Journal of Religion and Human Relations

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African traditional religion and the problem of founders

Ikechukwu Anthony Kanu


A cursory glance at the major religions in the world, reveals that these religions have founders and religious books; these two elements: founders and religious books provide for a reference point and uniformity in the practice of these religions. For instance, Christianity has a founder, Jesus Christ, with a religious book, the Bible; Islam has a founder, Muhammad, with a religious book, the Quran; Bahi'a has a founder, Baha'u'llah, with a religious book, Kitab-I-Aqdas; Mormonism has a founder, Joseph Smith, with religious books, Kings James Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price. Beyond the founder, these religions also have missionaries and the desire to propagate or to proselytize their religions. in relation to this trend in major religions, this work has studied African Traditional Religion as a world religion and discovered that unlike other major world religions, it neither has a founder as in the case of an individual founder as seen in other religions, nor missionaries who propagate this religion. Compared to other religions, it further observed that its propagation is carried out by living it out other than by preaching it. Its followers are more preoccupied with its practice than with its theory. While this may constitute a fundamental problem in the study of ATR, this work observes that it defines the uniqueness of ATR and the African Worldview. For the purpose of this work, the hermeneutic and phenomenological methods of inquiry would be employed.

Keywords: Missionaries, Founders, African, Traditional, Religion, Proselytes, Religious Texts

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