African Religion: Acts of Worship

Among some African people, it is customary to incorporate God’s name into children’s names as an act of worship. This is an expression of worship signifying in some cases that the child has been born in answer to a prayer and therefore the parents wish to thank God for the miracle; in other cases it signifies a particular attribute of God which may have been expressed by the circumstances surrounding the child’s birth; or it may indicate the parents’ desire to praise God through their child’s name. These names become lifelong testimonies of particular attributes of God.

For example the Banyarwanda and Barundi express God’s wisdom and power by naming newborns “Ntawu Yankira” which means no one can refuse Him His way, or “Bizimana” which means God knows everything. If they wish to express gratitude through a newborn child, they would name the child “Ndiho Kubgayo” which means I am alive because of Him or “Ntirandekura which means “He has not let me drop yet.”

Another form of God worship among the African people is through songs. Many religious gatherings and ceremonies are accompanied by singing which not only helps in passing religious knowledge from one group to another, but also helps to create a feeling of solidarity. Some of the songs are used in marking birth initiations, some during marriage ceremonies, and some for pacifying or hushing crying babies, while others are sang during funeral rites. Hunters like the Ngombe tribe use religious songs acknowledging their dependence upon God for a victorious outcome or attributing their ultimate success to Him.

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