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Friday, February 25, 2011

Myths and Legends of the Bantu CHAPTER XIV: THE SWALLOWING MONSTER


THE legend of a monster which swallows the population of a village-or, indeed, of the whole country and is subsequently slain by a boy hero seems to be current all over Africa. We have found part of it fitted into one of the ogre tales already dealt with, and we shall find some versions incorporating parts of stories which, strictly speaking, should be classed under other headings. McCall Theal [1] remarked:

There is a peculiarity in many of these stories which makes them capable of almost indefinite expansion. They are so constructed that parts of one can be made to fit into parts of another, so as to form a new tale. . . . These tales are made up of fragments which are capable of a variety of combinations.[2]

Thursday, February 24, 2011



WERE-WOLVES is a term used for convenience, as being most familiar, but there are no wolves in Africa, at any rate south of the Sahara. It is the hyena (called 'wolf ' by South Africans), the lion, and the leopard who have the unpleasant habit of assuming at will the human form or, which comes to the same thing, sorcerers have the power of turning themselves into these animals; and some tribes even have the strange notion that a course of treatment with certain medicines will enable a person to take after his death the shape of any animal he wishes.



IT is only natural that lightning and thunder should powerfully affect the human imagination all the world over.

Even when their causes are more or less understood there are few or none but must feel a peculiar thrill at sight of the flash and sound of the answering roar. To the primitive mind lightning is a living thing, instinct with destructive power, thunder the voice of some angry spirit or supra-mundane animal. Lightning is, perhaps, most often conceived of as a bird, and there seems no reason to doubt the good faith of those who declare they have actually seen it.



THE term 'witch-doctor' is often loosely used, as if it were synonymous with 'witch' or 'sorcerer.' This is something like putting the policeman and the detective in the same category as the criminal. There may be witchdoctors who are-scoundrels, as there may be unjust magistrates or corrupt policemen; but, on the whole, the witchdoctor is a force on the side of law and justice, and one does not see how, where a belief in witchcraft is firmly rooted in the minds of the people, he could well be dispensed with. His office is to detect and prevent crime and bring offenders to justice, and his methods are on the whole less barbarous than those of Matthew Hopkins, the witch-finder.

Myths and Legends of the Bantu CHAPTER XII: THE AMAZIMU


THE word izimu, in the Zulu tales, is usually, as by Callaway and Theal, translated 'cannibal.' But this word, with us, is ordinarily applied to people who, for one reason or another, are accustomed to eat human flesh. As Callaway pointed out long ago, however, "it is perfectly clear that the cannibals of the Zulu legends are not common men; they are magnified into giants and magicians." Perhaps it might also be said that the attributes of the legendary amazimu were transferred to the abhorred beings, who, driven to cannibalism by famine, kept up the habit when it was no longer needed and, as Ulutuli Dhladhla told the bishop, "rebelled against men, forsook them, and liked to eat them, and men drove them away . . . so they were regarded as a distinct nation, for men were game (izinyamazane) to them."[1] In fact, he distinctly says that "once they were men," and implies that they were so no longer.



WE find two curious figures in the mythology of the South-eastern Bantu. Huveane belongs to the Bapedi[1] and Bavenda, in the Eastern Transvaal. We have met with him before, as the First Man (though, incongruously enough, we also hear about his father) and, in some sense, the creator; but, as was stated at the time, he also appears in a very different character. Hlakanyana plays a conspicuous part in Zulu folklore; he no longer belongs to mythology proper, being more on the level of Jack the Giant-killer and Tom Thumb in our own fairytales. But there seems to be some uncertainty about his real nature. One of his names is Ucakijana, which means the Little Weasel, and though the people who told his story to Bishop Callaway explained this by saying he was like a weasel for his small size and his cunning, it may well be that he had actually been an animal to begin with. Some of his adventures are exactly the same as those which by other Bantu tribes are ascribed to the hare, the really epic figure in their folklore, and the authentic ancestor of Uncle Remus's Brer Rabbit. It is quite possible, though I do not know of any direct evidence for this, that he was originally a totem animal, and, as such, a mysterious power, like the Algonkin hare, in North America, who made the world.

