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THEME: Africa's Indigenous Religions: Critical Approaches to its Philosophies, Doctrines, Scholarship, Documentation and Survival through Oral and Written Traditions from Theoretical and Historical Perspectives.


The Keynote Speaker is Professor Molefi Kete Asante



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


For translations in Portuguese, French and Spanish, click on this link 



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.



The Symposium is methodological, didactic and programmatic in nature, bringing together scholars, professionals, practitioners and laity of Indigenous African Religions to examine the state of these Religions in Africa and the Diaspora, as well as channel intellectual and educational resources toward the preservation, documentation and propagation of these Religions for human posterity.  Selected experts and practitioners in the field will be invited to present lead papers on the topics related to the general theme of the symposium.  In addition, the symposium will be open to participants from the selected academic community relevant to the overall aims of the Symposium, but it is also open to all interested members of the various groups of the Africa's Traditional Religions.  The number of those attending, including the speakers, will be limited to ensure that the critical purpose of creating the foundation for Africa's Traditional/Indigenous Religions' future sustainability is not compromised. 



The following are the immediate, medium and long term projected outcomes of the Symposium

a) The papers will be edited and offered for publication.

b) Programme and Plan for the production of a synthesized African Traditional Religion Scripture, Holy Text will be commissioned with timeline and budget will be produced and circulated for funding

c) Programme and Plan for the establishment of autonomous Institute for the Study of ATR

d) Determining Research Project, and planning Annual Symposium

e) Programme and Plan for the Documentation and Archival Resources on African Traditional Religions within the Centre

f)  Developing Programme and Plan for training African Traditional Religions Leaders, Administrators and Scholars

g)     Developing Undergraduate and Graduate Programmes, Research, Publication in ATR



This is a Symposium dedicated to African Traditional Religions, with Africa construed globally as understood in the African Union of Six Regions.  Lead Presentations will be commissioned on selected aspects of the theme (Doctrine, Literature and Scholarship) of the symposium. Experts, researchers, students and the practitioners of African Traditional Religions are invited to submit a 300 word abstract on one of (or related to) the following sub-themes of the Symposium by  the new extended deadline of March 31, 2016:

Origins, Needs and Use of Religion in Africa

Ontologies and Metaphysics in African Traditional Religions

Gnosis and Epistemologies in African Traditional Religions

African Traditional Religions and African Philosophies

African Traditional Religions and Customary Laws

African Traditional Religions and Human Rights

African Traditional Religions and Social and Personal Justice

The Universes and their relationships in African Traditional Religions

Being, Identity and Society in African Traditional Religions

Aesthetics and Religion in African Traditional Religions

Gender, Sex and Ageing in African Traditional Religions

Morality and Society in African Traditional Religions

Governance, Business and Development in African Traditional Religions

Life and Death

End of life decisions

Prophets, Prophesy, Divinations and Future

Management of African Traditional Religions Knowledge and Assets

Codification, Documentation and Transmission in ATR

Philosophies of African Traditional and Indigenous Religions

Scriptural Syntheses - Doctrinal Codex

Training the Priests and Priestesses in ATR

Liturgy, Traditions, Ceremonies, Communions and Festivals in ATR

The Public and the Private - the Holy and the Profane in ATR

Continuity and Generations in ATR - the Old, the Adult, the Youth and the Unborn

Nature in ATR - Use, Abuse and Preservation

ATR in the face of Modernity

ATR and migrant or alien Religions

ATR and the Media

ATR and Atheism

Panel Discussions are encouraged, to brainstorm on various aspects of the task of ensuring the survival and propagation of ATR globally.  Persons interested in organizing panels are encouraged to provide a summary of the panel, panellists, relevance to the Symposium, and overall contribution to the development of ATR globally.


Completed paper presentations are expected to reach the Symposium Secretariat by April 30, 2016.  This will ensure that such papers benefit from careful editing and corrections by our reviewers in collaboration with the authors to ensure the highest quality of the papers and are uploaded to the Symposium Website by June 30, 2016.  Final revised submissions will be published at a later date under the imprint of a leading publishing house to be determined by dedicated Editors.

Submissions from the Six Regions are to be made as follows (Please, note that these are for purely administrative purposes, as all paper and panel proposals are also to be copied to John Ayotunde Isola Bewaji, Yunusa Salami and PANAFSTRAG as noted below):

North America and the Caribbean

John Ayotunde Isola Bewaji (tunde.bewaji@gmail.com

Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy, University of the West Indies, Mona.

 Latin America

Obadiah Otitigbe (otitigbe@oviri.com.ar)                 

Collegium Ovirium, Argentina.

South Africa

Mogobe Ramose (ramosmb@unisa.ac.za)                 

Department of Philosophy, UNISA, Republic of South Africa

North, Central and East Africa

Godfrey Tangwa (gbtangwa@yahoo.com)                 

Department of Philosophy, University of Yaounde, Cameroon

West Africa

David Ogungbile (dogungbile1@yahoo.com

Department of Religious Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

 USA and Canada

Ibigbolade Aderibigbe (iaderibi@uga.edu)                

African Studies Institute, University of Georgia, USA

 Europe and Asia

Afe Adogame (afe.adogame@ptsem.edu)                  

Princeton Theological Seminary, USA


NB:  All submissions should be copied to: Tunde Bewaji (tunde.bewaji@gmail.comYunusa Salami (yunusasalami@gmail.com) and panafstraginternational@yahoo.com.

General Information Requests should be directed to the Symposium Secretariat at PANAFSTRAG Offices, Lagos, Nigeria (panafstraginternational@yahoo.com).

SYMPOSIUM FEES (Covers Symposium Materials and Refreshments) by June 2016:

Participants from Africa             $100

Participants from outside Africa   $150

Retirees and Graduate Students from outside Africa  $100

Participants from Nigeria            N20,000.00

Retirees and Graduate Students from Nigeria  N10,000.00


After June 2016:

Participants from Africa            $150

Participants from outside Africa $200

Retirees and Graduate Students from outside Africa $150

Participants from Nigeria         N30,000.00

Retirees and Graduate Students from Nigeria N15,000.00

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All participants are encouraged to register for the Tours to Historic Religious and Cultural Sites (Ile-Ife, Ibadan, Oshogbo, Oyo, Benin, Arochukwu, etc) in Nigeria by end of May 2016.


Symposium Hotels and Guest Houses will be negotiated at group rates for the duration of the Symposium.This will be communicated to participants by May 2016, so that bookings, mentioning the Symposium, can be made online or through the Symposium Secretariat.

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