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J.S. Mbiti: Peace and Reconciliation in African Religion

"Never Break the Pot That Keeps You Together": Peace and Reconciliation in African Religion[1]
Published in Dialogue & Alliance, Spring/Summer 2010 issue


The shaping or distortion of Africa by the colonial powers of Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did not happen peacefully. In the 60-year period between1950 and 2010, all African countries gained back their political independence and (part of) their cultural dignity. Colonial powers did not hand that over as a present wrapped up in beautiful gift paper. It was the result of painful struggles, with words and weapons. During this same period, many of the independent countries have experienced major political changes, internal struggles for power, military rule, civil wars, and the flight of millions of people as refugees within their countries or mostly to other countries in Africa and beyond. Even the current affirmation of or search for political stability is not always taking place peacefully.

Africa is severely wounded by the ‘roughness’ of ugly struggles in political, social, economic, and religious spheres. These deep wounds from ruthless blows on the body, the mind, and the soul, affect the whole of society. This is an alarming phase in African history.[2] Therefore, the theme of peace and reconciliation is not a foreign notion, and its intensity has accelerated, whether we look at it from secular or religious considerations.

This paper gives a brief outline of concepts and practices on that theme, from the perspectives of African Religion. That is the indigenous religion of every African people, which evolved from ancient times, without founders. We find it in the oral culture of proverbs, ritual formulas, prayers, creedal formulations, and symbols. Its beliefs are centered on the monotheistic acknowledgement of God as the invisible Creator of all things, to whom people pray and give praise names. Its ethics and morality regulate the social interrelationships among both the living and in relation with the departed. While each people has particular ways of expressing its religious life, there are many similar features that make it meaningful to speak collectively of African Religion in the singular, albeit without uniformity or centralized institutions. It is deeply integrated into the total life and worldview of the people, without delineating life into religious and secular components. Religion is part and parcel of traditional life. While both Christianity and Islam also impact upon the religious landscape of Africa today, and are the visible statistical giants of religious affiliations, African Religion is still very present. It is mainly in the background of these other religions, generating an ongoing (sometimes silent) dialogue with them. When followers of African Religion convert to Christianity or Islam, they neither dispense with their traditional religiosity nor do they embrace their new faith with empty hands. In a fairly similar process, (Western) secularism has not squeezed out African religiosity from the people. So, religion is very much involved in the political, religious, economic, educational, historical, and communication transformation of Africa, and this has accelerated since the second half of the past century.

Religion plays a very dominant role in matters of peace and reconciliation. There is no space to consider the other religions of Africa[3] in this connection, but we will focus on the perspectives of African Religion only.

Prayers for peace and reconciliation

Peace has always been a major need in society, on personal, family, communal, national, and international levels. Through various means, African Religion has addressed itself to this need, one way of which is through making prayers. We take some examples of such prayers.

The Wapokomo people of Kenya make the following invocations for peace, rain, and health:

O God, give us peace, give us tranquility, and let good fortune come to us....

O God, give us rain; we are in misery, and we suffer with our sons and daughters. Send us the clouds that bring the rain. We pray Thee, O Lord our Father, to send us the rain.

Let her who is sick, O God; receive from thee health and peace, and her village and her children and her husband. Let her get up and go to work, let her work in the kitchen, let her find peace again.[4]

Several concepts about peace emerge in this prayer. First: God is the Author and the Giver of peace. This means, that peace is God’s gift to the world, to human beings in particular and to nature at large. Peace is an expression of divine will towards all creation, humans and nature.

Second, one expression of peace from God is the supply of rain. Rain is water and water is life. God gives peace in order to sustain and propagate the life of all living creatures. God wills that there be peace, abounding like water in the world. Life is a unity and human life depends on other life as well as non-living objects and laws of existence. Water is the most explicit symbol of life. Life and peace go hand in hand. Where there is peace, there is abundance of life. The absence of peace is a threat to life, a reduction of life, a destruction of life; it is suffering leading to annihilation. Peace and water go hand in hand to sustain life.

Third, peace means tranquility, good fortune, good health, with the freedom to live and to work. “Let her get up and go to work!” is one of the petitions in this prayer. Where there is no peace there is no fortune, no happiness, no joy, no freedom, no strength or incentive to work, no motivation to live. Absence of peace means suffering, for people and for nature.

