chapter
Religions and philosophy
Pages 6

African religions were conceived by early European observers in terms of *magic, and as such they were generally condemned by *mission-aries as pagan superstition. This attitude changed with time but it was only through professional anthropological research that enquiry on traditional religions became free of conversion bias. John Middleton’s monograph on the religion of the Lugbara (1960) may now be reckoned as a classic of the East African literature on religion. A turning point in understanding African religions came when the subject was approached in terms of *cosmological ideas and philosophy. In 1969 a chair of African Religions and Philosophy was instituted at the University of Makerere, Uganda, its first tenant being John S.Mbiti. His work, African Religions and Philosophy (1969), provides a general synthesis of African cosmological views. Though not without debatable interpretations, as when he describes the African concept of *time as involving the idea of past and present but no future,” Mbiti’s book has met with highly popular favour and has been translated into various languages: Japanese, French, Korean and Italian.