THE AFRICAN CONCEPT OF ANCESTORS
From the dictionary definition of ancestors, the Merriam Webster dictionary define ancestor as a person who was in someone’s family in past times; people from who a person or people is descended. Ancestors are peoples in time past from who a particular peple are descended and it is more remote in the line of descent that grandparents. However, The African connotation of ancestors refers to those men of the society whose life were well lived and thus admitted into the abode of the ancestors at their demise. Africans believe that people continue to live after death (living dead), that doesn’t mean that everybody who dies is an ancestor. Usually the person must live a good life, have had children and contributed to the progress of his people. Fuller observed that: In some group, there is a ceremony after the person’s death whereby his relatives install him to ancestors status and make his shrine. Also men are often consulted than women. In some tribes, a young person, even if he has no children, may become an ancestor spirit if he was outstanding, and old people who have no children can also become ancestor. But not in every tribe” (59). Although, it is a reality that some ancestors are remembered and some are not remember. Those that are remembered are those Mbiti classified as being in the state of “personal immortality”, while those who the last person who remembers them is dead are in the state of “collective immortality”. However, in Africa when ancestors are remembered both known and unknown are celebrated. Abanuka denotes ancestors “as those who have realised to a remarkable degree the values and aspirations of their community or groups” (36). The respect and reverence ancestors receive is due to their accomplishments when they were alive. Consequently, if their achievements touched the entire community they would be reverence by the entire community and similarly if their accomplishments touched only a...
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