Fourth, peace has both communal and personal dimensions. This is a communal prayer; hence, the use of the pronouns we, us, our, petitioning God for rain. Rain is never a gift to an individual. Rain is for the whole community, nation, and nature; and only within that framework can the individual ‘benefit’ from it, by using its water and being sustained by that water. Likewise, peace comes upon the community of human beings and nature first and foremost. At the same time, there is a personal aspect to peace, the appropriation and experience of peace. The last stanza is devoted to this personal dimension. It petitions the restoration of health for a sick woman, her village, her children, and her husband. This petition can be applied to anyone, in a personal way. Peace penetrates into the heart of the individual and does not vanish into thin air. Where there is no peace, there is suffering for the individual and the wider community suffers: children, husband, wife, family, village, neighbors, clan, society, and the environment (nature), even extending to peoples of the world.

Fifth, peace is grounded in a spiritual dimension. People raise their spiritual eyes towards God and petition God for peace. Alone, humans cannot generate lasting peace. Therefore, they do not seek peace merely from fellow humans, but first and foremost from God, after which humans become instruments of God’s peace within their souls, within their community, and within creation at large.

We take another prayer, from the Gikuyu people, also of Kenya. It is a litany recited while people are moving back to their villages after attending a sacrifice or other ceremony at the sacred tree (mogumo). It is addressed to God, even if the word God does not appear. The ritual leader (elder) recites one part, while the people respond in the other:

Leader: Other people:

Say peace!                                                O peace!

Peace to children!                                    O peace to children!

Peace to the country!                                    O peace to the country!

Peace to the gardens!                                    O peace to the gardens![5]

The following are short comments about this prayer. First, the word peace dominates the whole prayer. People are saturated with this one thought: peace. Leaders and laity are concerned with one item: peace. It is as if everything else depends on peace and peace alone. When there is peace, there is plenty of what is necessary for life.

Second, peace is not just for grown ups only. It is also necessary for children and for young people. If they learn early the ways of peace, this is a sound foundation for the rest of their lives. Peace must begin at the cradle. Only when there is peace can the children grow up well, be integrated, and be able to use their abilities to the full.

Third, peace is needed for the country, for human relations, for the carrying out of national activities: cultural, economic, social, political, and religious activities. Peace must have ramifications for the whole country. It is not a private commodity to be acquired and monopolized by an exclusive elite. Peace knows no discrimination and no favoritism, based on creed, gender, health, race, or wealth.

Fourth, as in the previous prayer, peace is necessary also for nature—human ‘gardens.’ Without peace in nature, there is no peace for human life and vice versa. If there were peace among people, there would be peace in nature (gardens). Gardens symbolize the supply of food—physical, social, aesthetic, cultural, and spiritual. They also symbolize where life is propagated, nourished, affirmed, sustained, safeguarded, and interrelated in its manifold forms on earth.

Fifth: as in the previous prayer, peace is grounded in a spiritual dimension. See the fifth comment above 

A third example of prayer for peace comes from the Ewe peoples of Ghana and Togo. It is a prayer for universal peace:

May peace reign over the earth,

May the gourd cup agree with the vessel.

May their heads agree

And every ill word be driven out

Into the wilderness, into the virgin forest.[6]

Again I offer only a few comments to this prayer. First, as it is addressed to God even without mentioning that word, it assumes that God is the author of peace.

Second, it sees peace in universal dimensions. The whole earth needs peace, not just one country or one part of it. People are interdependent, and real peace must be comprehensive enough to cover the peoples of the entire earth.

Second, this prayer seems to petition peace and reconciliation, for leaders of the world: “May their heads agree!” It implies that where there is agreement there is peace. We know all too well that when ‘leaders’ disagree, peace evaporates and conflicts or wars may break out, devastating people, property, and environment, often while such leaders remain safe and secure. An African proverb describes this well: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most.” It is generally the ‘ill word’ which destroys peace, in the family, in the community, in the nation, in the world. Therefore, this prayer appropriately pleads that “every ill word be driven out into the wilderness, into the virgin forest.” That means the words that bring about disagreement, dispute, quarrels, division, and fights should be sent far away, to places where there are no people, and should be abandoned completely.

Third, this prayer petitions that: “May their heads agree!” When reconciliation is worked out, peace ensues where otherwise conflict has torn people apart. Agreement is a great step towards peace. The process can also work in the opposite direction: when peace is restored, reconciliation follows.

