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Religion in Africa is multifaceted. Most Africans adhere to either Christianity or Islam. Many adherents of either religion also practice African traditional religions, with traditions of folk religion or syncretism practised alongside an adherent's Christianity or Islam.
Judaism also has roots in Africa, due to the time the Israelites spent in Egypt before the Exodus. Around 15% of Africans follow one of the traditional African religions and a small minority of Africans are non-religious.
The original religions of Africa have been declining over the past century due to the influences of colonialism, acculturation and increasing proselytizing by Christianity and Islam. However, in the Americas and Caribbean, syncretistic religions involving African religions are growing. Religious adherents in Africa are often of a syncretic nature.
African traditional religion
Traditional African religions encompass a wide variety of traditional beliefs. Traditional religious customs are sometimes shared by many African societies, but they are usually unique to specific ethnic groups. Traditional African religions used to be adhered to by the majority of Africa's population, however since the rapid expansion of Christianity and Islam they have become a minority across much of their own continent. Many African Christians and Muslims maintain some aspects of their original traditional religions.
Some indigenous African religions worship a single God (Chukwu, Nyame, Olodumare, Ngai etc.), and some recognize a dual or complementary twin God such as Mawu-Lisa. Obeisance can be paid to the primary God through lesser deities (Ogoun, Da, Agwu, Esu, Mbari, etc.). Some societies also deify entities like the earth, the sun, the sea, lightning, or Nature. Each deity can have its own priest or priestess.Jacob Olupona and Charles E. Long, Editors, African Spirituality. New York: Cross Road Publishing Co., 2000. Sabine Jell-Bahlsen, The Water Goddess in Igbo Cosmology; Ogbuide of Oguta Lake. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008. The Ndebele and Shona ethnic groups of Zimbabwe have a trinity - a fundamental family group - made up of God the Father, God the Mother, and God the Son. Among the Fon of West Africa and Benin, God, who is called "Vondu", is androgynous, with both male and female traits.
The Ewe people of southern Ghana have a conception of the high God as a female-male partnership. Mawu who is female is often spoken of as gentle and forgiving. Lisa who is male renders judgment and punishes. Among the Ewe it is believed that when Lisa punishes, Mawu may grant forgiveness. Here we see the complementarity of male and female that characterizes many of the traditional African religions.
The only example in Africa of a female high Goddess is among the Southern Nuba of Sudan, whose culture has matriarchal traits. The Nuba conceive of the creator Goddess as the "Great Mother" who gave birth to earth and to mankind. (Mbiti, J.S., Introduction to African Religion, Oxford, 1975, p. 53.)
Polytheism in Africa has developed several times independently and in very different ways. For example in the case of ancient Egypt where a pantheon was worshipped or in the case of the Orisha religion in West Africa.
The majority of Africans are adherents of Christianity or Islam. Both religions are widespread throughout Africa. They have both spread at the expense of indigenous African religions, but are often adapted to African cultural contexts and belief systems. It was estimated in 2002 that Christians form 40% of Africa's population, with Muslims forming 45%.
Although Christianity existed far before the rule of King Ezana the Great of the Kingdom of Axum, the religion took a strong foot hold when it was declared a state religion in 330 AD. The earliest and best known reference to the introduction of Christianity to Africa is mentioned in the Christian Bible's Acts of the Apostles, and pertains to the evangelist Phillip's conversion of an Ethiopian traveler in the 1st Century AD. Although the Bible refers to them as Ethiopians, scholars have argued that Ethiopia was a common term encompassing the area South-Southeast of Egypt.
Other traditions have the convert as a Jew who was a steward in the Queenâ€™s court. All accounts do agree on the fact that the traveler was a member of the royal court who successfully succeeded in converting the Queen, which in turn caused a church to be built.
Rufinus of Tyre, a noted church historian, also has recorded a personal account as do other church historians such as Socrates and Sozemius.
After being shipwrecked and captured at an early age, Frumentius was carried to Axum where he was treated well with his companion Edesius. At the time, there was a small population of Christians living there who sought refuge from Roman persecution. Once of age, Frumentius and Edesius were allowed to return to their homelands, however they chose to stay at the request of the queen. In doing so, they began to secretly promote Christianity through the lands.
