Akan: Mayalism, Obeah, Rivival,
Ba Kongo: Kumina,Pokumina
They are all intermixed.
It has some grammar Issues and Spelling issues but you all can read around that. I was doing several other papers and just do a quick ting on this...some of the key info in it.
This was for a Class called Religions of the African World
Europeans main goal in demonizing African religions and spiritual practices was not only political, for the purpose of demonizing African thoughts and suppressing African philosophy and self esteem. It was also the incapability of their minds to understand the complexity of systems which were far more complicated than the simple repent and salvation core of Europeanized Judeo/Christian doctrine.
African Derived Religion in Jamaica
The island of Jamaica is home to nearly three million people, ninety percent of them African, seven percent mixed with African and some other racial group, and the rest other three percent divided between Indian Chinese and European. In Jamaica the African influence on culture is the prominent and so too is the African influence on religion. The strongest African derived Religions include, Myalism, Obeah, Kumina, Convince, Pocomania or Pokumina,Revival Zion and Rastafari. These religions are a mixture of different African religions and Christianity.
Many different African ethnic groups make up Jamaica’s population; some of the most influential are Akan, Yoruba, and Africans from the Congo-Angola area. In Jamaica Akan people became known as Coromantees. Akan religion by and large underlines all African derived religion in Jamaica. What this means is you will find Akan elements even in a religion such a Kumina, which is a mainly Congo-Angola derived religion.
To explain this Akan base of Jamaica religion the importation patterns of enslaved Africans can be called into play. Akan peoples were the largest group imported to Jamaica since the beginning of colonization.However, groups from the Congo-Anglola would be brought to the island at later periods in Jamaica’s history. Thus we find a great deal of
MervynAlleyenebrandsas “intra-African syncretism, which is the fusing of religious customs and deities between multiple African ethnic groups. Also present in Jamaican religion is syncretism with Christianity, where figures from the bible took up the roles of African deities comparable to Orishas.
Akan religion is the overarching African religious system that guides or underlies all African derived religions in Jamaica. There is a lack of uniformity, central organization, powerful clergy and dogma in Jamaican religions. Jamaican religions are organized into small local communities, autonomous from central clergies, thus practices might differ from one place to the next. This characteristic is attributed to two factors one is, it follows the patterns of Akan religion, which was “village specific, in other words there was a high degree of village autonomy in the form of worship, unlike Ewe religion, which was organized above village level.” The second factor that might have caused the localized nature of Jamaican religion could be the various restrictions places on the assembly of Africans.
Akan religion took the name Myalism in Jamaica. The origin of the term myalism is not known. Myalism has two characteristics firsts in represents a belief system which permeate throughout Jamaican religions and it also represents an organized religion. According to AlleyeneAkanreligion took two routes in Jamaica, first is a conservative path among the maroons, where some original Akan deities were preserved. Next is the more syncretizedpath where Africans incorporated Christianity into their Akanreligions and these took on the names Convince, Pokumina and Rivaval Zion.
Among the Maroons various direct African characteristics and deities can be found. Yankipong is the name of the Supreme Being among the maroons. Asaase is a maroon deity, which offerings are made to; In Akan Asaase Ya represents mother earth , in Africa Asaase is“the female counterpart of the Supreme Being.” Next are the tutelary deities, which are spirits of ancestors, and are a characteristic of all African derived religion in Jamaica. Among the maroons Ancestral spirits are call Duppies. The term Duppy derives from the Twi word “adope” which means “spirit” . Ancestral spirits are invoked during religious ceremonies; various offerings are also made to ancestral spirits.
Myal groups were lead by Myal-man or Kumfu-man. The term Kumfu in maroon communities derives from the Akan term Okomfo. “Okomfo is a priest-healer and religious specialist. He heals physical and mental diseases with herbs and spiritual rituals and is considered the medical specialist.” Thus the Kumfu-man served the same purpose and more in Jamaica as he did in Africa. The Kumfu-man presided over ceremonies, gave divinations; heal the sick, provided leadership both spiritually and politically against the institution of slavery, and was the good challenger of another significant entity of Jamaican religion, which was the Obeah-man, who Kumfu-men considered the bad.
Obeah was is also a transmission from Africa. The term Obeah derives from the Asante word Obayifo, which means sorcerer. Obeah-men and women served the same purposes as Kumfu-men. However the institution was even more secretive than Myalism, which had notable public organization. Africanreligions as a whole were persecuted and outlawed in Jamaica. As early as 1966 acts were passed banning gatherings of Africans
“And for the prevention of the meeting of slaves in great numbers on Sundays and holidays, whereby they have taken the liberty to constrive and bring to pass many of their bloody and inhuman transaction: Be it enacted by the aforesaid authority, that no master, or mistress, or overseer, shall suffer any drumming or meeting of any slaves, not belonging to their own plantations, to rendezvous, feast, revel, beat drum or cause any disturbance.”
