sacred-texts.com Homesacred-texts.com HomeAbout sacred-texts.comFrequently Asked QuestionsHow to contact sacred-textsSearch sacred-textsBuy the Internet Sacred Text Archive on CD-ROM
Wisdom is priceless, the sacred-texts DVD-ROM is 99.95. Click here to learn more. Painting: Invocation, by Lord Frederick Leighton, 19th cent. (public domain image)
Topics
Home
Catalog
African
Age of Reason
Alchemy
Americana
Ancient Near East
Astrology
Asia
Atlantis
Australia
Basque
Baha'i
Bible
Book of Shadows
Buddhism
Celtic
Christianity
Classics
Comparative
Confucianism
DNA
Earth Mysteries
Egyptian
England
Esoteric/Occult
Evil
Fortean
Freemasonry
Gothic
Gnosticism
Grimoires
Hinduism
I Ching
Islam
Icelandic
Jainism
Journals
Judaism
Legends/Sagas
Legendary Creatures
LGBT
Miscellaneous
Mormonism
Mysticism
Native American
Necronomicon
New Thought
Neopaganism/Wicca
Nostradamus
Oahspe
Pacific
Paleolithic
Parapsychology
Philosophy
Piri Re'is Map
Prophecy
Roma
Sacred Books of the East
Sacred Sexuality
Shakespeare
Shamanism
Shinto
Symbolism
Sikhism
Sub Rosa
Swedenborg
Tantra
Taoism
Tarot
Thelema
Theosophy
Time
Tolkien
UFOs
Utopia
Women
Wisdom of the East
Zoroastrianism
Sacred-texts home
OCRT: Santeria  OCRT: Vodun  Australian  Native American 
Buy CD-ROM  Buy Books on African Spirituality

Zimbabwe: Image (c) Copyright J.B. Hare 1999, All Rights Reserved African Religion

South Africa  The Bantu  West and Central Africa 
Comparative  African-American  Caribbean  Rastafarianism  Vodun
History 

Ultimately, we are all Africans. Studies of mitochondrial DNA have proven that all human beings are descended from a small population (less than a hundred individuals) that emerged from Africa about 60,000 years ago. The earliest written religious texts as well as the first documented monotheistic religion also developed in Africa. During the European dark ages, many ancient manuscripts were preserved in African libraries in places such as Ethiopia and Timbuctoo.

This section has texts on the traditional spirituality of Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as their descendants in the New World.

Finding books about African religion and spiritual beliefs in the public domain was not difficult. These books have a great amount of useful information on this topic, some of it written before colonialism destroyed or greatly modified aspects of traditional culture. The problem with these works is that they were for the large part written by Europeans with their particular biases and agendas. For this reason, we encourage you to 'read between the lines'.

The texts here are provided for scholarly purposes. They may contain racist characterizations, errors of interpretation, or misrepresentations of traditional culture. For instance, the term 'Kaffir', which is used in many of these texts to refer to the Xhosa (Nelson Mandela's tribe), is now considered derogatory.

This page also has texts and books with alternate views, primarily written by African-Americans, which, in our opinion, also deserve consideration.

Africa is home to a rich religious tradition. Refer to Ancient Egypt, Islam, and Christianity.


South Africa

The Religious System of the Amazulu
by Henry Callaway [1870]

Specimens of Bushman Folklore
by W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd [1911]

South African Folk-Tales
by James A. Honey [1910]

Kaffir (Xhosa) Folk-Lore
by George McCall Theal [1886]


The Bantu

Myths and Legends of the Bantu
by Alice Werner [1933]
The rich traditions of the Bantu.
Most of the books below also have material on the Bantu of West Africa.


West and Central Africa

The West African area is important because this is where the majority of slaves departed for the New World. Hence large elements of West African, particularly Yoruba, religion (blended with Catholicism) can be found in religions such as Vodun (also known as Voodoo) (Haiti), Candomblè (Brazil) and Santeria (Carribean). For more information on New World African-derived religions, refer to the The Santeria page at Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance.

Myths of Ífè
by John Wyndham [1921]

Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort
by R. E. Dennett [1898]
Storytelling from the Congo, a key source for West African folklore.

