This such an overwhelming topic at one level that I feel inadequate. At another level, its a simple question? Are there any?
Africa is home to the first Human, the first Library, the first University and the first Art Gallery. Does African Tradional Religion currently involve itself with Environmentalism?
In many African societies ancestral veneration is one of the central and basic traditional and even contemporary forms of cult. As is indicated by the title, this essay intends to expose briefly the main features of that type of veneration in black Africa, South of the Sahara.
2. Ancestral cult in Black Africa
African ancestral cult is deeply rooted in the African traditional worldview so much so that a proper and adequate understanding of that cult cannot be achieved without examining it in its intimate link with such worldview. Hence, before exposing the main features of ancestral veneration, it is useful to give first a brief survey of the African traditional worldview, in the light of which the former will and should be envisaged.
2.1 Brief Survey of African Traditional Worldview
As can be gathered from anthropological and ethnological data most of the elements found in the African worldview can be reduced to four main headings:
2.1.1 Dynamism and vitalism, comprising an existential, concrete and affective way of approach. Reality is seen and judged especially from its dynamic aspects closely related to life. The farther a being is from these elements, the more unreal and valueless it is conceived to be. Hence the emphasis on fecundity and life, and the identification between being and power or vital force. Indeed, the ideal of the African culture is coexistence with and the strengthening of vital force or vital relationship in the world and universe. Above all forces is God, who gives existence and increase of power to all others. Next come the dead of the tribe who, thanks to their transition into the other world, are endowed with special powers. The living form a hierarchy according to their power. The different manners of being are distinguished by their mode and degree of participation in the Supreme Force (God) and in superior forces of other “spiritual” beings.
The craving for power, safety, protection and life is the driving force in the African religion. This craving originates not so much from logical reflection, but from a feeling of incapacity and an obstinate desire to overcome it. Many individual needs are believed to be satisfied by dynamism and spiritism. Amulets and talisman are vehicles of vital energy. This ethic is based on the belief that every act and custom which strikes at the vital force, or at the growth and hierarchy of man is bad. What is ontologically and morally and juridically just is that which maintains and increases the vital energy received from the life-Giver, the Creator of force and the Fount from which all forces flow and are under His control.
Animals are sacred in African Religions, and are used (as in ancient Biblical, Hindu and Holy Koranic texts) as offerings to our gods and ancestors in both our healing, initiation, and atonement ceremonies. Additionally, contrary to the Hollywood hype, animals are not the focus nor the center of our ceremonies. They are merely consecrated offerings, made sacred for communal meals by the initiate, to share with their gods and ancestors. The “rituals” surrounding this routine event are no more spectacular than the preparation of foods and farm animals for a family meal, or the Jewish ritual of kashrus (Kosher slaughtering) in making an animal sacred for offerings and consuming. Animal offerings are a sacred, humane, and essential religious rite that has been in practice in many cultures all over the world for thousands of years, even up until the present.
For example, because all aspects of African ritual and religious practice has been routinely demonized and maligned, few realize that their ritual practices are no different than (for example) the animal offerings used in tantric yoga.
HOW ENVIRONMENTAL IS AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION?
Author: Nisbert Tarringa
“…about the Shona religion of Zimbabwe…At a theoretical level a romantic view of Shona attitudes to nature, it is possible to conclude the Shona traditional religion is necessarily environmentally friendly. The strong belief in ancestral spirits (midzimu) pan-vitalism, kinship, taboo and totems have the potential to bear testimony to this…I argue that the ecological attitudes of the African Traditional Religion more based on fear or respect of ancestral spirits than on respect for nature itself”
But what about actual organizations or web sites?
This site lists 170 literature or organizations that do conservation work in all of Africa, and I am sure that there are a lot more organizations out there that this site does not list
This web site starts with a prayer but it is Christian in nature:
After 6 hours of looking the closest I could get was something like this:
Eco-garden is a community based organization dedicated to educate the people of Kenya by mobilizing and working with communities to sustainably use, manage, and conserve natural resources for the benefits of current and future generations. Eco-garden integrates food production and gardening within the principles of nature in ways which preserve the holistic functions of ecosystems and the existence of biological diversity
Environmental conservation and organic gardening projects are facilitated specifically to provide technical knowledge to community groups developing on-farm and on-site conservation practices by sustainably using natural resources such that they will be available for both wildlife and human generations in the future. Eco-garden has taken the challenge to educate these communities about the values of their remaining natural resources (wildlife, fertile soil, patchy indigenous forests, and wetlands). The project targets farmers, women and youth groups, and young farmers’ clubs in both primary schools and high schools. Because the transfer of knowledge and information from government agencies (Ministry of Agriculture) has collapsed, farmers are left on their own, and no environmental conservation classes are offered in schools. Therefore, by working with school kids, Eco-garden hopes the students will pass the information to their parents. Lastly, the project aims to educate and encourage local groups to provide future training to community members through hands-on practical approaches and participatory planning.
May Your Journeys Be Smooth