Family Rites

Every African family is involved in one way or another in the rituals that sustain the community. In fact, without the accompanying rituals, a society cannot last long. This entry examines several rituals of ordinary African life.


The human cycle of birth, growing up, marriage, and death is marked all the way with religious observances in Africa. Birth is a time of huge rejoicing. In many cultures, there is a period of waiting before the celebrations begin, making sure first that the baby is healthy and strong enough to survive. The Akamba of West Africa wait 3 days before slaughtering a goat, at which point the child is named. The Gikuyu in Kenya have a period of 4 to 5 days of seclusion for both mother ...

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