- Scholars who distinguish between shamanism and possession tend to deny that African religious cultures include shamans or shamanism. However, Ioan Lewis among others makes this distinction difficult. He discusses the Zar and Sar traditions of North and East Africa (prevalent among Islamic and Christian women) and Bori traditions of West and North Africa. Scholars who consider Caribbean and African diasporic religions such as Vodou and Candomblé to be shamanic usually also recognize their roots in West Africa. The rock art of the southern African San (Bushmen) is widely understood to portray and be part of shamanic performance and cosmology. Widespread doctoring and anti-witchcraft or sorcery practices are also similar to those clearly identified as shamanic elsewhere. Finally, the animist relational cosmologies and epistemologies that give rise to the need for shamans in many cultures are also evident in many parts of Africa, to the extent that, for example, “animist” is often used as the label for many Nigerians who are neither Christian nor Muslim.
Historical dictionary of shamanism. Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis. 2007.