I’m working on a history writing question and need a sample draft to help me learn.
1. How do the documentaries and readings from this unit make you think differently about African technological and scientific pasts? Be specific.
2. Â Which specific elements from the readings and documentaries would you emphasize when talking to a non-specialist audience about Africa?
3. What did you learn about African traditional religions that you did not know before?
4. Has this unit challenged the way you think about expert knowledge or advanced societies in world history?
STEM and Africaâ€™s Deep and Recent Pasts
This unit takes on a pervasive series of myths that go something like this:
1. Africa is poor and weak (an objectionable myth, as we have already explored);
2. Africa is poor and weak because it did not have science or technology (or so called
scientific, technological, or industrial revolutions). (Some believe Africa still does not
have science, technology, or medicine);
3. If one believes #2, an explanation for this can be found in African religions, cosmologies,
and systems of thought. Put more bluntly: Africa â€“ this stereotype goes â€“ is a place void
of the reason and reasoning needed for scientific/technological/economic advancement
4. In particular, some authors, such as biologist and aspirational historian, Jared Diamond,
assert that Africa used to be powerful. Its weakness is a more recent feature of world
history. It occurred when Africa failed to propel or join events leading to the industrial
revolution. This argument can be found in Guns, Germs, Steel.
As a whole, these views are far too much to take on in a 100-level class. So weâ€™re going to
spend a week exploring the reasons such views constitute a version of what Nyabola calls,
â€œAfrica for Beginners.â€ And then weâ€™re going to move beyond them (quite quickly, actually).
We thus combine science, technology, medicine, and religion into a grab-bag of sorts that looks
at different places, time periods, and systems of knowledge.
Why are we doing this?
Africans are experts; experts are African. I will die on this hill; and I can prove it over and over
Iâ€™m also very interested in how one tells history differently once they grapple with the realities
of African expertise? What happens to a student who has been told their entire life that Africa
doesnâ€™t have basic knowledge and then confronts a whole bunch of it? How do they see the
Hereâ€™s what Iâ€™ve seen in my experience:
For many, establishing African expertise diminishes or removes the savior complex through
which some students approach Africa. It forces the student of history to recognize that many,
many, many, many Africans know more than they do or will ever know (I include myself, here).
And thatâ€™s great because history should be humbling.
In particular, Iâ€™ve found that replacing, or simply complicating, student views about African
knowledge is one of the best ways to open the proverbial doors to telling more African
centered narratives of history. Youâ€™ll notice that there isnâ€™t a ton about outside-in narratives
beyond this introduction. Rather, I hope this introduces you to a variety of African-centered
knowledge systems and shows you that Africaâ€™s technological past is so dense one doesnâ€™t need
to dwell on the negative myths (recognizing, of course, that such negative myths have been
What do I mean by that?
Some students (and certainly scholars) struggle to define/find positive characteristics in African
pasts. Thatâ€™s not necessarily the case with art and music where African contributions are widely
praised. But how often have you been told about African contributions to economics, science,
technology, and medicine? Beyond Black Panther, where does one encounter detailed
descriptions of African technological power? I didnâ€™t encounter these narratives growing up; I
still see very little about it in my childrenâ€™s education.
So, I hope this variety of knowledges across geographic space and historical time gives students
a place to dwell. Itâ€™s not just about identifying racist narratives or actions that have
detrimentally harmed African societies, as last weekâ€™s units pointed out. It is also a way to
speak about African power in specific terms and in their multiplicities – and to add critical
elements, such as traditional religions, which are integral to these histories.
Or â€¦ itâ€™s a way to complicate what one thought they knew. Sometimes the point of history is
not to answer the causal narrative about, â€œWhy did this happen?â€ (which we explore a bit in the
next section). Sometimes simply saying, thatâ€™s more complicated than I though, and I need to
dig more is the most correct place to find oneself.
I expect we will answer this question differently. But here is why establishing the varieties of
African expertise matters to historical and contemporary academic debates, particularly those
that invoke Africa but never really get into African history?
At the heart of this argument is a jostling over who, where, and what contributed to the
modern scientific, technological, and economic world.
