relationship between african traditional religion and christianity

We therefore begin to see clearly why African Christianity or African Pentecostalism remains in a tensed relationship with non-Christian faiths … Many Igbo clans always use ọfọ and ogu together, for example, “eji m ọfọ na ogu—I have ọfọ (justice) and ogu (innocence).” Ogu is more of a concept than of a physical object. There are no missionary elders to propagate the religion, and one individual does not preach his religion to another as is the case with nontraditional proselytizing religions. She has published widely, and her latest article was with Chukwuma O. Okeke, “Cognitive Domains of the Sense Relation of Selected Igbo Verbs,” in Lingua. There are cases of kinsmen and the Christians struggling for the corpses of Christian relations. “This also shows that Christianity believes in intermediaries but what and who serves as the intermediary is the problem,” says Chief Raphael Ojike (oral interview, 2016). They left the converts to the vengeance of the gods but the gods seemed to have taken no notice. The Christians should take it as their duty to teach and explain to the traditionalists the objective definition of religion. View or download all content the institution has subscribed to. Such people included traditionalists, missionaries, scholars of church history, and so forth. The method adopted by this study is qualitative and comparative. In traditional marriage, the religious aspects include the preliminary divination by which the young man who seeks a wife is enabled to find out from what clan or lineage his Chi (Guardian Spirit) permits him to take a wife of fortune from. God is esteemed by both African religion and Christianity as both the very ground being, and the necessary of life, and any form of being or existence, such as the creation itself. This brought the first physical conflict between the traditional religionists and the Christians in that part of Igbo nation. Some practices of Islamic religion were just a continuation from African cultures. Despite these reasons and threats, Christianity began to win converts in Igbo land. The conflicts that exist between traditional religion and Christianity in Igbo land are moral, ideological, and physical, though more moral than physical in the sense that the moral conflict did not develop into a serious civil struggle between the traditionalists and Christians. Christopher N. Ibenwa is a lecturer in the School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. This situation arises, especially when the husband did not finish the marriage rites because of his Christian faith or due to negligence of traditional marriage customs or because of other reasons, before the wife died. . The Igbo feared that if they become Christians, their gods would bring disaster to them. If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. According to Ilogu (1974), three factors usually determine the name given to a child. After that, the naming of the child and its presentation to the people follows. And, one begins to wonder the difference between this traditional practice and Christian’s ceremony on November 1 and 2 (All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days), the days set aside for remembering the Christian brethren whom they believed lived righteously and died in Christ. Linguistically, they belong to the new Benue–Congo of the Niger–Congo Language family. Based on this Christian belief, new converts no longer partake in traditional family festivals and thanksgiving. “The propagators of the crisis are all Christians,” said Sir Ogbonna. The poor and the widow take consolation in ọfọ, especially in land cases, for without the fear of the ọfọ, they will be maltreated by the rich and powerful and from the name such as Ọfọbuike (ọfọ is strength), you see that the Igbo regard ofọ very highly. Some society journals require you to create a personal profile, then activate your society account, You are adding the following journals to your email alerts, Did you struggle to get access to this article? ‎The Nigerian religious landscape is characterized by series of violence leading to bloodshed, loss of thousands of life and property worth billions of Naira. Igbo people believe in reincarnation but it is only those who lived good lives who are believed to be capable of coming back to human form. This practice is also the same in Christianity, where a woman after childbirth offers live animals and special cleansing prayer to God, for readmittance into the Christian folk (see Leviticus 12:1-8 and Luke 2:22-24). Even to date, most Christian converts are not courageous enough to put their Christian belief into practice in the equality of human beings, by marrying an Osu or Ohu, for they know that the person and his family will be ostracized by all his kindred, who ironically are more of Christians. The traditionalist performs some ritualistic ceremonies before burying a dead person. religion of these natives is their existence and existence is their religion. The historical origin of the Igbo is not yet certain because of the different