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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Religion, History and the Supreme Gods of Africa: A Contribution to the Debate
Author:Greene, Sandra E.
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic terms:Ghana
Subjects:African religions
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1581452
Abstract:The status of the Supreme Being in precolonial traditional African religious thought has been the subject of innumerable studies. Of particular concern in this paper is the debate that has raged between the so-called 'Devout' scholars and the 'De-Hellenists'. It builds on the theoretical outline of Robin Horton, a 'De-Hellenist', and emphasizes the practical, dynamic and nondoctrinaire aspects of African traditional religious belief. But it also challenges Horton's understanding of the nature of change as peripheral by arguing that not only did change occur, but that an understanding of the same is central to an analysis of African conceptions of the Supreme Being. The focus of the essay is on the Ewe and Fon god, Mawu. Evidence indicates that there did exist the concept of a Supreme Being among the Ewe and Fon-speaking peoples of Ghana, Togo and Benin prior to the 19th century, but evidence also suggests that this God's attributes shifted and changed over time under the influence of changing power relations within the upper and middle Slave Coast where the Ewe and Fon were situated. Notes, ref.