Deities and Ancestors:
Deities and Ancestors feature prominently in African religion as supernatural beings believed to control aspects of believer's lives. In African religion, deities are believed to be the personification of different forces put in place by God the creator to direct and control man. Every African society or tribe sacrifices to deities in appeasement and to ancestors for guidance and intercession before God the creator.
Deities are housed in confessor-shrines, where an argument may be settled by swearing of oath of sincerity before the deity in the presence of its priest. Deities are also called upon through the priest to avenge the wrong done to one by another. In Igbo land in the east of Nigeria, the fear of Arushi or Alusi-confessor-shrine is the beginning of wisdom. In African religion most of the prominent matters, such as Sun, Land, Iron, Fire, Water, Ancient trees, Imaginative immemorial names etc are believed to have controlling forces and so deified.
Example is Ogun, the god of iron of the Yoruba speaking people of the west of Nigeria. An Ogun shrine is simply set up by a priest with pieces of iron, incantations and mysterious ritual ceremonies. In the East of Nigeria, the Igbo deify the land--god of the land--a grove in front of ancient trees can be consecrated to serve as the face of the land-confessor-shrine for god of the land.
Rivers, Lakes, ancient trees are personification of different forces and deified. Yet, above all, the supreme God, known as God the creator, the owner of heaven and earth, is acknowledged in African religion. However, when calamities occur it is mostly the lesser god, in whose sphere an evil occurred, that is appeased and called upon to rectify or solve problems for mankind-as ordained by God the creator. In African religion deities are workers of the Supreme God.
Ancestors are not actually deified or worshiped. But, because they are passed on fathers or ancestors, they are rather looked upon for guidance and intercession before the Almighty God. Sacrifices are the modus operandi for seeking the intercession by ancestors when Africans seek favors from God the Creator.
While incarnation in Christianity is the doctrine of the union of God and man in the person of Jesus Christ, in African religion it is acknowledged as the return of dead relatives to a family in the spirit of born babies. It is believed in African religion that if such children were misrepresented by name they fall sick and die-go back to the land of the spirits
African Religion Priests:
The Priest of a deity's shrine can double as a native doctor, who not only prescribes cures for both biological ailments and spiritual troubles, but may also be a diviner who consults with and reports what the deity says to the people who come seeking answers to the mysteries of their lives.
The priest is an accepted intermediary between the people and a deity. He also acts as the mouthpiece of the deity. He can cause the wrath of the deity to befall a wrong-doer or an offender brought to his shrine by the people, if he or she does not confess.
Prayer and Libation:
Libation is the vehicle with which prayers travel to the ancestors. In most African societies, religious ceremonies begin with libation, usually performed with a spirit or hot drink. It is a prayerful pouring of wine on ancestral symbols during an ancestral sacrifice or on the ground before the living consume wine in social drinking. Libations are usually in honor of departed ancestors. It is the prerogative of the eldest in a meet, the officiating elder in a religious ceremony or ancestral sacrifice. Priests also do libation before consulting deities.
Every belief is a product of ignorance. If you know you know, if you do not know but trust your source of information, you believe-rightly or wrongly. God the creator is all-knowing. His creation is perfect, the things we do are all part of it, yet we know not what we do. The important thing is that what we do be beneficial to humankind and us.
People believe in something to help them deal with the mystery of life. No one knows the beginning, nor shall anyone know the end. Both the owner of this world and his creation are unfathomable to man.
Every claim made about God intends to take advantage of believers. The fear of the unknown is a serious problem the so-called men of God publicize its solutions and smiling to the banks. Those who do not know whence they came cannot know or imagine where they go from here. Religion is a very good concept in the hands of good people, but also very dangerous in the hands of bad people.
Corruption and Instability:
The corruption and instability in the world today-religious crisis-are not new. Because man imagines and claims things about creation and the owner of this world, and forcing his views of it all on others, there have always be tension and conflicts in the world. Read excerpts from The Fall Of African Religion, an incisive controversial novel coming soon.