Rahwana, demon king

West African Sin and Punishment By Richard J. Lipinski

In west African religion it is said that man, the head of all creation, was created a moral agent, gifted with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, to do wrong is to sin. all sins have some type of punishment to go along with them, although there morals are a bit different than the ones in the western society.


In most West African tribes and clans, sin is thought of in the same prospective as in western and eastern Christianity or Islam. However, they don't distinguish between good and evil like Christians or Islams do. A thing to remember when studying west African mythology and religion is that there main god Jok, is the god of every thing, they do not have a separate god, or devil designated for ruling over evil. Therefor there interpretation of sin is quite obsequious when compared to other religions or mythological views. It is considered as sin to steal, kill, rape, overindulge, to be lazy and to have guilt. Africans believe that it is not man that decides to sin upon his own decision, but under the influence of demons or tainted souls. Demons are beings that reside on earth that were once tainted themselves when they were on earth as living beings, being lured into sin themselves.The way west Africans worship is a little bit different than in western society. they pay a lot of attention to there ancestors and warship them as gods and holy spirits, but weather they are good or evil is dependent on the way that they acted while living. If they committed any sins, then they are considered to be demon like, trying to sway others to sin and do wrong as well. On that note, it is important to know that in west Africa they believe that someone decides the path that they will take in life before they are born by making choices under the supervision of supernatural entities. So sin is a kind of inescapable thing in west African culture. The below 5 sins are some of the most commonly punished and committed sins.

Sin #1 Adultery

Adultery is sex between a woman and any other man than her husband, or between a married man and any other woman than his wife. It applies equally to a betrothed woman. It is considered an unacceptable crime, striking at the norm of society and, when it results in pregnancy, it inflicts a fake offspring upon the husband. The kinship structure of our society makes adultery a crime not only against the husband as an individual but also against those corporate bodies with whom the husband is in relation. Marriage is a societal ceremony in the traditional community.Adultery is also an offense against the religious objects of the husband, including his ancestors. Furthermore, it is a criminal act towards the gods, because marriage, in the traditional context is a sacred institution sanctioned by them, and any act of unfaithfulness in the matrimonial lift of the couple is punishable by preternatural beings. Right from the beginning of marriage, religious rituals are performed to stabilise the marriage; ancestors and divinities are consulted and approached for their support. Usually the wife of an adherent of the traditional religion is, as it were, "the wife of the gods" She is commended to the care and protection of the supernatural beings and she must be faithful. Rituals and ceremonies accompany or follow the occasion of wedding. The aim of these is to pray for the welfare of tile new couple, to bless them so that they will bear children and to give them instructions on how to run themselves as married people. At these ritualsNkisi-Jespers-38cm-side.jpgGod and the living-dead of the family may be called upon to witness the ceremony and to give their blessings to the new husband and wife.

Sin #2 Lying

Lying is an attempt to say what is not true. It is forbidden in traditional religion, and any perpetration of it is a crime riot only against human beings but also against the gods. Traditional Africans teach there children to never lie as it may lead to worse sin such as rape or theft. The saying is "He who lies will steal." It is a common evil among some people, hut considered very disgraceful when the truth is known. Like adultery, lying ruins. Both are sometimes regarded as hereditary, or runing in the family. Traditional Africans invoke curses on liars, while the divinities too condemn them. Lying is a corporate offense punishable even by death.

Sin #3 Stealing

Among all Africans it is shameful to steal. It is considered a crime to steal anything within the community or anywhere else. A thief is a disgrace to his relations. Traditional Africans perform rituals to detect a thief and get the stolen property back. They leave the punishment to the gods, and in some cases the thieves are revealed publicly by the gods or forced to confess publicly or return the stolen property where they got it. This is in consequence of the divine power or wrath which makes the thief suffer physically or internally. He may be forced to undergo illness, paralysis, partial blindness, to the point that diviners are consulted for the cause of his misfortune, and when it is attributed to stealing, the stolen goods have to he returned and a propitiatory sacrifice offered.
Stealing tarnishes the reputation and integrity of the family of the thief, and traditional Africans strive very much to protect the good name and image of the family. Even an irrefutable family will not want their offspring to be accused of stealing, because criminal acts bring disgrace to the parents, and when people are being considered for positions and titles of honor ill the society a one-time thief and his parents will not be considered for such roles of honor. Reference will always be made to the previous crimes committed by such people. Traditional Africans will never allow a robber, a sinner, or a person who has committed adultery to become a public leader. The loss of fame in the community and divine punishment and not force serve as a serious and adequate punishment in traditional society.

Sin #4 Speaking Evil of Elders

Traditional Africans consider it a sin to speak evil of elders as they are thought of a sacred. Conspiracy or disrespect against rulers is regarded as a serious offence and is seriously dealt with. There can, of course, be a move against a ruler who is known as a tyrant and whose reign is bad for the well being of the people. Traditional rulers are sacrosanct, and anyone who disobeys them or is rude to them is either fined, admonished or expelled from the ruler's domain, and finally the offender is committed to divine punishment by the gods which can even lead to hell.

Sin #5 Unkindness to parents

According to traditional religion, parents, after giving their children good parenting. nursing them to maturity and preparing them properly for life, expect the children to give there devotion to them, whePS080407.pngther the parents are rich or poor, literate or illiterate. The kin are obligated to do this as it is considered pay back for the long, hard work there parents did raising them.It is believed that whatever a child might become and whatever height he might attain, his parents are responsible and if he fails to honour his parents he is bound to fall from the height and his life will be devoid of peace and satisfaction. Traditional Africans think that parents should be thought of as gods, as they have brought them into the world.God's majesty is violated which parents are dishonoured. For a child to strike or even hit his/her parents is considered a crime and a sin; it is prohibited to curse one's father or mother. Insolence to parents may be condoned, but it is a criminal act. Punishment for irreverence and unkindness to parents includes both the wrath of the parents and the wrath of God, which will certainly cause disaster in the life of the child. In serious cases such a disaster has to be removed from the life of the child through offerings and sacrifices.


When you have been found guilty of sin in any west African culture or clan then you receive some type of punishment. Some punishment is rather odd in nature such as amputation, and some is more conventional such as confinement, but you will receive punishment for sin. Generally more serious sins would be punished by things like partial blindness, death, loss of hearing, or sometimes they would even be sent out to the gods to be given punishment as the gods will see fit. Africans are very quick on the trigger and will punish first time offenders very intensely, this makes sin in west Africa a little rarer than it is in most western society's where sinning is almost perpetual.

Actual West African Myths