RELIGIONS IN ERITREA Part 4 (RKPHA 2001)- Read more
THE STORY OF THE CREATION IN THE KUNAMA BELIEF. Part 3 (RKPHA 2000) - Read more
DID THE KUNAMA MONOTHEISM HAVE ITS ORIGIN IN JUDAISM? Part 2 (RKPHA 2000)- Read more
THE CONCEPT OF GOD Part 1 (RKPHA 2000)
A lot has been written by the foreign missionaries and others, about and on the Kunama people's beliefs, their concept of a supernatural being (God), their remembrance, veneration of and communications with their deceased akins.
Both the missionaries and all those other people who had attempted to study, tried to understand and explain the Kunama "belief in the existence of a supernatural ruling power", categorised them as PAGANS or practising NATURAL RELIGIONS like:
MONTHEISM associated with the major religions;
Leaving aside those Kunama people who, somehow, came in contact with and adhered to the doctrines of the three chief religions of the world, we would like to restrict our considerations only on the beliefs of the ordinary Kunama who, we think, had never been influenced by the teachings of those three religions.
The category of the Kunama on which our research on "Kunama beliefs" is based are mainly the elderly Kunama as we consider them to be the "depositary" of our historical, social, cultural and religious values.
Though at times, it may appear to be a vague idea, any elderly Kunama professes to have the notion of a "superior being" who has created and controls the world and whatever is in it.
This "superior being" is called "ANNA = GOD".
To him the Kunama attribute also all events taking place on human beings, animals and objects.
"ANNA" sustains the world and regulates everything in it.
He knows and judges "good and bad".
Taking the theory that the Kunama practice "NATURAL RELIGIONS" in the sense that their "religion and ethics are based on reason (contrasted with religion from divine revelation)",
one could argue that the Kunama notion of "ANNA" is not a fruit of philosophical speculations and conclusions but of a simple sense of the existence of a "superior power" who had created and keeps him in life.
The Kunama sense of morality is based simply on the consciousness that Anna knows and judges good and bad.
The simplest form of notion of God the Kunama, very often, express is whenever they say: "ANNAM KOSKE" meaning "God exists, sees and judges".
If a "PAGAN" is a "person who is not a believer in any of the chief religions of the world" such a deinition does neither deny nor exclude that a person could independently believe in the same "superior being" whether he is called: Anna., Eloi, God or Allah and whether his doctrine is simply innerly felt or revealed and contained in the Torah, Bible or Kuraan.
If, however, the term "pagan" implies a person totally ignorant of and feeling free from any kind of dependence from a "superior being", then the Kunama cannot be considered as such as they admit the existence of "Anna" influencing on their lives.
Besides, as the Latins used to state, "timor fecit deos" meaning, "fear created/produced gods", one has to point out that, whenever a human being somehow feels threatened or afraid of the natural forces, he or she automatically appeals to and asks for help and protection from that "superior power" who, after all, has a total control over those natural forces.
"MONOTHEISM" is defined as a "doctrine which sustains that there is only one God".
Taking into consideration their notion and admission of one "Anna" to whom all powers are attributed, the Kunama people are to be recognised as only "monotheists".
Very often and for a considerable length of time, the Kunama people had been referred to as "ANIMISTS" in the sense that they "believed that all objects have souls".
This theory has no foundation whatsoever in Kunama beliefs as they have a clear idea of and are able to differentiate the "animate" beings from the "inanimate" objects.
Due to their belief in the existence of human souls the Kunama in fact, remember and revere their deads.
There are no proofs of Kunama paying their respects to dead animals or destroyed objects.
Many writers on Kunama beliefs have often been unable to distinguish the "SPIRITUALISM" practised by a certain group of Kunama women and the veneration and the deep respect the Kunama people in general pay to their deceased relatives.
"SPIRITUALISM" is defined as "belief in the possibility of receiving messages from the spirits of the dead"
This claim is in fact made only by a group of Kunama women called "Andinna or Ashirmina/Ashilmina", who, at a certain season of the year, usually between the months of November and March or April, assert to be obsessed by spirits and consequently come into a direct communication with and receive messages from the spirits of the dead.
These "Andinna or Ashirmina" women, both during their "obsession" period as well as in their normal life enjoy a respectable status in Kunama society.
They are regarded as "middle persons" between the ordinary
(The phenomenon of the Andinna will be described in a separate paper in the future).