Africa Women In The Workplace

Africa Women In The Workplace

    Although a dramatic increase in the number of women participating in the labor force
has taken place in the past decade, women have played a secondary role in that work
force since the ancient civilization of man. The value of women was and still is viewed as
less than that of a man. Traditionally a women's role in society was that of raising

Myths and Legends of the Bantu BIBLIOGRAPHY


ABDALLAH BIN HEMED BIN ALI LIAJJEMI: Hahari ya Wahilindi (History of the Wahilindi) (U.M.C.A. Press, Magila, 1895 and 1904).

ARNOUX, P.: In Anthropos (St Gabriel-Mödling, Vienna, 1912, 1913).

BARNES, REV. H. B., and BULLET, M. W. - Nyanja-Evglish Vocabulary (Sheldon Press, 1929).

BASKERVILLE, MRS GEORGE: The King of the Snakes and other Folklore Stories from Uganda (Sheldon Press, 1922).

BITTREMIEUX, LEO: Mayombsch Idioticon (2 Vols.; Drukkerij Erasmus, Ghent, 1922).

BLEEK, W. H. I: A Comparative Grammar of South African Languages (Trübner, 1862).

--- Reynard the Fox in South Africa; or, Hottentot Fables and Tales. Chiefly translated from original manuscripts in the library of His Excellency Sir George Grey, K.C.B. (Trübner, 1864). (Includes one or two Bantu stories.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Myths and Legends of the Bantu CHAPTER IX: THE WAKILINDI SAGA


A SAGA is defined by one authority as "a series of legends which follows in detail the lives and adventures of characters who are probably historical." We are therefore quite right in applying this name to the stories related about the high chiefs of Usambara, who are certainly historical characters, though perhaps not all of the adventures attributed to them ever really took place.

Myths and Legends of the Bantu CHAPTER X: THE STORY OF LIONGO FUMO


BISHOP STEERE wrote, in 1869, that "the story of Liongo is the nearest approach to a bit of real history I was able to meet with. It is said that a sister or Liongo came to Zanzibar, and that her descendants are still living there."[1]

Since reading these words I have been informed that there is now at Mombasa a family of the Shaka clan and tribe claiming descent from Liongo Fumo. Even apart from this, there seems every reason to believe that he had a real existence, though some mythical elements have been incorporated into his legend.



THE core of Bantu religion, we may say, is the cult of the dead.

The belief in a High God is more or less vaguely some tribes it is almost forgotten, or, at any rate, not much regarded-but everywhere among Bantu-speaking peoples the spirits of the departed are recognized, honoured, and propitiated. There is not the slightest doubt that these people believe in something which survives the death of the body. No African tribe can be said with certainty to think that death ends all, perhaps not even the Masai,[1] of whom this has been asserted in a somewhat haphazard fashion. The universal Bantu custom of offerings to the spirits of deceased relatives is surely a sufficient proof to the contrary.

Myths and Legends of the Bantu


IN the instances hitherto mentioned, where a rope has been spoken of as the means of reaching the Heaven country, no explanation is offered as to the origin of the rope, or the means by which it became available. There are some stories and legends, possibly older, where the communication is said to be established through the spider's web. When Mulungu was compelled to leave the earth, say the Yaos, he said, I cannot climb a tree (as though that were the obvious way of reaching the sky), and went to call the spider, who " went on high, and returned again and said, 'I have gone on high nicely. . . . You now, Mulungu, go on high.'" That is, we may suppose, he spun his web (the narrator probably did not see why the spider should not be able to do this upward as well as downward) till it reached the sky, and spun another thread coming down. The Subiya also say that Leza ascended to heaven by a spider's thread.



THE Zulus appear to have recognized a sky-god distinct from Unkulunkulu. This seems to strengthen the probability that the name Unkulunkulu is not, as Bleek thought, identical with Mulungu, since the latter name for the High God in some languages actually means 'sky.' "The king which is above," Umpengula Mbanda informed Dr Callaway, " we did not hear of him first from white men. In summer-time, when it thunders, we say, 'The king is playing.' And if there is one who is afraid the elder people say to him, 'It is nothing but fear. What thing belonging to the king have you eaten?'[1] This is why I say that the Lord of whom we hear through you we had already heard of before you came. But he is not like the Unkulunkulu, who, we say, made all things. But the former we call a king, for, we say, he is above; Unkulunkulu is beneath."[2]