Both the Kumfu and Obeahman had to maintain a level of secrecy in order to protect themselves and their institutions. Whatever their differences both Obeahmen and Kumfu-men served as leaders of African religious institutions and as organizers of political opposition to slavery. The rebellion of 1760 was led by an Obeah-man known as Tacky, who provided spiritual reinforcement for Africans men and women of the rebellion, “”the negroes were greatly stimulated by their confidence in the powers of the Obeahman” Due to their similarities Kumfu-men were labeled as Obeah-men, this probably a result of European misunderstanding of African spirituality. Obeahmen have outlasted Myalmen, and remain one of the most significant aspects of African religion in Jamaica.
The earliest Obeah practitioners were Africa born,and were knowledgeable in their craft and are were respected by Creole Africans. Becoming a practitioner requires have to undergo long periods of apprenticeship. During this period they learn to master the crafts of science of medicine, spiritual healing, controlling spirits and divining.
Myalism as an organized religion faded, so too did the Myalman. This fade of Myalism is attributed to Christian missionary work. Missionary leaders George Lewis, an Africa born man who was enslaved in Virginia, George Lisle, Moses Baker all migrated to Jamaica to preach. Their version of Christianity stressed interaction with spirits rather than sin and salvation. Alleyen states “followers of of leaders like Bakers or Lewis could only be baptized after they had been possessed by the spirit…” This form of spirituality attracted Myalmen and their followers, and they saw church as a way to come out of hiding and legitimize their religious practices. Myalmen thus became leaders of many new independent churches myalism transform into Revival Zion and Pokumina, which are very similar sects.
Revival Zion originated from the Native Baptist Religion and came about during the Great Revival that occurred between 1860 and 1861. The Great Revival was a movement of religious enthusiasm that was passed to the Caribbean from the North American Revival of 1857. This religion, like Native Baptists, came about with the pursuit of African liberation. Even though they are Christians, Zion has many classical African ideas that are thought to have a Kongo influence.
Characteristics of this religion include divination, visions, prophecy, and healing. Other traditions that were first found in Native Baptist and Christina Myalism include the beating of drums, a community of spirits, which are linked with nature, possession trance, animal sacrifice, ancestral veneration, and the strong belief in a neutral mystic power. Revival Zion promotes having a self-conscious identification with Africa. However, they like the Rastafari view, Revival Zion view the Hebrew and Christain scriptures as being sacred to African people.
Members of Revival Zion accept that Jesus Christ as the redeemer but they have low emphasize on Jesus and focus most of their energy on relationships with spirit messengers. This spirit messenger serves as a personal guide and protector. These spirit messengers can be represented by biblical characters or they can be non-biblical like a dove, river maid, or hunter. Revival Zionist read the bible and in doing so find justification in it’s text for African traditions like animal sacrifice, veneration of ancestral spirits, and erecting tables and alters.
The next and probably the most distinct of the African derived religions in Jamaica is Kumina. The major African ethnographic influences on Kumina are the Bantu peoples from the Congo-Angola area. Kumina refers to both a religion and dance. Dances include the Bailo, mainly used for entertainment purposes and the Country, used during the private religious ceremonies.
Kumina provides a perfect example of what intra African syncretism. the Akan derived traditions of Myal and Obeah remain opposing entities withing the Kumina religion. The Obeah man remains a master of science and the spirits while Myal is use to refer to refer to the possession of a Kumina dancers at religious ceremonies. According Joseph Murray, “The extraordinary insight of the scientist Myal brings revelation of the invisible world. This state of mind allows the dancers to see the invisible workings of obeah as well as to transmit messages from the other world…”
Kumina deities are separated into sky bound and earth bound deities. Oto King Zombi, a sky bound diety is the Supreme Being. Other sky bound deities of Kumina are Obei and the Yoruba deity Shango, which is another fusion of African religions. Earth bound deities in Kumina are David, Ezekiel, Moses, Cain and Shadrak and are examples of syncretism with Christianity.
Worship in all the mentioned religions has certain characteristics that bond them to each other and their African parent religions. The playing of drums, singing, dancing are used as tools to unlock or invoke the spiritual world and are essential to worship in these religions. Spiritual possession, and the use of the body as a medium through which the spiritual and corporal world can communicate, can be seen in all these religion, with an exception to Rastarafi. The use of drums, dance and song are directly connected to Africa, in some religions Christian songs and biblical references are made, in other song especially among Kumina groups, lyrics from the Kikongo language can be heard.