While those who criticize ‘imported’ religions claim that Africans, unlike most parts of the world, embraced and practice these ‘imported’ religions more than those who brought them, I have always asserted that Africans, unlike the rest of the world, embraced these religions and largely practice them by blending them with their own cultural practices.

By imported religion, they mean Islam and Christianity. However, when we study the history of these religions, we find that they were present in Africa before reaching Europe. However, that is not our focus in this article. Here, we will concentrate on daily occurrences that exemplify how Africans blend the so-called foreign religions with their culture.

In churches, especially Christ Apostolic Churches and the White Garment ones, it is not unusual to see a Pastor or ‘Man of God’ asking the congregation to place their hands on their heads while praying, ‘Ori mi gbemi debi’re,’ ‘Ori mi ma gbabode,’ ‘Ori mi je kin lowo,’ which some wrongly understand as ‘my head, take me to a place of success,’ ‘my head, don’t betray me,’ ‘my head, I wish for money.’ Even Alfas, Mallam, and Shehus are guilty of this.

‘Ori,’ which many take for head here, does not refer to the literal head; rather, we could loosely translate it as one’s guardian angel, a private orisha which one must worship and act in conformity with, and when things go left, an individual may be asked to appease it.

Now, one begins to wonder what the nexus is between Christianity or Islam with either ori as a deity or holding one’s head to pray. This has no root in their Bible or the Qur’an but is influenced by Yoruba Traditional beliefs and practices infused into Islam and Christianity.

As a Christian or Muslim, this is something to think about. When you identify as a Muslim or Christian and do this, it is just Syncretism at play.

Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here