Thanatophobia, or fear of death, is a relatively complicated phobia. Many, if not most, people are afraid of dying. Some people fear being dead, while others are afraid of the actual act of dying. However, if the fear is so prevalent as to affect your daily life, then you might have a full-blown phobia.
In all societies, there are people who are terrified of ghosts and people who have thanatophobia, the fear of death. This is different from the typical African’s response to death. In African cultures, fear associated with death involves collective danger, not individual fear; thus, the idea of thanatophobia in some Western and other cultures is more an individual rather than a communal fear. Taboos are communal, not individual, and a person who breaks one actually violates the fabric of the society. It is like tearing a hole in a beautiful blanket. It must be repaired or everyone suffers
Respect for the dead is a given among African traditionalists and believers. The Asante have ceremonies every 3 weeks for the ancestors. They are given water to wash their hands and soul food, that is, food for their souls. The Gikuyu elders put a little food on the ground for the departed spirits. The light of the ancestors is thought to stand in the place where they stood.
People do not pray to ancestors, they pray to god, but they ask ancestors for intercession. No Africans pray to their ancestors any more than they pray to their living fathers.Prayer is reserved for the gods. A person may pour libations to the ancestors to ask the ancestors for a special favor.For example, “Why do you treat us like this?Why did you give us this problem? What must we do to appease you?”
These are like scolding messages; they are not insults, but conversations that men hold with the spirits expressing disappointment for failures. At the moment of the conversation, one realizes the reciprocal nature of reverence for ancestors because, although the ancestors do not speak, they demand and desire more and more. Believers are obligated to carry out every sacrifice that is required to appease the ancestor.
In conclusion, it must be made clear that Africans do not debate whether the ancestors are gods; they know that they are ancestors, and this is a special category of belief. Historically, one can see that conquerors have often appropriated some of the ideas of the people they conquered, yet the conquering religions do not see ancestors as Africans have seen them. Death is a clear confrontation with reality because, in the view of Africans, it is where one crosses over to the ancestral world, and it is only by accessing the ancestors that the living are able to commune with those on the other side.