African Spirituality

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Anthony Ephirim-Donkor, "African Spirituality: On Becoming Ancestors," Africa World Press, Inc. 1997 and 1998.

The theme of the book African Spirituality: On Becoming Ancestors namely focuses on the Akan people in Ghana and concentrates on the developmental processes of the African people as a whole. The book looks at the human heritage, ethics and society, social organization, and religion of the African people. The book focuses on morally and ethically concerns with existential as well as metaphysical issues and their repercussions. There is an emphasis on the Divine Presence or Nana Nyame "God."� Such that God is a Supreme Being, powerful, and eternal and must be shielded from the dome of the sky above, and from earth below. An emphasis is also placed greatly on roles of people in that each must follow and be guided by the role they possess, Kings, women, elders, children, and adulthood.

The Akan people have developed a sequence of culturally defined life stages from their beliefs concerning reincarnation, conception, birth, education, ethical existence and generativity, eldership, and death.

The book outlines why the Akan people form the basis for human development on myths, concepts, rites, and dreams.

Concerning chapter eight on Ethical Existence and Generativity, the general theme that "one reaps what one sows"� is implied. After reading this section I became intrigued to find similarities in much of my life as how the Akan people live. I was told once by a woman who I met while at work one day that I was doomed to reap the repercussions because I resented my parents. Let me take a step back and tell you how she came upon this conclusion. In a casual conversation she asked if she could ask about my relationship with my father. I offered the information to her that he was an alcoholic and for a time in my life we didn't get along with one another. She then asked if I felt he was controlling. I answered honestly "yes."� She went on to tell me I would marry someone who is equally controlling and asked if I was in a controlled relationship with my boyfriend. I was then surprised to hear that because I resented my father for our relationship that I would never get out of an abusive male relationship with a man. The book states that the end of the ethical existence and generativity if one accepts the premise that the end is what is necessary or important then what you make of a situation has direct bearing on the outcome or the end. I feel that if I reconcile my relationship with my father I would be able to have a nurturing and non-abusive relationship with a man that I want for my husband. I have since made amends with my feelings toward him and also directly with him. I am in a loving relationship with my fiance' and trust that it will never become rancid.

This chapter also pertained to my life as I have always made decisions for fear of an ill fate if I make mistakes. I do agree and feel that you cannot rush the natural pace of life. I am a realistic person and I feel I am patient when it comes to destiny for I feel that things happen for reasons which only time can run its course. I have been very fortunate in my life and have no reason to feel slighted. Things seem sometimes to go my way for whatever reason. I like to think it is because I am basically a good person and don't fall into the pitfalls of life. I don't drink or smoke, I attend church, I am honest, and motivated. I feel these things keep my life on the upswing to being the best person I can be, something the book states as being the goal for one's ethical existence and generativity. More than being a way of living though, life is a journey with a beginning, termination point at death, and a period of accountability before the ancestors.

Chapter nine is on the Elders. The authoritarian group in which they are revered as respected, imposing their will on the young and the old. As I understood elders are the highest of the mortals but can also include God and the moon. Both worthy of praises and worship the elders include kings that are perceived as divine beings, who require the ultimate praise, worship and sacrifice. Elders have an existential voice in the matters concerning the family, public, or private affairs. They are the gateway in a sense to the ancestors and are the means of vocal communication between the king and his people. They are important and taken care of to the greatest extent and are appointed by matrikin folks. The process begins with the eldest lineage or head of matrikin folks. They head the village or town, and constitute the king's council. They follow the rites and ways of the people and kings command. The purpose of being or nkrabea originates with God and the individual quest for the relationship with the matrikin, ancestors and God. Through education and experience, the elder learns that choices made take form in actions that in turn have a much wider affect than just the choice itself. The duties of the elders are to participate in activities of lineage, be intercessors, body of sage's wisdom, intermediaries, and judges. They are often blamed for everything in a qualitative state of being and sometimes thought of as witches.

To be an Ancestor as stated in chapter ten the deceased must first have been an elder, and upon his or her demise become one of the eternal beings. The ancestors are a distinct group of eternal saints apart from other spiritual personalities who are also endowed with immortality but are not ancestors. The ancestors, having lived, died and been resurrected and vindicated, have achieved immortality highest state of existence comparable to God. They are asked to give their account of ethical life, they listen and render decision based whether or not the spirit of the person before them is more good then evil. Reincarnation is part of the beliefs and religion and the ultimate goal is to lead the ideal life to become an ancestor. The belief is that life on earth is predicted upon the ideal world of the ancestors. Direct bearing on life is from the ancestral world.