How the law of power explains African’s power consciousness.
Because of the impersonal dominance, the unseen and unpredictable spirit powers and forces in the African world make an African man quest for power, which can help secure him secure his safety in this dangerous world, where fate, evil, contingency, mortality, and death abound. The law of power governs the dynamic/power-conscious view of the world from an African eye.
According to Steyne-1990, “Life’s essential quest is to secure power and use it. Not to have power or access to it produces great anxiety in the face of spirit caprice and the rigors of Life. A life without power is not worth living. Power offers man control of his uncertain world. The search for and acquisition of power supersedes any commitment to ethics or morality. Whatever is empowering is right.”
Now, this births so many bootless inquisitions, so many unanswered questions like What is this power? Where does this power reside? Where can power be obtained? How can power be obtained? How can power be used? Upon whom can this power be used? Where should we exercise this power? For what purpose should we use this power for?
Varieties of terms are often used to describe this power we are talking about; it can be described as life force, vital force, life essence, and dynamism. In the African world, power can be obtained by ritual manipulation, through sacrifices, offerings, taboos, charms, fetishes, ceremonies, even witchcraft, and sorcery. There are also other means for obtaining this power, but the above mentioned are the most dominant traditional means of getting power in an African world.
According to Steyne, “The power may also be secured by the laying on of hands or encountering a spirit being, either directly or through ritual means. The power may be transmitted through contact with persons of superior religious status or by using clothing or something previously associated with such a person. How it is secured is a secondary concern. It must be acquired whatever the cost”.
How power can be handled is another dimension that is worth paying attention to. It is said that power is transferable to anything and anyone. Due to that, It permeates everything, though unequally. Let’s not forget that the primary objective of this power is to serve man’s purposes. AAnd, as regards to that Steyne also made a very profound statement, which external religions must take very seriously in their dealings with traditional Africans:
According to Steyne, “Since man’s needs cannot be met without it (power), a powerless religion is valueless.”
Steyne’s statement begs the question, How does this quest for power effect (1) morality and ethics and (2) the relationship between the humans and the spirit beings and forces? Because for sure, the quest for power in the African society has affected morality and ethics and has also affected the relationship between humans and spirit beings.
The concept of power is very valuable and paramount to our understanding of how traditional Africans assess the potency or the efficacy of a new religion or ritual practice. Africans, due to their power consciousness leaves and attaches very fast to anything seemed to be more powerful.