Myths and Legends of the Bantu CHAPTER III: LEGENDS OF THE HIGH GODS


THE Leza and Nyambe of the Upper and Middle Zambezi tribes exhibit the same confusion between the High God and the first man which we noticed in the case of the Zulu Unkulunkulu; and, further, they appear to be more or less identified with the sky and the rain. The Basubiya say that Leza once lived on earth. He was a very strong man, a great chief; when he was seated in his khotla (place of the chief's council) "it was as though the sun were sitting there." It was he who sent out the chameleon with the message that men should live again after death. Leza is said to send rain; the Baila use such expressions as "Leza will fall much water, Leza throws down water."

Myths and Legends of the Bantu CHAPTER VII: THE AVENGER OF BLOOD


THE usual unwritten law of primitive peoples is, in theory at least, "a life for a life," the clan of the murdered man being entitled to kill the murderer, if they can get hold of him; if not, one of his family, or, at any rate, a member of the same clan. No difference was originally made between intentional and accidental killing, though this distinction came to be recognized later. In time the principle of ransom came into force-the weregild of our Saxon ancestors. The Yaos would express it thus in a case where the relations had failed to kill the murderer out of hand and had captured a relative of his: "You have slain our brother; we have caught yours; and we will send him after our brother-or keep him as a slave-unless you pay a ransom." This last alternative has tended more and more to become the usual practice in Africa.

Murder of a Relative

Myths and Legends of the Bantu CHAPTER VIII: HEROES AND DEMI-GODS


GREAT chiefs, or men otherwise distinguished, whose memory lives on after many generations, are not only honoured beyond the worship paid to ordinary ghosts, but become the subjects of many a legend. Some of these heroes are plainly mythical, others are known to have actually existed, and some historical persons have become legendary without receiving divine honours. One knows that the genesis of myths is not confined to remote ages; they may spring up any day, even in civilized countries: there have been at least three well-known examples within the last twenty years. I remember being present at a conversation during which, as I believe, a legend was nipped in the bud. Some Zulus, after consulting together in undertones, asked Miss Colenso, very respectfully, whether it was true that her father had prophesied before his death that his house (Bishopstowe, near Pietermaritzburg) would be burned down. She answered that very likely he might have said, some time or other, that if due precautions were not taken a fire might reach the house during the grass-burning season-which, in fact, actually happened, owing, however, to a sudden change of wind rather than to any lack of care. I fear the questioners were disappointed; but one can imagine how the story would have grown if not discouraged.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011



No one seems to know when the South African Bantu first came into the country now occupied by them. It is certain that the Bushmen, and in some places the Hottentots, were there before them. One proof of this is found in the names of places, and especially of rivers, which in the Cape Province often contain clicks (the Iqora, called by Europeans Bushman's River; the Inxuba, which is the Fish river; and many others); while in Natal and Zululand most of the river-names have a decided Bantu sound-Umgeni, Tugela, and so on. The Bantu came from the north-east, and reached the Kei river about the end of the seventeenth century, when they first came in contact with the Dutch colonists. But they must have been in Natal and the regions to the north-east long before that, for in 1498, when Vasco da Gama's fleet touched somewhere near the mouth of the Limpopo, one of his crew, Martin Affonso, found he could understand the talk of the natives, because it was very much like what he had picked up on the West Coast, probably in Angola or on the Congo. It is also known that the Makaranga, who are still living in Southern Rhodesia, were there in 1505, when the Portuguese first heard of them, and they must have settled there long before, as they had something like an organized kingdom, under a paramount chief, whom the Portuguese called Monomotapa.

Zulu Clan Tradition

Myths and Legends of the Bantu CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTORY


Who are the Bantu?

