"The fool says in his heart 'There is no God.' " In traditional Africa there are no such "fools."

God, divinities and spirits in African traditional religious ontology 
Rev. Emeka C. Ekeke
 and Dr. Chike A. Ekeopara
Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, University of Calabar, Pmb1115 Calabar, Crossriver 
State, Nigeria,  Email 
Senior Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, University of Calabar, Pmb1115 Calabar, 
Crossriver State, Nigeria.   
The concept of God, divinities and spirits in African traditional religious ontology has been so 
misunderstood by many scholars to the point of seeing Africans as people who did not know the 
Supreme Being nor worship Him. This paper seeks to examine how Africans conceive of the 
Supreme Being, divinities and spirits. The paper shows that the concept of God is not strange to 
Africans but in traditional Africa there is no atheist. It sees the divinities as beings who receive 
authority from the Supreme Being to serve in the unitary theocratic system of government. The 
paper sees the spirits as strangers, foreigners and outsiders in the category of things that should 
be defeated using spiritual powers.    
Keywords: Religious Ontology, African tradition, Divinities, Spirits 
The concept of God, divinities and spirits in African 
traditional religious ontology has been a controversial 
and misunderstood concept. Various factors led to 
this controversy and misunderstanding, such as 
prejudice by Western scholars who measured African 
traditional religious concept with Christianity. Other 
factors include lack of indebt study of African religion 
leading to hasty conclusion.  Most of those who came 
to study the religions of Africa were armchair scholars 
who depended on data from missionaries who 
themselves concentrated in one community or tribe.  
They used the scanty information derived from one or 
two localities in Africa to draw conclusion about the 
ontology of God, divinities and spirits in Africa.  
These armchair scholars went as far as believing that 
the sub-Saharan Africa is one country with one 
religious belief and practice. 
This misunderstanding continued until indigenous 
African scholars like John S. Mbiti and E. Bolaji 
Idowu, in 1970s and 1980s, set out to refute some of 
the erroneous claims about  African religions.  They 
echoed the fact that “Africans had known God before 
the missionaries came” (Ray XI).  This view gave 
Africans and their religion, which was battered and 
shattered by the missionaries who condemned and 
denigrated their religion, a new hope and integrity.   
In this paper, our attention  is drawn to the fact that 
there are realities in African religion which has not 
been properly echoed by Africans themselves 
especially those Eurocentric ones whose religious 
inclination has blinded them to the fact that Africans 
are not strangers to the worship of One True God – 
Supreme Being, who is called by different names in 
This paper also shows the position of the divinities 
and spirits in African religious metaphysics stressing 
that their belief in these other beings do not in any 
way contradict their belief in the Supreme Being as 
some opine.  In most of the religions of the world, the 
concept of the Supreme Being is clearly spelt out just 
as it is in African religion with the divinities and spirits 
clearly set forth as messengers of the Supreme 
Being.  This work is therefore focused on showing the 
place of God, divinities and spirits in African religious 
God in African Religious Ontology: When we refer 
to the word ‘God’, we are talking about the living 
eternal Being who is the source of all living and 
whose life existed from the dateless past.  He is self 
existed and is the one whose power sustains the 
universe.  He is an all-knowing Being who knows and 
sees all things at the same time without any modern 
instrument.  He even knows the end from the 
This Great Being has revealed Himself in many 
different ways, “and human beings in particular have 
always felt His presence and responded to Him in 
worship” (Brown 1).  This manifestation or revelation 
of God has brought about a living relationship Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
between God and Man leading to what we now call 
religion.  Some people who received this revelation 
have seen God as a personal Being such as the 
Jews and Muslims, while others like the Buddhists do 
not think of God as a personal Being at all. 
The greatness of this Being has been described by 
many scholars, religious people and many religious 
scriptures.  In describing God, Al-Ghazzali wrote: 
He is the power and the kingdom and the glory and 
the majesty and to Him belongs creation and the 
rule over what He created: He alone is the Giver of 
life; He is omniscient, for His knowledge 
encompasseth all things, from the deepest depths of 
the earth to the highest heights of the heavens.  The 
smallest atom in the earth or the heavens is known 
unto Him.  He is aware of how the ants creep upon 
the hard rock in the darkness of the night.  He 
perceives the movement of specks of dust in the air.  
He beholds the thoughts which pass through the 
minds of men, and the range of their fancies and the 
secrets of their hearts, by His knowledge, which was 
from aforetime (qtd in Brown 2). 
The Arjuma’s Hymn written in about 500 – 100 BC in 
ancient Hindu Gita, expresses the same belief in the 
greatness of this great God and his relationship with 
humanity and the universe: 
Why should they not revere You? … You are the 
first Creator, Infinite, Lord of the gods, home of the 
Universe.  You are the Imperishable.  You are the 
last Prop-and-resting Place of the universe.  You are 
the Knower and what is to be Known … The whole 
universe was spun by You … Your strength is 
infinite, Your power is limitless.  You bring all things 
to their fulfillment: hence You are All … You are the 
Father of the world of moving and unmoving things 
(qtd in Brown 3). 
These descriptions as given above shows the extent 
of the greatness of this Supreme Being by many 
The greatness of this Supreme Being – God is also 
portrayed in African religions.  The fact that there are 
no written scriptures by the votaries of African 
traditional religion, does not in any way mean that the 
concept of the Supreme Being does not exist in their 
ontology.  John S. Mbiti explains that though the 
knowledge of God as the Supreme Being is not 
documented in any sacred book, yet it is “expressed 
in proverbs, short statements, songs, prayers, 
names, myths, stories and religious ceremonies” 
(African Religions and Philosophy  29).    This  means 
that for one to understand the concept of God – the 
Supreme Being in African, he has to study carefully 
the entirety of the culture of the people.  This agrees 
with what Mbiti said, “One should not, therefore, 
expect long dissertations about God.  But God is no 
stranger to African peoples, and in traditional life 
there are no atheists” (29).  This is further supported 
by an Ashanti proverb which says ‘No one shows a 
child the Supreme Being.  This proverb means that 
anyone born in Africa does not need to go to school 
to learn about the existence of the Supreme Being, 
but God’s existence is known by all including 
The Origin of Belief in God in Africa:  There are 
divergent views of scholars as per the origin of 
religion.  Some see religion as originating from fear.  
People saw the vastness of the universe and the 
rumblings of thunder and lightening and the vastness 
of the sea and so many other things that caused 
them fear and so developed faith in something that 
will shield them from what they feared. Others see 
religion as originating from magic while others see 
religion as the creation of the priestly class. 
As there are divergent views of scholars concerning 
the origin of religion, in the same way many scholars 
have various views as per the origin of belief in God 
in Africa.  Three important views exist which are here 
1. Through reflections on the universe, Africans 
came to believe in God.  
This view has its bases on the fact that Africans 
believe in God as the Creator of the universe.  This 
belief may have led them to reflect on the vastness of 
the universe.  Their imagination led them to this 
conclusion that there must be a Supreme Being 
whose power not only created this vast and complex 
universe but also sustains it.  They therefore began 
to give this being worship and adoration.  Mbiti, 
writing in his work  Introduction to African Religion, 
explains that the process of arriving at this conclusion 
of belief must have taken a long time “and there must 
have been many myths and ideas which tried to 
explain these mysteries of the world” (40). 
2. Through realization of their own limitations 
Africans came to believe in God. 
This second view or explanation of the origin of belief 
in God in Africa has its root in man’s limitations and 
the insatiable nature of man’s needs.  Africans saw 
that they were limited and weak in many respects, 
including knowledge and power, particularly in the Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
face of death, calamity, thunderstorms, earthquakes, 
mighty rivers and great forests which are beyond 
