Cambridge Center for Adult Education Holds Conference on Role of Ancestors in African Ritual and Art

October 26, 2002

Source: The Boston Globe

On October 26, 2002 The Boston Globe reported that "last week, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education devoted its second annual conference on African ritual and art to the role of ancestors. The conference 'focused on seeing how the traditions from Africa, transplanted in the Western Hemisphere... still have influence,' says Cambridge Center spokesman Jim Smith... Dragged from Africa during slavery, the Yoruba brought religious beliefs that couldn't be suffocated... The Yoruba believe in a supreme god and mo re than 400 lesser divinities called orishas, each with its own priests and sects. Yoruban religion holds that the universe is divided between benevolent and malevolent divinities. Ancestors are part of the benevolent half of the universe... If religious beliefs are for the Yoruba the synapses of cultural memory, they also are a reminder of the similarities among different faiths. 'Most religions lead back to the same sorts of ideas,' says Joe Platz [a drum maker who lives near Springfield]. In his book, Abimbola, using language Christians would recognize, says that 'there is a crying need for a new covenant based on the energy of Ifa which is a peaceful, intellectual and tranquil energy... We must seek a new way of life if we all want to survive in the world.'"