BANTU is now the generally accepted name for those natives of South Africa (the great majority) who are neither Hottentots nor Bushmen-that is to say, mainly, the Zulus, Xosas (Kafirs), Basuto, and Bechuana -to whom may be added the Thongas (Shangaans) of the Delagoa Bay region and the people of Southern Rhodesia, commonly, though incorrectly, called Mashona.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The end of a stigma (African traditional religions and modernity)

Ruling out once and for all the view of an assumed spiritual inferiority of African peoples by a revaluation of a living dynamic tradition.

by Daniele Mezzana
For centuries, African traditional religions have been subjected to the same misrepresentation, underestimation and basic stigmatization which have been reserved - and continue to be reserved - for the societies, cultures and actors of Sub-Saharan Africa in general.
This stigmatization involves a structured process which occurs at various levels.
Man leading his goat as a gift at a Catholic ceremony, TanzaniaSource: Sammy Ndwiga, Photoshare
The first and most evident of these levels involves the kind of widespread representations of Africa which are based on the so-called 'common sense' of western countries, that is, those cognitive contents which are triggered, so to speak, 'automatically', every time a given subject is brought up or a given question is approached. In the case in point, when speaking of Africa, an image of a beautiful and exotic country - with its nature and unsullied landscapes - but 'inevitably' plagued by natural and human catastrophes - floods, famines, wars, coups, etc. - which Africans would not be able to dominate, is easily evoked. This representation - which has repeatedly been addressed in African Societies and which will be taken up again in the next issue - has remote origins and is continually reinforced and, so to speak, updated by the convergence of the mechanisms specific to the mass media and the lack of professionalism of many media operators - who are always on the lookout for easy and convenient stereotypes - as well as by geopolitical strategies at a transnational level, and by the everyday conduct of teachers, politicians, researchers, university lecturers, essayists, religious persons, tourist agencies and even - at times - solidarity NGOs and many other actors who - often involuntarily - contribute to furthering an image of Africa as a country perpetually in trouble and unable to cope without external help. The representation of Africa as a country devoid of its own profound spiritual dimension or of a religion worthy of its name goes to

The Loss Of African Traditional Religion In Contemporary Africa

The desecration of Africa in the past by the Western European powers seriously and adversely affected the traditional cultures of the indigenous African people to the extent that many traditional beliefs, social values, customs, and rituals were either totally destroyed or ignored. In most cases they were considered to be nothing more than pagan values and superstitions that played no part in traditional African culture. Culture after all is the way of life developed by people as they cope with survival. True culture then must include the traditional beliefs and spiritualism. The introduction of European Christianity and values separated the indigenous Africans from their traditional ancient spiritual roots as well as their traditional identity as a spiritual people. This short paper is to introduce the reader to an introduction to Traditional African Religion



   The relationships of the various gods are differently stated by different chiefs and priests of Ífè, and also by the same men at different times.

   It appears, however, that Arámfè ruled in Heaven, and sent his sons, Odúwa and Orísha, to a dark and watery region below to create the world and to people it. According to the legends told in Ífè, the gods were not sent away as a punishment; but there is some story of wrong-doing mentioned at Ówu in the Jébu country. Arámfè gave a bag full of arts and wisdom to Orísha, and the kingship to Odúwa.

   On the way from Heaven Odúwa made Orísha drunk, and stole the bag. On reaching the edge of Heaven, Odúwa hung a chain over the cliff and sent down a priest, called Ojúmu, with a snail-shell full of magic sand and a "five-fingered" fowl. Ojúmu threw the sand on the water and the fowl kicked it about. Wherever the fowl kicked the sand, dry land appeared. Thus the whole world was made, with Ífè as its centre.

Sunday, February 20, 2011



Arába continues:
Oíbo, I will tell and chronicle
A second chapter from the histories
The fable
of Earth,
Water and
Bequeathed from other times. . . A tale is told
How God in the Beginning sent three sons
Into the World—Earth, Water and the Forest—
With one and twenty gifts for Earth and men
That are the sons of Earth; and all save one
The Forest and the Rivers stole; and how
God promised to his first-born, Earth, that men
Should win the twenty gifts again by virtue
Of that last one, Good Humour. And this is true:
For in those years when Ógun and the Gods
Made known their handicrafts men learned to seek
Thatch, food and wine in Forest and in River



Arába continues:
After the
Úbo Wars,
Ógun reigns
An age passed by, and Ífè knew no more
Of battles; for Ógun, grey and bent, chose out
The way of peace beloved of Old Arámfè.
in peace.
     Forgotten lives were lived, and shadowy priests
Kept warm the altars of the departed Gods:
Old men went softly to the River's lip1
Unsung: 'twixt hope and fear mute colonists
Went forth to the strange forests of the World;
And unremembered wives sought out the shrines
Of the givers of new life. Their names are lost. . .

