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Ancient Africa

Traditional Religions

The religions practiced by the majority of people living in Africa are Christianity and Islam. However, there were many traditional religions practiced prior to the arrival of these two religions. Today, around 10 percent of the African population still practice some form of traditional religion.

Common Beliefs

Although Africa is a huge continent with many different peoples and traditional religions, some beliefs and practices are common through many of the religions. These include:

Many traditional African religions believe in mysterious forces and magic. Priests (sometimes called witchdoctors) could cast spells or provide charms to help people with their illnesses or other problems. Sometimes the witchdoctors used herbs and other remedies to help the sick. They also would tell the future by using magic and "casting the bones" where they would toss bones (or sometimes other items like shells) and then tell the person's fortune from the way the bones fell.

Certain artisans were considered to use magic in their craft. The most powerful of the artisans were the ironworkers. Ironworkers would keep the secret of how they forged iron within their group in order to maintain the mystery and power of their craft.


Traditional rituals and ceremonies played an important part in the community. Masks, drums, chanting, and dancing were often a part of the ritual. Generally the rituals called on the spirits of ancestors or the spirits of nature for help and assistance.

Interesting Facts about Traditional Religions of Ancient Africa

To learn more about Ancient Africa:

Ancient Egypt
Kingdom of Ghana
Mali Empire
Songhai Empire
Kingdom of Aksum
Central African Kingdoms
Ancient Carthage

Art in Ancient Africa
Daily Life
Traditional African Religions
Slavery in Ancient Africa
Cleopatra VII
Shaka Zulu

Countries and Continent
Nile River
Sahara Desert
Trade Routes

Timeline of Ancient Africa
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Africa

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