Importance of Worship to the African

Importance of Worship to the African

  • Worship helped the Africans to express their social and personal problems to the divine being who in turn solve them.
  • It also helped the Africans renew their relationship and contacts with their departed ones, the ancestor. This is because the living communicated to their ancestors through worship.
  • Worship enabled the worshipers to seek or search for divine blessings which make them to become happy and prosperous in life.
  • Worship imparted good morals into the young generation, and any form of immorality was highly punishable by the divine beings.
  • Through worship, Africans repented their sins and received forgiveness from the gods which made the live a happy life.
  • Worship promoted unity among the people in the society. This was because they could worship together.
  • It helped to instill culture into the young generation, who were always taught to respect the society norms as a religious obligation.
  • Worship was also used by the African to celebrate human life from conception to death and every stage in, birth, naming, initiation and death was marked by worship practices.
  • Worship enabled the living to receive guidance from the ancestors who were believed to know all.
  • Through worship people socially interacted with others in society. They came to know one another and promoted relationship.
  • It helped to solve   society such as witchcraft, diseases, famine etc. this would done by the divine beings when pleased by the living.
  • Worship helped to please, entertain and keep the ancestors happy in the spiritual world. This was done through sacrificing for them, and letting them eat from the living.
  • It helped to maintain law and order in the society.  This was because it spiritual beings would be called upon to identify the wrong does during worship.
  • Worship promoted justice, peace and harmony in the society. This is because it promoted the spirit of friendship among the people who worshiped the same God. For more notes read more notes about commerce, entrepreneur Notes, biology
Weakness of African Worship
  • African worship involved human sacrifice as a way of appeasing the divine beings and get whatever the wanted.
  • African worshiped at times involved the use of abusive and vulgar words when communicating to the gods for example during twin dancing rituals in Buganda.
  • Worship lacked a uniform order as each family, clan and community worshiped different gods at different times.
  • Worship at times involved inflicting pain to the people for example at times would punish severely the criminals.
  • It lacked trained and ordained leaders and respected elders and any body with special quality such as political leaders, diviners and fore-tellers would lead worship.
  • It promoted gender inequality because women were usually considered unclean to lead worship and to come near the spiritual beings.
  • It also promoted revenge, as the people called upon the spirit to harm others through use of witchcraft.

Qn. Asses the importance of worship in the African traditional society (apply both positive and weakness of worship) 

African Rites Of Passage

  • Rites of passage were celebrations/rituals that Africans carried out following the different stage of human growth and development from conception to death.
  • The rites of passage included conception rites, birth rites, naming rites, initiation rites, puberty rites and death rites.
Birth Rites and Their Importance
  • When a woman was discovered to have conceived, there was great happiness in the family.
  • When a child was born, it was seen as the greatest blessing of the life and the Africans reacted to such event with joy and satisfaction.
  • If it was the first pregnancy, it brought assurance to everyone that a woman was due to bare children, an asset to the family.
  • Once a woman gave birth, the marriage became secure, strong and stable than when she was discovered to be barren.
  • The relatives and the entire family of the man would treat the woman with greater respect than before.
  • Becoming pregnant and giving birth, assured the public of the god health of the woman and the man i.e. both were seen sexually normal.
  • Giving birth strengthened the love feelings between man and the wife, the basis of a good family and marriage.
  • It helped to transmit life from the parent to the new born babies and from one generation to another.
  • It enabled the parents to get children who were future sources of labour, wealth and security of the family, clan and the society at large.
  • It helped in expanding and enlarging the clan of the man to greater heights and respect.
  • Delivering a child, brought respect and prestige to the family of the man and woman and they were recognized in the society.
  • Through birth, the living communicated with the living dead, ancestors, through the blood shed by the mothers.
  • Becoming pregnant and giving birth showed the willingness and readiness of the woman to make a home and a family.
  • The birth of a child was seen as a reward for the man for much bride price that had been paid to the girl’s side or family.


1.  Explain the importance of giving birth in African traditional society.

Naming Children African Traditional Society
  • There are many naming customs allover Africa, which however tend to vary from one society to another.
  • In some cultures, the name is/ was chosen before the arrival of the baby.
  • In other societies the name was chosen immediately upon arrive-birth of the baby and without any ritual or ceremony.
  • In most cases, naming involved ceremony attended by members of the family, relatives, neighbours and friends.
  • Naming involved giving of gifts to the new born baby, which varied from one culture to another e.g. the Banyankole of western Uganda gave cows and still.
  • Names were Linguistic such as Mwesigwa among the Bantu and Okello and the Luo.
  • Special meals were prepared during the ceremony. Millet food was prepared among the Banyoro.
  • Naming involved or involves celebrations and beer partying that welcomed the baby into the family and the clan.
  • Special herbs were smeared on the baby during naming ceremony in preparation for a successful future and cleanse away bad omen.
  • The choice of the name was determined by the parents, elders and relatives.
  • Some names were situational, given according to the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy and birth.
  • Names were given in praise of the supreme creator as the overall provider and controller such as Byamukama among the Banyoro.
Meaning/ Importance of Naming
  • In African culture, names given to babies helped to bring back the departed members of the family i.e.names of the dead were given to new babies.
  • Some names helped to show the feelings of the parents during pregnancy and child birth.
  • Some names helped to show the religious feelings of the parents concerned, many times granting recognition to God’s role e.g. Byakatonda, Byaruhanga- all referring to God as the one in charge.
  • Names helped to show the clan in which some one belonged, e.g. ‘Kababiito’ among the Banyoro showed that the person belonged to the Biito clan.
  • Naming rites were social functions which helped the child to be welcomed and integrated in the community.
  • The naming occasions helped to create unity among the members of the community due to the many people that got involved.
  • Since all names were cultural, naming helped to preserve culture and ensured its continuity hence Bantu names, Luo names etc.
  • Through naming rituals, the child could get spiritual assistance and blessings from the ancestors, gods and God.
  • Some names helped to educate and explain some past experience to the young generation hence guiding them in life.
  • Naming rites helped the babies to receive gifts e.g. among the Banyankole babies were given cows.
  • Names helped to show one’s belongingness to a particular family because some families had specific family names.
  • Some names reflected the state of and time of birth of the child e.g. thunder, rain, famine, harvest etc.
Growth and Initiation
  • There was circumcision which involved removing of the foreskin on the male reproductive organ. It was very common among the Bagishu and kikuyu and it was important for hygiene and sexual satisfaction.
  • Clitoridectomy was another initiation ritual which involved cutting off of parts of the clitoris on the female reproductive organ. It was very common among the Sabiny and it helped to control sexual immorality among the Sabiny women.
  • Pulling/elongation of the Labias were also an initiation practice which involved elongating the Labias to a givenheight. It was so common among girls of Buganda,Toro,Ankole,Busogaetc and it helped to stimulate sexual appetite among girls in marriage.
  • Another initiation ritual was detoothing which involved removing of the upper fore middle tooth from the initiates at puberty stage. It was done among the Karamajongs and it was for beauty and identification.
  • Piercing of the face was a common ritual to the young people at puberty stage. It involved piecing the face following a pattern of lines as it was common among the Masai and karamajongs.It also increased the beauty of the initiates.
  • There was also tattooing of the body where different parts of the body were decorated with tattoos. This was common among the Alur and it was for beauty and identification purposes.
  • Ear piercing was an initiation ritual which involved piercing the ears and decorating them with ear rings mainly for among the Kikuyu, Masai etc.

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