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Indigenous African Religions Essay

1389 words - 6 pages

South-Africans have always prided themselves on how rich and diverse their country is. This beautiful country consists of many different cultures each so diverse but yet influencing each other in such an immense way. In this essay I will be critically analyzing both the San hunter-gatherers and the Bantu speaking farmers in every aspect of their unique cultures; how these two groups met and how they influenced each other. I will also discuss the influence the Colonists had on indigenous African cultures and if it is appropriate to refer to all the indigenous cultures as one collective group of people by discussing what these two groups (San hunter-gatherers and Bantu speaking people) have in common. Since there are no written records of the pre-colonial period, all the information available is collected through archaeological evidence and oral transmission through the generations.
The San hunter-gatherers.
This group of people inhabited southern-Africa since the Neolithic times and are the first people to live here. They lived in peace with the natural rhythm of the land, moving around and living next to waterholes in rich natural areas, never overstaying their welcome as they did not want to deplete the natural resources. Both men and women worked towards survival as women built the huts from branches and grass collected from the immediate environment, they also gathered food such as edible plants, in contrast men hunted antelopes and other game for meat with a poisonous arrow and bow as well as making the fire every night. Both sexes where seen as equals. Although there were distinguished differences between northern, southern and south-eastern San, like not understanding each other’s language, they had the same practices, beliefs and values. All of the San groups believed in a spirit world that San shamans could reach in trances to plead for rain, healing and a successful hunt. These trances where reached by trance dances around a night fire by both men and women although mostly it was by men. This group of people did not believe in ancestral spirits and had no special way of burial. The San people had an egalitarian social structure with no kings and chiefs, all living equally on the land they believed everybody owned. The San where humble peaceful people, using only what they needed.

The Bantu speaking farmers.
The Bantu speaking farmers came to southern-Africa around the 10th century as a strong group of people, with more developed weapons and social structures. They believed in one Supreme Being, who created and maintained everything, they did not worship this Supreme Being. They did however believe in ancestral spirits who greatly influenced their lives. If the ancestral spirits would become angry they would offer them beer and/or animal sacrifice followed by a communal meal with extended family to keep the spirits happy. As far as rituals go the Bantu speaking people have life cycle rituals for example birth, they believe that a...

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