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Report of the 1st Global African Indigenous & Derived Religions Symposium (GAIRs) OAU, 8th-13th 2016

Resolutions of the First Pan African Colloquium held at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, January 13-15, 2016
After three days of deliberations and considering questions of the heroes and heroines of the Pan African world, the C

 
 

COMMUNIQUE OF 1ST GLOBAL AFRICAN INDIGENOUS AND DERIVED RELIGIONS – GAIRs – SYMPOSIUM, OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY, ILE-IFE, NIGERIA (AUG 8TH-13TH 2016)

BACKGROUND

Indigenous African Religions are fundamental to Africans

 
 

REPORT OF THE 1ST GLOBAL AFRICAN INDIGENOUS AND DERIVED RELIGIONS SYSMPOSIUM – 
GAIRs – SYMPOSIUM,  OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY, ILE-IFE, OSUN STATE, NIGERIA
 (AUG 8TH-13TH 2016).

 

BACKGRO

 
 

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE
THE TRANS-SAHARAN, MEDITERRANEAN/ RED SEAs AND THE INDIAN OCEAN SLAVE TRADE AND SLAVERY IN GENERAL AFRICAN HISTORY
UMARU YAR’ADUA UNIVERSITY, KATSINA.
27-30 N0VEMBER, 2017.

CALL FOR PAPERS AN

 
 

CALL FOR PAPERS

PRAYERS, POLITICS, PROBITY AND POVERTY- REDUCING POVERT

 
 
Report of the 1st Global African Indigenous & Derived Religions Symposium (GAIRs) OAU, 8th-13th 2016

 
REPORT OF THE 1ST GLOBAL AFRICAN INDIGENOUS AND DERIVED RELIGIONS SYSMPOSIUM – 
GAIRs – SYMPOSIUM, 

 OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY, ILE-IFE, OSUN STATE, NIGERIA
 (AUG 8TH-13TH 2016).

BACKGROUND:
Indigenous African Religions are fundamental to Africans, having a positive cultural identity. Indigenous African Religions collectively face crises of existential proportions, and with the crises arises a fundamental challenge to the humanity of Africans globally. Many aspects of indigenous African religions have become extinct, succumbing to centuries of concerted external and internal pressures to undermine them. Iconoclastic and epistemicide posturings have been the most effective ideological tools used throughout Africa to dispossess Africans of their religious heritage, indigenous knowledge systems, scientific and technological heritage, cultural identity and value systems. 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 the most sustainable way. To be complacent in the face of these endangerment and orchestrated demonization is to actively encourage a potential disaster awaiting global African Religions.  
 
OBJECTIVES
Objectives of the Symposium include:
• Appraising the term ‘indigenous’ in light of the theory and history of world religions
• To explore various approaches to the study of African Indigenous Religions, with an emphasis on Africa and its Diaspora.
• To look at the methodological challenges of studying religions that were originally, based on oral textual traditions. Some of them became known as ‘religions of the book’, because through history their traditions have been transformed into sacred scriptures.
 
• To examine African Indigenous Religions and see how they can be codified from the largely oral traditions into written sacred texts to be used in the practice, teaching, research on AIRs.
KEYNOTE and LEAD SPEAKERS.
The Keynote Speaker, Professor John Ayotunde Isola Bewaji’s [Carnegie/CODESRIA Visiting Professor of Philosophy, University of Ibadan, Nigeria and University of the West Indies, Jamaica] address was titled “Religion, Leadership and Society – a critical perspective in Yoruba indigenous social engineering”.
Professor Afe Adogame [Princeton Theological Seminary, USA] presented a Lead Paper on “The glocalization of indigenous African religious traditions and spiritualties”.
 Professor Ibigbolade S. Aderibigbe, [University of Georgia, USA] presented the second Lead paper on “Contextualizing Candomble and Catholicism: Rituals of Venerations of Divinity and Saints”. He argued that these African Diaspora Religions were formulated through syncretic dynamics, combining aspects of principally Yoruba Indigenous religion and doctrines of Catholicism. Specifically, the syncretic elements are located in the venerations of religious Icons of divinities (Orisas) in Yoruba Indigenous Religion impersonated by Saints in the Catholic Faith. The paper then examined the dynamics of behind the rituals of veneration of divinities called Orixas in Candomble as spiritual strategies of appropriation, transformation and preservation for the purposes of African empowerment and self-identity. In a way, the rituals serve as   a strategy of (re)claiming and safeguarding the African doctrines, spirituality, and personhood.  