views by historians and archeologists. Traditional music and song, drama, and dance were totally denounced as bad and immoral. Mbiti (1970) posits that when a person dies, his soul or spirit wanders around the bush, until his relations perform the necessary and befitting burial rites. Commonalities between Christianity and Africa Traditional Religion By Richard Chowning Creator God. Another area of conflict is polygamy. Ikenga-Metuh (1972) says, “. Data for this study were collected using both primary and secondary sources. The qualitative method enabled the researchers to make valid deductions from the secondary data, whereas the comparative method helped to make counterfactual analysis of both the secondary and primary data sources as they relate to the traditional and Christian ethos. From the above conflicts, we can see that although Christianity has made some impact on Igbo people, it has not totally changed their worldview. Together as One: Interfaith Relationships Between African Traditional Religion, Islam, and Christianity in Nigeria. This site uses cookies. The number of wives often determines the number of children. After sometime, a year or more, the second burial would take place with a lot more elaborate ceremonies than the first. This bitter conflict has led to wanton destruction of lives and property, … He observed that African religion has many common features with the Christian and Jewish traditions, which contributed to the rapid expansion of Christianity. In some Igbo towns today, the initiation into the masquerade cult is still causing a lot of conflicts between fanatical Christians and the traditionalists. : (Interfaith Series, Vol. By continuing to browse . This method of conversion conforms to Ifemesia’s (1972) assertion, which runs thus: “The Christian missionaries were the object of education and religious instruction; and converting the younger people into Christianity was easier, since the young were believed not to be rooted in the ancestral ideas and practices as their fathers” (p. 70). From the above, we can see that the indigenous Igbo man still holds tenaciously to the cult of Ala, and the entire spirit world is believed to have its abode under the physical earth on which the people live and derive their sustenance. Ala is so sacred that anyone who commits an abomination against it does not hope to survive. These agents were very active in molding the attitude of the converts, especially the young, toward the traditional society. King Jaja of Opobo was a typical example. Just as in the recent times, the early Christian church had conflicts with religions and cultures that do not share same doctrines with it. And, their traditional parents and or guardians see this as rebellion that deserves punishment because they believe that the sin of one member of the family affects the whole family. It is worthy of note to observe that the High God is not represented in any carved or molded form, is not assigned a shrine. Mr. Nwaazuru Okoronkwo (oral interview, 2013), a retired civil servant whom we interviewed, on describing the great position of Ala (earth deity) says that Ala is the owner of all men, living and dead. They frown at the practice of carrying the corpse of a dead wife back to her father’s compound or even stopping over as we have seen. Often coercion is used to force Christians to perform the naming rites. The email address and/or password entered does not match our records, please check and try again. . The father, who is the head of the home, prays very early in the morning before he could even greet anybody. Concretely, the values and the ritual rites of the traditional religion of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria were analyzed side by side with the Christian values and ritual rites. For more information view the SAGE Journals Sharing page. Tradition had it that the fishes were not allowed to be touched or killed, for they were dedicated to the god of the stream, but the Christian converts caught and ate them just to show that the gods of the stream had no powers to harm them, because God created all things for man’s use. Moreover, the moral conflict (which, in some cases, had been the result of clash in conscience experienced by individual Christians between the tenets of Christianity and those of the traditional religion) was not the official support given by Christian authorities against the traditional religion and its followers, but was purely the effect of a clash in religious beliefs, which naturally existed between the adherents of the traditional religion and those of the Christian faith in Igbo nation. Hastings (1911) has defined worship as comprising all modes of giving expression to the various feelings toward the divine power, feelings of awe, reverence, obligation, depreciation, gratitude, hope, and others. This is because the word “traditional” helps us distinguish the religion from other religions that has existed in Africa for centuries, i.e. Ugwu (2014) says that the Igbo who belong of course to the West African subregion. At first, the problem which Christianity presented