Concept of Man
In West African Traditional Religion, the concept of man is deeply rooted in the belief that humans are a part of a larger community that includes both the living and the dead, as well as the natural and supernatural worlds. In this worldview, humans are not seen as separate from nature, but rather as an integral part of it.
According to West African Traditional Religion, humans are believed to possess both a physical and spiritual nature. The physical body is seen as temporary and mortal, while the spiritual nature is eternal and continues to exist after death. It is believed that the spiritual aspect of humans is what connects them to the divine and the ancestors.
In this religion, the concept of personhood is closely linked to one’s social identity, as well as one’s relationship with the community and the divine. Each individual is believed to have a unique destiny or purpose, which is shaped by their interactions with others and the divine. This destiny is thought to be determined by one’s ancestors, who are believed to play an active role in the lives of their descendants.
In West African Traditional Religion, there is a strong emphasis on community and social responsibility. It is believed that each person has a role to play in the community and that the community as a whole is responsible for the well-being of its members. This belief is reflected in the concept of ubuntu, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of all people and the importance of empathy, compassion, and sharing.
Here are some of the key concepts:
- Unity of the Human Being: In West African Traditional Religion, the human being is seen as a unified entity made up of body, soul, and spirit. The body is the physical aspect of a person, while the soul and spirit are the non-physical components that make up a person’s inner being. These non-physical aspects are seen as interconnected and inseparable from each other.
- Personhood and Dignity: West African Traditional Religion places a high value on personhood and dignity. Every individual is seen as a unique creation of the divine, with their own unique purpose and destiny. This means that every person, regardless of their status or circumstances, has inherent value and worth.
- Ancestral Connection: An important aspect of the concept of man in West African Traditional Religion is the belief in ancestral connection. Ancestors are seen as an important link between the living and the divine. They are believed to have the ability to intercede on behalf of the living and to offer guidance and protection.
- Communalism: West African Traditional Religion places a strong emphasis on communalism. This means that the well-being of the community is seen as more important than the individual. This concept is closely linked to the belief in interconnectedness and interdependence among all living beings.
- Responsibility and Accountability: Another important concept in West African Traditional Religion is the belief in responsibility and accountability. Every individual is believed to be responsible for their own actions and to be accountable to the community and the divine for those actions.
- Respect for the Natural World: West African Traditional Religion places a high value on respect for the natural world. This means that humans are seen as stewards of the earth, with a responsibility to care for the environment and to live in harmony with nature.
Concept of Destiny
In West African Traditional Religion, the concept of destiny is known as “ori” in Yoruba, “okra” in Akan, and “sunsum” in Asante.
Destiny is seen as the force that shapes and determines a person’s life, including their character, personality, and circumstances. It is believed that each person is born with a unique destiny, which is determined by their ancestors and the supreme being.
In West African Traditional Religion, destiny is not fixed, but rather it is influenced by a person’s choices and actions. This means that while one’s destiny is believed to be predetermined, an individual can take actions that can either fulfill or alter their destiny.
To fulfill one’s destiny, it is believed that a person must align their actions and choices with their destiny. This involves seeking guidance and wisdom from one’s ancestors and the supreme being. It also involves engaging in rituals and practices that honor one’s ancestors and align with their destiny.
In contrast, to alter one’s destiny, a person must engage in practices such as divination and spiritual cleansing. These practices are believed to help individuals identify any negative energies or obstacles that may be blocking them from fulfilling their destiny. Once these obstacles are identified, the individual can take actions to remove them and align their actions with their destiny.
Here are some key aspects of the concept of destiny in WATR:
- Destiny is predetermined: In WATR, it is believed that every individual is born with a specific destiny that has been preordained by a higher power, such as a deity or ancestor. This destiny determines the individual’s purpose in life, as well as their successes and failures.
- Destiny can be influenced: While destiny is seen as predetermined, it is also believed that an individual’s actions can influence their destiny. This means that people can work towards fulfilling their destiny or go against it. For example, if someone is destined to be a great healer, but they choose to pursue a career in business, they may not fulfill their destiny.
- Destiny is interconnected with community: In many West African cultures, an individual’s destiny is seen as interconnected with their community. This means that an individual’s actions can impact not only their own destiny but also the destiny of their family, tribe, and even their ancestors.
- Destiny can be divined: In some West African cultures, divination is used to help individuals understand their destiny. This involves consulting a diviner or oracle, who uses various tools and techniques to communicate with the spirits and ancestors. The diviner can provide insights into an individual’s destiny and offer guidance on how to fulfill it.
- Destiny is part of a larger cosmology: In WATR, destiny is seen as part of a larger cosmology that includes the spirits, ancestors, and deities. The universe is seen as a complex web of relationships between humans, spirits, and the natural world, and destiny is just one aspect of this larger interconnectedness.