Essay: Mbiti and Tempels

Pages: 6 (2445 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper


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This quote explains that in order for a human being to behave in a certain way or to follow a certain set of ideas there must be a logical system of thought which links the human being to its environment. A human being will not behave in a certain way until it feels the reason for its presence. The theory believes that one must give up scientific and logical thinking in order to understand and get to the roots of the bantu philosophy. The theory explains that the Bantu people live more then the primitive ones for example those that follow a conceptual and logical religion such as Christianity, as these people revolve around their own ideas rather then believing on a set of ideas that has been carried on as in the case of primitive people thorough their bloodline.

To understand the bantu philosophy, one must get into the depth of the understanding of the human personality with a set of beliefs not necessarily based on logical thinking. The theory further argues that Why does not the African change? How is it that the pagan, the uncivilized, is stable, while the evolue, the Christian, is not? Because the pagan founds his life upon the traditional groundwork of his theodicy and his ontology, which include his whole mental life in their purview and supply him with a complete solution to the problem of living. On the other hand, the evolue, and often the Christian, has never effected a reconciliation between his new way of life and his former native philosophy, which remains intact just below the surface (of his behaviour), though we have rejected it in toto, together with the (ensuing) tribal customs that we misunderstand and disapprove. This philosophy was, however, the characteristic feature which made the Bantu the man he was. It belonged to his essential nature.

Further is an example that the philosophy refers to explain the depthness of the bantu philosophy:

"How many times have we not heard an African accused of being the cause of an illness, even of the death, of some other person simply because he had a dispute with him, or because he had insulted or cursed him? There is the usual palaver. The accused accepts judgment. He pays the damages claimed from him, usually without much argument and even, sometimes, in spite of the contrary judgment of an European Court. For the Bantu, indeed, the palaver judgments are clear and indisputable. They have a different conception of the relationships between men, of causality and responsibility. What we regard as the illogical lucubrations of "gloomy Niggers"1, what we condemn as greed, exploitation of the weak, are for them logical deductions from facts as they see them, and become an ontological necessity. If thereafter we wish to convince Africans of the absurdity of their sizing up of the facts by making them see how this man came to fall sick and of what he died, that is to say by showing them the physical causes of the death or of the illness, we are wasting our time. It would be in vain even to give them a course in microbiology to make them see with their own eyes, or even to discover for themselves through the microscope and by chemical reactions what the "cause" of the death was. Even then we should not have settled their problem. We should have decided only the physiological or chemical problem connected with it. The true and underlying cause, the metaphysical cause, would none the less remain for them in the terms of their thought, their traditional ontological wisdom."


As stated earlier, mainstream world religions have always been identified and interpreted on the basis of their respective histories, oratory preachers, and textual scriptures that have been into existence over the years. Such instruments of study and understand are non-existent in a typical African religious system. Since it is difficult for most modern researchers and people to comprehend to African rites and practices and come up with a logical reasoning to explain it, many also term, African practices as magical and satanic. This however is merely a judgemental statement attributed to the community based on the uninformed stereotypes and stigmas attached to their beliefs and practices. Inconsistency in rites and consistent innovation in tribal practices with exposure to a new calamity also adds to these biased judgements. There is no documented or empirical evidence whatsoever that could satisfy the hypothesis that there is any magical, supernatural or satanic undertones lining the African practices. It is however true that these practices are largely drawn out from ancestral myths, war heroes and famous characters and legendary stories that are passed on from generation to generation.

Much interdisciplinary work is needed to be done in order study and understand the concept of worship in African tribes. However, it is incorrect to conclude that magic acts as a foundation of African religious beliefs. As a matter of fact, many African tribals are moving towards converting to Christianity or Islam. This is only because of the role of religion which is deeply interwoven in their daily life and embedded in them physically, spiritually and emotionally. That said, unlike most mainstream religions, African religious beliefs have laid little principles about politics, economics, family life and other important aspects of human lifestyle.

Works Cited

Okrah, Kwadwo A. Nyansapo (The Wisdom Knot): Toward an African Philosophy of Education. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Roberts, John W. From Trickster to Badman: The Black Folk Hero in Slavery and Freedom. Philadelphia:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Essay:

APA Format

Mbiti and Tempels.  (2013, September 26).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Mbiti and Tempels."  26 September 2013.  Web.  22 July 2019. <>.

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"Mbiti and Tempels."  September 26, 2013.  Accessed July 22, 2019.