to the traditional religion was not regarded as a serious matter by the people because conversion to Christianity at the initial stage was not an easy task because Christianity was a new religion and something brought to Igbo nation by European missionaries: Rev. African Traditional Religion and Christianity agree that God has made covenants with humans. The supreme being in most African Traditional Religions is seen as the creator of humans and all other living things. The wanton destruction of lives and property triggered by these conflicts has resulted in the topic under review. It is unavoidable in human interaction. Some of them acted not only as doctors but as listeners to people’s multifarious problems. Chinua Achebe in his novel, Things Fall Apart also recorded the situation when Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, was converted. He holds a PhD in religion and society, plus 19 years of teaching experience as a lecturer in University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The writers, therefore, suggest that Christians in Igbo communities should leave their opposition to traditional religion because they have given rise to disintegration and lack of unity. They had village church-school teachers called church agents. For more information view the SAGE Journals Article Sharing page. For Christians, the worship of God is effectively performed by the ordained priests and their agents, the catechist, and lay readers. He has published in many local and international journals. II) Filesize: 8.62 MB Reviews These types of book is the greatest ebook readily available. Sign in here to access free tools such as favourites and alerts, or to access personal subscriptions, If you have access to journal content via a university, library or employer, sign in here, Research off-campus without worrying about access issues. The Bible was used as a tool to pacify Africans and to make them docile. Ogu creates an atmosphere for peaceful settlement. II) By Hyacinth Kalu iUniverse, United States, 2011. The two should realize that both of them are virtually doing the same thing. the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Ọfọ has various types, namely, ọfọala (ọfọ for mother Earth), ọfọ ụmụnna (ọfọ for the kinsmen), ọfọọzọ (ọfọ for titled men), ọfọ dibia (ọfọ for diviners), and so forth. SAGE Publications Inc, unless otherwise noted. Conflict arises in the worship of ancestors. The rapid growth of many religions in Africa and the revival of AIR in postcolonial Africa have made inter-religious dialogue an … Lean Library can solve it. Some factors determine the name given to a child, and this is where conflict arises with the Christian belief. They opposed the traditional second burial rites. After the advent of Christianity in Igbo nation, there was no town-wide conflict between traditional religion and Christianity. Again African Traditional is a little different because it is a natural religion. The traditional African religions or traditional beliefs and practices of African people are a set of highly diverse beliefs that includes various ethnic religions. : (Interfaith Series, Vol. They are Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, and Abia. Members of _ can log in with their society credentials below, Chukwuma O. Okeke, Christopher N. Ibenwa, and Gloria Tochukwu Okeke, This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (. If the second burial was not performed, according to Mr. Enem, Ignatius (oral interview, 2015), the proper inheritance of the late father’s property could not be finally settled (the above practice according to him is still in existence in some Igbo communities such as Iwolo, Nenwe and Nkanu in Enugu State, Ohaozaro, and Abiriba in Abia State). . One feature is that Bible translations used African words for God, according to Mbiti. The original religions of Africa “are not static”; according to Mayo, “contacts with Christian and Islamic traditions have brought about transformations and syncretism of all three” a perfect example of the triple heritage of Africa[5]. The beliefs and practices of the traditional religions in Africa can enrich Christian theology and spirituality." Nwankiti (1975) argues that the origins of Christian missionary work in Nigeria antedated the Egba (Abeokuta enterprise). These secondary materials helped the researchers to know the state of the art and make a qualitative analysis of the issues involved in the topic. (Onyeidu, 2001, p. 6). From this explanation, one can easily see that the problems of Igbo Christians are those of a man practicing a new religious system, amid a traditional order that has not yet disappeared. So, with the advent of Christianity in 1857, the traditional religion had a serious rival. Churches and schools were built and youths and children were made to attend schools. Conflict has been defined variously by different scholars under different ideological, historical, and cultural influences. : (Interfaith Series, Vol. Book Condition: New. Christianity preaches that there is only one God, the creator of everything and that no worship could