Names of God in Traditional African Religions

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The coming of the Arabs and Europeans saw the religious population of the African continent been divided mostly between Christains and Muslims, but there are still some who venerate the traditional Gods worshipped by their ethnic region, or household.

Names of God in Traditional African Religions
Image © casavogue.globo.com

Also in many cases, Africans who have converted to other religions have still kept up their traditional customs and practices, combining them in a syncretic way.

Unlike the religion brought to Africa by the Arabs and Europeans, these traditional African religions are oral rather than scriptural and are passed down from one generation to another through folk tales, songs, and festivals.

Practitioners of these traditional religion believe in a supreme creator, spirits, veneration of the dead, use of voodoo and traditional African medicine, carrying out obligations of the communal aspect of life. Examples include social behaviors such as the respect for parents and elders, raising children appropriately, providing hospitality, being honest, trustworthy, and courageous.

Below are some of the Names of God in Traditional African Religions

Bemba

Bemba, also known as Ngala or Pemba, is a creator God in Bamana or Bambara traditional religion, whose people now dwell in Mali.

Chukwu

Chukwu” is a portmanteau of the Igbo words “chi” (“spiritual being”) and “ukwu” (“great in size”). Chukwu is the supreme being of Igbo spirituality. In the Igbo pantheon, Chukwu is the source of all other Igbo deities and is responsible for assigning them their different tasks. The Igbo people believe that all things come from Chukwu. They believe Chukwu to be an undefinable omnipotent and omnipresent supreme deity that encompasses everything in space and space itself.

Among Igbo Christians, the word Chukwu is also commonly used to denote their faith in God as the Supreme being.

Mawu

Mawu is a creator goddess, associated with the Sun and Moon in Dahomey traditional religion.

Mbombo

Mbombo, also called Bumba, is the creator God in the traditional religion of the Kuba people of Central Africa in the area that is now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mukuru

Mukuru is the Supreme Creator (God) of the Himba and Herero people of Namibia. The deceased ancestors of the Himba and Herero are subservient to him, acting as intermediaries. However, while the ancestors are believed to bless or curse, Mukuru is believed to only bless.

Mulungu

Mlondolozi also known as Nkulunkulu, is a common name of the creator deity in a number of Bantu languages and cultures over East, Central and Southern Africa. This includes Yao, Nyamwezi, Shambaa, Kamba, Sukuma, Rufiji, Turu and Kikuyu.

Mwari

Mwari also known as Musikavanhu, Musiki, Tenzi and Ishe, is the Supreme Creator deity according to Shona traditional religion. It is believed that Mwari is the author of all things and all life and all is in him. The majority of this deity’s followers are concentrated in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Nana Buluku

Nana Buluku, also known as Nana Buruku, Nana Buku or Nanan-bouclou, is the female supreme being in the West African traditional religion of the Fon people (Benin, Dahomey) and the Ewe people (Togo). She is the most influential deity in West African theology, one shared by many ethnic groups other than the Fon people, albeit with variations. For example, she is called the Nana Bukuu among the Yoruba people and the Olisabuluwa among Igbo people but described differently, with some actively worshiping her while some do not worship her and worship the gods originating from her.

Names of God in Traditional African Religions

Ngai

Ngai is the monolithic Supreme God in the spirituality of the Kamba and Kikuyu people of Kenya. Ngai is creator of the universe and all in it. Regarded as the omnipotent God, the Kikuyu worshiped Ngai facing the Mt. Kirinyaga (Mount Kenya).

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Nhialic

Nhialic is the supreme creator God featured in Dinka traditional theology, whose people now dwell in South Sudan. As a separate entity, Nhialic is a supreme creator God who dwells in the skies. It is believed that Nhialic created the first humans as well as the universe and everything in it.

In Dinka people’s daily lives, natural phenomena that appear from the sky, such as rain and thunder, are considered a sign of Nhialic’s presence on earth.

Njambe

Njambe is the supreme creator God figure in the traditional religion of the Loki or Boloki people, who are primarily based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nyame

Nyame (or Onyankopon) is the God of the Akan people of Ghana. His name means “he who knows and sees everything” and “omniscient, omnipotent sky god” in the Akan language.

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Nzambi

Nzambi is the God of the Bacongo people of Angola. Identified with the sun, Nzambi is self-existent, almighty, and ‘knows all’. The Bacongo say: ‘He is made by no other, no one beyond him is.’ Nzambi, ‘the marvel of marvels’, is kind, a deity who ‘looks after the case of the poor man’.

Olodumare

Olodumare also known as Ọlọ́run (Almighty) is one of the manifestations of the Supreme Creator God in Yoruba religion. The name comes from the words Oni, Odu, and Mare, meaning “the owner of the source of creation”

The Yoruba believe that Olodumare is omnipotent and is the Source of all.

Names of God in Traditional African Religions

Olofi

Olofi or Olofin is the name given to one of the three manifestations of the Supreme God in the yoruba religion. Olofi is the ruler of the Earth. The Supreme God has three manifestations: Olodumare, the Creator; Olorun, ruler of the heavens; and Olofi, who is the conduit between Orún (Heaven) and Ayé (Earth).

Ọlọrun

Ọlọrun is the ruler of the Heavens. The Supreme God or Supreme Being in the Yoruba pantheon, Olorun is also called Olodumare.
Among Yoruba Christians and Muslims, the word Ọlọrun is also commonly used to denote their faith in God as the Almighty Divine, the Absolute Sovereign.

Osanobua

Osalobua is the name for God in the Edo language. It is often abbreviated as Osa.

The word osalobua encompasses a large number of divine principles – including the divine state of being merciful, timeless, goodness, justice, sublimity, and supreme. In the Edo belief system, Osalobua has the divine attributes of omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence.

Ruhanga

Ruhanga features in traditional Bantu theological as the remote creator and sky-God, recognized among the Banyoro, Banyankore, Batooro, Bahaya, Bakiga, Bahema and all other groups referred to in general as Banyakitara.

Umvelinqangi

UMvelinqangi is a Nguni word which translates to “the Most High” or “Divine Consciousness”; that is considered the source of all that has been, that is and all that ever will be.

Unkulunkulu

Unkulunkulu is the Supreme Creator in the language of the Zulu people.
With the arrival of Christian missionaries, Unkulunkulu became the name for the Christian supreme being.

Traditional Creation Stories from Africa

The Traditional Creation Story of the Mandé Peoples of Western Africa

The Traditional Creation Story of the Efik People of Nigeria

The Creation Story of Mbombo, a God From Central Africa Who Vomited the Universe

First He Created a Tremendous Tree — The Creation Story of the San Peoples if Southern Africa

“And The First Human Was Named Baatsi” — The Creation Story of The Efe Pygmies of DR Congo

The Creation Story of the Maasai People of East Africa

The Creation Story of the Bijago People of Guinea-Bissau

“The Time When Everything Divided”; The Creation Story of The Kaluli Tribe

How The World Was Created From A Drop OF Milk: The Creation Story of Doondari



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Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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