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What is the attitude of African traditional religion vis-à-vis oppressive rulers and oppressive institutions such as the slave trade, colonialism, or local dictatorship? To raise such a question is to address the problematic issue of whether religion per se is a force of progress and liberation or an obscurantist weapon of mass destruction. The answer to such a question is made extremely complicated by the complex history of Africa. On the one hand, forms of slavery existed in Africa, apparently introduced by Islam, as they did in ancient Greece, Rome, Christian Europe, Asia, and the Islamic world. On the other hand, the principle of Bumuntu, which stands at the core of African traditional religion, bears witness to high moral standards that condemn all forms of ...

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