There are similarities between African religions, there are also differences. Just as there are differences in religious practice in the United States-not just between Christians, Moslems, Jews, Hindus, and others, but even within Christianity (Roman Catholics and many Protestant groups), Islam (Sunni, Sh’ite, Nation of Islam) and Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform)-so too there are differences in religious belief and practice among African religions.
Although the supernatural God and spirit world are important in African religions, religious belief and practice are central to all aspects of life in Africa. That is, religious beliefs impact the way people live their everyday lives, from what they eat (or cannot eat), the way they farm, do everyday chores, hunt, make tools and clothes, arrange themselves in families, marry, divide work among family members, educate their children, treat illness, and bury the dead. Among indigenous African religions, religious belief and practice are not restricted to one holy day each week, be it Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, but are present in the most common daily activities as well as in special ritual ceremonies.
African religions provide people with what some scholars call a world-view. A world-view can be thought of as a system of values, attitudes, and beliefs, which provide people with a mechanism to understand the world in which they live and everyday events and occurrences. Maybe we can think of a world-view as being like a language. Can you imagine how hard it would be explain or understand everyday events and occurrences if we did not have language-words? Words are essential tools that help us explain and understand events and occurrences. But words come with their own meanings, we cannot simply change the meanings of words when we use them to explain or to understand events or why we live the way we do. Words and their meanings help shape the way we see, and therefore how we explain, events.
African indigenous religions provide a system of morality that establishes right from wrong, good and appropriate from bad or inappropriate behavior. Just as with Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, children growing up in African religions learn right from wrong, and what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in every situation that they face.
Like all world religions, rituals are important to African indigenous religions. Rituals are cultural or religious ceremonies that celebrate or commemorate specific events that have deep religious significance. Rituals serve to reinforce important religious beliefs through meaningful activities that bring comfort or joy and thus strengthen the unity of the followers of the religious tradition. Rituals are often associated with important human events: birth, marriage, death, planting, and harvest.