I DISAGREE with the standard answer. It goes like this:
Changes in Europe and in European colonies, particularly in the wake of the Enlightenment (18th
century), led to modes of thinking and living that created scientific and technological
revolutions. These, in turn, created cultural and social institutions that spurred even more
innovation and experimentation. Such innovation also had economic and political spillovers in
the form of growing economies and political control â€“ both manifest in growing empires. These
empires, this narrative goes, then created the contemporary forms of power existing today. In
other words, this is the reason the U.S. has economic development and most of Africa does not.
(end narrative voice)
I want you to notice TWO THINGS about this narrative:
1. What comes first:
Knowledge in this narrative comes before slavery or empire and somehow acts
independently of these things. Consequently, discussions about modern technology,
science, and economy tend to distance themselves from slavery and colonialism even
though both were integral parts of world history throughout the period associated with
the rise of modernity (say, 1400s and after).
2. Itâ€™s containerized to Europe and Euro-America:
In other words, connections to other places are reduced or totally ignored. This is even
the case with the labor and ideas of enslaved individuals in European colonies. Credit
pools to one place and people group.
This sometimes leads to a conflation of culture and race. With technological and
scientific credit limited to only certain parts of the globe (in these narratives), a racial
narrative about who has created the modern world emerges. And it highlights the
contributions of people identified or who identify as White. By excluding most of the
world (including evidence from our readings), this narrative gives a horribly incomplete
picture of world technological history.
Youâ€™ll see in the readings just how much this narrative dismisses. Youâ€™ll also see this play out in
units on slavery and colonialism.
In concluding, I want to remind you of TWO THINGS I said above:
1. Remember the point above about African-centered history?
Please notice that an African-centered history is not possible if we use this widely
accepted public (and academic) explanation. All that matters is what Africa is not, not
what it is â€“ all based upon a mythic history of the West.
2. Recall the relationship between technological advancement and modernity?
Modernity is a word that comes along with a lot of baggage. But if by modern most folks
mean relevant, powerful, complex, and meaningful (connected to the present and
future), then the readings for this week show that we must include Africans as moderns.
The Concept and Worship of the Supreme
Dorothy Nguemo Afaor
Religion in Africa is pervasive and all-encompassing. It is within the realm of
religion that the idea of a Supreme Being is conceived. Due to its insidious
nature, religion can be a burdensome word to clarify. This difficulty is in part
of the lack of consensus amongst cultural groups about the conception of God
or the Supreme Being which is often central in religions. In other words,
because of the complex nature of religion, a definition of religion that is both
concise and comprehensive as well as universally acceptable is elusive. That
notwithstanding, it makes sense to argue that religion is the awareness of the
existence of a Supreme Being and it is this awareness that culminates into worship. Interestingly, it is equally discovered that almost all people who follow
some form of religion believe that a divine power created the world and influences their lives. In summary, religion seems to be understood briefly as an
expression of faith and belief. It is said to be the conscious and subconscious
response to the ultimate source of existence referred to as God in whichever
name or language.1
To cap it up, Metuh asserts that â€œReligion is an institutionalized system of
symbols, beliefs, values, and practices focused on the relationship between God
and man, and between men living in societyâ€.2 For the Africans specifically,
religion deals with questions of human existence that is deep and serious such
as, Why do men suffer? What is the real meaning of existence? And what
D. N. Afaor (*)
Benue State University, Makurdi, Nigeria
Â© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature
Switzerland AG 2022
I. S. Aderibigbe, T. Falola (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of African
Traditional Religion, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-89500-6_5
D. N. AFAOR
happens to our souls after death? Thus, African Traditional Religion is heavily
centered on important elements, such as rituals, festivals, societies and
The fact that African Traditional Religion focuses on the society also shows
its deep foundation on intersubjectivity of men. As such, African religion contains within its practice, an idea of One Supreme Being. This Supreme Being is
approached in collaboration with several other deities or spiritual forces usually
symbolized in material insignias representing their presence. Basically, suffice
to say that, like the Abrahamic Religions, African Traditional Religion has at its
center a Supreme Being who regulates phenomena. The Supreme Being is
approachable only through its lesser deities and spirit beings. At the same time,
the diversity of deities or spirit mediums explains the multiplicity of religious
phenomena in Africa. The relationship between the sacred (for instance, the
Supreme Being and divinities) and the profane finds expression in beliefs, worships, creeds and symbols.