be given to any other false god. The findings of this study show vividly that the two religions have their strengths and weaknesses. They believe that the dead ancestors do not come back in their original forms; rather, they become especially interested in the newborn child, who they say may inherit some of the ancestors’ characteristics. The secondary sources included, among others, materials such as textbooks, journal articles, encyclopedia, and Internet materials. In some parts of Igbo nation, there are certain animals regarded under the traditional religion as sacred and are, therefore, not hunted or killed for food. The ancestor becomes the tutelary spirit of the child and sees to the well-being of the child. Christians are opposed to this aspect of traditional marriage. This practice persists till today in all Igbo communities. What the Bible is to the Christians, ọfọ is also to the traditional Igbo people. No worship in traditional religion is complete without prayer and pouring of libation to ancestors. This work investigates the conflicts existing between the two religions since the introduction of Christianity in Igbo land. Commonalities between Christianity and Africa Traditional Religion Creator God The supreme being in most African Traditional Religions is seen as the creator of humans and all other living things. It is the done thing to glamorise the virtues of African traditional religion and to demonise the missionaries who brought the Christian faith to … Jomo Kenyatta, in … eral relationship between Deity and man.” 4. The southeastern part of Nigeria consists of five states that are known as the core Igbo-speaking states. Instead, they bury the dead wives in the church cemeteries of their husbands’ town or in their husbands’ compounds. Christians believe that as God is the creator of every human being, names should relate to him. Islam is taught that Al Illa is the only God. Of course, some Christians do resist. I have read and accept the terms and conditions. Songs and Dances . This is done in most Igbo communities to certify that the dead wife has been brought to her own people. Again, akara aka ọjọọ, that is, “hard luck,” is a common explanation for one’s ill-luck in this world. They thought that they could violate with impunity, the sanctions of the traditional religion. Christianity frowns at such practices and warns its members never to partake in them. Man has dominion over them, and as such, can kill and eat them. Second, the number of tourist sites available in many Igbo towns has reduced by 80% because of the activities of Christians. This supreme being is viewed in different forms and dwelling places, yet he is the almighty. These first overzealous converts started to ignore and to violate what the people regarded as taboos and abominations. Hence, this book raises such crucial questions as: How… Canon Onuorah Nnamdi (oral interview, 2016), in the Niger Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Anambra State, a brief stopover in the dead wife’s paternal home is an offense punishable by the absence of the priests and church members in the funeral service of the deceased. as could be expected, associated with the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the people of Onitsha were time honoured customs handed down from their ancestors. Arinze (1974), in the same vein sees this concept of Chi as a genius or spiritual double. Africans love songs and dances so much so that in almost all situations they find support and conso-lation in them. But in the present-day Igbo nation, ohu, in some Igbo states have their freedom but for osu, it is not yet fully practiced. At different times and places, there were face-to-face encounter with Christians and traditionalists, because the early Christian missionaries behaved like social revolutionaries. Children are baptized sometimes as infants, in the early youth, and sometimes in later years as the case may be. Christians challenged many traditional burial ceremonies. Since Christianity came in contact with the traditional religion, there has always been a sharp conflict between traditionalists and Christians. Agbaogwugwu people of Enugu state call such reincarnated child agụ m (my rib), whereas it is called ogbo m (myself) in Ngwo and most towns in Eziagu and Udi LGAs of Enugu State, including many other towns (Okposi, Abankeleke, Uburu, etc.) Immediately after his death, his disciples started to speak against the attitude of the Jews toward the new religion and Stephen was stoned to death. Both oral interviews and library materials were used. His latest article was “Cognitive Domains of the Sense Relation of Selected Igbo Verbs” published in Lingua (2017). All beings belong to either of these two worlds. : (Interfaith Series, Vol. Most of these groves house costly masks that were traded by barter for a piece of singlet, sugar, or mirror to the missionaries, which today are displayed for tourist attraction in many European museums. This destiny can be written on his palm and palmists can interpret this destiny (Ikenga-Metuh, 1972). After the interment of a fulfilled elder, and after the obsequies must have been completed, the family usually the ọkpala (the first male child in the family), erects a shrine and creates an okposi (ọfọ like sticks) for venerating the spirit of the dead through prayers and sacrifices. Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity was constantly opposed by the religious leaders of the Jews. In contrast with Christian religion, there is no idea of eschatology, when all will go to eternal God for judgment as Christians have it. The Igbo regard these ancestors as the special guardians of morality and create shrines in their honor, as well as creating symbolic references to their existence. The Islam beliefs are slightly … According to Agwaraonye (2014), “Man is at the centre of African worldview and that every ontological and material activity revolves around man and is geared towards his welfare and happiness.” Among the Igbo, the universe is conceived as two worlds, the visible and invisible. The waiting stage before the incorporation of the deceased into the world of the dead is called transitional period of the deceased. He is often distant from humans because of some bad actions of humans. Others refused to embrace the new religion because they thought that the missionaries wanted to destroy their culture. It takes the form of saying “Good morning” to the divinities and of reaffirming his acknowledgments of them to be the controllers of destiny. And, one of the major reasons of having many children according to Mr. Enem Ignatius (oral interview, 2015) is to have enough labor for farming, which is their major occupation. The Igbo, apart from their belief in the great God conceived as transcendental and incomprehensible, also believe in a pantheon of lesser deities, such as Ala (earth goddess), Ufiejiọkụ (god of agriculture), Idemili (god of water), Agwụ (god of medicine, divination, and possession), and so forth. In addition to the above-mentioned gods are some personalized gods such as Chi and the Ikenga. Traditional African religion does not show any belief in the Trinity. When two different religious systems exist in one community, the tendencies of conflicts of socioreligious, ideological, physical, and even political characters will arise between them. They occupy the area between 5.8° north and 6.8° east. There are shrines erected for the worship of the lesser gods by the traditionalists. Together as One: Interfaith Relationships Between African Traditional Religion, Islam, and Christianity in Nigeria. Conflict is a universal phenomenon that is inevitable in human interaction. This is called (ịmanye ogu), that is, sending him a note of warning through his relation or a close friend. .” According to Sir Ogbonna Emmanuel (oral interview, 2016), the issue of free born and osu led to a bloody communal clash in Alor-Uno in Nsukka LGA of Enugu State in 2016. The villagers of the different Igbo communities think that diseases were cured by these doctors with drugs and not by any ritual ceremony as they believed. But in Christianity, according to the book of Galatians, everything created by God is pure and clean. After the naming ceremony, there is Ịgba afa agụ (as it is called by the Obosi, Abattete, Umuoji, and Nkpor people of Idemili-North LGA of Anambra state). According to the 2006 Census of Nigeria, the Igbo population is estimated to be around 21 million, whereas the land area is about 15,800 square miles. Paperback. Schon and his associates at the shores of the River Niger. The Igbo people, who profess traditional religion, worship the Supreme Being through many minor gods or divinities. In most part of Igbo traditional society, there are rituals concerning the preparation of the corpse for burial. Members of Alor-Uno community socially and politically marginalized their brothers in the name of osu caste system. Chief Obiora, Stephen (oral interview, 2013) notes that the possession of Ikenga comes at a time when the individual has obtained a measure of independence from his father and is able to build his own family. They also acted as priests and prayed for their communities. African Traditional Religion, … For instance, the traditionalist would argue that shrine and church are the same, where God meets His people and communes with them (Madam Nwaku Anwaegbu, oral interview, 2013), or the issue of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days (see section “Prayers and Libations”). Gloria Tochukwu Okeke is a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics, Igbo and Other Nigerian Languages, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Many Christians are in dilemma when they have marital problems such as childlessness or problem of gender mix in the children. He hunted and locked up the royal python in his missionary box. christopher.ibenwa@unn.edu.ng Abstract African society is a homogenous and close one with its unique belief systems. Christians have no puberty ceremonial rites. In the olden days, the traditionalists buried important personalities, chiefs, and titled men with people who were alive. 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