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Fire is one of four basic elements in the universe, the others being air, Earth, and water. In many African cosmologies, fire represents the first element because, accordingly, it represents the state in which the world/Earth originated—“a burning planet.” Thus, fire is central to how African people understand the structure and order of the universe. More specifically, the universe is conceptualized as a spiritual force providing for the sustenance of human existence in both physical and spiritual realities. Therefore, fire is an aspect of all African spiritual systems connected via some spiritual essence, suggesting a harmonious relationship between humans and natural phenomena.

This notion of fire as the first element is most prominent in the Dagara cosmology, where fire is believed to exist in everything ...

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