The Idea of the Supreme Being in Africa
Virtually all religions conceive an existence of a Supreme Being whose adherents revere and worship. Among the several perspectives, the Supreme Being in
every religious worldview is equally considered to be both the inventor and
orchestrator of the entire universe. As many as there are ethnic communities in
Africa, so there are also varying concepts of the Supreme, though with similar
attributes. Within each of these communities, the Supreme Being is granted
A survey across selected major African ethnic nationalities proves that the
concept of the Supreme Being varies greatly but applies to all peoples.
Additionally, the Supreme Being goes by a wide range of names that diverges
amongst communities. Some of these names can be found below:
Names for the Supreme Being
Aondo, Chukwu, Olorun, Owo, Ubangiji, Osowo, Olodumare, Hinegba,
The above are the names of the Supreme Being among ethnic groups in
Africa; some directly translate only as God while others are descriptive. From
this list, it is evident that African communities believe reverently in the idea of
Supreme Being as well as hold him in high regard. In every African dialect,
there is, at minimum, one name assigned to the Supreme Being. Due to the
THE CONCEPT AND WORSHIP OF THE SUPREME BEING
age of some names, in particular the ones that developed in antiquity, their
meaning has been lost. However, in a majority of instances, these descriptive
names have unique meanings, and in some languages, there are even up to ten
names for the Supreme Being. This demonstrates the level of affection, belief
and love the Africans accord to the Supreme Being. Certainly, there are lots of
literature about the Supreme Being to show his uniqueness and infallibility
among the people.
On one hand, the Belief in a Supreme Being originated from the reflections
of people regarding the cosmos. Due to earthâ€™s enormity and continuity, as
well as the celestial bodies overall, mankind assumed that the universe was governed by a superior, though invisible, mind. Many are convinced that without
the Supreme Being, the world would cease to function which caused man to
deduce that the universe has a just inventor. On the other hand, the helplessness of humanity in the face of nature placed him at crossroads. Subsequently,
his inability to tame natural disaster such as famine, drought, earthquakes, epidemics and, especially, death makes fidgety to search for answers. His limitations made him not only to search for a superpower, but also to believe that his
alliance or subjection to this Supernatural force will help resolve his puzzles.
On the final analysis, man had no other choice than to turn to the Supreme Being.
Furthermore, the belief in the Supreme Being may have also arisen by the
powers of the weather, storms, thunder and lightning and the idea of day and
night, the appearance of the stars, moon and sun. These heavenly bodies and
powers made people to start having a re-think about a Supreme Being. People
depended on heavenly bodies and power for light, warmth, rain and so on. It
then became clear that there is an invisible Supreme Being who is responsible
for providing man with his needs. People nursed the belief in the Supreme
Being and as such, it began to make sense and fit into manâ€™s continued attempts
to understand and explain the visible and invisible universe. All Africans have
ideas about the Supreme Being and the activities in the invisible world. This
includes what he does, his human pictures, his nature and the relationship he
has with everyone.3
The question is, what does Supreme Being do? Certainly, the Supreme
Being is regarded as both glorious and might. All these point to the fact that
the Supreme Being protects and sustains every visible and the invisible things
in the world. Moreover, many people conceive the Supreme Being as a father
figure; therefore, it follows that they regard themselves as his children.
Most traditional concepts of the Supreme Being portray it anthropologically
as having eyes, ears, nose and so on and that he hears and sees everything.
People also describe the Supreme Being as possessing moral attitudes such as
mercifulness, kindness, loving and so on. Not only can the Supreme Being be
far and near, but he is unchanging as well as all-powerful. Even though the
Supreme Being is described as being capable of all tasks, it is interesting to note
that he would be ascribed human characteristics, especially since he is not considered human. Such mental image supports our understanding of the Supreme
D. N. AFAOR
Being. The mental images also assist the mind to develop a working knowledge
of the Supreme Being and help people in communicating their ideas about it.
