DID THE KUNAMA MONOTHEISM HAVE ITS ORIGIN IN JUDAISM- Part 2(RKPHA 2000)
According to Isak Zakaria Ela, a prominent Kunama, "the Kunama people have and claim a remote relation with the Jewish people".
How far back could one go to retrace and prove such claim is rather difficult to assess, but there are some religious, social and traditional Kunama practices which seem to have had some Jewish influence.
In this short writing of ours, we shall in fact, be attempting to identify those Kunama religious practices, customs and traditions that we think, might have originated from Judaism or were, at least, somehow influenced by the traditions of the Jewish people.
Our references will be made mainly to the Jewish customs and traditions contained in the Old Testament as we assume that particularly the doctrines of that part of the Bible appear to have had a major influence in the Kunama traditions.
We, as Kunama, neither do fully claim nor try to prove and sustain that we are off-springs of the Jewish people, but that we only intend to compare the traditions of these two societies and point out how close their similarities are.
The very concept, acceptance and practice of "Monotheism" in the Kunama society is already one of the fundamental reasons for considering this claim.
The Kunama belief in the existence of one God (Anna), who created and sustains the world, who sees and judges good and bad and protects humanity from evil, is not in fact any different from the doctrines a revealed religion, like Judaism, teaches.
As the Kunama (those not adhering to any of the major world religions) never cared to develop the written form of their language, they were not able to document their initial contact with those people practising "Monotheism" and the subsequent teaching they did to transmit to their future generations the concept of one God and of its attributes.
Though at times, it may seem to be vague, the concept a Kunama has of one God is indisputably firm.
We already tried to clarify in our previous writing, that, though many foreigners regarded the Kunama people as pagans, practising natural religions, animists or believing in spiritualism, a close study of the Kunama religious consciousness suggests that they in fact hold and practice a pure "Monotheism".
From the societies so far known in the world, the Jewish and the Kunama are said to be the only ones which practice matriarchy.
Not having a deeper and clear knowledge of how the Jewish matriarchal system is put into practice and functions, we limit ourselves to state only the fact that, in this regard, the two societies have an identical tradition.
The male and female circumcisions too are said to be observed and practised by both communities.
There may exist some differences as for the reasons, age and times at which young boys and girls are brought into that ceremony, but it is known that the Kunama circumcise their young boys at an early age whereas the girls undergo circumcision between five and twelve years of age.
Traditionally, the Kunama, like the Jews, practise monogamy although, due perhaps to Islamic influence, some cases of polygamy are to be found in many Kunama villages.
In the Kunama society, marriages between kinsmen and women of the same kinsfolk are strictly forbidden.
This same principle is said to regulate the Jewish marriages.
Remembering and revering the spirits of one's dead members is similarly practised by the Kunama as well as by the Jewish people.
In the Book of the Maccabees, in the Old Testament, their leader Judas Maccabaeus was said to have ordered sacrifices be offered in memory of the souls of the fallen soldiers.
As widely described in the Old Testament, animal sacrifices and goods were often offered to God by the Israelites when pleading for mercy for transgressing his commandments, to soothe his anger or just to ask for his help and protection before facing important events.
A very similar tradition is kept by the Kunama people.
Whenever the Kunama notice that too many natural catastrophes take place, they believe that God is to be soothed by offering him something from the best of their possessions.
The Kunama sacrifices vary from slaughtering a chicken to offering every prime fruit of all of their products. They would also slaughter an animal as a sacrificial token in order to please for God's mercy for a grave crime committed.
At the same time, they also remember the spirits of their dead ones by allotting them too some of their sacrifices. These are carried out at the death, burrial and memorial of a Kunama person.
In their society, the Kunama recognise some of their ethnic members as possessing particular personal gifts, powers or wisdom. They are the charismatic members of their society.
They are considered as mediators between them and God.
They are just like the prophets in the Old Testament.
These prominent Kunama in fact, are often looked at as having some powers and control over the natural elements like weather, rain, illnesses and so on.
They are also seen as having the ability to for-see, read and interpret the future events.
They function as and carry a kind of a prophetic mission.
If one takes all these Kunama beliefs and traditions and compares with the religious, social and cultural values of the Jewish people, one is to conclude that it does not seem to be neither accidental nor casual that the Kunama people claim to have had some remote connection with the ancient Israelites.