During a tr
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"A New Beginning" is the name of a speech delivered by United StatesPresidentBarack Obama on June 4, 2009, from the Major Reception Hall at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt. Al-Azhar University co-hosted the event. The speech honors a promise Obama made during his presidential campaign to give a major address to Muslims from a Muslim capital during his first few months as president.
White House Press SecretaryRobert Gibbs indicated that Egypt was chosen because "it is a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world." Egypt is considered a key player in the Middle East peace process as well as a major recipient of American military and economic aid. Reuters reporter Ross Colvin reported that the speech would attempt to mend the United States' relations with the Muslim world, which he wrote were "severely damaged" during the presidency of George W. Bush.
There was initially some speculation about the speech. Some thought Obama would unveil in detail his highly anticipated plans for future Middle East policy. In April and May 2009, the U.S. President had met in succession King Abdullah II of Jordan, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas to elaborate a peace plan in the Middle East. Arguments and ideas were exchanged during these three meetings, but few details were given about Obama's plan on the Middle East.
Since taking office, Obama stated his support for the creation of a Palestinian state and announced that he would engage in negotiations with Iran. He also declared he opposed Israeli settlements and wanted to revive peace talks. In an interview to Al Arabiya, few days after his inauguration, Obama declared: "my job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy."
Context and preparation
On May 19, 2009, he met Netanyahu at the White House, where they discussed the Israeliâ€“Palestinian conflict and Israel's settlements in the West Bank. While Obama said a two state solution was a priority, Benyamin Netanyahu did not explicitly endorse the creation of Palestinian state. Netanyahu said Israel has the right to continue settlements, whereas Obama called for settlement growth to be frozen. Obama also stated a "range of steps" are still available against Iran, including sanctions, if it continues its nuclear program.
Obama also met Mahmoud Abbas on 28 May. Obama reaffirmed his belief in a two-state solution, and stressed that Israel's obligation under a 2003 Middle East peace 'road map' includes stopping settlement growth and ensuring that there is a viable Palestinian state.
Before Egypt was announced as the speech venue, there was speculation by the media about the location of the address. Jakarta, Rabat, Amman, Cairo, and Istanbul were all considered likely choices. Mohammed Habib, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, dismissed Obama's trip and said it would be "useless unless it is preceded by real change in the policies of the U.S. administration toward the Arab and Islamic world." Nevertheless, Obama's administration insisted that at least 10 members of the Muslim Brotherhood be allowed to attend the Cairo speech.
Cairo University spokeswoman Galila Mukhtar told The New York Timesthat "we are very proud to host the president of the United States," with spokesman Sami Abdel Aziz adding that the speech would be delivered in the Major Reception Hall. Renovations took place at the college and some final exams were postponed.
On his way to Cairo, Obama stayed overnight at the ranch of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia located outside Riyadh. While there, the two leaders discussed peace and economics and Obama continued to prepare his speech to be given at Cairo University the next day.
On 4 June, before delivering the speech, Obama led talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at Koubbeh Palace. The U.S. President said about the talks: "We discussed the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. We discussed how we can move forward in a constructive way that brings about peace and prosperity for all people in the region". He said the US was committed to working in partnership with countries in the Middle East. The President later visited the Sultan Hassan Mosque, before going to Cairo University.