The next and final prayer illustrates that in African Religion, peace functions not only on human level but also in the dimension of spiritual realities. African Religion has a deep awareness of spiritual realities. It portrays existence in terms of visible and invisible realities, human and spiritual dimensions. These are normally the spirits of family members who are still remembered by name and whom we call the living-dead. There are, however, other spirits of unknown dead, as well as nature spirits, which are associated with or are personifications of natural phenomena and objects, such as thunder, earthquakes, big rocks, lakes, and epidemics. The relation between the living and the departed is very important, and where it is disturbed there is a feeling of ‘no peace.’ Therefore, the living endeavor to ‘please’ the living-dead, through proper funeral rites. When necessary, they also do so through offerings and sacrifices, or the fulfilling of requests from the other world, which may come through dreams, visions, or divination. The following prayer comes from the Banyoro of Uganda:

My father built,

And his father built,

And I have built.

Leave me to live here in success,

Let me sleep in comfort,

And have children.

There is food for you.[7]

In this prayer there is, first, a clear communication between the world of the living and the world of the living-dead, the physical and the spiritual. The petitioner asks that the spirits of his or her father and grandfather would “Leave me to live here in success.” That means he or she wants to live with the spirit world in peace. Only when there is such peace can he or she prosper, have success, and lead a meaningful life. The spiritual world is not indifferent to the physical world; the departed are not indifferent to the living. Comprehensive peace means harmony between the spiritual and the physical worlds, between those who are alive now and those who have gone on into the next world. African Religion affirms and acknowledges the continuation of life beyond death. Human life is affected by the invisible world. Peace with the invisible world is necessary for peace on the visible level.

Second, to bear children is a great privilege and responsibility. This should be done ideally in a setting and in an environment of peace—in the family, in the community, in the nation, in the world. Children are the enhancement and beautification of life. For that reason, the petitioner asks to “Sleep in comfort, And have children.” The word ‘comfort’ here is clearly meant to signify peace. Ideally the most desirable thing in life is to propagate life in peace, to bear children in peace, to raise them up in peace, and for them in their time to ‘build’ a home and raise a family in peace, as the petitioner has done. The prayer implicitly asks eventually for one to die in peace and have the soul rest in eternal peace. Peace has dimensions that stretch into the visible and the invisible worlds. We have already seen that peace is ultimately a gift of God.

Measures that enact peace and reconciliation

In African Religion there is more action on peace and less speculation about it. This functions all the time at many levels of life. These include peace and reconciliation in person-to-person relations, in the family, in the neighborhood, in the community, and among peoples (tribes) that may have disputes or fights with one another. Peace is not taken for granted; the fact that people quarrel, have disputes and serious differences, fight and even injure or kill one another is a tragic reality of life. Though not necessarily with success religion, provides for ways of bringing about reconciliation and peace where and when such fights ensue.

Take for example measures that have profound religious significance for putting peace and reconciliation into action. Here is one out of thousands that take place daily all over Africa. This ritual example is observed among the Luo and Maasai peoples in Kenya when disputes or fights have arisen. According to this traditional method:

The elders arranged for peace parleys, and after both sides had agreed on the need and satisfactory terms for peace, a great inter-societal rally was convened on the border were the battles had been fought. Men, women, youth, and children convened along the border on the covenant day. They chopped down trees whose white sap is used as poison for arrow tips. These poison trees were formed into a fence along the common border, with the antagonists facing one another across the newly formed poison-tree fence. The weapons of warfare were placed along the fence: spears, bows and arrows, swords and shields. This fence of poisonwood and weapons was a symbol of the war that had divided the two communities.

Then they took a black dog and laid it across the fence. The dog was cut into two and blood was allowed to flow through the fence and onto the ground, on both sides of the fence. Then the mothers with suckling babies exchanged their young back and forth across the fence, so that Maasai mothers could suckle Luo babies and Luo mothers suckle Maasai babies. Prayers followed this, in which the respective elders beseeched God to bless the covenant of peace. The participants pronounced anathemas on any one who ever crossed that fence to do evil.

The covenant had united the two sides in a bond of peace... The evil (enmity) of the societies, as it were, had been vicariously cleansed through the sacrificial death of the dog. The blood had transformed the war barrier into a sign of peace. The warring parties had become brothers (and sisters) by suckling one another's babies.[8]

This is a beautiful example of deeply religious measures that are carried out daily among African societies. We see a number of important points in it, which are also in other measures that try to restore peace and reconciliation. First, both parties show a willingness and readiness to work out peace. They face each other. Second, there are witnesses from both sides to these acts of reconciliation and peace. In this case, they include men, women, youth and children, babies, and above all God. These strengthen the bonds, which the rite and ceremony cement between both parties.