     Yet now, Oíbo, let a final tale
Be told; for, at the last, that silent age
Yields up the legend of its fall. In those
Last tranquil years the mothers blessed King Ógun
For peaceful days and night's security;
And old men used to tell of their brave deeds
In battles where Orányan led, applaud
The torch-lit dance and pass their last calm days
Happily. . . But then came traders from the wilds
p. 47 By thorn and tangle of scarce-trodden ways
Through the dim woods with wondrous tales they heard
At crossway markets1 in far lands of deeds
Orányan did on battlefields beyond
The region of the forests. These tales, oft-told
In house and market, filled the air with rumours
And dreams of war which troubled the repose
Of ancient Ífè—for, while the fathers feared
The coming of the day when the grey God,
Aweary of Earth's Kingship, would go back
To his first far-off home, the young men's dreams
Were always of Orányan, and their pale days
Wars to
demand the
Lagged by. . . Such were the various thoughts of men
In Ífè, when on a clay, unheralded,
Orányan2 with a host appeared before
Her peaceful gates. None could deny his entrance:
The hero strode again the streets he saved
From the Olúbo's grass-clad men, and came
Before his father to demand the crown
Of Odudúwa. King Ógun spoke: "My son,
p. 48 'Tis long since you were here, and you are welcome.
But why with these armed men do you recall
Times well-forgotten and the ancient wars?
This is a land of peace: beneath the shade
Of Ífè's trees the mirth of Heaven's vales
Has found a home, the chorus and the dance
Their measure. Lay by your arms, and may no hurt
Attend your coming or your restful hours!"
Harshly Orányan answered his old father:
"You speak of peace, Great Ógun, and the calm
Arámfè destined for a World to be.
Arámfè spoke—and Odudúwa's dream
Of wisdom linked to supreme power begat
A theft!1 And that same night on Heaven's rim
Devised another destiny for men.
What Heaven-sent art has Ógun to undo
That deed, and bid the still-born live? Besides,
Who taught the peaceful peoples of the World
Their longing for red War? Who forged their weapons—
With steel Arámfè gave for harvesting?
Who slew young maids who would not wed to bear
p. 49 More sons for ancient wars? Who, pray, but Ógun,
The God of War? . . What then? 'Tis said: 'The field
The father sowed his son shall reap!'"1 And Ógun
Made answer: "The story of my life has been
As the succeeding seasons in the course
Where Óshun pours her stream. First, long ago,
The sunny months of heaven when I roamed
A careless boy upon the mountains; then,
As a whole season when the boisterous storms
Fill full the crag-strewn bed with racing waters,
And the warm Sun is hidden by the clouds,
Doom brought me journeys, toils in darkness, wars
And yet more wars. Again the barren months
Are here: the wagtail lights upon the rock
The river hid; a lazy trickle moves
And in my age Arámfè's promised peace
Gives back her stolen happiness to Ífè. . . .
And now, the sage Osányi2 is no more,
His charms forgotten: I cannot turn to stone
And vanish like Odúwa; I cannot cast
p. 50 My worn old body down to rise instead
A river of the land, as Óshun did.
No, Earth must hold me, glad or desolate,
A King or outcast in the vague forest,
Till Heaven call me—when the locked pools bask,
And Óshun sleeps. . . Till then I ask to be
In peace; and, with my tale of days accomplished,
My last arts taught, Arámfè's bidding done—
I, the lone God on Earth who knows fair Heaven,
And the calm life the Father bade us give
To men,—I, Ógun, will make way, and go
Upon the road I came." But Orányan said:
"Let the first Mistress of the World decide.
These years the kingly power has passed away
From the old sleeping town Odúwa built
To me, Orányan, battling in far lands
Where no voice spoke of Ífè. Let Ífè choose
Her way: obscurity or wide renown!"
     A silence fell: the black clouds of the storm
Were overhanging human destiny;
The breathless pause before the loud wind's blast
Held all men speechless—though they seemed to heave
The old
men desire
Ógun to
p. 51 For utterance. At length, Eléffon, the friend
Of Ógun, voiced the fond hopes of the old chiefs
Who feared Orányan and his coming day:
"Ours is the city of the shrines which guard
The spirits of the Gods, and all our ways
Are ordered by the Presences which haunt
The sacred precincts. The noise of war and tumult
Is far from those who dream beneath the trees
Of Ífè. There is another way of life:
The way of colonists. By God's command,
From this first breast the infant nations stray
To the utter marches of humanity.
Let them press onward, and let Orányan lead them
Till the far corners of the World be filled;
Let the unruly fall before their sword
Until the Law prevail. But let not Ífè
Swerve from the cool road of her destiny
For dreams of conquest; and let not Ógun leave
The roof, the evening firelight and the ways
Of men—to go forth to the naked woods."
And the old chiefs echoed: "Live with us yet, Oh, Ógun!
Reign on your stable throne." But murmurs rose
but the
young men
p. 52 From the young men—suppressed at first, then louder—
Until their leader, gaining courage, cried:
"Empty our life has been—while from far plains,
Vibrant with the romance, the living lustre,
Orányan's name bestows, great rumours came
To mock our laggard seasons; and each year
Mórimi's festival recalls alike
The hero's name and Ífè's greatness. Must
All Ífè slumber that the old may drowse?
No; we will have Orányan, and no other,
To be our King." And a loud cry went up
From his followers: "Orányan is our King!"
And in that cry King Ógun heard the doom
A chieftain of our day sees clear in eggs1
Of fateful parrots in his inmost chamber:
The walls of his proud city (his old defence)
Can never more uphold a rule of iron
For victor treachery within. And wearily
He spoke his last sad words: "My boyhood scarce
Had ended on Arámfè's happy hills
p. 53 When I came here with Odudúwa; with him,
Lovingly I watched this ancient city growing,
And planted the grand forests for a robe
For queenly Ífè. I have grown old with Ífè:
Sometimes I feel that Ógun did become
Ífè, and Ífè Ógun, with the still lapse
Ógun goes
Of years. Yet she rejects me. Ah! my trees
Would be more kind, and to my trees I go."

