African Religions

Beliefs and Practices through History

by Douglas Thomas and Temilola Alanamu, Editors


Many subtle and obvious connections exist between the familiar religious traditions of modern African Americans and that of seemingly exotic African spiritual traditions.

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Cover image for African Religions

November 2018


Pages 426
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Religion/General
  Geography and World Cultures/Culture
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This book supplies fundamental information about the diverse religious beliefs of Africa, explains central tenets of the African worldview, and overviews various forms of African spiritual practices and experiences.

Africa is an ancient land with a significant presence in world history—especially regarding the history of the United States, given the ethnic origins of a substantial proportion of the nation's population. This book presents a broad range of information about the diverse religious beliefs of Africa that serves to describe the beliefs, practices, deities, sacred places, and creation stories of African religions. Readers will learn about key forms of spiritual practices and experiences, such as incantations and prayer, dance as worship, and spirit possession, all of which pepper African American religious experiences today. The entries also discuss central tenets of the African worldview—for example, the belief that humankind is not to fight nature, but to integrate into the natural environment.

This volume is specifically written to be highly accessible to students. It provides a much-needed source of connections between the religious traditions and practices of African Americans and those of the people of the continent of Africa. Through these connections, this work will inspire tolerance of other religions, traditions, and backgrounds. The included selection of primary documents provides users first-hand accounts of African religious beliefs and practices, serving to promote critical thinking skills and support Common Core State Standards.


  • Presents approximately 100 alphabetically arranged entries written by a team of expert contributors
  • Overviews the plurality of African religious cultures and identifies the distant origins of African American religious experiences today
  • Includes primary documents discussing African religious beliefs and practices
Author Info

Douglas Thomas, PhD, is Benjamin S. Quarles Endowed Professor of History at Grambling State University, Grambling, LA. He received his doctorate in African history from Georgia State University in 2009. His research focuses on religious history of the Senegambian region of West Africa, and he is the author of Sufism, Mahdism, and Nationalism: Limamou Laye and the Layennes of Senegal.

Temilola Alanamu, PhD, recently completed a doctorate in history at the University of Exeter. Alanamu's publications have appeared in such journals as Church History and Religious Culture, Lagos Historical Review, and Cambridge Undergraduate History Journal.

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