African traditional religion is a spiritual lifestyle followed by millions of people around the world. Some scholars argue it is related to the religion practiced by the African Egyptians during the Dynastic period. The Yoruba, Dagara, and Ibo cultures, particularly as they relate to cosmology, symbolism, and ritual, are fundamental to the traditional religious system. This study examines the nature of African traditional religion in an effort to determine the common attributes of the religion of the continent, focusing on the West African experience. This study analyzes concepts in African traditional religion by isolating key elements in the Yoruba, Dagara, and Ibo cultures. Principal elements isolated include sacrifice, salvation, revelation and divination, as well as African resilience in the face of invasions, colonization and various outside religious assaults. The study also considers the influence of Christianity and Islam.
Douglas E. Thomas teaches at Lincoln University inPennsylvania. He lives in Philadelphia.