Global Africa Symposium on Africa’s Indigenous Religions: August 8-13, 2016






Africa’s Indigenous Religions: Critical Approaches to its Philosophies, Doctrine, Scholarship, Documentation and Survival through Oral and Written Traditions from Theoretical and Historical Perspectives.

The Keynote Speaker is Professor Molefi Kete Asante


Osun State Government; PanAfrican Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG), Departments of Philosophy, Religious Studies, History, and Sociology and Anthropology, Obafemi Awolowo University; Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus; Centre for Institute of African Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, USA; and Collegium Ovirium, Argentina.

DATE:            August 8-13, 2016

VENUE:          Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria



Indigenous African Religions face the critical crises of existential proportion and with the crises arises a fundamental challenge to the humanity of Africans globally. Many indigenous African religions have become extinct, succumbing to the centuries of concerted efforts from both east, west and within to destroy them.  Every single indigenous African religion is under sever assault and is endangered and to be complacent is to actively encourage theperilous disaster waiting to happen to global African Religions.  There is no doubt that African Traditional Religions are fundamental elements in terms of Africans having a positive cultural identity and hence has been a primary target for destruction in order to dehumanize and derogate the identity of African peoples globally. Forces from the East and West were in full understanding of the direct relationship between the people and their religions and with the way the people felt about, saw and related with themselves. Iconoclasm and epistemicide have been the most effective tools used throughout Africa to dispossess Africans of their religious heritage, indigenous knowledge systems, scientific heritage, cultural identity and value systems.  It is clear that what is at stake is the preservation of the indigenous religions of Africa and the cultures they encapsulate, thereby making an Afrocentric connection to the natural world in a sustainable way possible.

The symposium proposes, among other things, to examine if, within ‘African Indigenous Religions’, as primarily conveyors of oral and written religious traditions of Africa, there can be identified various core groups of ideas, liturgies, cosmologies, etc., in these religions, which,  in a similar way to other “World Religions”, can be synthesized and transformed into written “Holy Book(s)”, Codex, Scripture(s) or Sacred Document(s), which can operate as (a) legitimate reference documents for African Traditional Religions, and thereby constitute (a) source book(s) for further development, be the subject for academic study, interpretation, be the bearers of the world views of Africans and be the foundation for African Philosophy, Ethics, African Customary Laws, Governance, and provide insights into various aspects of existence.

To achieve this aim, the Symposium will bring together practising African Traditional Religions’ leaders and peoples, scholars, and thinkers who will critically appraise the term ‘indigenous’ while at the same time subjecting the widespread use of ‘world’ religions to theoretical and historical scrutiny.  The symposium will feature thematic papers exploring approaches to the study of Africa’s Indigenous Religions from different regions, with an emphasis on Africa and its Diaspora.  It will also consider the challenges of studying religions that originally were based primarily on oral, but also written, sources but which through history have been transformed into traditions with written scriptures.


The symposium is methodological in nature.  Selected experts and practitioners in the field will be invited to present lead papers on the topics related to the general theme of the symposium.  In addition, the symposium will be open to participants from the selected academic community relevant to the overall aims of the Symposium, but it is also open to all interested members of the various groups of the Africa’s Traditional Religions.  The number of those attending, including the speakers, will be limited to ensure that the critical purpose of creating the foundation for Africa’s Traditional/Indigenous Religions’ future sustainability is not compromised.


The following are the immediate, medium and long term projected outcomes of the Symposium

a) The papers will be edited and offered for publication.

b) Programme and Plan for the production of a synthesized African Traditional Religion Scripture, Holy Text will be commissioned with timeline and budget will be produced and circulated for funding

c) Programme and Plan for the establishment of autonomous Institute for the Study of ATR

d) Determining Research Project, and planning Annual Symposium

e) Programme and Plan for the Documentation and Archival Resources on African Traditional Religions within the Centre

f) Developing Programme and Plan for training African Traditional Religions Leaders, Administrators and Scholars

g) Developing Undergraduate and Graduate Programmes, Research, Publication in ATR


This is a Symposium dedicated to African Traditional Religions, with Africa construed globally as understood in the African Union of Six Regions.  Lead Presentations will be commissioned on selected aspects of the theme (Doctrine, Literature and Scholarship) of the symposium. Experts, researchers, students and the practitioners of African Traditional Religions are invited to submit a 300 word abstract on one of (or related to) the following sub-themes of the Symposium by March 15, 2016:

Origins, Needs and Use of Religion in Africa

Gnosis and Ontology in African Traditional Religions

The Universes and their relationships in African Traditional Religions

Being, Identity and Society in African Traditional Religions

Aesthetics and Religion in African Traditional Religions

Gender, Sex and Ageing in African Traditional Religions

Morality and Society in African Traditional Religions

Governance, Business and Development in African Traditional Religions

Life and Death

End of life decisions

Prophets, Prophesy, Divinations and Future

Management of African Traditional Religions Knowledge and Assets

Codification, Documentation and Transmission in ATR

Scriptural Syntheses – Doctrinal Codex

Training the Priests and Priestesses in ATR

Liturgy, Traditions, Ceremonies, Communions and Festivals in ATR

The Public and the Private – the Holy and the Profane in ATR

Continuity and Generations in ATR – the Old, the Adult, the Youth and the Unborn

Nature in ATR – Use, Abuse and Preservation

ATR in the face of Modernity

ATR and migrant alien Religions

ATR and the Media

ATR and Atheism

Panel Discussions are encouraged, to brainstorm on various aspects of the task of ensuring the survival and propagation of ATR globally.  Persons interested in organizing panels are encouraged to provide a summary of the panel, panellists, relevance to the Symposium, and overall contribution to the development of ATR globally.


Completed paper presentations are expected to reach the Symposium Secretariat by March 31, 2016.  This will ensure that such papers are uploaded to the Symposium Website by April 30, 2016.

Submissions from the Six Regions are to be made as follows:

Tunde Bewaji (             North America and the Caribbean

Obadiah Otitigbe (                 Latin America

Mogobe Ramose (              South Africa

Godfrey Tangwa (                  Central and East Africa

David Ogungbile (                        West Africa

NB:     All submissions should be copied to Professors Tunde Bewaji ( Yunusa Salami ( and

General Information Requests should be directed to the Symposium Secretariat at PANAFSTRAG Offices, Lagos, Nigeria (

SYMPOSIUM FEES (Covers Symposium Materials and Refreshments):

Participants from Africa                                                         $100

Participants from outside Africa                                            $150

Retirees and Graduate Students from outside Africa             $100

Participants from Nigeria                                                        N20,000.00

Retirees and Graduate Students from Nigeria             N10,000.00


All participants are encouraged to register for the Tours to Historic Religious and Cultural Sites (Ile-Ife, Ibadan, Oshogbo, Oyo, Benin, Arochukwu, etc) in Nigeria by end of January, 2016.


Symposium Hotels and Guest Houses will be negotiated at group rates for the duration of the Symposium.  This will be communicated to participants by January, 2016, so that bookings, mentioning the Symposium, can be made online or through the Symposium Secretariat.

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