The Great Ancestor: An African Conception of God

  • Jawanza Eric Clark


Within the Akan tradition, God is intangible, aloof, and mysterious. Practitioners of this indigenous African religion understand that everything we say about God is symbolic and unabashedly anthropocentric, since religion is a human enterprise that exists for practical purposes. The supreme God is often referred to as Nana Nyame (the Great Ancestor) emphasizing the significance placed on the role and function of the ancestor in Akan culture. The ancestor is a human being that fulfilled his/her destiny, or God-given purpose, in life and achieves metaphysical completion in death. An examination of the characteristics of Nana Nyame reveals a traditional African worldview that has respect for the plurality, mystery, and the relational nature of God, ultimate reality, and existence itself.


Life Purpose Human Enterprise Western Notion African Scholar Human Finitude 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesSpelman CollegeAtlantaUSA

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