Third, there is a willingness to lay down ‘the weapons of warfare’; these are material weapons, weapons of words, and weapons that may linger in the mind or community, such as bitterness, grudges, hatreds, mutual fears, and suspicions. This makes the people free and open for peace and reconciliation. Each side gives up something for the sake of peace and reconciliation: it gives up that which otherwise could injure, damage, or destroy the other.

Fourth, the blood of an innocent animal is shed to serve as the blood of reconciliation and peace. Instead of human beings shedding one another’s blood, they use an innocent and neutral animal. The blood of the animal saves, replaces, and stops further shedding of human blood. This is a profoundly meaningful act: one life dies in order that many lives may be saved. Peace and reconciliation can be extremely expensive if paid for by innocent blood of fellow humans. Of course, not every case of disputes and quarrels at personal, family, and communal levels result in blood being shed or included in measures of bringing peace. But where and when blood is shed, it is a very serious affair. Life is in the blood, and blood can save life.

Fifth, there is ‘common’ sharing of food. In this case, mothers from both parties suckle the babies from the opponent party. Again this is also deeply symbolic: babies are for all practical purposes innocent, the living symbols of peace and joy. They have no open enmity between them. They have no weapons of warfare. Here they symbolize peaceful communal eating and drinking; they join both sides together through drinking from mothers of both parties, ‘enemy mothers,’ as it were. Babies are the hope of society; they point to peaceful coexistence across barriers. They build bridges across chasms of enmity and pave two-way roads of communication. Through them the warring parties become ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ even if brothers and sisters also fight! In the sense that, they are potentially one: human beings who should live in peace and harmony with one another and nature around.

Sixth: the offering of prayers to God recognizes the spiritual dimension of peace and reconciliation. This is a recognition that peace is a gift from God, where and when people genuinely want it. Furthermore, offering prayers is recognition that God’s will for society and nature is peace. God will and does bless human measures for peace and reconciliation. We have already seen the role of prayers for peace.

A seventh point is that the spiritual dimension is strengthened by pronouncing formal curses (anathemas) upon those who break the peace accord and arrangements. African societies take formal curses very seriously. Because peace is such an important state, it is protected not by human police or watchpersons but by the powers of the curse upon those who break it. Ultimately it is God who sees to it that the consequences of the curse take effect. God is the just Judge of the world. Again we point out that not every act of peace making is necessarily concluded with either prayers or the pronouncing of curses upon those who break it.

The role of women in peacemaking and reconciliation in African society is tremendous, and all due tribute should be paid to them. Let me quote an illustration that speaks for itself. It comes from the Zande people of the Sudan, about which it is reported that:

If war broke out among the Zande, the oldest women of the clan would go to meet that opposing clan and interpose themselves between the fighters in order to make them see reason. When words proved fruitless, the women would threaten to expose their nakedness or to go down on their knees. In either case, the gesture signified a curse for those who bore the responsibility for such grave acts. Because of the respect that the enemy soldiers had for the women, they would usually put down their weapons before the fateful acts were accomplished....

Continuing, the same report suggests that, if there was no laying down of arms, the old women, naked and on their knees, would crawl towards the foolhardy combatants and say to them:

We are your mothers,

We do not want war,

We do not want bloodshed.

Do not fight with your brothers.

They have sent us to sue for peace.

And if the assailants still refused to see reason and marched on the village, they would suffer the ultimate punishment for having disobeyed and obliged their ‘grandmothers’ to expose their nakedness.”[9]

Covenants of peace

In all African societies there are covenants that people draw up to cement a wide range of relations, such as marriages, agreements, settling of disputes, adoption of children or other people, admission into ‘societies,’ employment arrangements, borrowing of property, and various promises. Some of these are drawn more formally than others. We take one example from Nigeria to illustrate the importance and seriousness of covenants.

The late Professor E. Bolaji Idowu (1913-1993) writes:

In the ethical system of the Yoruba, covenant plays an important role. In fact, the whole of person-to-person, and divinity-to-person, relations have their basis largely in covenants. The covenant between person and person is usually a parity covenant in that it is ‘reciprocal—that is, both parties bind themselves to each other by bilateral obligations.’ It appears that, originally, the Yoruba made this kind of covenant before the tutelary divinity of the Earth, and hence the generic name for covenants is Imulè, which means literally, ‘Drinking the Earth together’ or ‘Drinking together from the Earth.’ The ritual, in general, is as follows: A shallow hole is dug in the ground; water is poured into it, and a kola nut is split and cast into the water. Two people who are entering the covenant kneel face to face with the hole in between them. Then one says, ‘O Earth... come and preside as we make this covenant: if I should break the covenant, may the Earth carry me away (may I disappear from the face of the earth).’ Then he stoops down and sips some water from the hole, at the same time picking up and eating a piece of the kola nut. The second person does exactly the same, and the covenant is thus concluded.