man to control.  These limitations and powerlessness 
rather led them to speculate that there must be a 
Supreme Being who is superior to these other 
powers that can be drawn to help them through 
appeasement and or sacrifice.  Mbiti argues that “this 
idea made it logical and necessary for man to depend 
on the one who was more powerful than people”.  
(Introduction to African Religions,  41).  This made 
Africans to feel that they needed the help of this 
Supreme Being in their experiences of limitations and 
powerlessness. This is the Great God that the 
Africans worship.  It should be observed that the 
process of this formulation took a long period before 
it was actually conceptualized. 
3. As Africans observed the forces of nature, 
they came to believe in God. 
This third view of the origin of belief in God in Africa 
is so important because it has to do with the various 
forces of nature.  From time immemorial; man has 
been in the habit of looking at the forces of nature 
with awe and reverence.  This made man to worship 
these forces as having one supernatural power or 
another.  As Africans looked at the weather, storms, 
thunder and lightening, and other phenomena such 
as day and night, the firmament, the sun, moon and 
stars, seeing their enormous benefit to man yet 
unreachable, the Africans began to associate the sky 
with a great God who is very close to man, supplying 
man’s needs such as rain for his land to produce 
abundant fruit.  Mbiti argues that this may be the 
reason “that God is so much associated with the sky 
and the heavens”.   
 He argues further that: 
It is very likely that … [Africans] came to believe in 
God’s existence through such a link between 
heaven and earth.  Man was  at the centre of the 
universe. Standing on the earth but looking up to the 
heavens, and that belief began to make sense and 
fit into man’s continued attempts to understand and 
explain the visible and the invisible universe, the 
earthly and heavenly worlds of which man is the 
centre (Introduction to African Religions, 41, 42). 
African religion centres on belief and practices.  This 
knowledge of God through belief; became the 
cardinal point of the religion of Africans. 
Attributes of God (Supreme Being) in Africa: 
Attributes of God refers to words or phrases ascribing 
traits, properties, qualities or characteristics to the 
Supreme Being.  These attributes are 
anthropomorphic in nature.  This is because any 
religion that stripes the Supreme Being of 
anthropomorphic phenomenon will eventually end up 
as an abstract religion that does not have human 
feelings and is not fully realizable in the world. 
Anthropomorphism is the ascribing of human 
character to God.  J. Omosade Awolalu and P. 
Adelumo Dopamu explain that anthropomorphism 
has been found in all religions as a way of expressing 
ideas or concepts about the preternatural world of 
realities.  For this reason, they argued that it cannot 
be accepted as a part of  the structure of African 
religion (32). 
As we study these attributes of God in Africa, we 
must be conscious of this fact that there are no 
sacred scriptures of African religion for us to consult 
and know what these attributes are, as one who 
wishes to study the attributes of God in Christianity or 
Islam will do.  Rather attributes of God in African 
religion can be found in the songs, proverbs, sayings, 
recitals and liturgies of so many African people. 
(a) God is real to Africans: Africans do not 
perceive of God as an abstract entity whose 
existence is in the mind.  He is seen and perceived 
as a real personal entity whose help is sought in 
times of trouble and who is believed to be the 
protector of the people.  The various names given to 
God in African attest to this.  The fact that God is real 
to Africans is enshrined in the meaning of the name 
they call him.  The Yoruba of Nigeria call God 
Olodumare or Edumere meaning “The King or Chief 
unique who holds the sceptre, wields authority and 
has the quality which is superlative in worth, and he 
is at the same time permanent, unchanging and 
reliable.”  Another Yoruba name for God is  Olorun
meaning “the owner of heaven” or “the Lord of 
heaven” showing God as the author of all things both 
visible and invisible. 
The Igbo of Nigeria call God by these names Chukwu 
meaning “Source Being” which connotes “the Great 
One from whom being originates”. Chineke meaning, 
“The Source Being Who creates all things”.  The Edo 
of Nigeria knows God as  Osanobua or  Osanobwa 
which means “the source of all beings who carries 
and sustains the world or universe”. Among the Nupe 
of Nigeria God is called  Soko which means “the 
creator or supreme deity that resides in heaven”. 
The Ewe and Fon people of Dahomey call God Nana 
Buluku which means the great ancient Deity. Among 
the Akon and Ga people of Ghana, God is known by Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
these names:  Odamankoma,  meaning “He who is 
uninterruptedly, infinitely and exclusively fully of 
grace” or “He who alone is full of abundance or 
completeness” or “He who in His grace has 
completed everything in heaven and on earth”. 
Nyame  or Onyame meaning “if you possess or get 
him, you are satisfied” which expresses God as God 
of fullness or God of satisfaction. 
Among the Mende people of Sierra-Leone God is 
called Ngewo which means “the eternal one who 
rules from above”. (Awolalu and Dopamu 38-43). 
These names were not created by Africans after the 
colonial era but shows how real God is to Africans. If 
God were not real to Africans how did they 
manufacture these names and given to the Being 
they do not know? 
 b)  God is unique in African religious ontology 
When the word unique is used in reference to the 
attribute of God in Africa we are looking at God as 
having no equal or non like Him and being the only 
One of its sort. 
We earlier explained that the Yoruba people of 
Nigeria refer to God as  Olodumare meaning “The 
king or chief unique, who holds the scepter, wields 
authority and has the quality which is superlative in 
worth, and he is at the same time permanent, 
unchanging and reliable”.  This description shows the 
uniqueness of God in Africa.  Not only is God seen as 
unique but He is also seen as permanent, 
unchanging and reliable.  This is why in Africa there 
are no images attributed to the Supreme Being.  In 
most cases there are no temples except in few 
places, dedicated to the Supreme Being. 
No body in Africa has produced any picture attributive 
to the Supreme Being because the concept of God is 
embedded deeply in their ontology that the Supreme 
Being is unique and nothing is comparable to Him.  
Idowu has this to say concerning the uniqueness of 
The uniqueness of Deity is one reason why there are 
no images – graven or in drawing or in painting of him 
in Africa.  Symbols there are copiously, but no images.  
The African concept of God, in this regard is an 
emphatic ‘No one’ and ‘None’ to the question, ‘To 
whom then will you liken God or what likeness 
compare with Him? (African Traditional … 152). 
 Alice Werner in describing Leza, the name used for 
the High God by the Baila, Botanga, and other tribes 
of Northern Zambia explains that  Leza is described 
as “the One who does what no other can do” (51).  In 
writing about the Ruanda people Werner described 
their Supreme Being (Imana) in a proverb thus: 
“There is none to equal  Imana” (44).  These 
descriptions show the uniqueness of the Supreme 
Being in African religious ontology. 
Evans – Pritchard in his definite view of God, known 
as Kwoth among Nuer people of Sudan says: 
The Nuer word we translate ‘God’ is Kwoth, Spirit … 
We may certainly say that the Nuer do not regard 
the sky or any celestial phenomena as God, and this 
is clearly known in the distinction made between 
God and the sky in the expression spirit of the ‘sky’ 
and spirit who is in the sky’.  Moreover, it would even 
be a mistake to interpret ‘of the sky’ and ‘in the sky’ 
too literally… They may address the moon, but it is 
God to whom they speak through it, for the moon is 
not regarded, as such, as Spirit or as a person.  
Though God is not [sky, moon, rain, and others]… 
He reveals Himself through them. (12). 
Evans-Prichard has carefully explained that though 
the various natural phenomena are not God from the 
African concept of God, they are vehicles through 
which God reveals Himself to people. We still 
maintain that God is unique and that is how Africans 
see the Supreme Being.  
(c) God is Transcendent and Immanent 
These two words, transcendent and immanent could 
be seen as two sides of the same coin.  
Transcendent means that something is beyond what 
is natural and normal, and different from it. When 
Africans see God as transcendent, it means that (a) 
God is not limited to a particular place and time as 
human beings are. (b) It means that God lives 
outside the natural world in which human beings live. 
(c) It also means that human beings can never fully 
comprehend the will or thoughts of the Supreme 
Being. He is beyond their understanding. (d) It further 
means that God is always there first: He is the 
creator of all things and the initiator of all events. (e) 