Aondo: A Tiv Concept of the Supreme Being
One of the earliest authors on Tiv religion, Downes R.M, wrote that â€œAondo is
the Tiv name for the above, the firmament that has been described as the vault
of heaven with its clouds and stars, its thunder and lightning, winds and rain,
cold an heat and this was all that in the same terms as all phenomena as a non-Â
personal powerâ€.4 This description shows that the Tiv people acknowledge,
locate or associate their Aondo (God, Supreme Being) with the sky, probably a
sky Being. All phenomena in the firmament by this understanding are mere
products of His handiwork. He is clearly the architect of their creation or existence. Downes, R.M. further stated that:
This power from above was connected in the minds of the people with other
powerful forces that affect the life of man, such as fire, and iron and so was superior to all other powers. The great unknown above is Aondo, which in popular
allusions consists of iron, possibly because of meteorites. Here the sun arises,
proceeds across the sky and sets; it is put in motion by Aondo.5
The idea here alludes that apart from Aondo, the Tiv believe in the existence
of lesser forces that are subjected to the supremacy of Aondo. Aondo has power
over all other forces with whom they are interconnected. In the same way,
everything that emanates from the sky above, on earth or under the earth is
regarded as the Aondo power functioning. Similarly, Dzurgba captured that:
Aondo is the Supreme Being. His size is indicated by the firmament and the earth.
His power, wisdom, presence, Supremacy and sovereign authority are expressed
in nature, functions continuity and mysteries of objects, abstract forces and experiences such as mountains, valleys, thunder, lightning, darkness, sickness and
death. All the emanations from the firmament are the functions of Aondo. Thus,
God flashes, thunders, rains, shine the sun, darken the earth and blow the wind.
God is the primary cause of all events in the universe in general and in human
affairs in particular.6
Both Downes and Dzurgba hold similar understandings of the Tiv religious
conception of Aondo. Aondo is presented in their view as the sky power that
underlies all phenomena in the entire universe. As such, allusions are usually
made to God in various maxims. For instance, Downes notes that â€œwhen it
thunders or lightning flashes, the Tiv will say that â€œAondongukumenâ€ (God
roars), or Aondonyiar, Aondongu noon (God is raining)â€;7 while Dzurgba reiterates that â€œAondo is the creator of the vault of heaven in the sky (shaabeen)
and the earth, Tar which also means the world or the universeâ€.8
Another author, Torkula, states that â€œthough Aondo is the Tiv word for
Godâ€”the Supreme Being, the Tiv do not have a personal relationship with
THE CONCEPT AND WORSHIP OF THE SUPREME BEING
Him. Aondo used to live nearer the earth but was forced to retreat into the
skies after he was struck by a woman pounding food. There is however a deep
acknowledgment of the hand of the Supreme Being (Aondo) in the physical
setting as in rain (Aondongu noon), thunder (Aondongukumen), lightening
(Aondongunyiar) and sunlight (Aondo ta yange)â€.9
This understanding differed slightly from that expressed by Downes. This is
because Torkula attached anthropomorphic elements to Aondo such as body
(e.g. eyes, ears, head, etc.) as well as emotions like anger and happiness. This
can be seen in his statement above that â€œAondo used to live nearer the earth but
was forced to retreat into the skies after he was struck by a woman pounding
foodâ€.10 For one to be hit implies that he/she has a body and, consequently,
some sort of emotions. However, other scholars too confirm Torkulaâ€™s position. For instance, Dzurgba narrates the Tiv religious myth of the early relationship between Aondo and the Tiv with anthropomorphic connotations. He
From the beginning, Godâ€™s residence was very close to the earth (tar) and there
was a direct communication between God and the people. Thus, the Tiv people
