Shrines In Traditional African Spirituality (Religious) Culture
With ambrose ekhosuehi

A shrine is a sacred relic in a religious formation with an idol, tree, Image, statue, erected over it as an immemorial object of worship.

Religious formation is an organized system of belief in certain way of life. Statues, Images, (Idols) and relics do not hear prayers in their states but they are memorials and honours of those they represent.

The art adds beauty and helps to focus attention to the means of worship with confidence to speak or to intercede in the spirit world or in the life forces that come from the life of the spirit.

At the supplication prayer or entreaty the life of the ancestors would occupy the shrine on the belief that events are controlled by supernatural forces rather than scientific law of movements.

Traditional physicians, Priests tend to influence those supernatural forces, so they are in contact with the spirits who possess superior power.

Spiritualism through sensitive medium was able to communicate with the spirits. This entains ceremony which involves going into a kind of trance and announced the god’s advice which may involve some sacrifice that may be flayed alive to please the gods.

Protected by all instruments of belief, people should cease to fear anything more than their own potential actions, character, behavior and manner because manipulation of the visible world represents only one of the ways that people sought to control events and surroundings.

There are numerous shrines use as objects of memorials worships, festivals and ceremonies, all over the world. As elders became Ancestors, they were represented in such a way as to look like the bough of a tree in the family shrines.

The fact that the ancestors had been enshrined, their spirits had to be summoned to assist at important crises in life. They were put in place to serve frontality. Their figures were composed to give them permance and durability.

The oldest man of a family kept a shrine in the family where the spirits of the ancestors were propitiated. It could be invited to be present at important family occasions.

Sacred shrines are among the noblest activities of people’s genuine arts and manifestations. These arts are directed towards expressing in some ways the infinite beauty of creation in works made by human hands.



Their dedications to the increase of creator praises and of his glory are devoted to turning people’s minds and hearts devotedly towards the creator. Sacred furnishings, shrines and images are ornaments in God’s creation and are venerated to imbue them with the spirit of sacred art and of the sacred divine worship.


Statues, images and idols which govern external things in sacred worship are helpful to preserve ancient monuments and history of times.

Shrines in religious culture are human relation to divinity, to reverence, worship, Obedience and submission to mandates, precepts of supernatural beings.

Religious culture includes all forms of belief in the existence of superior beings exercising power over human beings with future rewards and punishments.

The character and extent of each religious culture is determined by the way it emphasizes certain aspect of existence and human behavior.

Some religious cultures are so deep involving that their adherent find it difficult to change to other religions.
These ultimately translate into various lifestyles that give rise to an organized worship.

Shrines of religious culture must be comprehensive in nature and present formal and external signs to recognize its services, ceremonies and manifestations similar to those of traditional religions.

All religious find their centres of value in some sense of ultimate mystery. The fact of the matter is that people with their inbuilt antennae can recognize the signs of transcendence in daily lives, yet the reality of the mystery faces every human being on daily basis which makes believers very spiritual.

A new scheme of faith can find a hearing only by appealing to a religious instinct that had already exists in its audience and it cannot reach these without taking account of the traditional forms in which religious culture is embodied.

Through creed and code, religious culture is more than its expressions. In fact the same faith can grow deeper in quality but change in its outward manifestation.

People can share a similar faith but express it through different belief. Religious formations are organized systems of belief in certain way of life while many religions try to explain the creation of the world and of mankind and foster the belief in another existence.

The belief in mystical powers led to the creations of shrines. Most early religions had special festivals, sacrificial rites and regulations were made for the society classified according to their beliefs.
Songs were performed at the shrines.

The instrumental ensemble used at some shrines cannot be removed from there. Several dances were performed accompanied by membranophones, idiophones and clapping of hands.

Also bull-roarers were used at some specialized sphere of influence to instill cautions beside certain shrines in religious culture.


Tags: Africa, Religion, Traditional

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