Finally, it means that human beings feel awe when 
they remember the presence of God. He is good and 
trustworthy in a way that they are not (Brown 2). 
As an immanent God, Africans see Him as God 
whose presence is felt by people within the natural 
world. This means that they feel his presence around 
their surroundings, and through what happens to 
them and their families. Africans see God as very 
present within the natural world to help protect and 
deliver his creation, although at the same time, He Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
transcends the natural realm. When we say that God 
is immanent in the world, we are presenting an 
attribute that shows God as dwelling among us or 
within us. 
So many writers especially the armchair scholars 
from the West argue that God in the African concept 
is far removed that they see Him as “Absentee 
Landlord”. They conclude that though Africans have a 
faint knowledge of God, but that God is far removed 
from them so that they rather go to the divinity for 
help. This is a big error. You cannot emphasize 
God’s remoteness to Africans to the exclusion of His 
Awolalu and Dopamu argue that to the Africans “the 
transcendence and immanence of God are two divine 
attributes that are paradoxically complementary” (50). 
This is revealed in the Nupe song: “God is far away.  
God is in front, He is in the back”.  This Nupe song 
means that though God is not on earth yet He is very 
present, always, and everywhere.  To show the 
immanence of God among the Yoruba of Nigeria they 
ask “What can you do in concealment that God’s 
eyes do not reach?” And they also add another 
statement “He who steals under concealment, even 
though the eyes of the earthly ruler do not see him, 
those of the King of Heaven are looking at him” 
(Awolalu and Dopamu 51).  The above sayings 
reveal the immanence of God in African religious 
ontology.  They show that Africans believe that 
though God is transcendent, yet He is immanent. 
d) In Africa God is Eternal and Immortal.   
The Africans do not see the Supreme Being as One 
who will one day cease to be or one who will 
eventually die.  They rather see Him as the eternal 
and immortal One who lives forever to satisfy the 
human soul.  This is why “they hold that the Supreme 
Deity is the Ever-living Reality Whose Being 
stretches to eternity” (Awolalu and Dopamu 52).  A 
Yoruba epithet of praise describes this eternal and 
immortal attribute of the Supreme Being in Africa: 
Oyigiyi Ota Aiku – “The mighty, immovable, hard, 
ancient, durable Rock that never dies”.  
The  Kono people of Sierra Leone call God by the 
name Yataa which means that “God is the One you 
meet everywhere”.  They  also call God by another 
name  Meketa implying “the Everlasting One”, “The 
One who remains and does not die” showing that 
people of many generations experience God living 
(Awolalu and Dopamu 52). 
There are so many other great attributes of God in 
African religious ontology which we may not expatiate 
in this work such as: God is the absolute controller of 
the universe, God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent and 
Omniscient in Africa; the Supreme Being is one in 
Africa; God is good and merciful, and God is Holy. 
The attributes as enumerated above are not the 
product of missionary activities or colonial era.  They 
are part and parcel of Africans.  Every child born into 
African culture grows with these concepts of God and 
he does not need to learn them because they are 
imbued in their folklores, myths, short stories, short 
sayings, proverbs, ceremonies and everything 
around them.  These attributes show the place of the 
Supreme Being in the African traditional religious 
ontology.  No one under any guise should say that 
Africans did not know God before colonial era or 
before the coming of the missionaries.  The 
knowledge of God as the Supreme Being in Africa 
has been part of our culture from time immemorial. 
Divinities in African Religious Ontology:  The 
African religions partly  recognize a group of being 
popularly known as divinities.  These beings have 
been given various names by various writers such as 
‘gods’, ‘demigods’, ‘nature spirits’, divinities, and the 
like.  Mbiti explains that the term “covers 
personification of God’s activities and manifestations, 
the so-called ‘nature spirits’, deified heroes, and 
mythological figures” (Concept of God in Africa, 117).  
This belief in divinities is a common phenomenon 
especially in West Africa, while in other parts of 
Africa; the concept is not succinctly expressed.  This 
is what Francis O. C. Njoku means when he said, 
“The phenomenon of belief in divinities is not 
everywhere prominent in Africa” (125). 
In West Africa where the concept is clearly 
expressed, there are so many of such divinities.  In 
Yoruba pantheon, for example, Idowu explains that 
there are as much as 201, 401, 600, or 1700 
divinities (Qtd in Njoku 127).  In Edo of Nigeria, Mbiti 
narrates that there are as many divinities as there are 
human needs, activities and experiences, and the 
cults of these divinities are recognized as such.  In 
his words “One [divinity] is connected with wealth, 
human fertility, and supply of children (Oluku); 
another is iron (Ogu), another of medicine (Osu), and 
another of death (Ogiuwu)” (Concepts of God in
Africa, 119). 
Divinities have been grouped into two major groups 
namely: the Principal Divinities and Minor Divinities.  
Principal divinities are regarded as part of the original Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
order of things.  Njoku sees these as being “co-eval 
with the coming into being of the cosmos” (126). 
They include such divinities as Sango or Amadioha – 
thunder divinities for Yoruba and Igbo; Ani  or Ala – 
earth divinity among the Igbo, Aje in Idoma land and 
other solar divinities.  The  Dinka people of Sudan 
recognize  Deng divinity associated with rain, fertility 
and others, Abak with mother role, Garang – perfect 
picture of father/son relationship.  They also 
recognize Macardt – a divinity associated with death 
Nature of Divinities: There are two major schools of 
thought as regards the origin of divinities in African 
religious ontology.  The first school of thought is led 
by John S. Mbiti.  He argues that divinities were 
created by the Supreme Being.  He explains that 
divinities “have been created by God in the 
ontological category of the spirits.  They are 
associated with Him, and often stand for His activities 
or manifestation either as personifications or as the 
spiritual beings in charge of these major objects or 
phenomena of nature” (African Religions and
Philosophy 75, 76).  By this view of Mbiti and his 
group, divinities are under the Supreme Being in the 
order of things.  They can also be seen as 
manifestations of the characteristics or attributes of 
the Supreme Being. 
The second school of thought, championed by E. 
Bolaji Idowu, argues that divinities were not created 
but were brought out into being.  In his words, 
From the point of view of the theology of African 
traditional religion, it will not be correct to say that 
the divinities were created.  It will be correct to say 
that they were brought into being, or that they 
came into being in the nature of things with regard 
to the divine ordering of the universe (169). 
This view of Idowu may correspond to the Christian 
theology about the divinity of Christ.  Christians 
believe that Christ was not created but came out 
(brought forth) from the Father and so shares almost 
all the attributes of the Father.  This is why he is 
called the Son of God.  In the same way, Idowu 
applies the same theology to the divinities.  He 
explains that  Orisa-nla (the arch-divinity among the 
Yoruba) “is definitely a derivation partaking of the 
very nature and metaphysical attributes of 
Olodumare” (169).  This is why the Yoruba people 
call him “Deity’s son and deputy, vested with the 
power and authority of royal sonship “(169).  In Benin 
of Nigeria, Olokun the arch-divinity is regarded as the 
son of  Osanobwa, which means a son vested with 
power and majesty by his father. Among the  Akan
people of Ghana, all their divinities are regarded as 
sons of Onyame. Idowu therefore argues that “it is in 
consequence of this derivative relationship that these 
divine “beings” are entitled to be called divinities or 
deities” (169). 
A careful look at these two schools will show that 
Idowu was applying the Christian theological principle 
to African traditional religion by declaring that the 
divinities were not created just as Christians believe 
that Jesus Christ was not created. 
Chike Ekeopara lays his weight behind Idowu by 
declaring that the divinities were not created and 
adds “Divinities are brought into being to serve the 
will of the Supreme Being” (19). 
There is an agreement among scholars that divinities 
are divided into two groups. One group being spirits 
and the other group being human beings of the 
distant past, who, by their heroic activities where 
deified. Our argument here is that if all divinities were 
not created, it means that those heroic human beings 
of the distant past who were deified were not created. 
