African religious poetry can be traced far to early Egyptian days which later spreads through the whole of Africa where it was, at first, a mere advertently undocumented chanting before it metamorphosed into written form.
The main purpose of African religious poetry is for worship or reverence to God or some supernatural beings. Over the years, different styles of African religious poetry have been seen, based on different languages and dialects.
Taking Yoruba religious poetry as a case study, the poetry was from the oral tradition of the Yoruba people. Though, strange religions have tried so hard to crowd its existence and modernizational changes have re-carved few of its contents to suit their tastes; no wonder, some music crew carved out a particular song, they called “gospel-apala” with voice so similar to that of Celine Dion.
According to O. R. Dathorne, whose article is the motivation behind this post, “Religious poetry is usually centred upon a particular cult. For example, the religious poetry of the Ifa oracle has sixteen principal sections called odu containing almost five thousand poems. The tone here is different, having something of the tragedy of the dirge, but containing a solid dignity:
The sky is immense, but grows no grass
That is what the oracle said to Obatala
To whom the great God gave the reins of the world.
God of the Igbo I stretch out my hands
Give the reins of the world to me.
E. L. Lasebikan writing in African Affairs has observed the ritualistic flavour of some of this poetry:
He appointed the Odundundun the king of leaves
And the Tete its deputy
He appointed the sea the king of waters
And the lagoon its deputy.
A great deal more has to be done on the analysis of the form of this poetry, but it is not difficult to see that the oral form is bound to influence modern poets.”
African religious poetry has been of good intention towards religion and the spirit elements of human beings, even in scenarios where its not publicly embraced.
Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)