     Dawn came; and Ógun stood upon a hill
To Westward, and turned to take a last farewell
Of his old queen of cities—but white and dense.
O'er harbouring woods and unremembering Ífè
A mist was laid and blotted all. . Beyond,
As islands from a morning sea, arose
Two lone grey hills; and Ógun dreamed he saw
Again those early days, an age gone by,
When he and Great Odúwa watched the Bird
Found those grand hills with magic sand,—bare slopes,
Yet born to smile. . . That vision paled: red-gold
Above grey clouds the Sun of yesterday
Climbed up—to shine on a new order. . So passed
Old Ógun from the land.


lightning surge protection


Arába continues:
After the
War of the
Gods, Ífè
to the arts
of peace.
Oíbo, graven on my memory
Is the sad legend which my father told me
Of the Great Gods' departure. . . The years slid by
Unnoted while King Ógun2 reigned. The World
Was young: upon the craggy slopes the trees
Shot forth red buds, and ancient Ífè, gaunt
With suffering, dreamed again her early dreams.
Taught by the Gods, the folk began to learn
The arts of Heaven's peace anew; the drum
Returned to measures of the dance, and Great
Orísha saw the joy of life once more
In his creatures' eyes. Thus lived mankind among

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Violence Against Women

Violence logo
Gender Based Violence/Violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations in Africa. The 1993 UN Declaration on Violence Against Women (DVAW) UN resolution 48/104 is the first international instrument that defines violence against women. DVAW defines Violence Against Women as follows:
"Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life"
The common forms of violence against women that are recognized by the international community as outlined in the UNDVAW include: physical, sexual, and psychological violence occurring in the family and in the community, including battering, sexual abuse of female children, dowry-related violence, marital rape; female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women; non spousal violence; violence related to exploitation, sexual harassment, and intimidation at work and in educational institutions; forced pregnancy, forced abortion, and forced sterilization; trafficking in women and forced prostitution; and violence perpetrated or condoned by the state. (UN declaration in 1993)


The States Parties to this Protocol,

CONSIDERING that Article 66 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights provides for special protocols or agreements, if necessary, to supplement the provisions of the African Charter, and that the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity meeting in its Thirty-first Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 1995, endorsed by resolution AHG/Res.240 (XXXI) the recommendation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to elaborate a Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa;