This will run contrary to the general belief of Africans 
concerning the Supreme Being whom alone has no 
beginning and no ending in African religious theology. 
If the divinities are said to posses the same 
uncreated nature, then there must be equality 
between them in some sense. But we have submitted 
in this paper that in Yoruba of Nigeria, the name 
Olodumare, a name given to the Supreme Being, 
means a king or chief who wields authority and is 
“unique”. This uniqueness means one of his kinds. 
None is comparable to Him. He is unchangeable and 
It therefore follows that if God is unique then every 
other creature must be different from Him. They are 
regarded as divinities. Their being called divinities is 
because they are sometimes the personification of 
the natural forces or the manifestation of the 
Supreme Being. This researcher therefore, agrees 
with John S. Mbiti that divinities “have been created 
by God initially as spirits… [and] are largely the 
personifications of natural objects and forces… of the 
universe” (Introduction to African Religion, 66) 
Relationship between Divinities and Supreme 
1. They are created “beings”. As created 
beings, they are subordinate to the Supreme 
Being.  Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
2. They are derivations from Deity. The 
divinities do not have independent existence 
or absolute existence, but derive their being 
from the Supreme Being. This means that 
“since divinities derive their being from the 
Supreme Being, their powers and authorities 
are meaningless apart from Him (Ekeopara 
3. They are given functions to perform: 
Divinities do not perform duties against the 
will of the Supreme Being rather they are 
obedient to the command of the Supreme 
Being.  Various communities of Africa who 
believe in divinities have their local names for 
each divinity depending on the function the 
divinity performs.  In Yoruba  Jakuta, the 
divinity responsible for Wrath-one who hurls 
or fights with stones”, is known in  Nupe as 
Sokogba – God’s axe.  Among the Igbo Ala
or Ani – Earth, is the arch-divinity responsible 
for the fertility of the soil.  
4. Another important relationship between the 
divinities and Supreme Being in Africa is that 
the divinities serve as “functionaries in the 
theocratic government of the universe” 
(Idowu 170).  This means that the various 
divinities have been apportioned various 
duties to perform in accordance with the will 
of the Supreme Being. This is clearly shown 
by Idowu in his book Olodumare … where he 
explained that in Dahomey, Mawu-Lisa is 
regarded as an arch-divinity who apportioned 
the kingdoms of the sky, the sea, and the 
earth to six of his off-springs. He made his 
seventh child  Legba, the divine messenger 
and inspector-general in African pantheon 
(80). This also means that the divinities are 
ministers with different definite portfolios in 
the monarchial government of the Supreme 
Being. They therefore serve as administrative 
heads of various departments (Idowu, African
Traditional Religion, 170). 
5. Divinities are Intermediaries between man 
and the Supreme Being. They have therefore 
become channels through which sacrifices, 
prayers and offerings are presented to the 
Supreme Being. In Africa, there are no 
images of the Supreme Being but the 
divinities are represented with images 
temples or shrines. Idowu explains that the 
divinities do not prevent Africans from 
knowing or worshiping the Supreme Being 
directly as some erroneously claim, but 
constitute only a half-way house which is not meant 
to be permanent resting place for man’s soul. While 
man may find the divinities ‘sufficient’ for certain 
needs, something continues to warn him that 
‘sufficiency’ is only in Deity [Supreme Being] …. The 
divinities are only means to an end and not end in 
In African religious ontology, especially among the 
West African people, the concept of divinity is well 
established. Divinities are so many that their number 
seems not to be known. This concept has made so 
many scholars to believe that African religion is either 
pantheism or polytheism. Those who believe that 
African religion is pantheistic are of the view that 
Africans see spirit in everything including wood, tree, 
fire, and others. Though this may be true but Africans 
do not see these spirits as deserving worship. They 
still have a strong place for the Supreme Being whom 
they revere in a special way, and whom they believe 
is unique. 
On the other hand, those who see African religion as 
being pantheistic have failed to understand that 
“polytheism is a qualitative and not quantitative 
concept. It is not a belief in a plurality of gods but 
rather the lack of a unifying and transcending ultimate 
which determines its character” (Tillich 246). A 
careful study of this definition will reveal that in Africa, 
though there are many gods, yet there is One 
Supreme God who is worshipped above all-others. 
This means that the One Supreme God believed in 
Africa becomes the unifying and transcending 
ultimate who therefore determines the character of 
every other activity, showing that polytheism cannot 
be the right term to describe the type of religion 
practiced in Africa. Edward E. Evans Pritchard 
recognized that Nuer religion should not be seen as 
either monotheistic or polytheistic.  He explains that it 
could be regarded as both depending upon the 
context.  In his words, 
It is a question of level, or situation of thought rather 
than of exclusive types of thought.  On one level, 
Nuer religion may be regarded as monotheistic, at 
another level polytheistic; and it can also be regard 
as totemistic (52). 
 Francis Deng has also seen the religion of 
the Dinka people as monotheistic.  He explains that 
to Dinka people, their Supreme God, Nhiali “is One” 
and that all other deities and spirits are identified with 
this “Over-All God” (51).  We therefore agree with Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
Idowu and Deng that African traditional religion is 
“Unitary Monotheism”.  This is a kind of unitary 
theocratic government (Idowu,  African Traditional
Religion … 168).  A government where powers are 
delegated to various deities or divinities for the 
governance of the universe, and they bring report to 
the Supreme Being at intervals. 
Spirits in African Religious Ontology:  In African 
traditional religion, the concept of spirits is well 
defined.  This is because Africans believe in, 
recognize and accept the fact of the existence of 
spirits, who may use material objects as temporary 
residences and manifestations of their presence and 
actions through natural objects and phenomena 
(Idowu, African Tradition Religion … 173). 
This does not mean that traditional religion in Africa 
was an alienation in which “man felt himself unable to 
dominate his environment, in the grip of ghosts and 
demons, under the spell of the awe-inspiring 
phenomena of nature, a prey to imaginary magical 
forces or cruel and capricious spirits” (Shorter 49).  
What we are stressing here is the fact that Africans, 
though they believe in the existence of spirits, are not 
being taken captive by this belief so that they do not 
consider other materialistic elements in the universe. 
When we refer to spirits in African religious ontology, 
we are not referring to divinities or to ancestors, but 
to “those apparitional entities which form separate 
category of beings from those described as divinities” 
(Idowu, African … 173).   They are considered as 
“powers which are almost abstract, as shades or 
vapours which take on human shape; they are 
immaterial and incorporeal beings” (173, 174).  As 
immaterial and incorporeal, it is possible for them to 
assume various dimensions whenever they wish to 
be seen. 
These spirits are created by God but differ from God 
and man.  Man has in various occasions addressed 
these spirits anthropomorphically by attributing 
human characteristics such as thinking, speaking, 
intelligence and the possession of power which they 
use whenever they wish. 
Spirits that we are looking at in this part of the work 
are the “’common’ spiritual beings beneath the status 
of divinities, and above the status of men.  They are 
the ‘common populace’ of spiritual beings”, (Mbiti, 
African Religions … 78). 
Origin of Spirits: In African religions, there are three 
main sources of spirits. 
1. Some believe that spirits are created by the 
Supreme Being as a special “race” of their 
own. As a race of their own, they continue to 
reproduce their kind and increase in number 
until they have become myriads in number.  
2. Others in Africa are different in their thinking 
as per the origin of spirits. This second group 
“believe that the spirits are what remain of 
human beings when they die physically” 
(Mbiti,  Africa Religion… 79). To this group, 
this “becomes the ultimate status of men, the 
point of change or development beyond 
which men cannot go apart from a few 
national heroes who might become deified” 
(79). This then means that the ultimate hope 
of man is to become a spirit when he dies.  
3. The third source of spirit is animals that died. 
In Africa, some societies believe that animals 
have souls and spirits which continue to live 
