Shame in African religion refers to an awareness of the violation of a taboo that can cause harm to one's community if it is not dealt with through propitiation or sacrifice. The person who is responsible for the violation of the taboo is associated with disgrace and collective condemnation because he or she has placed the entire community at risk of retribution by the ancestors.

Throughout Africa, one finds the idea of a communal sense of responsibility; that is, people live with a degree of respect for others in the society. Therefore, dishonoring the ancestors by violating a taboo, breaking a rule, committing incest, cursing an elder, or attempting to harm the community produces shame.

Shame must not be considered the same as guilt in the Western ...

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