CONSIDERING that Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights enshrines the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status;

The great African housewife

African woman making jewelryFrom this exciting, spiritually-connected gathering: a great dance, party, food, and robust conversations at an invigorating meeting. It’s so exciting that I keep smiling to myself remembering the energy in the room, the sisterhood, the fact that as women race, colour, region, affinity, language never matter. For us it was about how to make a difference and truly redefine “Democracy”. As I transit in Texas, my realities hit again and I leave dreamland. Quite an interesting and long story including lost luggage, partial detention, and also being asked in Houston by customs officials why I am "camouflaging as a professional" yet I am an "African Housewife"? And, as an "African Housewife", where I got all these visas in my passport, why I travel frequently and where I got money to travel to Guatemala? How did I get invited to a Nobel Women’s Peace Prize event in Guatemala?!


Arába speaks:
I am the voice of Ífa, messenger
Of all the Gods: to me the histories
Are known, and I will tell you of the days
Of the Descent. How Old Arámfè sent
The Gods from Heaven, and Odudúwa stole
The bag—my king has told you. . . For many a day
Across unwatered plains the Great Ones journeyed,
And sandy deserts—for such is the stern bar
Set by Arámfè 'twixt his smiling vales


1. Introduction

In many African societies ancestral veneration is one of the central and basic traditional and even contemporary forms of cult. As is indicated by the title, this essay intends to expose briefly the main features of that type of veneration in black Africa, South of the Sahara.

2. Ancestral cult in Black Africa

African ancestral cult is deeply rooted in the African traditional worldview so much so that a proper and adequate understanding of that cult cannot be achieved without examining it in its intimate link with such worldview. Hence, before exposing the main features of ancestral veneration, it is useful to give first a brief survey of the African traditional worldview, in the light of which the former will and should be envisaged.

2.1 Brief Survey of African Traditional Worldview

Friday, February 18, 2011

Myths of Ífè

A white man visits Ífè, the sacred city of the Yórubas, and asks to hear the history of the place. The Órní, the religious head of Yórubaland, begins, and directs the Babaláwo Arába, the chief-priest of Ífa to continue.


The Órní of Ífè speaks:
Oíbo, you have asked to hear our lore,
The legends of the World's young hours—and where
Could truth in greater surety have its home
Than in the precincts of the shrines of Those
Who made the World, and in the mouths of priests
To whom their doings have been handed down
From sire to son?

The Power of Symbols in African Culture

The Power of Symbols in African Culture

Symbols and Signs

We come across symbols or symbolic actions wherever we are. Often we are not even aware of it, and sometimes we are unable to understand or to interpret certain symbols, because we are not familiar with their meaning. Let us take the symbol of the cross, the meaning of which is very familiar for Christians, but not necessarily for Hindus or Moslems. They have their own symbols. But even for Christians, the symbol of the cross may take on various meanings. This shows us that symbols are by nature open for various interpretations.

Why Is Africa Still Poor?

A slogan painted on trucks and taxicabs all over Africa, much beloved by metaphor-hunting authors, reads: NO CONDITION IS PERMANENT. This is true, but some are recurring. Tyranny in Zimbabwe, famine in Niger, a constitutional coup in Togo, rampant corruption in Kenya, protesters shot in Ethiopia, an epidemic in Angola, civil war in Sudan--those are this year's headlines, but if you think you've heard it all before, you have. Martin Meredith, in his new book The Fate of Africa, writes that "what is so striking about the fifty-year period since independence is the extent to which African states have suffered so many of the same misfortunes." Some countries, like Nigeria and Zambia, have gone through cycles of reform and decay. But Meredith's subtitle--From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair--sums up the overall trend. It's hard to imagine now, but in the heady days of the 1960s, much of the continent was no less prosperous than South Korea or Malaysia. While those Asian nations have transformed themselves into economic "tigers," however, gross domestic products across Africa shrank during the last two decades of the twentieth century. Africans are getting poorer, not richer. They are living shorter, hungrier lives.

Why Study African Traditional Religions (ATR)?

