ERIC Number: ED254468
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Jun-22
Reference Count: 0
Source and Influence: A Comparative Approach to African Religion and Culture.
The importance of studying the primary context of the relationship between "source" and "influence" in a comparative science of religion and culture is emphasized throughout this article. Focusing primarily on the situation in Muslim and Christian Africa, the article distinguishes between in-coming "sources" and indigenous "influences." Although it seems reasonable to consider how Christianity and Islam changed Africa, it is more consistent and critical to consider the effects Africa has had on the two religions. The issue of vernacular languages is seen as the key to the process of the transformation of Christianity and Islam in Africa. Comparisons between reactions to the language of the missionary as unsuitable for the expression of religion in African culture and reactions to the intrinsic untranslatability of the Islamic Koran are made. Specific examples drawn from the Akan and Hausa cultures and the Ibo (Nigeria), Wolof (Senegal), Mandika (Mali), and Swahili (Kenya) languages are presented. The paper concludes that (1) if borrowing takes place at all, it is on the basis of an original mutual attraction, (2) depending on the level of such mutual attraction, indigenous criteria act on the incoming materials by domesticating them, and (3) once assimilated, the new materials may act both to judge and justify the earlier materials. A passage from the travels of Sir Richard Burton is used as a concluding example of what African culture can do to foreign cultural materials. (LH)
Publication Type: Reports - General
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Bernard Van Leer Foundation, The Hague (Netherlands).
Authoring Institution: Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA. Graduate School of Education.
Note: Paper from the Project on Human Potential. For other project papers, see SO 016 244-270.