After the speech, Obama continued his tour with a visit to From Encyclopedia
Sources Traditional Beliefs. Most Africans came to the American colonies as slaves from the western areas and held a variety of religious beliefs. There were some common patterns, however. Africans believed in one High God, who created the world. He was often associated with the sky and remained somewhat uninvolved in the lives of humans. Lesser gods and ancestral spirits, however, were actively involved with the daily lives of individuals and the society. Groups of gods were associated with natural phenomena, such as thunder, earth, and especially water. Gods of nature resided in trees, hills, and animals. They were as kind, cruel, arbitrary, or willful as humans and had individual personalities and preferences. Humans had to maintain proper relationships to them by establishing shrines, wearing certain colors, eating particular foods, and conducting religious ceremonies that pleased them. Ancestral spirits were more varied and personal. Whether they had lived long ago or recently, they were honored as the founders of villages and kinship groups and served as custodians of culture and laws and as mediators between humans and the gods. It was within their power to grant or deny fertility and health to their devotees. They were reincarnated in one of their descendants, but their souls returned to the High God after that human died. Elderly people were revered, in part because they preserved the memory of the dead and in part because they were chronologically closer to the ancestors. Burial rites ensured that the dead entered the spirit world and did not linger in the natural world as restless and malevolent ghosts. Funerals were long affairs. After death the ancestors demanded offerings of food and drink in ceremonies of varying degrees of complexity. Priests served as mediators, able to read the fates of individuals, to divine the wills of gods and ancestral spirits, and to identify all manner of witchcraft. They prescribed the charms and amulets which were charged with magical power to protect and help humans as well as those natural herbs and roots which promoted healing. Priests also conducted the religious ceremonies devoted to the individual gods and ancestral spirits. Interwoven with these rituals was a vibrant pattern of musicâ€”dancing, drumming, and singing. Islam and Christianity. Some Africans were practicing Muslims and Catholics when they came to America. The trade networks of northwest Africa brought the Islam religion, which drew on Judeo-Christian roots but viewed Jesus as only a minor spiritual leader and Mohammed as its greatest prophet. Muslims followed the teachings of the Koran, observing dietary restrictions and praying in the direction of Mecca five times a day. The Portuguese explorers converted some to Catholicism. Many Africans blended these religions into their traditional belief systems. To them, God and Allah were just different names for the High God; Mohammed, Mary, and Jesus served the intermediary function of their lesser gods, and the Catholic saints were uncommonly similar to their ancestor spirits. The importance of water in their religious ceremonies prepared them for the sacrament of baptism. The magical power of charms was easily viewed in the donning of crosses or scraps of Koran parchment to protect oneself in battle. Conversion. In the American colonies Africans were unevenly dispersed. The relatively small numbers in the northern colonies often blended into households and adopted the variety of Christianity practiced there. Puritans, as might be expected, were particularly anxious to convert their charges and enforce Christian mores, but this concern transcended denominations. The tobacco and rice colonies of the South had more Africans where concerted efforts at proselytizing occurred, particularly in the eighteenth century by the Anglican-supported Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (S.P.G.). It was created to bring salvation to those with the least prior access to the Scriptures. Some slaveholders were reluctant to expose their laborers to a religion that proclaimed the equality of all humans before God, in the fear that those who were baptized would claim that they were now free. One of the most effective missionaries in New York City lost his appointment when he was blamed for a 1712 slave uprising. The S.P.G. established schools to train blacks for the ministry so that they would proselytize among their own people. The most famous of these schools was in South Carolina and lasted over twenty years. Other denominations became more active during the Great Awakening, and Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist evangelicals sought to awaken blacks as well as whites and encourage all of them to found churches. The Presbyterian Samuel Davies was particularly assiduous and successful in Virginia in midcentury. Blending of Tradition. Africans selectively adopted Christianity by modifying its theology and practices to include elements of their traditional regions. They sought conversion when the spirit of God entered their souls, much as it did during ancestral reincarnations. Satan was just a malevolent lesser god and needed to be held at a safe distance through the use of charms and the intercession of more friendly, ancestral spirits. Enslaved Africans related best to the Old Testament where God remained with his chosen people during their slavery in Egypt and delivered them to freedom. The image of water figured prominently and assumed the near-magical powers assigned to it in Africa. They created families of nonrelated kin to provide protective ancestral spirits and encouraged the fertility that would provide those spirits with human forms for reincarnation; they revered the elderly, and they followed the elaborate funeral rituals and grave offerings that marked religious practices in their homeland. They endured the stilted, silent, and formal services in European churches and then met in separate services at night which were much more participatory. Percussion and musical instruments provided the backdrop for their traditional singing, dancing, and shouting. Preachers from among their ranks performed all of the roles of priests, although some of their duties as â€œroot doctorsâ€� and charm creators passed to others. Not surprisingly, Africans responded to the evangelicals of the Great Awakening, for their practice of extemporaneous praying and preaching, open-air meetings, and verbal participation were much more congenial to the African traditions. Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion: The â€œInvisible Institutionâ€� in the Antebellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975); Mechal Sobel, The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987); Peter Wood, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (New York: Knopf, 1974).
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