
Here are two books relating to Haitian Voodoo (Vodun). They were written by an outsider to the religion who was ultimately unable to penetrate its inner mysteries; however both of these books has strengths as historical and ethnographic background on the topic: Voodoo and ObeahsBy Joseph J. Williams [1932]Important historical context for Vodun, with extensive quotes from contemporary accounts. Psychic Phenomena of JamaicaBy Joseph J. Williams. [1934]A study of supernatural activity in Jamaica, including the abusive duppy...
Afrocentric Historians
The Negroby W.E.B. Du Bois [1915]A great introduction to Black history by a noted African-American activist and scholar.
Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empireby Drusilla Dunjee Houston [1927]A pioneering work of Afrocentric history.

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