But although the generic name for the covenant is thus suggestive of a particular ritual, covenant-making actually takes various forms. It may be done before any of the divinities, but especially before Ogun.

Besides these definitely ritualistic forms of covenant-making, it is believed that to be trusted by a friend, to be bosom friends, to eat together, or to be received hospitably as a guest, is to enter into a covenant which involves moral obligations. A covenant between two parties means, negatively, that they must think or do no evil against each other’s body or estate, and positively, that they must cooperate in active good deeds towards each other in every way.”[10]

Covenants serve as preventive measures against the potential threat to peace and tranquility. They cement the parties involved into a mystical relationship. They carry obligations of giving and receiving. Their intention is to cultivate peace, good relations, ties, mutuality, friendship, respect, and love between people, between people and nature, and between people and spiritual realities (God, divinities and spirits, as the case may be). In many African societies there are ‘blood brotherhoods and sisterhoods,’ drawn at such a deep level of relationship that those who enter into them become literally brothers and sisters to each other. Part of the covenant rituals leading to this is the exchanging of personal blood with one another.

The summary that David Shenk makes at the end of his survey of different covenants in African life is very appropriate here. He writes:

First, covenants establish relationships which are different from kinship ties.... Second, a covenant is a very serious and profound matter.... It affects the entire community and is witnessed and endorsed by the community, the living-dead, and often by God as well. The covenant is everlasting. To break a covenant is to invite a curse.

Third, the covenant attempts to affirm and recreate the person's original ontological unity with God and humanity. It is a quest for and a sign of the primal harmony of life and community.... Fourth, the covenant can be established only when there is openness and transparency.... Fifth, covenants which are sought because of a breakdown in relationships often require restitution before the covenant can be established....

Sixth, covenants require sacrifice.... [They] are for the preservation of life through the solidifying of the community.... Seventh, the covenant is celebrated by feasting together.... The eating is a communion, a celebration of life in a community.... Finally, the covenant is affirmed by the community, by the elders, by the living-dead, and oftentimes also by God.[11]

Proverbs about peace and reconciliation

Traditional African culture is a primarily oral culture. What people communicate and transmit orally in the area of proverbs, among other ways, is of great value in society. I give here the example of a few proverbs that address the issue of peace and reconciliation in society. Every African people has its wealth of proverbs, wise sayings, riddles, songs, and symbols. As proverbs are public property, it should not be necessary to cite in details the sources from which I draw this list. A comprehensive bibliography on collections of proverbs would contain more than 2,000 items. An estimated ten million proverbs circulate orally, of which a small portion is available in written form.[12] The Internet has several websites with African proverbs.

A short list of African proverbs speaking and teaching about peace and reconciliation[13]

A loose tooth will not rest until it is pulled out. (Ethiopia)

A quiver placed upside down will drop arrows. (Kenya)

A shepherd does not strike his or her sheep. (Nigeria)

Abstaining from fighting is not timidity. (Malawi)

After an injury to the heart, an animal is killed and shared to make peace.(Ethiopia)

Hate has no medicine. (Africa)

He who sows peace reaps peace. (Kenya)

I have never heard someone say, “Let’s go to visit a person wounded in a fight!” (Kenya)

If a person loves peace, it does not make him/her a coward. (Nigeria)

If we do not forget yesterday’s quarrels, we will not have somebody to play with tomorrow. (Nigeria)

If you get peace, you get life. (Somalia)

If you trample on another person’s property in looking for your own, you will never find your own. (Ghana)

It is better to be a victim of injustice than to be unjust yourself. (Cameroon)

It is peace, not food provisions, that you always carry with you. (Somalia)

Let us eat out of the same spoon and drink from the same cup. (Sudan)

No matter how hot the water is, it can never set fire to a house. (Kenya)

One does not like heat and the other does not like cold; make it tepid and still remain friends.(Madagascar)

The house of a person who negotiates survives.(Lesotho)

The one who does not fight is an ass; the one who fought and would not reconcile is a devilish person.(Ethiopia)

The teeth and tongue quarrel together, but they eat together. (Africa)

The toad likes water, but not when it is boiling. (Guinea)

There is no loser, if all can listen to each other. (Kenya)

Those who refuse to forgive, break a bridge on which they must pass. (Cameroon)

