What is evil? In the traditional African society, evil was an offence against God, spirits and ancestors. It was also viewed as an offence against another person or community. Evil was also a misfortune that can befall an individual or a community.
What are the causes of evil? Many of the traditional African societies do not associate God with evil. God is not the creator of evil. Some communities believe that evil is an external power that exists on its own. Thus in the traditional African society, evil was understood or explained as something mysterious that was caused by several people and things.
- Evil spirits
- Ancestral spirits – due to disobedience to them
- Some animals like the chameleon are sources of evil.
The Akamba believed that chameleons brought evil. Other communities believed that if an owl cries near one’s homestead, it is a sign of evil.
- d) People with mystical powers for example magic, sorcery, and witchcraft are evils.
- e) If a member of a community breaks a taboo by disobedience, this action may bring evil spirits.
- f) The spirits of the dead; cause evil; if they are not remembered or respected.
Evil spirits cause harm and violence.
Consequences of evil in traditional African society
These were many and ranged from
(h) Burning in a house
(j) Physically and mentally handicapped children
(l) Rebellious children
God’s Plan of Salvation
After the fall of man, God took steps to heal the damaged situation and relationship between Him and Adam and Eve.
- Provided clothing of skin to Adam and Eve.
- Looked for Adam and Eve since they were hiding from His presence.
- Provided Adam and Eve with the knowledge to find different foods.
- Declared enmity between man and the snake.
- Hinted at the ultimate victory of man when He said that the seed of the woman would crush the snake or serpent’s head.
The serpent would attack the heel of man and woman. All through the Old Testament, and the New Testament, we see God’s plan of salvation being manifested. For instance, GOD chose and separated Abraham from other communities. The children of Israel led by Moses (were delivered) from Egypt,. God sent prophets to teach and warn the Israelites of the dangers of sin. Finally God sent his only son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to save human kind.
Similarities and Differences between Traditional African View of Evil and Biblical Concept of Sin
Both the Biblical and traditional African view or agree that
1) God is supreme. God is neither the creator nor author of evil
2) Sin comes from the disobedience of God by human beings
3) Evil and misfortune are God’s curse to man (Biblical) while the traditional African society sees evil as curses by ancestors, and elders. Both curses lead to misfortunes.
4) The result of sin and evil is human sufferings
5) Sin and evil lead to man being separated from God
6) God is the guardian of law and order
7) Human beings have the ability to overcome evil
1) Biblical account emphasizes personal nature of sin while in the African concept; sin is more social and communal
2) Biblical account attributes evil to disobedience while African concept attributes evil not only to disobediences but other external forces.
3) Biblical accounts offer a message of hope to overcome evil while African concept doesn’t offer a solution to sin and evil.
4) Traditional African concept all forms of suffering as a result of sin while in the Bible suffering is not always a result of sin.
1) Explain the differences between the two creation stories
2) State the traditional African view of creation
3) Explain how human beings continue with the work of creation
4) What is the origin of sin and evil according to traditional African society?
5) Give three consequences of sin as stated in Genesis
6) State the consequences of evil according to African traditional societies
7) Trace God’s plan of salvation of human kind
African Moral Values Introduction
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