could consult with God very easily on matters of interest. The relationship
between God and the Tiv was very harmonious and cordial. Life was very good
(uma doo kpishi or tar doo kpishi). The Tiv will speak of ya tar which literally
means â€œeat the earthâ€. But it actually means â€œenjoy lifeâ€â€¦thus, the conditions of
life were very good. But a terrible thing happened which destroyed the harmonious and cordial relationship between Aondo and the Tiv. On a certain day, a
woman was threshing millet (Amine) in a mortal at the back of her house. She
raised the pestle too high and it hit God. It hurt God and God was very angry
(ishimavihiAondokpishi) and God ascended up (Aondokondoyemsha). This is the
reason God is far away from the people. This refers to the firmament, the vaults
of heaven as the residence of God. The direct communication with God was no
longer possible. But God created divinities which deal with human affairs.11
Furthermore, Atel acknowledges the patriarchal role of Aondo in Tiv society
and further tried to identify Him as being masculine. He captures that, â€œthe
Tiv believed in the existence of a supreme being called Aondo (God or the
Supreme Being). Aondo is conceived as a male and so the Tiv refer to him as
AondoTer (God Father or God the Father)â€.12 Torkula, Dzurgba, Wegh and
Atel have acknowledged Aondo as having body rather than as a Power, force or
spirit, while for Downes, Aondo is simply a force in the sky indicated by the
On his part, Wegh noted that â€œthe association of the Supreme Being called
Aondo (God) with the sky led Downes to erroneously treat Aondo as being
synonymous with the firmament and even suggests that the sky is God, just as
the sun has being regarded as Godâ€.13 In fact, for him the contrary seems to be
the case. The contention here is that certain acts are considered to be Go-acts
alone, and one can figure Aondo right in the natural phenomenon. For instance,
â€œwhen it is raining a Tiv man would say that Aondongu noon (God is
D. N. AFAOR
raining)â€¦rain is a symbol of divine presenceâ€.14 By this analysis, Wegh therefore believed that Aondo exists in all phenomena of nature and not static or
fixed in the sky. Aondo is the unseen force guiding all human activities whether
those activities be natural or supernatural. Everything at the end will have both
its beginning and end in Aondo.
Besides, Wang, M.A, in the book Ieren: An Introduction to Tiv Philosophy,
tries to resolve the contention between Downes and Wegh (i.e. whether Aondo
is identifiable with the firmament or not). He first and foremost introduced a
distinction between â€œAondoâ€ and â€œaondoâ€ (i.e. the use of capital initial â€œAâ€).
He stated that â€œthe word Aondo is used in two senses: the first being identified
with the sky and the second is the creator â€¦ the difference in the use of the
initial letter for the wordâ€.15 He demonstrates that the initial low case â€œaâ€ as in
aondo is used to refer to the sky, and the upper case â€œAâ€ as in Aondo is used
to refer to the creator God. The conception that has survived to this time is
that which is synonymous with the supernatural being and creator. In popular
parlance, therefore, Aondo is the creator and also referred to as the Usha (the
above, Lord of the firmament).
From the foregoing, therefore, it is comprehensible that in Tiv religion
Aondo is unanimously conceived and explained as the Supreme Being responsible for the existence of the universe and all other realities of the world.
Although it is not crystal clear, yet on the real nature of God among Tiv, it
becomes a matter of contextual analysis. Whether Aondo exists as a spirit-force
without a body, as argued by Downes earlier, or is embodied and can respond
to stimuli as described by Torkula, Dzurgba, Wegh and Atel later are still to be
determined or researched.
But on a more rationalized ground, Aondo cannot possess a body. First, this
position will mean reducing God to a mere human being or superhuman.