OBSERVATIONS 
At the end of an engaging three days of paper presentations and contributions from several participants, the following observations were made:
• Several aspects of the African Indigenous Religion have been lost owing to a multiplicity of reasons. There are arguments as to whether there is one monolithic African Indigenous Religion with the same unwritten Foundational Doctrines or Religions with separate Doctrines. This conference worked on the assumption that there are sufficient common traits to speak of an “African Indigenous Religion”, while not denying the differences which exist between the religious concepts, practices and values of different regions in Africa. It is a challenge acknowledged, to identify the common features in view of this diversity.
• The study of rituals of African Indigenous Religion is essential. In these rituals, much of what AIR is, is encoded. They are a body of “scripture” in their own right, which require documentation and knowledgeable explication and interpretation. It is acknowledged that the knowledge of rituals is restricted in many African traditional societies to those initiated. This poses a dilemma which must be handled responsibly. Steps towards a written documentation of the secret rites, of the details of their performance and of their meaning should be taken in a responsible way. In view of the rapidly disappearing knowledge of those who are initiated and who can initiate, this should be done in communication with the initiated communities and with their leaders. 
• Most Africans, with their Diaspora, being converted into the two Abrahamic Religions of the Middle East, are not being initiated and find most practices of AIRs primitive. They distrust the secrecy and mysteries behind its practices but in the process, neglecting and abandoning their cultural heritage. Here, the spread, knowledge and understanding of the meanings and an awareness of their sophistication could lead to a renewed appraisal of their religious and cultural value.
• Most of these traditions of AIRs are being passed down from generation to generation with uniform beliefs, practices and interpretations by specialists acknowledged and entitled by their unique ritual communities. The course of training of those candidates who have been found capable follow codified courses and practices. Their coherence and consistency is guarded, preserved and developed by the community of graduated and acknowledged specialists. There is some room of different interpretations, while the essential common knowledge of ritual, practices, world views and beliefs is maintained and supervised. It is advised that qualified teachers and guardians and their institutions must be contacted for the study of AIR.
• In contrast, Christianity and Islam have much more codified and structured   theologies, liturgies and doctrines deriving from the Bible and Koran respectively.
• Till date, there is no Centre dedicated to the study and research into African Indigenous Theologies and Spiritualties with its Aesthetics evidenced in Music, Dance, Dress and Hairdos, as well as Governance, Social Engineering and Ethos of Conflict Awareness, Prevention, Management and Resolution mechanisms.
• However, over a century of mostly field research on AIR exists.  This   literature in several languages should be collected in a new bibliography of African Indigenous Religion, to assist students and researchers in the field of AIR. Existing bibliographies which covers the field of AIR should be updated. The presence of academic institutions dedicated to the study and research into AIR in the diaspora is acknowledged and contact with these institutions will be sought. A network of scholars working on AIR in different fields and countries will be developed.
• Some of the ritual forms and cosmological, epistemological, philosophical and anthropological thought of AIR have been adopted in syncretistic forms of Christianity of the type of “African Instituted Churches”. These should be identified and recognized in view of   the AIR elements in them. It is acknowledged that essential elements of AIR have been preserved and are kept   alive in this way.
• Dialogue with those AIC Churches who have adopted and preserved these elements of AIR should be sought in view of the aim of furthering respect and recognition of the AIR heritage., 

Source: PANAFSTRAG  Posted: 2017-06-08
 
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