African Religions and Philosophy Irony

African Religions and Philosophy Irony

The irony of cultural biases

Instead of seeing the similarities, people often find the differences between their culture and a foreign culture, which is ironic, because the similarities have a way of validating each other. If every religion says the right way to live is to accept one's fate as a humble servant (which Mbiti points out), then the alignment says more about "God" than any one religion alone, because it's universal. But dogmatic thinkers often don't see this possibility, as Mbiti notes.

The irony of monotheism

It's easy for a Westerner to see African polytheists and polygamists and to say "That's paganism and it's evil." But ironically, the fundamental relationship that Africans feel with God is the same, according to Mbiti, or at least it's very similar. Although the expression of their faith is pantheistic and spiritualists, African tribal people have the deep feeling that they are one with God because they are one with creation, and the spirits merely belong to the creation like the humans do, like the animals perhaps. But many "polytheistic" religions are simply monotheistic religions with a complex expression of that basic "God" force in mythology and spirituality.

The irony of Western religion

It's easy to interpret this entire document as a silent rebuttal against the conservative Christian response to African tribal cults. By showing how important nature and community are to Africans, it raises questions about the moral assumptions of the individualized Western world. Westerners are often too focused on themselves, without thinking of their environment or their community, but African "savages" are very thoughtful and intentional about such things. In this regard, it is Western people, not the native Africans, who are lacking.

The irony of cyclical time.

Time is a line, because it only moves in one direction. It's like a vector with a set speed and a set direction, right? Not to a traditional African person. Within the behavioral practice of a long-lived instinct, African tribes participate with time in a timeless manner. That doesn't mean that history doesn't move in one direction—it just means that Africans don't share the Western idea of time. It's ironic that something so integral about perception could be so different.

The irony of communal life.

Ironically, some Christians accuse tribal communities of sinning when the tribe is a better depiction of Christian values than their own lives, because of the unrelenting commitment to the greater good that causes African people to sacrifice for others. They are literally acting out Christ's morals by serving the common good. It seems that some Christians could stand to learn from the African sense of community, although many Christians have been celebrating African culture for a long time, like Mbiti himself.

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