Second, it will lessen or disqualify some of the attributes to Him such as
Immortality and Transcendence because the human flesh and blood are subject
to decomposition or corruption. Hence, Aondo cannot be reduced to possessing human qualities and attributes, He remains an incorporeal being, a spirit-Â
force that resides in the spirit realm and manifest in the natural phenomena. In
Tiv religion also, there are various attributes to Aondo in spite of the uncertainties surrounding the knowledge of his real nature. For instance, Shishima,
S.D. and Dzurgba, A. has identified some of these attributes to include â€œGod
is the Creator, God is Omnipotent, God is Immortal, God is Transcendent,
God is Omnipresent, God is Omniscientâ€.16
God is a personal being, a conscious being, who knows everything and can
reason; He decides, guides, and directs the universe according to His inscrutable purposes. By His divine providence, He directs the destiny of every person, even down to the least creature in the world. More than this, however, Tiv
people believe that goodness, love, kindness and mercy are other essential attributes of God. Only things, which are good, pure and noble, can be and are
attributed to God.17
THE CONCEPT AND WORSHIP OF THE SUPREME BEING
According to Shishima and Dzurgba,18 nothing, which is considered bad,
impure, or ignoble, can be associated with Him. It is rather absurd, a contradiction, to predicate any evil of God. One cannot ever say that is God is wicked,
unjust, deceptive or that He is a liar. Rather, when a Tiv faces a crisis, he wonders why God has permitted it, but finally assumes that it is Godâ€™s will. In such
cases, sympathizers say to the bereaved â€œBe comforted, God has done His
willâ€. Death is the greatest evil in the Tiv people experience, but â€œGodâ€™s deathâ€
is never questioned and sometimes is even seen as an occasion of great rejoicing. Godâ€™s moral attributes, His goodness, kindness, mercy, love, justice and so
forth, are acclaimed in many proverbs, expressions, and personal names of Tiv
Akombo(deities): Between the Supreme Being and Man in Tiv
Akombo in Tiv worldview is a very complex phenomenon that deals with the
Tiv magico-religious practices that comprise of deities or divinities, cults and
spiritual forces. Rupert maintained that, â€œthe origin of the Akombo practices
amongst the Tiv is very oldâ€ (see Note 16). In the Tiv ontological order,
Akombo appear as the most interactive forces that catch the glimpse of everyone. Akombo are the mystical forces that are found in both the animate and the
inanimate beings. Since they are forces in spiritual nature, their presence is only
witnessed in the various manifestations and emblems. Moti, J.S. and Wegh,
F.S. remarked that:
The Tiv believed that the natural order should function for the good of man, the
land as well as the women should be fertile, and human beings should enjoy good
health and fortune. To this end, Aondo has given man Akombo (cosmicâ€”natural
forces). Akombo are the mystical forces represented in cultic emblems. They are
neutral force, being reproductive as well as destructiveâ€¦the objects that constitute these emblems are part of the material culture, and include pieces of pottery,
feathers, and bones of animals (human) or carved images.20
There is a general belief that divinities are a derivation of the Supreme Being.
They assist him in the control and maintenance of the universe. They can be
termed â€œintermediariesâ€; they have the attributes and characteristics of God. A
host of others considers them to be offsprings of the Supreme Being.21 This is
the idea that Moti and Wegh try to affirm above. However, Utov, C.I and
Ioratim-Uba disagree with the submission that God created Akombo and
handed to man to be used in regulating social order. According to them,
Akombo were not created by God and therefore have no connection with him;
hence, for them this might be a pre-Christian belief or practice.
Obviously, Utov and Uba are seemingly sympathizers of the Christian faith
that pays no heed to any negativity in relation with God. Meanwhile, while we
may have some concerns for the Christian faith, we must as well address some
D. N. AFAOR
loopholes to this submission. First and foremost, Moti and Wegh point out the
When the Tiv say that God created Akombo they do not mean that God did this
physically and then handed over all the finished products. The understanding
here is that God has endowed created order with various forms of potential power
and goodness. After all, when God created the world he saw that everything was
goodâ€¦Akombo are linked with therapeutic practice of the Tiv to deal with the
needs of life outside technical control. These include disasters, misfortune, illnesses, death and to ensure genral well-being.22
Torkula sees Akombo as the second basic concept in Tiv Religion after the
Supreme Being which can be defined as some unique mystical forces deployed
to ensure a balanced and healthy tar (community) in which individuals are at
peace with each other and the physical components of the environment are
regulated and protected from â€œdamageâ€. Each kombo (singular of Akombo) is
represented by an emblem, which could be any relic ranging from a potsherd
to a carved piece of wood.23
Though an acceptable classification of the whole range of Akombo is yet to
be done here, the Tiv see Akombo in two major categories. Category one is
Akombo a kiriki (lesser Akombo) while category two is Akomboatamen (greater
Akombo). Each ailment and socio-economic component in society has its kombo
with full compliments of emblem and a structured process of â€œrestorationâ€
(sorun) when its foundation is undermined or violated by people who come
into contact with it. Each kombo has its master whose specialty is in ensuring a
viable role for the kombo in the community. He does this by â€œrestoringâ€ (sorun)
the komboâ€™s equilibrium if and when it is violated, thus neutralizing the damage
that would otherwise have been visited on the violator or even the whole community as the case may be.24
Torkula, A.A, in another publication The Cosmology in Tiv Worldview,
emphasizes the importance of Akombo in Tiv religion as a weapon in the hands
of the elders to regulate the behavior of members of the community. He
It is believed to have supernatural powers is used to enforce decisions, ensure
societal cohesion and punishment against offenders. Akomboor divinity as a cosmic force or power ensures peace, good health, fertility of the soil and of women.
