The environment is seen as having a religious dimension that extends beyond its physical prognosis in Africa. This may issue from their profound sense of appreciation for the several services made by the environment and its resources in their everyday life activities. To the African, a greater spirit is always responsible for any good deed that’s extended to him/her. Thus, when s/he freely gets assistance to cater to his/her greatest needs of life like food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and recreation among others, s/he attaches spiritual value to its providers which are the environment and its resources.
The Africans don’t worship the surroundings as they would worship the highest spirit who’s at the apex of the belief systems, the Supreme Deity. But they treat the environment and its resources with deep awe and respect. They believe that it is the Supreme Deity that has given these natural things in the environment as habitats for some soul beings sent as messengers to assist the human family in their dire situations. This belief is often referred to as Animism. Concerning great storms, the forests serve as wind holders to protect them from the anger of the storms. The leaves, stem, barks, and roots provide them with medicine to heal their ailments while the fruits offer them food. Following the performance of rituals and appeasing the spirits believed to be dwelling in the trees, a number of them are dropped and used for architectural and other utilitarian products. To the indigenous African, the products and services offered him/her by the plants, rivers and other items in the environment are the handiworks of the soul residing in them. Thus, it would be improper, or an act of disrespect and lack of appreciation to wantonly destroy these wonderful resources which have served them and pivoted their lifetime presence.
Out of terrific appreciation, they treat the earth and its natural resources with the greatest care and gentility. The rivers and water bodies aren’t defiled in any way whether by bathing in them, tainting its purity with menstruation blood, drowning someone dead inside, urinating or defecating in them or even using poisonous substances to fish in them. The water bodies have been seen as having souls residing in them and these spirits will be incensed and vouch their anger about offenders of those environmental malfeasances. This maintains the purity of the river bodies and the sustainable supply of its anthropogenic and ecological services. The rich abundance of biodiversity and their conservation in many areas in Africa is as a consequence of the religiosity view of the environment by the indigenous African.
What is the way forward with this sacrosanct view of the environment? Because of the influx of Western religion and schooling as well as globalization, many Africans who are influenced by these external factors, especially the youth, have dulled the high sense of spiritual values for the environment. This is adversely affecting the sustainability and conservation of the natural resources in the environment. However, in local communities in which this religiosity view of this environment remains high, the biodiversity resources are still intact and in their pristine state. This is largely as a result of the stringent sanctioning measures imposed by the traditional councils in the local communities comprising of the ruling chief and his cabinet of elders. Hence, the environmental agencies and ministries in Africa must permit the standard councils to operate in full abilities to enforce these cultural beliefs that protect the environment. They can achieve so by setting a legislation to beef up their powers to sanction culprits who participate in environmentally degrading activities which are seen as defying the sanctity and purity of the environment. Also, assistance concerning logistics to preserve and propagate this belief in animism has to be provided to help in the maintenance of the buoyancy of the environment and its essential resources.