African Religion Defined: A Systematic Study of Ancestor Worship among the Akan
African religion is ancestor worship; that is, funeral preparations, burial of the dead with ceremony and pomp, belief in eternal existence of souls of the dead as ancestors, periodic remembrance of ancestors, and belief that they influence the affairs of their living descendants. Whether called Akw?sidai, Homowo, Voodoo, Nyant?r (Aboakyir), CandomblZ, or Santeria in Africa or the African Diaspora, ancestor worship centers on the ancestors and deities. This makes it a tenably viable religion, because living descendants are genetically linked to their ancestors. The author, a traditional king and professor, studies the Akan in Ghana to demonstrate that ancestor worship is as pragmatic, systematic, theological, teleological, soteriological — with a highly trained clerical body and elders as mediators — and symbolic as any other religion in the world. Ancestor worship follows prescribed rites and rituals, formulas, precepts for ritual efficacy, and festivities of honor with music and dances to provoke ancestors and deities into joining in the celebration.
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