At the end of the lesson, you should be able to:

  1. State responsibilities of the living to God, spirits, and ancestors.
  2. Explain the various forms of worship.

Responsibilities of living include

Human beings are expected to worship God, spirits and ancestors and show

(i) reverence and respect or veneration to God.

They are also expected to

(i) pray

(ii) sing and

(iii) dance.

Worship. This is our major responsibility as God expects us to meet and communicate with the spiritual world and God.

There are several ways of worshipping God.

These include among others:

(a) Sacrifices and offerings.

Sacrifices include shedding of blood of animals and birds.

Offerings are in the form of foodstuffs, milk, water and honey.

God was worshipped because He is recognized as the absolute owner of life and property.

We also worship God in order to

(i) invoke Him for special blessings

(ii) thank Him

(iii) express our personal fellowship and communion with God

(iv) avert or prevent evil.

Evils bring about epidemics, famine, floods, and drought.

(b) Singing and dancing.

Africans worshipped God through singing, dancing, clapping of hands, drumming, and use of musical instruments.

(c) Prayers, invocations and blessings.

Prayers were accompanied with sacrifices or offerings. Community leaders prayed to God, spirits and ancestors.

(d) Invocations are shortened form of prayers e.g.

“Help me oh God” ‘Oh great God”. These are prayers at the spur of the moment. They are few words full of meaning and calling for help form God.

(e) Formal blessings.

An elder or older person gave blessings. It is believed that the person blessing the other one is doing so on behalf of God.


(f) Venerations.

Africans treated their ancestors with great respect and honor.

They for example worshiped ancestors daily.

Worshipping included placing food or pouring libation of beer, milk, water and honey for the spirits.

As this act was done, they uttered words to accompany the offerings. Libations were done daily by some communities.

(g). Ancestors were honored by:

  • Mentioning their names at prayers was offered to God.
  • Naming children after them.
  • Inviting them to participate in family ceremonies and rituals. For example during birth, and initiation.
  • Maintaining their graves well.
  • Giving the dead a decent burial.

Communication with spirits

Diviners and mediums talk with ‘spirits”. To do so, they sit quietly in a place; singing, dancing and clapping their hands. As they dance, sit and sing, diviners lose their senses and get possessed by the spirit.

The spirits speak give them messages for individuals and communities.

Spirits communicate on issues such as

(i) Lost property

(ii) Revealing by name the enemy in the society

(iii) Making demands on the living

(iv) Giving advice

(v) Giving warnings on impending danger and

(vi) Making promises to bless a family or clan.

Spirits that possess mediums are not harmful.

There are bad evil spirits harmful to people whom they possess. Some evil spirits cut themselves; others throw themselves into a fire, river, and lake.


  1. a) Explain African beliefs about god (or qualities)
  2. b) Describe the African understanding of the hierarchy of being
  3. c) Describe the role of the ancestors to the living
  4. d) What was the responsibility of the living towards God?
  5. e) Describe the T.A. ways of worshipping God.

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