with the spirits of dead men after they died. 
In this way, the world of the spirit is a picture 
of the material world where humans and 
animals live.  
Nature of Spirits: Spirits are nondescript, immortal 
and invisible entities. This is because they do not 
posses material body through which they could be 
seen but they may incarnate into any material thing in 
order to make themselves seen for any reason or 
People have however experienced their activities and 
many folk stories in Africa tell of spirits described in 
human form, activities and personalities, though 
sometimes, these descriptions are exaggeration 
created by the elders to teach special lessons. Since 
they are invisible, these spirits are thought to be 
ubiquitous, so that a person is never sure where they 
are or are not (Mbiti, African… 79). 
Spirits do not have any family or personal ties with 
human beings, and so cannot be regarded as the 
living dead. This is why people fear them, although 
intrinsically speaking spirits are strangers, foreigners, 
and outsiders in the category of things.  
Ontologically, spirits are a depersonalized and not a 
completion or maturation mode of existence. The 
spirit mode of existence according to Mbiti “is the 
withering of the individual, so that this personality 
evaporates, his name disappears and he becomes 
less and not more of a person: a thing, a spirit and 
not a man any more” (Africa Religion…79). Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
Majority of people in Africa believe that spirits dwell in 
the woods, bush, forest, and rivers. Others hold that 
spirits dwell in mountains, hills, valleys or just around 
the village and at road junctions. Spirits are in the 
same environment with men. This means that man 
has to try in one way or the other to protect himself 
from the activities of the spirits knowing that the 
spirits are stronger than him. He uses the various 
means available to him such as magical powers, 
sacrifices, and offerings to appease, control and 
change the course of their action.  
Man’s Relationship with Spirits: A further study of 
the activities of the spirits shows that they may cause 
terrible harm on men. This they do through causing 
madness or epilepsy and other terrible sickness. 
In some cases they may possess people causing 
them to prophesy. Mbiti explains that “During the 
height of spirit possession, the individual in effect 
loses his own personality and acts in the content of 
the ‘personality’ of the spirit possessing him (African 
Religions… 82). The spirits may chose to drive the 
person away making him to live in the forest. It may 
give the person information for the larger society in 
the case of a prophet or soothsayer. When spirits 
possession is noticed, the traditional doctors and 
diviners may be called to exorcise that spirit from the 
person thereby setting him free from his captor.     
Among the disastrous spirits that rule in African 
society is the spirit of witches. To Africans this spirit is 
real, active and powerful yet very dangerous and 
disastrous in its actions  and activities. Elsewhere, 
Idowu explains, concerning the concept of witchcraft 
African concept about witchcraft consist in the 
believe that the spirits of living human beings can 
be sent out of the body on errands of doing havoc 
to other persons in body, mind or estate; that 
witches have guilds or operate singly, and that the 
spirits sent out of the human body in this way can 
act either invisibly or through a lower creature an 
animal or a bird (African Traditional Religion… 
This concept does not require laboratory test for 
scientist to believe. This is because the realm of 
spirits is a realm that transcends scientific scrutiny. 
It is believed among Africans and that is all that 
The guild of witches meets regularly for their 
ceremonies in forests, on trees or under trees, in 
open places or at the junction of the roads in the 
middle of the night. This meeting is done at the 
soul or spirit level meaning that the spirits leave 
the body of the witches in form of a particular bird 
or animal. Idowu reiterates the purpose of this 
meeting as  
To work havoc on other human beings; and the 
operation is the operation of spirits upon spirits, 
that is, it is the ethereal bodies of the victims that 
are attacked, extracted, and devoured; and this is 
what is meant when it is said that witches have 
sucked the entire blood of the victim.  Thus, in the 
case of witches or their victims, spirits meet spirits, 
spirits operate upon spirits, while the actual human 
bodies lie ‘asleep’ in their homes (African
Traditional Religion 176).   
Another concept of spirit that is prevalent in Africa is 
that of the guardian – spirit or man’s double.  The 
belief here according to Idowu is either that the 
essence of man’s personality becomes a sort of split 
entity which acts as man’s  spiritual counterpart or 
double; or that the guardian-spirit is a separate entity.  
The Africans believe that man has a guardian spirit 
which if it is good, works to bring prosperity and good 
luck to its double but if the guardian spirit is not in 
good state, it will rather bring obstacle to the ways of 
its double. 
This spirit is known by many names in Africa.  Yoruba 
people call it ori, Igbo people call it chi, while the Edo 
people call it ehi.  It guards one’s steps leading the 
one to his/her destiny in life.  In most cases, it is this 
spirit that helps to wade off evil spirits that may want 
to derail the individual from achieving his ultimate in 
life.  This is why most Africans will make sure they 
sacrifice and appease their guardian – spirit 
whenever they want to take any important decision or 
they want to go on a journey. 
What we are saying here is that in African traditional 
religion, the place of spirits is very prominent.  This 
does not mean that Africans are Pantheist but it only 
means that they recognize the role spirits are playing 
in human life either positively or negatively and they 
try to keep them at bay using tools available to them 
such as magic, divination, exorcism, prayers, 
sacrifice and others. 
We have submitted in this work that the Supreme 
Being has a strong place in the African ontology.  He 
is regarded as an uncreated, self existent, 
unchanging, and reliable Being whose power 
transcends all powers.  He is seen as the Creator, Am. J. Soc. Mgmt. Sci., 2010, 1(2): 209-218 
Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent Being who 
is immortal and directs human affairs.  In Africa, He is 
worshiped in most places without a temple and 
without an image attributed to Him because He is 
beyond human understanding and is unique showing 
that there is none like Him. 
This Supreme Being according to African ontology 
has so many deputies who work with Him in the 
unitary theocratic governance of the universe.  These 
deputies are regarded as divinities.  They are 
functionaries and ministers whose duties are to carry 
out the full instructions of the Supreme Being.  They 
do not have absolute power or existence.  This is 
because their lives and existence is derived from the 
Supreme Being.  They are created beings and so are 
subordinate to the Supreme Being in all matters.  
They can also be regarded as manifestations of the 
attributes of the Supreme Being.  Africans have 
temples and shrines dedicated to these divinities 
even though they are seen as intermediaries 
between men and the Supreme Being. 
There are also the spirits who are either created as a 
race of their own or as the ultimate end of men who 
died on earth.  Some of these spirits cause havoc on 
humans and so man uses many methods or tools to 
wade them off.  The belief in guardian-spirit is also 
prominent in Africa. 
We are therefore of the view that in African traditional 
religious ontology, God-Supreme Being, divinities 
and spirits exist and play crucial role in that mode of 
existence which they belong and on humans on 
Awolalu, J. Omosade and Dopamu, P. Adelumo.   West 
African Traditional Religion. Ibadan: Onibonoje, 1979. 
Brown, David A.  A Guide to Religions.  London: SPCK, 
Deng, Francis Mading.   Africans of Two Worlds.    New 
Haven: Yale UP, 1978. 
Ekeopara, Chike Augustine.  African Traditional Religion: 
An Introduction. Calabar: NATOS Affair, 2005. 
Evans – Pritchard, Edward E.  Nuer Religion. Oxford: 
Oxford UP, 1956. 
Idowu, E. Bolaji.  African Traditional Religion: A Definition.  
London: SCM, 1973. 
Oludumare: God in Yoruba Belief. London: Longmans, 
Mbiti, John S. African Religions and Philosophy.  London: 
Heinemann, 1969. Concepts of God in Africa. London: 
SPCK, 1975. Introduction to African Religion. London: 
Heinemann, 1975. 
Njoku, Francis O. C. Essays in African Philosophy, Thought 
& Theology.  Owerri: Claretian Institute of Philosophy 
& Clacom Communication, 2002. 
p’Bitek, Okot.   African Religions in Western Scholarship.  
Kampala: East African Literature Bureau, 1970. 
Ray, Benjamin C. African Religions. New Jersey: Prentice 
Hall, 2000. 
Shorter, Aylward W. F.  African Culture and the Christian 
Church.  London: Geoffery Champman, 1978. 
Tillich, Paul.   Systematic Theology, Vol. One. Chicago: 
Chicago UP, 1951. 
Werner, Alice. Myths and Legends of the Bantu.  Londo