When two people fight, the third one is the peacemaker. (Ghana)


Africa is a deeply religious continent, blessed with three major religions (African Religion, Christianity, and Islam), and many small ones, in terms of adherents. At the same time it is groaning under the ravages of conflict, wars, violence, and injustices, to say nothing of natural calamities such as drought, famine, and disease. This human agony is a challenge to the religious heritage. Each of these many religions can contributes something towards peace and reconciliation, to ameliorate the suffering and foster prosperity (security, health, justice, and quality of life). We have seen that potentially African Religion is clearly committed to peace, and in various ways it undertakes ways that teach, encourage, and promote it. It has many channels of communicating this message: through traditional values and worldviews, rituals, social relations, and the increasing use of modern communication.

People want peace in our time, peace tomorrow, and peace in this new millennium. We want religion to be an asset for peace and not a liability, and African Religion is potentially one such strong asset. It does not preach, foster, or justify war between communities or nations. That makes it a challenge to the institutions of the other religions, to engrave the message of peace at all levels of life, in both internal and international relations.

Neither African Religion nor Christianity nor Islam is innocent of engaging, aggravating, or promoting conflicts and wars. But their teachings can challenge people to make and practice peace at all levels: peace among people, peace between people and nature, and peace between people and God. As long as there are religious insights, they should continue to inspire and challenge society to move in the direction of peace. This is not to overlook the many forces that cause conflicts and make it so difficult to put peace into practice in the family, at work, in the community, in the nation, in the world, and with nature at large.

Only ‘the God of peace’ can help us to deepen our practice and experience of peace every day, individually, collectively, and universally.

John S. Mbiti. Published by permission

[1]. Part of this article is a reprint of material published in Dialogue & Alliance, Spring / Summer 1993m Vol. 7 No. 1, pages 17-32: "Peace and Reconciliation in African Religion and Christianity." The author has revised, shortened, and updated it for the present publication.

[2]. A survey of recent conflicts in parts of Africa is found in Frans Wijsen: Seeds of Conflict in a Haven of Peace, Rodopi, Amsterdam and New York 2007.

[3]. According to David A. Barrett, et al., eds.: World Christian Encyclopedia, Oxford, et alia 2001, statistical projections about religious adherence by the total population of Africa in 2025 indicate: Christians 48.8%, Muslims 40%, African Religion 10%, other religions 1% (including Judaism, Hinduism, Baha’i, Buddhism, etc.), and persons without religion 0.2%. What the statistics cannot reveal is the fact of African Religion in the lives of most adherents of the other religions. Also, these statistics cannot reveal the cultural, historical, and spiritual depth of African Religion that is alive and lingers on beneath the public surface. In 1900 some 58% of the population adhered to “pure” African Religion. For a long time it will continue to exist; it will not be easily wiped out by these other religions or by secularism.

[4]. John S. Mbiti: The Prayers of African Religion, SPCK, London and Orbis Books, New York, 1975, p. 162.

[5]. Mbiti, ibid.

[6]. Mbiti, op. cit., p. 163.

[7]. Aylward Shorter: Prayer in the Religious Traditions of Africa, Oxford University Press, New York and Nairobi, 1975, p. 71.

[8]. David W. Shenk: Peace and Reconciliation in Africa, Uzima Press, Nairobi 1983, p. 68 f. (Italics mine).

[9]. Miriam Agatha Chinwe Nwoye, “Role of Women in Peace Building and Conflicts in African Traditional Societies: A Selective Review”, Article in the Internet,

[10]. E. Bolaji Idowu: Olodumare. God in Yoruba Belief, Longmans, London 1962, pp. 149 f. Ogun is the divinity of iron and steel.

[11]. Shenk, op. cit., pp. 72-74. See the same work, pp. 45-75, for further and detailed discussion on covenants in African Religion.

[12]. See for example, Nussbaum, Stan, ed.: The African Proverbs: Collections, Studies, Bibliographies, CD-ROM). Global Mapping International, Colorado Springs, USA. 1996. This CD-ROM contains nearly 30,000 proverbs and 1,000 bibliographical entries to date (1996).

[13]. Sources: Annetta Miller, compiler: African Wisdom on War and Peace, Pauline Publications Africa, Nairobi 2004; J. Obi Oguejiofor, “Resources for Peace in African Proverbs and Myths,” Article on the Internet Website:; Kofi Asare Opoku, essay contribution: “African Perspectives on Peace,” in a forthcoming book, in personal communication (April 2010); and Private collection.