GLOBAL AFRICA SYMPOSIUM ON AFRICA’S INDIGENOUS RELIGIONS
THEME: Africa’s Indigenous Religions: Critical Approaches to its Philosophies, Doctrine, Scholarship, Documentation and Survival through Oral and Written Traditions from Theoretical and Historical Perspectives.
The Keynote Speaker is Professor Molefi Kete Asante
SYMPOSIUM ORGANIZERS/HOSTS: Osun State Government; Pan-African Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG), Departments of Philosophy, Religious Studies, History, and Sociology and Anthropology, Obafemi Awolowo University; Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus; African Studies Institute, University of Georgia, Athens, USA; Department of Languages, Literature and Cultures, University of Florida. Gainesville; Princeton Theological Seminary, USA; Collegium Ovirium, Argentina; Department of Philosophy, University of Yaounde, Cameroon and UNESCO (Education, Social and Human Sciences and Culture Programmes).
VENUE: Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
DATE: August 8-13, 2016
Human beings are intrinsically cultural beings. The elaborate efforts devoted to the creation, preservation, protecting, defending, codification and transmission of culture in all societies is evidence of the critical nature of culture to the survival of human civilizations and projections about those aspects of our humanity worth preserving. Religion is one element of human culture which embodies the knowledge systems (epistemologies), ontologies (metaphysics), axiologies (social, political, ethical and aesthetic), educational, filial, culinary, sexual, entertainment, sporting and other traditions and values of peoples. While the critical nature of other aspects of culture, interlinked as they are with the humanity of peoples, may be disaggregated and apprehended separately, the overarching nature of religion, even in apparently secular aspects of cultural values, remain in the way it underwrites virtually all aspects of societal existence.
Indigenous African Religions is an aspect of African cultures which face the critical crises of existential proportions and with the crises arise a fundamental challenge to the humanity of Africans globally. Many indigenous African religions have become extinct, succumbing to the centuries of concerted efforts from both east, west and within to destroy them, leading to the demise of indigenous ways of understanding, interpreting and manipulating reality in such societies. Every single indigenous African religion is under severe assault and is endangered; and to be complacent is to actively encourage the perilous disaster waiting to happen to global African Religions and the critical knowledge systems, social constructions, governance traditions and other intangible cultural materials which ensure well-ordered existence in these societies. One could even conjecture that when societies allow the traditions and values of their ancestries to perish, they lay themselves open to various disasters from intangible invasions of ideas from external sources. The challenge of conflicts on various issues and on various fronts in Africa would benefit from indigenous African Religions prescriptions on these matters, separate and apart from the violent bifurcation of reality into good and evil, right and wrong, friend or foe, etc which pervade the Abrahamic religious consciousness imported into Africa.
While not diluting the contribution of other world religions to the tapestry of religious richness in Africa, there is no doubt that African Traditional Religions are fundamental elements in terms of Africans having a positive cultural identity and hence has been a primary target for destruction in order to dehumanize and derogate the identity of African peoples globally. Forces from the East and West were in full understanding of the direct relationship between the people and their religions and with the way the people felt about, saw and related with themselves. Iconoclasm and epistemicide have been the most effective tools used throughout Africa to dispossess Africans of their religious heritage, indigenous knowledge systems, scientific heritage, cultural identity and value systems. It is clear that what is at stake is the preservation of the indigenous religions of Africa and the cultures they encapsulate, thereby making an Afrocentric connection to the natural world in a sustainable way possible. This is the motivating factor for the organizers of this premier Indigenous African Religions Symposium, coming from diverse academic disciplines and tertiary and research institutions from various continents to convoke the Symposium in the ancient city of Ile-Ife at the Obafemi Awolowo University in early August, to dovetail into the historical Osun Osogbo Festival in the cognate city of Osogbo - the state capital of Osun State, Nigeria.
This historic and unique Symposium proposes, among other things, to examine if, within ‘African Indigenous Religions', as primarily conveyors of oral and written religious traditions of Africa, there can be identified various core groups of ideas, liturgies, cosmologies, etc., in these religions, which, in a similar way to other "World Religions", can be synthesized and transformed into written "Holy Book(s)", Codex, Scripture(s) or Sacred Document(s), which can operate as (a) legitimate reference documents for African Traditional Religions, and thereby constitute (a) source book(s) for further development, be the subject for academic study, interpretation, be the bearers of the world views of Africans and be the foundation for African Philosophy, Ethics, African Customary Laws, Governance, and provide insights into various aspects of existence.
To achieve this aim, the Symposium will bring together for the first time practising African Traditional Religions' leaders and peoples, scholars, and thinkers who will critically appraise the term ‘indigenous' while at the same time subjecting the widespread use of ‘world' religions to theoretical and historical scrutiny. The symposium will feature thematic papers exploring approaches to the study of Africa's Indigenous Religions from different regions, with an emphasis on Africa and its Diaspora. It will also consider the challenges of studying religions that originally were based primarily on oral, but also written, sources but which through history have been transformed into traditions with written scriptures.
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