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Thread: West African Religion

  1. #1
    Charlatan or Mystic? Cagliostro's Avatar
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    West African Religion

    So, "West African" religion is a really weird name. It's like calling Norse religion "Northern European" religion. It gets even weirder if you reform it ("Old West African"). Wouldn't it be prettier if there was a better name for it?

    I don't know a ton about the indigenous faiths, but a little googling and wikipediaing suggests that Akan religion was a local (Ghana, Ivory Coast) faith which had elements of polytheism and all-fatherism which are similar to European pagan religions, and seems a likely candidate for reform (as opposed to generic loose animism, which it's kind of hard to imagine 'reforming').

    It also has personable characters, like Anansi, which could make for flavor text or possibly even flavor decisions/events.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    I don't have any background knowledge so for practical ideas I'm not your man but I do agree that "West African" is a bit "let's give it a generic name".

  3. #3
    General Kljunas's Avatar
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    'West African' is a generic name because it actually covers a variety of different religions. A more specific name would only make sense if the West African religion was split into several different ones.

    I can agree with having a specific name for the reformed religion though.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kljunas View Post
    'West African' is a generic name because it actually covers a variety of different religions. A more specific name would only make sense if the West African religion was split into several different ones.

    I can agree with having a specific name for the reformed religion though.
    He is correct, there are many different West African ethnic religions which have very little to do with each other (although naturally religions of related ethnic groups have common believes). Because of the ethnic and religious diversity of the region you would have to create different religion for each ethnic group (in game the region is culturally united, which it wasn't and still isn't in real life).
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  5. #5
    Charlatan or Mystic? Cagliostro's Avatar
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    I know about the culture problem. But really, if the religion was 'reformed', it would be by its nature one specific religion, not a bunch of loosely affiliated tribal beliefs.

    And also, 'West African' still sounds really bad. The other religions are at least mostly in appropriate languages. If anything 'Animist' or 'Folk Religion' or even 'Indigenous' would be more accurate and less generic sounding (for the unreformed religion). As it stands, it's like calling Native American/First Nations religions generically 'North American', or Chinese folk religions 'Chinese' or 'East Asian'. It's confusing geography with a descriptor of the religion itself.

    And for a reformed religion it's just ridiculous, isn't it?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cagliostro View Post
    So, "West African" religion is a really weird name. It's like calling Norse religion "Northern European" religion. It gets even weirder if you reform it ("Old West African"). Wouldn't it be prettier if there was a better name for it?

    I don't know a ton about the indigenous faiths, but a little googling and wikipediaing suggests that Akan religion was a local (Ghana, Ivory Coast) faith which had elements of polytheism and all-fatherism which are similar to European pagan religions, and seems a likely candidate for reform (as opposed to generic loose animism, which it's kind of hard to imagine 'reforming').

    It also has personable characters, like Anansi, which could make for flavor text or possibly even flavor decisions/events.

    Thoughts?
    So we should call the religion "Akan"?

  7. #7
    Charlatan or Mystic? Cagliostro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anomanderus View Post
    So we should call the religion "Akan"?
    That would be one solution, which I'm suggesting. But I would agree with anything less clunky. Many of the pagan names are somewhat controversial (there are numerous debates about 'Suomenusko', and some people dislike 'Norse'). 'Slavic' at least represents a people, rather than simply a location.

  8. #8
    West Africa is pretty much remote and backwater region with no role in events around Mediterranean and Baltic sea so they just didnt bothered to put much work into recreating it. Even with mods increasing game historical deepth its still just an separated microcosms of tiny tribal states.

  9. #9
    I agree, West African Paganism is a somewhat clunky name, but no more so than "Suomenusko" which seems to be mostly used (outside of the context of this game) to refer to Finnish neopaganism. In fact, as people have pointed out, none of the paganisms in the game have totally clear historical precedents. The trouble with trying to linguistically define these religions is that, lacking any significant degree of organisation, they lacked definition by their very nature.

    Personally, I'd err on the side of giving WAP a more interesting name, even if it was a totally inaccurate one like Suomenusko, but I don't think it really matters what it's called... I think there are more important things to be done (i.e., patching the stupid defensive attrition bug, fleshing out Ghana/Mali in general) than changing the name.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avenarius View Post
    West Africa is pretty much remote and backwater region with no role in events around Mediterranean and Baltic sea so they just didnt bothered to put much work into recreating it. Even with mods increasing game historical deepth its still just an separated microcosms of tiny tribal states.
    Their role in Mediterranean politics may or may not have been negligible (and in the case of the latter, probably aren't), but it shows considerable historical ignorance to call the Empires of Ghana and Mali "tiny tribal states".

  10. #10
    While there were a bunch of different west african religions, it wouldn't make much sense for them to be represented as different religions in game. If you have a zealous Akan religion member he isn't going to hate followers of the other west african religions. But he's probably gonna be pretty pissed as any Muslims (or Christians) nearby who want to ruin his traditions. And while one tribe might try to subjugate another for being weird and different that would be better represented with the subjugate CB then a religious war.

    What would be really neat is if pagan religions could have a pool of heresies, that wouldn't see each other as heresies as long as the religion is unreformed. Then you could have Akan, Igbo,Fat Roog, etc. but they would all consider each other as the same religion. That's not to say that they'd not have differences, just that they wouldn't consider those differences in the context of intense religious conflicts like between Muslims and West African. But if you reform the religion, suddenly you start saying only your flavor of West African or Tengri or Norse is right.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by keynes2.0 View Post
    What would be really neat is if pagan religions could have a pool of heresies, that wouldn't see each other as heresies as long as the religion is unreformed. Then you could have Akan, Igbo, Serer, etc. but they would all consider each other as the same religion. That's not to say that they'd not have differences, just that they wouldn't consider those differences in the context of intense religious conflicts like between Muslims and West African. But if you reform the religion, suddenly you start saying only your flavor of West African or Tengri or Norse is right.
    Is that not what residual Old Paganism is supposed to represent? Not that I think it does a good job of it - having half the pagans in the world convert over night makes the transition way too smooth, and some different heresies after reformation would be nice - but I think what you're suggesting is just a more difficult way of achieving the same thing.

    Also, you talk about intense religious conflicts between Muslims and West Africans, but from what I understand the conversion of Africa (or at least Ghana) to Islam went relatively smoothly - which in part explains the proliferation of old tribal traditions in modern-day African Islam.

  12. #12
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    Just call it Fat Roog because then it would have the best name in the game It would make me laugh a lot.

  13. #13
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    The main West African group represented in-game are the Mande, who had a religious system distinct from the Akan. While I don't like the name of "West African Pagan," I understand why it exists and it's really the best we got.

    Quote Originally Posted by MutantPenguin View Post
    Also, you talk about intense religious conflicts between Muslims and West Africans, but from what I understand the conversion of Africa (or at least Ghana) to Islam went relatively smoothly - which in part explains the proliferation of old tribal traditions in modern-day African Islam.
    There was quite a lot of religious syncretism going on in West Africa. For instance, many rulers in the region who were supposedly Muslim also legitimized their rule through symbols and ideas of "pagan" origin. The Epic of Sundiata, basically the story of the founder of the Mali Empire, had Sundiata not just relying on his piety towards the Muslim faith, but also pagan symbols of power such as the magical powers of blacksmiths and hunters (common throughout West Africa, actually), and so forth.
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  14. #14
    Honestly I think it's pretty generally accepted that the flavor for every pagan religion besides Norse (and maybe Tengri. Maybe.) is rather lacking. "West African" is an incredibly clunky name, but I have no idea what it'd better be called, personally.

  15. #15
    Imagine, what if Devs would be from Africa, not Sweden.
    Nowadays, West African religion is bugged and devs. are doing nothing to fix that, was to be expected however.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by MutantPenguin View Post
    Is that not what residual Old Paganism is supposed to represent? Not that I think it does a good job of it - having half the pagans in the world convert over night makes the transition way too smooth, and some different heresies after reformation would be nice - but I think what you're suggesting is just a more difficult way of achieving the same thing.

    Also, you talk about intense religious conflicts between Muslims and West Africans, but from what I understand the conversion of Africa (or at least Ghana) to Islam went relatively smoothly - which in part explains the proliferation of old tribal traditions in modern-day African Islam.
    Well with the heresies thing it's more so the pre-reformed faiths could be splintered as they should be. The next county over could be a different branch of West African but you aren't going to make a big fuss about it.

    "Intense" is a relative term here. I'm not trying to say that conflict between Muslims and West Africans was more intense then any other religious war during the time frame. I just mean that we see wars of religious conflict that fit the model of the Holy War CB. West African religions shouldn't be able to wage wars of religion against each other though, I think. But I'm mostly speculating of course because I couldn't find any good records.
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  17. #17
    Wikipedia told me the west african religion was vodun (also spelled , Vodoun, Voudou, Voodoo) so ive been having fun trying to bring about a voodoo empire. I may even succeed as due to my original kings dalliance with orthodoxy and marrying his eldest son off to the younger daughter of some byzantine duke, my third generation king has somehow inherited the byzantine empire.

  18. #18
    Anybody have ideas what the Head Priest of a reformed West African Church would be called?

    I also think that Vodun would be a good choice for reformed west african paganism.
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  19. #19
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    TBH, I don't really know why that region is even in the game to begin with. Its only role in the Maghrib was as a trade partner and since trade in that sense isn't in the game, it doesn't really need to be there. I think the Almoravids might have met Mali or somesuch briefly on the coast but to my knowledge Moroco only tried to take over Mali or anything in the Sahel only in the late 1500's, well outside our timescale. Even then they lost control over it because of the difficultly of communication over the Sahara. Most Moroccan leaders didn't worry about it and I don't think such an expedition was very practical, certainly not as easy as this game portrays. It would make more sense if it just wasn't on the play map.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sureal View Post
    Wikipedia told me the west african religion was vodun (also spelled , Vodoun, Voudou, Voodoo) so ive been having fun trying to bring about a voodoo empire. I may even succeed as due to my original kings dalliance with orthodoxy and marrying his eldest son off to the younger daughter of some byzantine duke, my third generation king has somehow inherited the byzantine empire.
    Vodun is the religion of the coast, which isn't in the game. Religions of the inland were different.
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