At the Back of the Black Man's Mind
by R. E. Dennett [1906]
Reveals a complex system of sacred lands, rivers, trees, and omens among the West Africans.

Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria
By Elphinstone Dayrell, Introduction by Andrew Lang. [1910]

Fetichism in West Africa
by Rev. Robert Hamill Nassau. [1904]

Hausa Folklore
by Maalam Shaihu, translated by R. Sutherland Rattray. [1913]
Nigerian folklore from an indigenous storyteller, with a rich Islamic background.

Woman's Mysteries of a Primitive People
by D. Amaury Talbot [1915]
A woman ethnographer's unique perspective on a West African tribe.

The Yoruba Speaking Peoples
by A.B. Ellis [1894]

Yoruba Legends
by M. I. Ogumefu [1929]


Comparative

Religion and Myth
by James Macdonald [1883]
One of the first comparative studies of African spirituality.


African-American

Drums and Shadows
Georgia Writer's Project; Work Projects Administration, Mary Granger supervisor [1940]
Coastal Georgia folklore from the 1930s and connections to African spiritual practices.


Caribbean

Jamaica Anansi Stories
by Martha Warren Beckwith [1924].
Jamaican folklore, music and riddles, featuring an indominable trickster hero.

Rastafarianism

The Kebra Nagast
translated by E. A. Wallis Budge [1922]
The legendary history of Ethiopia.

The Holy Piby
by Robert Athlyi Rogers [1924-8]
A classic--and very rare--Afrocentric religious text from the early 20th century, acclaimed by many Rastafarians as a forerunner of their beliefs.

The Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy
By Fitz Balintine Pettersburg [1926?]
A rare proto-Rastafarian text from Jamaica.

The Promised Key
By G.G. Maragh (Leonard Percival Howell) [1935?]
Howell advanced ideas similar to later Rastafarian beliefs, particularly casting Haile Selassie as the Black Messiah.
A heavily edited version of the Royal Parchment Scroll.

The Wisdom of Rastafari
by Haile Selassie
A short anthology of quotes from Haile Selassie compiled by a Rastafarian group.

Vodun

Two short articles by Lafcadio Hearn about New Orleans Voodoo. Hearn, a New Orleans native, also wrote extensive works about Japan, available in the Shinto section.
Last of the Voudoos [1885]
New Orleans Superstitions [1886]

Here are two books relating to Haitian Voodoo (Vodun). They were written by an outsider to the religion who was ultimately unable to penetrate its inner mysteries; however both of these books has strengths as historical and ethnographic background on the topic:

Voodoo and Obeahs
By Joseph J. Williams [1932]
Important historical context for Vodun, with extensive quotes from contemporary accounts.

Psychic Phenomena of Jamaica
By Joseph J. Williams. [1934]
A study of supernatural activity in Jamaica, including the abusive duppy...


Afrocentric Historians

The Negro
by W.E.B. Du Bois [1915]
A great introduction to Black history by a noted African-American activist and scholar.

Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire
by Drusilla Dunjee Houston [1927]
A pioneering work of Afrocentric history.

Stolen Legacy
by George G.M. James [1954]
Did the Greeks steal classical philosophy from an Ancient Egyptian mystery tradition?


Now Shipping! The Sacred Texts DVD-ROM 9.0: own the wisdom of the ages!
Sign up for
sacred-texts
updates by email
Enter your
Email


Preview
Powered by
FeedBlitz
On Twitter, follow 'sacredtexts.'
Sacred-texts on Facebook
Bookmark and Share
search powered by
Google

sacred-texts
Web


Sponsored Links

Buy a mug.
Support this site.


Collage of sacred texts, (c) 1999, J.B. Hare, All Rights Reserved
This is a quiet place in cyberspace
devoted to religious tolerance and scholarship

Non-public domain contents of this site
not otherwise copyrighted are © copyright 2022, John Bruno Hare, All Rights Reserved.
See Site copyrights, Terms of Service for more information.
Index |  FAQ |  Contact |  Search |  Buy Disk
Open Source for the Human Soul