Publisher: University of Port Harcourt

Religious Functionaries: Their Implications For Africa’S Socio-Cultural and Economic Development

Rowland Olumati
KEYWORDS: Religious Functionaries, Implications, Africa’s Socio-Cultural, Economic Development


There are many religious functionaries in African Religion. These include authorities and specialists in various aspects of African life, e.g. priests, kings, medicine men and diviners. Their roles fall into two broad categories: mediators and mediums. A mediator could be roughly defined as a go-between, one who mediates between God and man. In this context, he is a human being, who because of his office, training and skill, or his personal qualities plays the role of a go-between in man’s relationships with the spiritual world. Mediums on the other hand are persons (or objects) whom a deity or spirit uses to communicate his message or benefits on people. In the African scene, mediators are usually priests, kings and medicine-men. Mediums are diviners, spirit mediums and prophets. The roles of these religious functionaries are not mutually exclusive. A priest can also be a diviner or medicine-man, and vice versa. We will illustrate each of these functions with examples drawn from some African societies.

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