Why should missionaries whose aim is to bring the Good News be concerned with ATR?
Is it not there duty to convince the people to give up religious practices which are full of superstition, fear and witchcraft?
Indeed, in the beginning of missionary activity, due to many misconceptions and ignorance, ATR was considered as the direct opposite of Christianity, which needed to be eradicated. This was at a time when human societies from a Western perspective - which was the yardstick of normality - were divided in two types:
Western - Non-Western
Civilized - Primitive
Logical - Prelogical
Healthy - Sick, Evil, Savage.

African Women Developement

African Women Developement

The women of Africa have endured the systematic oppression of their development for countless of years due to elements in cultural, political and, historical events. Long before British-colonial occupation and the slave trade, the male dominated African tribal culture adhered to many oppressive yet accepted and structured forms of role categorization of women in African society. One can begin to understand the lineage of African women’s’ developmental encumbrance. The position of women in pre-colonial Africa was impeded mainly because of cultural aspects of their way of societal existence.African females would be type-cast from birth and instructed in manners of learning subservience, as is the case of human behavior in most societies, as strict and hindering gender rolesdetermined the path of their life (Dennis 69).As young girls, African females developed very closely with their mothers and would acquire the constricting elements that continue the ongoing chain of events. The young females would take part in the daily duties of their mother and learn the oppressive traits, as did their female ancestors before them. They would perform backbreaking chores for the tribal family in prepa 

Increased political participation among African women

28 September 2008 [MEDIAGLOBAL]: Millions of African women’s progress is challenged by their everyday realities of hunger, violence, exclusion, sickness, and discrimination. According to the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), most African women are worse off today than they were a decade ago.
According to UNIFEM’s flagship 2008 publication, “Progress of the World’s Women”, eight out of ten African women workers have vulnerable employment, meaning they contribute to family work or are self-employed. These informal work arrangements are paid too low to generate savings and lack social protection. Through these jobs, women have become the backbone of Africa’s “informal” economy.
However, they have been unable to reap the gains from the sustained growth of their national economies because they are marginalized by deregulation and privatization, labor migration, and resulting changes in family structures.

The Role of Women in Post-independent Africa

1. Overall status of women in Africa

African women have always been active in agriculture, trade, and other economic pursuits, but a majority of them are in the informal labour force. In 1985, women's shares in African labour forces ranged from 17 per cent, in Mali, to 49 per cent in Mozambique and Tanzania (World Bank, 1989). African women are guardians of their children's welfare and have explicit responsibility to provide for Read More

South Africa’s Rape Epidemic

anti rape campaign in South Africa South Africa’s Rape Epidemic

In a recent study, one in four South Africans acknowledged committing a sexual violation in his life and close to half of all those surveyed admitted having done more than one attack. 73 percent of those who admitted to rape had their first violation even before they reached the age of 20. In addition, one in 20 respondents said he had raped a woman or a girl in the last year.

Although all the victims in the main survey were females, the survey report also includes cases of rape to men, whether suffered by the respondents themselves or as committed by them. One in 10 said that he had been raped by a man, while 3 percent said to have perpetrated the rape of a male, either adult or child.


Honoring Our Ancestors, Families, Our Culture & Humanity.

Inspired by One Love

Culture: The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, beliefs, institutions, arts, and all other products of human works and thought characteristics of a community or population.

A style of social expression, peculiar to a society, or class. Intellectual activity and the works produced by.

South African rape survey shock

Anti-rape protesters in South Africa

One in four South African men questioned in a survey said they had raped someone, and nearly half of them admitted more than one attack.
The study, by the country's Medical Research Council, also found three out of four who admitted rape had attacked for the first time during their teens.
It said practices such as gang rape were common because they were considered a form of male bonding.
The MRC spoke to 1,738 men in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces.
The research was conducted in both rural and urban areas and included all racial groups.
Using an electronic device to keep the results anonymous, the study found that 73% of those who admitted rape said they had carried out their first assault before the age of 20.
Almost half who said they had carried out a rape admitted they had done so more than once.

African women and domestic violence

anti rape campaign in South Africa South Africa’s Rape Epidemic

The annual mobilisation of women around the world around the theme of "16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence" from 25 November - 10 December 2007represents a tremendous global effort to increase awareness of violence against women in all its forms. In light of the 2007 theme - demanding implementation, challenging obstacles - this article looks at the issue of domestic violence from the perspective of African experience, and examines the impact of attempts to address it by legal means. It poses three questions: