Week One Response

One particular section of this week’s reading that I found especially interesting was Chapter One of Sernett’s “African American Religious History”. In this chapter, Olaudah Equiano discusses the Ibo religion. He often makes references to Judaism, pointing out similarities between these two religions. He mentions that they both practice circumcision and had similar feasts and offerings. They also choose names for their children in the same way. They have ¬†washing and purification ceremonies on the same occasions. He states that the Ibo government is similar to the government of primitive Israelites in that they are both run by the society’s chiefs, judges, and elders. ¬†He even cites a man who traced African lineage back to Afer and Afra, who were descendants of Abraham and his wife. One possible reason Equiano does this could be that he wishes to point out similarities between two religions that are not usually thought about as being compatible. When thinking about African American religions, one does not immediately associate a religion such as Ibo with Judaism. By drawing these parallels, Equiano de-alienates these religions that the reader may be less familiar with. He also subtly points out that every religion has some sort of connection with every other religion, whether it be Christianity and Judaism celebrating the same God, or Judaism and Ibo holding some of the same religious practices.

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