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Authenticity of Belief in African (Igbo) Traditional Religion

A Critical Appraisal in the Light of Christian Faith


Aloysius Ndiukwu

The work presents Abrahamic monotheistic religions and the belief of the traditional religions in Africa, especially in Igboland. Religion exists notwithstanding many rots and bad religious behaviours through systematic and atheistic upbringing. It is true that in the history of mankind, different religions have come and gone and many are still in existence and they are religiously or socially formed. The monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have their complementary religious conviction with Igbo religion. They have the image of God as one and only. The authentic carriers of Igbo religion include religious functionaries, the family, and the elders. The religion is culturally, socially and ethically oriented and so the Gospel message of Christ should not neglect them.
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Chapter 3: African Traditional Religions and Igbo Objects of Worship


3. Introduction

African traditional religions are the religions in Africa before the coming of the Europeans. Most times many writers see the religions in Africa as homogenous while others see them in plurality. In this chapter, we shall concentrate on the belief in African religions, explain why they are ‘religions’ and not ‘religion’ in homogenous sense, and narrow it down to Igbo religion: an ethnic group in Nigeria. We shall look into the general understanding of belief in African religions, their foundation and present the factors that make them impossible to trace the origin of these religions and why they have no sacred writings. We shall look in-depth the Igbo people, discuss the objects of their belief and see how they affect the people’s ways of life. In Igbo traditional religion, Chukwu is the Supreme God whose power and might is without equal. People come to know about Him through various means. The knowledge of God is preserved and expressed in proverbs, short statements, songs, prayers, names, myths, stories and religious ceremonies. They are easily preserved and passed on to others.1 These have sustained the religions before the introduction and the development of writing as a means of preserving and documenting peoples’ ways of life and their religious beliefs.

In Africa, God is worshipped as the Supreme Being and He has no equal. There are other created spirits that help to discharge the duty of governing the world. These spirits are assigned various functions...

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