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Who are these people and what do they believe in?

     This is one of many African Religions with its main roots in Bantu. Bantu being the name given to the majority of the population of central Africa and numbering at the start of the 21st century about sixty million people. Bantu is a people, a language and a whole way of life.

     The origin of most of the African religions is hard to pin down. A good guess would be about 2000 years ago, but exactly where and how the formation of Bantu and The Akan Religion occurred is buried too deep for an easy dating. The Akans have a slightly simpler version of Bantu but as with many other religions, the reverence has a lot to do with 'Earth Forces', the sky, water and the land itself.
     Most African religions maintain that there is an unbreakable link with the past and a more tenuous but still sure link to the future and this is the thing that brings up the subject of ancestor veneration, the thing that is very much a part of the Akan's every day goings on.
     As far a Gods go in this part of the world, there are a lot of them. Top of the tree is Nyame who is either the same as or a very close relative of Nzambi of the Bantus.
     Nyame - like Nzambi - means 'Sky' and as the sky in Africa is particularly big it follows that Nyame has much to do. Which is no problem for Nyame as he gets a lot of help with the natural forces like rain, thunder and lightning, from his children.

     One of Nyame's offspring is Tano.
     Tano is the God in charge of rivers and has a big responsibility in the land fertility department. Fortunately that part of the African continent has long enjoyed a rainfall of world-record proportions and it follows that Nyame, Tano and all the other kids are usually seen to be doing a good job, and of course, given the appropriate thanks.
     One of Nyame's little presents to humankind are the trees. This is no idle gift, because certain trees hold the spirits of the ancestors and planting a tree outside whatever passes for home is sure to get you favourably noticed by Gods and spirits alike. And this, through the linking of wood, brings up the subject of Stools.
     Again, not just any old stools, these are owned revered and sat on only by heads of family and tribal chiefs, and used for a very special purpose. The stool is the one material thing that links past with present.

     Down at the Stool House every three weeks or so, the festivities begin. Every important decision, be it political, tribal or religious is made with the Stool at centre stage which gives the (dead) ancestors somewhere to sit and a chance to join in.
     The shaman with the almost unpronounceable name of Nganga is in charge of the activity, he is the local expert on and everything, especially stools. As a mixer of herbs and maker of potions he would be a healer, a fortune-teller and master of all the appropriate ceremonies - in short, the local Witch Doctor.
     The Ngangas' activities are well documented, and it seems that a good part of his time is spent chasing away the spells of the bad spirits. To the casual observer, this would mean that there were bad spirits about in the first place, and that the bad spirit gang is having just as busy a time as the good gang.
     Life after death is a racing certainty for the Akans, which must have quite an influence when making present day decisions down at the Stool House.

     As with the rest of Africa, the Akan have suffered at the hands and tempers of the immigrant white order.
     An order that has changed a reasonably acceptable way of life that had lasted for longer than any of them can remember into an uncertain future that none of them want.


Top God:Nyame.
Running Time:2000 years.
Status:Alive and well.
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