Africans have different names for God they worship. Each name has serious significance and authority to the supreme being called God. In Ghana for example among the Akans God is referred to as "Nyankopon" which means "Greater among friends." "Nyanko" in Akan means "friend" and "pon" means "mighty or great." This greatness attached to the supreme being called GOD is the same among all the African peoples.


Originally compiled by Prof. John Mbiti

 ABALUYIA (Kenya): Wele, Nyasaye, Nabongo, Khakaba, Isaywa.

ACHOLI (Uganda): Juok or Jok, Lubanga

ADJURU (Côte d’Ivoire):  Nyam

AFUSARE (Nigeria): Daxunum

AKAMBA (Kenya): Mulungu, Ngai, Mumbi, Mwatuangi, Asa

AKAN (Ghana): Nyame, Nana Nyankopon, Onyame, Amowia, Amosu, Amaomee, Totorobonsu, Brekyirihunuade, Abommubuwafre, Nyaamanekose, Tetekwaframua, Nana, Borebore


Nyame Nwu Na Mawu 

Nyame nwu na mawu (loosely translated, "God does not die, so I cannot die") is the Akan adinkra, or proverb, that symbolizes the continuity of the human spirit in temporal affairs. This idea envisions death as a transition between physical and immaterial states of being, with the dead remaining consequential players in the societies in which they lived.

ALUR (Uganda, Congo DR): Jok, Jok Rubanga, Jok Nyakaswiya, Jok Odudu, Jok Adranga, Jok Atar

AMBA (Uganda): Nyakara

AMBO (Zambia): Lesa, Cuta

ANKORE (Uganda): Ruhanga, Nyamuhanga, Omuhangi, Rugaba, Kazooba, Mukameiguru, Kazooba Nyamuhanga

ANUAK (Sudan): Juok

ARUSHA (Tanzania):  Engai

ASANTE (Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire): Nyame, Onyankopon, Bore-Bore, Otumfoo, Otomankoma, Ananse Kokroko, Onyankopon Kwame

AUSHI (Zambia): Makumba

AZANDE (Sudan): Mbori or Mboli, Bapaizegino

BACHWA (Congo): Djakomba, Djabi

BACONGO (Angola): Nzambi

BAKENE (Uganda): Gasani

BAKWENA-TSWANA (Botswana): Modimo

BALESE (Congo): Katshonde, Tole, Mongo, Mbali, Londi

BALUBA (Congo): Leza, Lesa-Waba

BAMBARA (Mali): Jalang

BAMBUTI (Congo): Arebati, Epilipili, Baatsi

BAMILEKE (Cameroon): Si

BAMUM (Cameroon): Njinyi or Nui, Yorubang

BANEN (Cameroon): Hoel, Kolo, Ombang

BANYARWANDA (Rwanda): Imana, Hategekimana, Hashakimana, Habyarimana, Ndagijimana, Habimana, Bizimana, Bigirimana, Ruremakwaci

BANYORO (Uganda): Ruhanga.

BARI (Sudan): Ngun

BAROTSE (Zambia): Lesa, Nyambe

BARUNDI (Burundi): Imana, Rangicavyose, Rugiravyose, Indavyi, Rurema, Rugoba, Haragakiza, Harerimana, Rutunga, Rutangaboro, Segaba, Umusemyi, Mushoboravyose, Nyeninganyi, Rushoboravyose, Ntakimunanira, Inchanyi, Ruremabibondo, Rufashaboro, Ntirandekuva

BASA (Nigeria): Agwatana

BASOGA (Uganda): Kibumba, Kiduma, Kyaka, Nambubi, Lubanga

BASUTO (Lesotho): Molimo

BAVENDA (South Africa): Raluvhimba, Mwari

BAYA (Central African Republic): So, Zambi

BEIR (Sudan): Tummu

BEMBA (Zambia): Lesa, Mulungu, Mwandanshi, Tengenene, Katebebe, Kaleka-Misuma, Kapekape, Kalamfya-Milalo, Kanshiwabikwa, Kashawaliko, Mulopwe, Mwine-twalo, Nalusandulula, Naluntuntwe, Nalwebela, Nafukatila, Kalenga, Nakabumba, Ndubulwila

