A comprehensive walk-through the immensely vast topic of traditional African religion made accessible to all.
A highly educational documentary undermining negative views of traditional religions.
My interest in African traditional religion was sparked when I saw something I was not supposed to see; there was a spoon hanging from the cupboard in my Granny’s bedroom and I knew straight away what it was. After recalling all of the Voodoo propaganda I had ever been exposed to (but not consumed) I knew that it could not be bad as this was my Granny. I asked her what it was and she mouthed “Obeah”, asking about the role of the spoon, she replied “to keep the spirits away”; I knew that I should stop asking there- my Mum could not believe her Mother told me this. This was the time when Dementia was setting in and she was protecting herself against this. I thought the fact that she knew Obeah could help me trace my family origins.
I had been waiting for this documentary to come out since March; the premiere could not have come any sooner. The evening started with African drumming, which I assumed as communication to the ancestors for the documentary we were about to watch; the band captivated the whole audience and I felt elevated everyone to the same plane.
The stage was set. The documentary is, as far as I am aware, the first of its kind exploring African traditional religion. It highlighted common themes in the major western religions, such as how ancestor reverence is the equivalent of prayer to saints by way of communication to the Creator, such as is communication to the deities, though we often think them polar.
Through a series of very interesting interviews with practitioners and professionals, it successfully explained what traditional religion was about, the order and structure (which is similar all over the continent) and core themes such as love for the environment. The speakers expressed their views and experiences, and we were provided with a balanced account. The negative assumption of Voodoo was dissolved when interviewees told us they were taught magic was only to be used for good, which I felt most likely to be representative of the majority of practitioners.
It completely blew apart conspiratorial myths about African religion. As many of us may be aware, traditional ways were not acceptable in the new framework of European culture and Christianity, but this knowledge does little to challenge our fears or suspicion towards African religion to this day; representation, or propaganda in mainstream culture and general lack of understanding within our culture has been fuelling our uncertainties for centuries. What was made clear though, most relevantly, was why demonization of traditional religion in particular was- because of fear of the power it holds; the Haitian revolution is greatly attributed to this power. If it was used against slave masters, how could they ever have a good view of it? This is the view we have been given.
A must see for anyone with ill-informed presumptions when they hear ‘Voodoo’, for those who are in their quest of decolonising their minds and those who wish to reconnect and awaken their dormant spiritualities.
This documentary has had a profound effect on me and certainly highlighted things that I should pay more attention to. Congratulations to the producers and contributors and many thanks, highly recommend.