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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:How environmental is African traditional religion?
Author:Taringa, NisbertISNI
Periodical:Exchange: Bulletin of Third World Christian Literature
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:African religions
nature conservation
Abstract:The author examines the extent of the claims that the traditional religion of the Shona of Zimbabwe is environmentally friendly. At the theoretical level, assuming a romantic view of Shona attitudes to nature, it is possible to conclude that Shona traditional religion is necessarily environmentally friendly. The beliefs in ancestral spirits ('midzimu'), panvitalism, kinship, taboo and totems have the potential to bear testimony to this. However, the present author shows that Shona attitudes to nature are in fact discriminative and ambivalent. He argues that the ecological attitude of traditional African religion is based more on fear or respect of ancestral spirits than on respect for nature itself. As a result, Shona attitudes to nature need to be reexamined if Shona traditional religion is to reemerge as a stronger environmental force in the global village. After introductory remarks the author presents background information on the Shona, focusing on their sociopolitical organization, world view and religion. An examination of Shona attitudes to nature focusing on the land, animals, and plant life and water bodies follows. Next, the author reflects on the ethical consequences of Shona attitudes to nature. In the last part he considers the limits of the romantic view of Shona attitudes to nature. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]