BENA (Tanzania): Mulungu

BINAWA (Nigeria): Kashiri

BIRIFOR (Ghana):  We, Nawe, Wene, Yini

BONDEI (Tanzania): Mlungu

BONGO (Sudan): Loma, Hege

BORAN (Ethiopia, Kenya): Waqa

BULU (Cameroon): Mebee

BURJI-KONSO (Ethiopia): Illalei, Bambelle,

CHAGGA (Tanzania): Ruwa

CHAWAI (Nigeria): Bawai

CHEWA (Malawi): Mulungu, Namalenga, Leza, Cham'njili, Mphambe, Chisumphi, Chanta, Mlengi, Mlamulili, Mcizi, Mpulumutsi, Mlezi, Wolera, Mtetezi, Muweluzi

CHOKWE (Angola): Kalunga, Zambi

CHOPI (Mozambique): Tilo

DIDINGA (Sudan): Tamukujen

DIGO (Kenya): Mulungu

DILLING (Sudan): Abradi

DINKA (Sudan): Nhialic, Acek, Jok

DOGON (Burkina Faso, Mali): Amma

DOREI (Nigeria): Nillah

DUALA (Cameroon): Loba, Owasi, Iwonde, Ebasi

DUNGI (Nigeria): Kasiri, Kashira

DURUMA (Kenya): Mulungu

EBRIE (Ivory Coast):  Nyangka

EDO (Nigeria): Osanobua, Osa

EGEDE (Nigeria): Ohe

EKOI (Cameroon, Nigeria):  Osawa, Nsi

ELGEYO (Kenya): Asis

EMBU (Kenya): Ngai

EWE (Benin, Ghana, Togo): Mawu

FAJULU (Sudan): Ngun

FANG (Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea):  Nzeme, Nyame

FANTI (Ghana):  Nyame, Nyankopon, Twerempong

FINGO (South Africa):  Qamata

FON (Benin): Mawu-Lisa

GA (Ghana): Dzemawon, Numbo

GAALIN (Sudan):  Allat, Uzza, Manat

GANDA (Uganda): Katonda, Kagingo, Mukama, Ssewannaku, Ddunda, Lugaba, Ssebintu, Liisoddene, Nnyiniggulu, Kazooba, Namuginga, Ssewaunaku, Gguluddene, Namugereka

GBARI (Nigeria):  Shekohi, Sheshu, Soko, Esse, Sheko

GELABA (Ethiopia): Yer

GIKUYU (Kenya): Murungu, Ngai, Mwenenyaga

GIRYAMA (Kenya): Mulungu

GISU (Uganda): Wele or Weri, Omubumbi, Wele Wehangagi

GOFA (Ethiopia): Tsuossa

GOGO (Tanzania):  Mulungu

GRUNSHI (Ghana): We

GUMUZ (Ethiopia): Robboqua, Fogatza, Musa, Musa Gueza

GUSII (Kenya):  Erioba (Sun)

GWERE (Uganda):  Kibumba

HADYA (Ethiopia): Wa'a

HAYA (Tanzania): Ishwanga

HEHE (Tanzania):  Nguluvi

HERERO (Namibia ): Ndjambi Karunga, Mukuru

HOTTENTOS (South Africa): Utixo

IBIBIO (Nigeria): Abassi, Chuku

IDOMA (Nigeria): Owo, Owoico

IGBIRA (Nigeria): Hinegba, Ihinegba


IGBO (Nigeria): Chukwu, Chi, Chineke, Olisa bi n’igwé

IJAW (Nigeria):  Egbesu

ILA (Zambia): Leza, Chilenga, Lubumba, Shakapanga, Namulenga, Mutalabala, Namakungwe, Muninde, Chaba, Ipaokubozha, Ushatwakwe, Shakatabwa, Mangwe, Shakemba, Kemba, Namesi, Munamazuba, Luvhunabaumba, Mukubwe, Chembwe, Munakasungwe, Chaba-wakaaba-ochitadiwa, Shikakunamo

INDEM (Nigeria): Osowo

INGASSANA (Ethiopia): Tel

ITSEKIRI (Nigeria): Oritse

IYALA (Nigeria): Owo

JIE (Uganda): Akuj

JUKUN (Nigeria):  Shido or Chido, Ama or Ma

JUMJUM (Sudan): Dyong

KADARA (Nigeria): Onum

KAFA (Ethiopia):  Yaro

KANGORO (Nigeria): Gwaza

KAIBI (Nigeria): Kashiri or Kashira

KAKWA (Sudan): Nguleso

KAMASYA (Kenya): Asis

KAONDE (Zambia): Lesa

KARAMOJA (Uganda): Akuj

KARANGA (Zimbabwe): Nyadenga

KATAB (Nigeria): Gwaza

KEMANT (Ethiopia):  Sanbat

KIGA (Uganda): Ruhanga, Sebahanga, Kazoba, Rugaba, Biheko

KIPSIGIS (Kenya): Asis, Chebtalel, Cheptolel, Chebango, Ngolo

KISSI (Guinea, Liberia):  Hala

KITMI (Nigeria): Kashila or Kashiri

KOMA (Ethiopia): Yere Siezi, War, Wal

KONJO (Congo, Uganda): Nyamahanga

KONKOMBA (Ghana, Togo):  Omborr

KONO (Sierra Leone): Meketa, Yataa

KONSO (Ethiopia):  Bamballe, Adota, Waq

KONY (Kenya): Asis

KOREKORE (Zimbabwe): Wokumusoro, Musiki ,Chikara, Dzivaguru

KPE (Cameroon):  Lova or Loba

KPELLE (Liberia): Yala

KRACHI (Togo): Wulbari

KUCA (Ethiopia): Tosso

KUKU (Sudan): Uletet, Ngulaitait or Nguletet

KULLO (Ethiopia): Tosa

KUBA (Congo):  Nceme, Mbombo, Njambe

KUNG (Namibia ):  Khu, Xu, Xuba, Huwa

KURAMA (Nigeria): Ashili, Bakashili

KYIGA (Uganda): Weri

LALA (Zambia): Lesa, Mulenga, Cuuta, Lucele

LAMBA (Zambia): Lesa

LANGO (Uganda): Jok

LELE (Congo): Njambi

LENDU (Congo): Gindri

LIMBA (Sierra Leone): Kanu, Masala, Masaranka

LOBI (Côte d’Ivoire):  Tangba You

LODAGAA (Ghana, Burkina Faso): Na'angmin

LOGO (Congo): Tore, Ore, Ori, Djuka

LOKOIYA (Sudan): Oicok

LOTUKO (Sudan): Ajok, Naijok

LOZI (Zambia): Nyambe

LUAPULA (Zambia): Lesa

LUGBARA (Congo, Uganda): Adroa or Adronga, Adro

LUGURU (Tanzania):  Mulungu

LUIMBE (Angola):  Nzambi, Kalunga

LUNDA-LUENA (Angola, Congo, Zambia) Nzambi, Kalunga, Sakatanga

LUO (Kenya): Nyasaye, Wang' Chieng', Nyakolaga, Were, Tham, Wuonwa, Wuon kwere, Wuon ji, Ja Mrima, Jan'gwono, Jahera, Nyakalaga, Janen, Wuon Ogendni, Hono, Polo, Wuon lowo, Ratego, Jalweny, Kwar ji, Rahuma, Piny k'nyal, Wuon oru, Ruodh Ruodhi, Wang' Chieng', Nyakolaga, Uworo

