Why Kings Don’t Die in Africa

Why Kings don’t die in Africa: The concept of death in Africa is not consistent with the Euro-American’s point of view. While Euro-Americans believe that death is the end stage of life, Africans believe that death isn’t the end of man but a continuous developmental life process, a transition into a different phase of being and the beginning of a journey to the unknown world.

For Africans, death is seen as a passage that changes the status of a man from being a human to a spirit or an ancestor. Hence, for traditional Africans, the living-dead relationship is an inseparable and influential part of African being.

These three stages of selfhood in African philosophy explains the link between life and death.

The spiritual stage; A pre-world stage when a man is still in the ancestral spirit stage.

The social and life experiences stage; Begins from the conception of man in the womb to the arrival of death, which is expected to happen at old age.

The life and developmental stage; It begins from death and then afterlife when a man returns to its original ancestral/spirit state. These three stages are not separated from one another as there is usually a continuous relationship, interconnectedness, and communication between the ancestral world and the human world.

In Africa, especially in the Yoruba land, kings do not die. They are believed to retire to the ‘ceiling’ to consort with the ancestor while watching and managing the events of the earth from above. Thus the saying Oba Waja in Yoruba land This makes it traditionally incorrect for anyone to use the statement “Oba is dead” at the demise of any king. The implication of this statement is beyond being a derogatory one to the occupant of the position. It is a relegation of the entire kingship system in the land. Thus, it’s un-cultural to make such a statement. Be warned.


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