Introduction to African Religion:  by John S. Mbiti
215 pages, $26.95 list
eBook availability
Introduction to African Religion
Second Edition
In his widely acclaimed survey, John Mbiti sheds light on the survival and prosperity of African Religion in different historical, geographical, sociological, cultural, and physical environments. He presents a constellation of African worldviews, beliefs in God, use of symbols, valued traditions, and practices that have taken root with African peoples throughout the vast continent.

Mbiti’s accessible writing style sympathetically portrays how African Religion manifests itself in ritual, festival, healing, the human life cycle, and interplay with the mystical and invisible world. The account embraces foundational traditions, while touching on elements that spawn transitions, including migration, the spread of Christianity and Islam, political-economic development, and modern communication. This popular introduction leaves readers with informed knowledge of the riches of African heritage.
“My students liked the work very much for its African authenticity (Mbiti being African), brevity, objectivity, and attention to subjects foreign to Western culture.” Edward Meadors, Taylor University

“Mbiti’s masterful retelling of Africa’s religious history and heritage makes for compelling reading. A brilliant book penned by a brilliant man.” — Darren Middleton, Texas Christian University

“Mbiti’s Introduction to African Religion gives richness, boldness, and pride to Africa’s religious heritage in the face of proselytizing religions like Islam and Christianity. It adequately fills the void that confronts people (not just students) meeting African traditional religion for the first time, and addresses the true nature of the religion. It is comprehensive and accessible in language. The questions in Appendix A and the proverbs in Appendix C are excellent for teachers, students, and religious leaders. Every institution, whether secular or religious, that teaches religion should use this book. It has my unwavering endorsement.” — Peter Ukpokodu, University of Kansas
Table of Contents
1. The African Heritage
The Richness of the African Heritage / The Spreading of the African Heritage / The Nature of the African Heritage

2. What Is African Religion?
The Nature of African Religion / African Religion Is Part of the African Heritage / African Religion Belongs to the People / How African Religion Was Founded / Does African Religion Have Sacred Scriptures? / Some Wrong Ideas about African Religion

3. Where African Religion Is Found
African Religion Is Found in the Rituals, Ceremonies, and Festivals of the People / African Religion Is Found in Shrines, Sacred Places, and Religious Objects / African Religion Is Found in Art and Symbols / African Religion Is Found in Music and Dance / African Religion Is Found in Proverbs, Riddles and Wise Sayings / African Religion Is Found in Names of People and Places / African Religion Is Found in Myths and Legends / African Religion Is Found in Beliefs and Customs / African Religion Is Found in All Aspects of Life / The Geographical Distribution of African Religion

4. African Views of the Universe
Accumulation of Ideas about the Universe / A Created Universe / The Nature of the Universe / Order and Power in the Universe / Man at the Centre of the Universe

5. Belief in God
The Origin of Belief in God / The Names of God / What God Does / Human Images of God / The Nature of God

6. How God Is Approached by People
The Meaning and Purpose of Worship / Prayers / Making Sacrifices and Offerings / Singing and Dancing in Worship / Intermediaries between God and Man

7. The Spirits
Types of Spirits / Nature Spirits / Human Spirits / What Do Spirits Do to People? / Belief in Spirits Helps to Explain the Universe

8. The Origin and Early State of Man
The Value of Myths / The Creation of Man / The Condition of the First Men

9. Birth and Time of Youth
A Child Is Expected / The Baby Arrives / The Baby Is Give a Name / When Twins and Triplets Are Born / Growth, Circumcision and Initiation / The Meaning and Importance of Initiation / Difference Forms of Initiation

10. Marriage and Family Life
The Obligation to Get Married / Marriage Customs / The Meaning of Marriage in African Societies / Children and Family Life

11. Death and the Hereafter
The Origin of Death / How Death Is Caused in Human Life / The Act of Dying / Rituals of Death / The Hereafter / The Destiny of the Soul / Remembering the Departed

12. Rituals and Festivals
The Meaning and Importance of Rituals / Personal Rituals / Agricultural Rituals / Health Rituals / Homestead Rituals / Professional Rituals / Festivals

13. Religious Objects and Places
Personal Religious Objects / Ritual Objects / Objects for Offerings and Sacrifices / Religious Places

14. Religious Leaders
The Value of Religious Leaders / Medicine Men / Diviners, Mediums, and Seers / Ritual Elders, Rain-makers, and Priests / Traditional Rulers

15. Health, Magic and Medicine
Enemies of Society / Magic, Sorcery and Witchcraft / Medicine

16. Morals in African Religion
The Meaning and Value of Morals / Family Morals / Community Morals / God and Human Morals

17. The Meeting of African Religion and Other Religions
Africa as the Continent of Many Religions / The Meeting between African Religion, Islam and Christianity / The Future of African Religion

18. The Value of Religion
Religion and Society / Religion Cultivates the Whole Person / Religion Provides People with a View of the World / Religion Answers Some Questions Which Nothing Else Can Answer / Religion Provides Mankind with Moral Values by Which to Live / Religion Gives Food to Spiritual Hunger / Religion has Inspired Great Ideas / Religion as a Means of Communication / Religion Pays Attention to the Key Moments in the Life of the Individual / Religion Celebrates Life / Religion Shows People Their Limitations

Appendix A: Questions
Appendix B: Books for Advanced Reading on African Religion
Appendix C: Examples of African Proverbs and Wise Sayings