LUVEDU (South Africa): Khuzwane, Mwari

MAASAI (Kenya, Tanzania): En-kai, Engai, N'gai, Ai, Parsai, Emayian

MADI (Uganda): Ori, Rabanga

MAHRAKA (Sudan): Mboli

MALE (Ethiopia): Sosi

MDINGE (Guinea, Mali):  Gala, Guele, Jalang

MAMVU-MANGUTU (Congo): Mai, Oti, Tore, Kundumbendu, Oto

MAO (Ethiopia): Yere, Yeretsi

MASONGO (Ethiopia): Waqaio

MATENGO (Malawi):  Ciuta, Mulungu, Mlezi, Cisumphi

MEBAN (Sudan): Juong

MEKAN (Ethiopia): Tuma

MENDI (Sierra Leone): Ngewo, Leve)

MERU (Kenya): Murungu, Ngai, Mwene inya

MONDARI (Sudan): Ngun

MORU (Sudan): Lu

MOSSI (Burkina Faso):  Winnam, Ouennam, Winde, Naba Zidiwinde

MURLE (Ethiopia): Tummu

NAMA (Namibia):  Tsui-Goeb (Supreme Being), Cagn or Kaang, Khub, Nanub

NANDI (Kenya): Asis, Cheptalil, Chepkeliensokol or Chepkelienpokol, Chepopkoiyo, Chebonamuni

NDEBELE (Zimbabwe): Unkulunkulu, Umlimo, Mwali

NDOGO (Sudan): Mbiri, Mviri

NGOMBE (Congo): Akongo, Bilikonda, Ebangala, Ebangala-e-mokonda, Eliamokonda, EliMalima, Endandala

NGONDE (Malawi):  Kyala, Mbepo Mwikemo, Ndolombwike, Kamanyimanyi, Mpoki

NGONI (Malawi): Unkurukuru, Utixo, Inkosi, Umkulunqango, Uluhlanga, Umkulu Kakulu, Umnikaze we zinto zonke

NKUM (Nigeria): Oshowo, Ebutokpabi

NKUNDO (Congo):  Djakomba

NSÓ (Cameroon): Nyuỳ

NUBA (Sudan) Kalo, Elo, Bel, Bel Epti, Kando, Kwarak, Masala, Elem

NUER (Sudan): Kwoth

NUPE (Nigeria): Soko

NYAKYUSA (Tanzania): Kyala, Tenende, Nkurumuke, Chata Kyaubiri, Kalesi, Ndorombwike, Mperi

NYANJA (Zambia, Malawi): Mulungu, Cuata, Leza, Mphamba, Cisumphi, Cimjili Namalenga or Nyamalenga or Mlengi

OKIET (Kenya): Asis

OROMO (Ethiopia, Kenya): Waqa

ORRI (Nigeria): Lokpata

OVIMBUNDU (Angola): Suku, Usovoli

PARE (Tanzania): Kyumbi, Mrungu, Izuva

PITI (Nigeria): Ure

POKOMO (Kenya):  Muungu

POKOT (Kenya): Tororut, Ilat

PONDO (South Africa):  uDali, uMenzi, u Tixo

PYGMY (Congo): Kmvoum

PYEM (Nigeria): Wudidi

RABAI (Kenya): Mulungu

RISHUWA (Nigeria): Kashiri, Kasiri

RUKUBA (Nigeria): Katakuru

RUMAIYA (Nigeria): Kashillo, Kashira

SAFWA (Tanzania): Nguruvi

SONATA (Congo): Nja

SAN (Botswana, Namibia): Urezhwa

SANDAWE (Tanzania): Waronge, Murungu

SANGAMA (Ethiopia): Zabi

SEBEI (Uganda): Oiki, Oinotet

SERER (Gambia, Senegal): Rog

SHERBRO-BULLOM-KRIM (Sierra Leone): Hobatoke

SHILLUK (Sudan): Juok

SHONA (Zimbabwe): Mwari, Nyadenga, Wokumusoro, Gore, Runji, Chipindikure, Chirozva-mauya Chirazamauya, Sagomakoma, Musiki, Muvumbi, Marure, Musikavanhu, Dzivaguru, Chidziva, Mutangakugara, Muwanikwa, Mupavose, Wemumbepo, Muponesi, Muyaradzi, Muratidzi

SIDAMO (Ethiopia): Magano

SONGHAY (Nigeria): Yerkoy

SONJO (Tanzania): Mugwe, Riob

SOTHO (Lesotho):  Molimo, Molimo o matle

SRUBU (Nigeria): Kasiri, Kahiri

SUKUMA-NYAMWEZI (Tanzania): Mulungu, Mungu, Seba, Kube, Kube-Nyangasa, Limi, Linyabangwe, Liwelelo, Ng'wenekili, Ling'wenekili, Likubala

SURI-SUMMA (Ethiopia): Tuma

SWAZI (Swaziland): Mkulumncandi, Umkhulumncandi, Inkosatana, Umvelingquangi

TALLENZI (Ghana, Burkina Faso):  We, Wene, Nawe, Nabwe

TEITA (Kenya): Mlungu

TEMBU (South Africa): uTixo

TEMNE (Sierra Leone): Kuru, Kurumasaba

TENDA (Guinea):  Hounounga

TESO (Uganda): Akuj, Apap, Edeke, Lokasuban

TEUSO (Uganda): Didikwari, Nakwit

THONGS (South Africa, Mozambique):  Tilo, Hosi, Xikwembu

TIKAR (Cameroon): Nyooiy

TIV (Nigeria): Aondo

TLHAPING (South Africa):  Modimo

TONGA (Malawi, Zambia): Tilo, Chiuta or Ciuta, Leza, Mlengi, Chata, Nyangoi, Wamu yaya, Wanthazizose, Mkana Nyifwa, Kajeti, Mtaski, Msungi, Mlezi, Mlengavuwa, Mnanda, Mananda, Mangazi

TOPOSA (Sudan): Nakwuge

TORO (Uganda): Nkya, Ruhanga, Kagaba, Nyamuhanga

TSWANA (Botswana, South Africa): Modimo

TUMBUKA (Malawi): Chiuta, Mulengi, Leza, Mwati, Mweni-Nkongono, Kajilengi, Wamtatakuya, Cinyetenyete, Mweneco, Mupi, Cilera-balanda, Karonga wa mabanja, Cimbatakwinya, Kamphanda, Kamanyimanyi, Wamalumya

TURKANA (Kenya): Akuj

TURU (Tanzania): Murungu, Matunda

TWI (Benin, Ghana): Onyankopon

UDHUK (Ethiopia): Arumgimis

URHOBO-ISOKO (Nigeria): Oghene, Oghenukpabe

VAI (Liberia):  Kamba

VENDA (South Africa): Nwali

VILI (Congo) :  Nzambi Mpungu

VUGUSU (Kenya): Wele

WALAMO (Ethiopia): Tosa

XAM (South Africa):  Kaang, Kaggen, Huwu or Huwe

XHOSA (South Africa):  uThixo, uDali (Maker, Creator ), uMenzi, uHlanga, Qamata

YACHI (Nigeria): Phahia

YAKO (Nigeria):  Ubasi

YAO (Malawi, Mozambique): Mulungu

YORUBA (Nigeria): Olodumare, Olorun, Olofin-Orun

ZALA (Ethiopia): Taosa

ZINZA (Tanzania): Isewahanga, Kazoba, Rugaba

ZULU (South Africa): Unkulunkulu, Inkosi, uDumakade, uGobungqongqo, uGuqabadele, uKqili, uMabonga-kutuk-izizwe-zonke, uSomoganiso, uZivelele.