The Yoruba call it Àtúnwá; but it is reincarnation within the family. And there are names like Babatunde (father returns), Yetunde (Mother returns), Babatunji (Father wakes once again) and Sotunde (The wise man returns) that indicate this belief. However, the Yoruba are not alone in the belief that one incarnates only in one's lineage--it is universal throughout the continent, which leads me to conclude that this was the original idea elsewhere, particularly in the Indus valley's Harappan civilization before the arrival of the Aryans. Since then the concept of reincarnation the Aryans marred and mired it with philosophical disquisition--mumbo-jumbo by another name.
The confusion came about when the Aryans, like other societies, reduced Afrikan multiple souls to one. In Afrikan spiritual systems the human being is compose of a number of souls each connected to a part of the existential world. For example, Afrikans believe a person's name is part of the soul, for the name is the identifier of an entity. Many, if not all Afrikan cultures state in their cosmologies that in the beginning was the "Word"--the name corresponds to the word. The body is that part of the soul that corresponds to the physical or material world. Then there is the breath, ancestral, and the destiny soul or spirit, each again liked ontologically to existence and the people's cosmology. It is only the ancestral soul that reincarnates. In a Western scientific sense the ancestral soul we can related to one's DNA but it also embodies personality and character traits as well.
The oldest inhabitants of India were the Andamanese, who presently live on the Andaman Islands, a district of India, located in the southeastern part of the Bay of Bengal. The Andamanese anthropologists classify as Negritos ("pygmies"), and like the San, the women have steatopygia. In more recent history, migrates from Somaliland or ancient Punt settled the area as well. And the findings of archaeological excavations and research in Somalia show that this area enjoyed a lucrative trading relationship with Ancient Kemet and Harappan civilization since the second millennium BCE, which supports the identification of Somalia with ancient Punt. By the way, the Kemeyu identified the people of Punt with a short physical type.
Thus it is possible that the Dravidians are a mixed of two Afrikan peoples: the Andamese and the Somali. In Dravidian or Harappan civilization, we find all the elements that would become part of Indian civilization. For example, the people lived in occupational castes, and the physical exercises that constitute yoga are present. Their system of worship revolved around a number of divinities, and to go further, many of the features Diop identifies with southern cradle cultures are present, such as agriculture, peaceful morality, matrifocality, and burial. The women even practiced labia elongation. We can also assume they believed in reincarnation--the original conception, of course. Although the Dravidians believed in reincarnation, the philosophical discussion of the subject appears only from about the 6th century BCE, when the area was well under Aryan control and influence. So how might the concept have changed from 2600 BCE to around 600 BCE? In Indian religious and philosophical concepts, it was the Aryan influence, based on the idea that humans consist of two fundamental principles opposed to each other, one spiritual, the soul (atman), and the other material, the body (sarira), that gave birth to Hinduism. In about 1500 B.C.E. the Aryans descended into the Indus Valley bringing their war gods and an elaborate system of worship and sacrifice that they forced upon the Dravidians.
Actually there is evidence in ancient India that suggest reincarnation originally occurred only in one's lineage. I believe the theosophist Madame Blavatsky has pointed this out in her work. Further, reincarnation as we know it, does not appear in the early Aryan literature, the Vedas; therefore it is safe to say that Vedic religion did not have this belief. Instead the theory of re-death (punarmyrtyu, new death) appears at a very early stage in the Vedas. These ideas about death predate and predetermine the theory of birth. The Rig Veda, the first book of the Vedas (1200 BCE), speaks of death and immortality, rather than rebirth. And what comes after death? Rig Veda offers various images of a vague but pleasant life after death. The idea of rebirth (transmigration) on the earth was a Upanishads creation. Its earliest mention is found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, when it states: "A man becomes good by good works, evil by evil' and on death, like a caterpillar -or a grass leech - proceeding from one leaf to another, the soul (atman), having shaken off the body and freed itself from ignorance, presumably empirical life, makes a beginning on another body. Moreover, though the Upanishads make commentary based on Vedic rituals, the spirit of the Upanishads is inherently anti-ritual. The older Upanishads launch attacks of increasing intensity on ritual, castigating anyone who worships a divinity other than the Self.
Why does the Upanishads offer us this change in perspective? Well, to begin with the general area of the writing of the early Upanishads was northern India, Aryan "central." It moves away from the emotive and relational centered worship of the Dravidians, and towards the linear, impersonal spirituality of the Aryans. The northern cradle was stamping its imprint on Indian culture and religion. But there is perhaps another vantage point to approach this situation from. Conquest is one thing but maintaining control is another. Rather than use military might and rule under the threat of violence, using cunning indoctrination can be less injurious and even more effective. One way a conqueror can gain greater control of the conquered in by usurping or aligning themselves with the indigenous traditions and symbols of power.
I have demonstrated in several blogs that the early Catholic church adopted a policy of co-opting pagan celebrations (beliefs and practices in essence) by creating Christian holidays on the same day hoping that in times the Catholic holiday would supplant the pagan one. The Aryan rulers were acting in the same regard when they adopted the idea of reincarnation from the conquered Dravidians. Because the Aryans were outsiders, conquerors, their lineage was outside of the Dravidian blood lines, hence, their legitimate claim to authority was also outside of it; thus, by removing reincarnation through lineage only, the Aryans could now claim the lineage of respected Dravidian ancestors thereby authenticating their claim to power, leadership, and rule. They removed the element that they could never become a part of except through intermarriage which the "superior" Aryans felt beneath them. Why taint the superior with the inferior? Then there was rape, but this act would not endearing to the Dravidian ancestors. The ancestors would not confer their blessing upon such a union. Hence by adopting the Dravidian lineage by removing the consanguinity, the Aryans opened it up to themselves. They now made reincarnation an open-ed system rather than one bind by blood; they removed it from a lineage and connected it to the impersonal law of karma. So what does this mean, what am I saying? I am saying that millions of people are believing in a concept that the conquering Aryans created to legitimize their claim to power among the conquered Dravidians. And to add injury to insult, the original concept modern society treats as some tribal, primitive idea that did not fully develop into the full doctrine as found in Hinduism (and Greek transmigration of the soul). Of course, this is a foolish idea, that Aryan conceived idea is superior or somehow more developed than the Afrikan concept. The Kemeyu, a people considered the "light of the world" did not have the Indian or Greek notion of reincarnation. They had the Afrikan one, of course, so what makes the idea one so superior? Because white people/Aryans created it?