Akombois believed to create wealth and its socio-political and economic importance lie in its application which ensures the stability of the society. Akomboalso
checks crime in respect of protected properties or farm produce.25
From the discussion above, it is observed that the concept of the Supreme
Being is conceived by all Africans. The idea of a spiritual being which created
and sustains the universe is a manifest in most human societies around the
THE CONCEPT AND WORSHIP OF THE SUPREME BEING
world. Although it is conceived by all groups, the concept of the Supreme
Being comes in different names depending on the ethnic group or language.
Hence, the conception of the Supreme Being is not unanimous. In all African
cultures, the Supreme Being is the life-giver, the maker of humanity, controller
of the universe including the celestial bodies and so on. The devotion to the
Supreme Being can be traced through peopleâ€™s thought as well as their worship
rituals. Therefore, it is worthy to conclude here that, in spite of a general perspective of a Supreme Being, the conception differs from one tradition, tribal
or religious group to the other. Again, some African communities practice a
kind of monotheism while others are polytheistic. And finally, the worship rituals relating the Supreme Being vary from one community or locality to another.
1. Kitause, R.H. â€œMoral Decadence: A Challenge to Sustainable Development in
Contemporary Nigeriaâ€ in Journal of Sustainable Development (Vol. 2, No. 1,
2. Metuh, E.I. God and Man in African Religion (London: Geoffery Chapman,
3. Shishima, S.D. and Dzurgba, A. African Traditional Religion and Culture
(Lagos: National Open University of Nigeria, 2012), 81.
4. Downes, R.C. Tiv Religion (Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1971), 17.
6. Dzurgba, A. On the Tiv of Central Nigeria: A Cultural Perspective (Ibadan:
John Archers Publishers, 2007), 175.
7. Downes, R.C. Tiv Religion, 17.
8. Dzurgba, A. On the Tiv of Central Nigeria: A Cultural Perspective (Ibadan:
John Archers Publishers, 2007), 170.
9. Torkula, A.A. The Cosmology of Tiv Worldview (Makurdi: Oracle Business
Limited, 2006), 20.
11. Dzurgba, A. On the Tiv of Central Nigeria: A Cultural Perspective (Ibadan:
John Archers Publishers, 2007), 175â€“176.
12. Atel, E.T. Dynamics of Tiv Religion and Culture: A Philosophical-Theological
Perspective (Lagos: Free Enterprise Publications, 2004), 28.
13. Wegh, F.S. Between the Continuity and Change: Tiv Concept on Traditional and
Modernity (Lagos: OVC Ltd, 1998), 62.
14. Ibid., 63.
15. Wang, A.M. Ieren: An Introduction to Tiv Philosophy (Makurdi: Obeta
Continental Press, 2004), 24.
16. Shishima, S.D. and Dzurgba, A. African Traditional Religion and Culture, 85.
17. Ibid., 85.
18. Ibid., 85.
19. Ibid., 85.
20. East, R.N. (trans.) Akigaâ€™s Story: The Tiv Tribe as seen by one of its Member
(Ibadan: Caltop Publications, 1939), 205.
21. Shishima, S.D. and Dzurgba, A. African Traditional Religion and Culture, 85.
D. N. AFAOR
22. Moti, J.S. and Wegh, F.S. An Encounter Between Tiv Religion and Christianity
(Enugu: Snaap Press, 2001), 25.
23. Ibid., 26â€“27.
24. Torkula, A.A. The Cosmology of Tiv Worldview, 24.
25. Ibid., 26.
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