This book makes an interesting revelation on an African religion which has a portion of it behaving in the Abrahamic traditions and yet, retaining its traditional flavor.
The issue of contention here is whether this phenomenon will attract a shared interpretation on the continent. What unique elements about Diola religion precipitated this way of looking at these women? If this is the case, then it is quite possible that the claims by these Diola prophets that they receive messages from Emitai are contestable. These messages could be from deities or lesser spirits and not the Supreme Being.
Nonetheless, Baum has offered us a window into a phenomenon that inspires new ways of looking at prophetism in African Traditional religions.
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To conclude, this intelligibly constructed and well-structured book will be useful to scholars of African religions, cultural anthropologists, and theologians alike. The field of African religious studies would certainly diminish without its contributions. Please read our policy on commenting. All Rights Reserved.
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Login Register. The Jola Diola, in French transliteration are an ethnic group found in Senegal where they predominate in the region of Casamance , the Gambia , and Guinea-Bissau.
The word 'Jola' is however the Mandinka name for this ethnic group and means 'payback', since Jolas are renowned for doing back what's been done to them, be it a good or a bad deed. The name of the Jola tribe in their own language and tradition is Ajamat. So in their language, they are the Ajamat or Ajamataw people.
There are large numbers of these people on the Atlantic coast between the southern banks of the Gambia River , the Casamance region of Senegal and the northern part of Guinea-Bissau. In the s the Jolas were engaged in palm wine tapping in Bathurst. By the end of the 11th century some Jola had moved to producing groundnuts as a cash crop and, much later, during the Second World War had expanded greatly.
They also reared livestock and produced other crops including sweet potatoes, yams and watermelon. The Jola speak a variety of Jola dialects which may not, at times, be mutually intelligible, including:. Most Jolas continue to follow their traditional religion and rituals in spite of the influence of Islam and Christianity in recent times. The Jola people believe that spirits called Bakin or Eneerti Mandinka Jalang can protect their families, their villages, and their rice fields; and can even protect them from conversion to Islam and Christianity.
Before the influence of Islam and Christianity in their ways of beliefs, all Jolas placed great respect in the proper observation of funeral ceremony, and still today some do, for they are of the belief that it enables the dead person's soul to go to its final destination to join his or her ancestors. It was and still is strongly accepted by those Jolas who still practice their ancestral religion that without performing these funeral sacred rites, the soul is prevented from entering the presence of the creator Ata Amit , and the ancestors.
Shrines of the Slave Trade: Diola Religion and Society in Precolonial Senegambia
Jolas believed strongly in living a good humanistic life in this world. They believe that if one lives a bad life in this world, when the person dies the soul of the dead person is punished to become an exile spirit with no bed to lie on. In the Jola Cassa subgroup this exile spirit is called a Holowa. This exile spirit becomes a roaming spirit with no respect from the other spirits. Some Jola religious festivals include the Samay , Kumpo and Niasse.
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Unlike most ethnic groups of the Senegambian region, the Jola do not have caste system of Jewels griots , slaves , nobility , leather workers, etc. Their high adaptation to the nature and environment allowed them to be able to create musical centred civilisation, natural medicine centred civilisation, and most important of all, rice cultivation centred civilisation which they do effectively by using a locally made farming tool called the kajando. Like most of the indigenous ethnic groups of the Senegambian region—the Baga, the Serer , the Balanta , the Konyagi, etc.
But this does not mean they did not develop a sophisticated political system. The egalitarian nature of their societies rare in most societies , structured around the limited village environment gave them the possibilities to develop a political system based on collective consciousness, which they worked through their initiation rites. In a sense the Jolas' political achievement in the village was socialism.
It was totally tied to their religious belief in the Bakin. This political achievement is not easy to reach if the society that runs it does not have well-defined rules of administration and penalties. Jolas have many traditional economic activities like fishing, farming groundnuts, tapping palm wine, and processing palm oil: their most intensive economic activity is rice cultivation, which is tied closely to their religion and social organization. Jolas are also palm oil manufacturers and palm wine tappers in the Senegambian region.