CRE3: Unending Life in the African Traditional Society

This unit is about the concept of unending life in the traditional African society


All societies believe it that there is life after death, that is shaped by what you do Earth. And the belief in life after here is important because it brings social order by encouraging a good behavior

The Hindu for example…

Africans believed the point of death was a mere transition, a bridge to another life, a spirit life. Proof to this is the fact that they believed the living dead would stay with in community, looking over them, protecting the living, and punishing and rewarding people according to their deeds. This is more proof that Africans firmly believe that there’s life after here.

Image result for PROOF THAT AFRICAN PEOPLE BELIEVED THAT LIFE GOES ON AFTER DEATH.1. Description of death. Africans used words that implied continuation and transition from one state of life to another to describe death. They would use words like, omugyeenzi, (traveller), okutwaarwa (has been taken) etc,

2. The living dead as a family. Relatives would be buried in one place in order for them to enjoy the company of living spiritually as a family. It was unacceptable for one to be buried away from the rest.

3. The funeral rites. These were traditional ceremonies performed for a recently dead relative meant to initiate the dead one into the spirit life of the rest of the ancestors.

4. Community membership. Traditionalists believe that the dead continue living in the neighborhood, and are actually part and parcel of the village. Thus they retained the respect they had when still alive.

5. Honouring their demands. The living people had to follow orders made by the recently discovered deceased while still alive eg where to be buried, who the heir would be etc.

6. Ownership. In some societies, the dead would be buried with some of their belongings eg spears, money, etc that would help him in the after life.

7. Pouring libations. Drinks eg beer, milk, blood, etc would be poured on the burial grounds in order for the living dead to have their share.

8. Their sacred places. The living dead were thought to reside in secret quiet places eg in caves, on hill tops etc which would be respected and never be disturbed eg through cultivation.

9. Moral influence. The living dead were upholders of moral standards of the community. They (the living dead) would punish wrong doers and reward the good with blessings.

10. Mediation. The living dead are believed to be able to pass on requests of the living to God through other spirits and gods. The Bemba on Zambia whisper their requests to the deceased who would deliver them to God.

11. Providers of blessings. Traditional people, through prayers and other religious rituals evoke spirits of the living dead to bring blessings of fertility, peace, rain, child birth etc.

12. Veneration. The living dead were deeply respected with fear as sacred and spiritually special. This is because they were believed to reside where God was.

13. Partial reincarnation. Africans believed the features, character and personality of the deceased would be reborn in some children. Such a child with striking resemblance would be named after the dead.

14. Visitations. The dead were believed to once in a while visit the living through dreams, visions and some close relatives eg being possessed by them.




Traditionally, every death had an underlying spiritual or religious cause. Even if a person died of an illness, it would have a religious explanation.

1. Spiritual disrespect. Spiritual aspects of traditional Africa had to be respected. Disrespect of religious persons, sacred places of worship or spiritual objects eg drums would cause death.

2. Blasphemy and insulting God. Dishonouring the person of God the giver of life was a sure way for one to die.Image result for how death was treated in the african traditionaL SOCIETY

3. Violation of an oath. If a person did something he/she had swore not to do, or if he told lies yet he/she had sworn to tell the truth, he/she would die.

4. Violation of taboos. There are some religious customs that stopped people from doing, touching, or saying somethings. If they were not adhered to, death could occur.

5. Breaking a blood pact. The act of ritually creating blood brotherhood had dangerous consequences if violated. Blood brothers were not supposed to betray each other.

6. Disrespecting elders. All senior members in a community such as parents, relatives and other community members. were supposed to be highly respected otherwise one would die.

7. Sexual immorality mmorality. One’s sexual evil deeds such as incest, bestiality etc were believed to cause death in among all close relatives.

8. Community condemnation. People who behaved anti socially risked suffering due to wronging the community. Such individuals would be made to suffer by ancestors to the point of death.

9. Witchcraft. Most deaths would be blamed on witches who could utter words or use herbs to bewitch a person to death. People capable of witchcraft were feared by fellow people.

10. Evil spirits. In some cases, ones death would be blamed on deadly spirits in the kind of demons sent to the victim by an enemy. They would torture and kill.

11. Curses. Some people would be believed to have died as a result of a curse pronounced onto them by a foreteller, parent or elder as punishment for something bad done.

12. Mishandling the dead. From the point if death, the deceased had to be handled with care, following proper procedures for burial otherwise death to others would occur.

13. Offending ancestors and spirits. People who gave no respect to ancestors by playing on burial grounds or secret ancestral places by digging or building houses there could die.

14. Divine will. In some cases, totally unexplainable deaths would be attributed to God’s will. They believe that God, as the giver of life could take it if he do wanted.


ASSIGNMENT : CRE3: Unending life Assignment MARKS : 100  DURATION : 1 week, 3 days

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