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Fetishism To Africism Essay, Research Paper

From Fetishism to Africism

Throughout time there have been many words that have set out to try to describe religion in Africa as a whole. There was a problem with these words, non of them encompassed all of the religions of Africa, there was something that was always left out. In this paper, I plan to discuss what “From Fetishism to Africism” means. I also plan to talk about the word “africism,” it?s meaning and it?s origin. Other topics I will cover are “fetishism,” “animism,” and other “primitive” religions.

Many people believe that fetishism is the main religion of the countries in Africa. However, this is a large misconception. The dictionary defines fetishism as “belief or use of an object that is thought to have magical powers.” Associating this word with African religions gives these religions a negative connotation. It is almost saying that African religion can?t be based on faith such as Christianity, and Islam. Fetishism is obviously a term given to African religion by there European counterparts.

Today in America we see numerous symbols of religion. Jews have the star of David, Muslims have the crescent moon and star, and Christians have the cross. These are no different from the so called “fetishes” of African religions. These “fetishes” of African religion are just symbols by which the people who practice the religion use to worship.

Animism is defined as “general belief in spiritual beings.” The word animism is a derivative of the Latin word “anima” which means soul or spirit. Another word that is related to animism is animus which means feeling, emotion, and desire. Therefore, animism must have another meaning which is belief in animating still objects by giving them a spirit or soul. When a person dies their spirit separates from there body and continues to exist in the realm of superhumanity. These spirits are given a new place to dwell such as those still objects spoken of earlier. This theory of animism is that of E.B. Tylor.

All of these things I have just described are said to be primitive in nature. Primitive is to say that it is out of date, obsolete, and not of the civilized world. This is how many people see African religion. As animism had more than one meaning and could be the cause of some confusion primitive religion has the potential to do the same thing. As I said before primitive can have both a chronological and logical meaning which are both different in there own way. When one says primitive and is speaking of it in the logical sense, the picture that come to mind is a bunch of barbaric men in a cave huddled around a fire chanting. However, when I think about primitive in chronological sense I think of obsolete or out of date.

These terms I have discussed fetishism, animism, and primitive religion are all terms that have not yet given African religion the respect it has deserved for so long. However, out there is a word that would encompass all of the aspects of African religion. The word is “africism,” and it is only right that it somewhat resembles the word Africa. Africism is a derivative of the Latin word “afric”. Coming from this root word the Latin people came up with “africus-aum”. “Afri” is supposed to encompass everything that covers the continent, and this is exactly what “africism does, it encompasses all of the beliefs and religions that cover the vast continent of Africa.

Before reading “From Fetishism to Africism” I was aware of the stereo types on African religion, but this book furthered my understanding. I being a Christian also saw certain religions as primitive, but now my eyes are open, and never again will I be so neive.lp

From Fetishism to Africism by Aloycious Lugira


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