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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 4: Religious Functionaries in African Traditional Religions


4. Introduction

In the previous chapter, we discussed the spiritual realities in Igbo traditional religion. These spiritual realities have Chukwu at the head and other deities serve as the messengers or the intermediaries of God to mankind. The most immediate intermediary between Chukwu and mankind are the ancestors. They were in the human form and have experienced human miseries and shortcomings before being elevated as the ancestors. They receive sacrifices and offerings on behalf of Chukwu and relay human needs to Him. They stand between Chukwu and the people. Chukwu punishes and blesses the people through them and other intermediaries. Chukwu is a merciful God, but He does not relent to punish human evil. He relents when adequate sacrifices and offerings are offered to Him. His essence and existence are beyond human comprehension that is why there are intermediaries between humanity and Chukwu. In this chapter we shall look into the functions of human intermediaries between Chukwu, the spirits or deities and humanity. They include: priests, kings, medicine men, seers, oracles, diviners, rainmakers and ritual elders.1 Ikenga-Metuh regards them as: “Authorities and specialists in various aspects of African life. They are the mediators and also the medium who a deity or spirit uses to communicate his messages or benefits on the people.”2

These intermediaries conduct religious matters: ceremonies, sacrifices, formal prayers and divination. They help to bring healing to the people suffering from various kinds of sicknesses ranging from physical, spiritual, psychological, political,...

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