This month's roundup features a potential apology from the Church of England, a new celeb member of the Ifa faith and a call to better education on the ancestral African religons.

Ciara’s prayer but who was she praying to?

Ciara made headlines when she outlined her prayer for finding a man that treats her as wonderfully as Russell Wilson does. For ages she had the internet in a chokehold begging for the exact wording it took her to land her man, but, maybe we should have been asking WHO she was praying to before getting so involved in what. Whilst many assumed it was the christian God, Ciara has the internet a flutter again as she is spotted wearing something that looks like an ide.

What’s an ide?

An ide is a bracelet of green and brown beads worn on the left hand that signifies someone as a having isefa or one hand of ifa. Wearing this bracelet identifies you to others as a child of Orunmila an aborisa or practitioner of the ifa faith, the traditional religion of the Yoruba people which has close links to Kemet and contains one of the earliest examples of binary/quantum coding. I very crudely compare the rite of isefa to confirmation in the Christian faith. It says you’ve been here for a while, you are committing in a serious way, but you’re no priest. My isefa was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had in life and it spurred on probably the most transformative period of my life to date (and I am no stranger to deep and holistic transformation).

Why is this important?

Keen eyes were quick to notice the ide like bracelet on Ciara’s left wrist, and Ciara would be one of many celebrities that are rumoured or confirmed to be practitioners of an African Traditional Religion. Any high profile confirmation goes a long way to combat the misinformation that has been spread about these religions. A key feature of colonialism was the conversion of the target peoples to the colonising religion and removing as many links as possible to their homeland and tradition. This is why children were removed and schools taken over, to create a schism between generations and confirm the new population would grow up steeped in the colonisers beliefs. Yet 100s of millions of people worldwide continue to practice African Traditional Religion and these religions are experiencing a kind of renaissance with imagery and influences found in chart topping and bestselling works from Beyoncé to Bolu Babalola.

There’s debate about whether the colours in fact match - is the bracelet the traditional green and brown and affected by a video filter or something else entirely? But the entire outfit seems curated and it’s such a specific thing that odds are - sis is one of the fam. Image below, what do you think?

On her left wrist in this video still is the iconic and easily recognisable ide. We think...

Is the Church about to publicly acknowledge the harm it's caused in Africa?

African Christianity is often a contentious topic. There are many questions around the harms done in the name of Christ to the African population, the church’s historical role in the slave trade and actions it takes that are paternalistic and racist to this day. Whilst individual faith is anyone’s choice, there is no question that the Church has caused harm that it has not come close to acknowledging, let alone repairing through its role as an institution on the continent.

I was shocked to read of the suffering of Malidoma Patrice Somé in his autobiographical monograph “Of Water and the Spirit”. Somé chronicles being stolen from his family as a child, suffering terrible abuse during school until he runs away to make his way back home and to the the indigenous faith of his, the Dagara people. The people, when at first posed with the story of Christ and his sacrifice on the cross in short said, sounds like a you problem. Your ancestors made a mistake murdering a man, and that’s on you to deal with. We have our own ancestors and our own story to live.

The Oversight Group that addresses the Church of England’s role in chattel slavery has editors at The Spectator concerned. In particular the following paragraph has people questioning whether the Church is going to go too far in apologising for missionary activity, making light of the sacrifices people made to convert others. The language in the articles on the topic is problematic to say the least - both in The Spectator and First Things there’s no acknowledgement of the people who died in the name of their basic human right to religious freedom, and African Traditional Religions are presented in the most barbaric terms. Neither author seems to recognise themselves perpetuating the exact thing that the report is suggesting they apologise for.

I would have hoped that by now we were at a place that the infringement of human rights, and denying Black people are made in the image of God is something that is worthy of an apology and I can recommend many an organisation that would welcome the efforts of the Church to put this stain on their legacy right.

Reclaiming culture and education

The Secretary of the Traditional Religion Worshippers Association (TRWA), Oyo state branch has called for the establishment of schools where Traditional Religious knowledge will be taught to embed Yoruba culture, history and values in the upcoming generations.

Dr Fayemi Fakayode believes “there is a need to equip the younger generations with cultural-base knowledge that will make them useful for themselves and their land as well as implanting in them the spirit of patriotism that will make them unyielding to the spirit of betraying their ancestors”.

This is part of a global step change in education and general sentiment that celebrates the wisdom of traditional religions and perhaps a shift in the way people act and define themselves in a globalised world. Where before the impetus was on emulating what people perceived to the be the most powerful culture, now people are returning to exploring and celebrating the parts of their identity and heritage that colonial systems once tried to erase.

The miseducation of Africans has led to many wrong perceptions of traditional religion that continue through to today and it will be safer, healthier, world for us all once there is more clarity and understanding around these religions that were once made taboo.

That's the round up this month. Stay tuned for more.