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Ala di Mma in Umuohiagu

An Igbo Concept of Reconciliation and Peace

Gerald Njoku

Among other relevant issues, this book adds new insights to the proposed Igbo Christian rites of reconciliation. Towards an inculturation, the resolutional equations of the Igbo cultural method of reconciliation – oriko in ala di mma – are balanced with the sacrament of reconciliation in operational life of the people who are pastorally concerned. In this context, the author refers to the Owerri archdiocesan working document on emume nsacha na ndozi, meaning a ritual of purification and peace, as well as to the Igbo Christian rite of reconciliation proposed by Augustine Echema. The method of these new rites is para-liturgical in nature which highlights the importance of reconciliation of human beings with themselves, their neighbours and God, whenever sin has taken place. Paradoxically, this new method of reconciliation can broaden ecumenism and strengthens the social, cultural, political and religious lives of the people. In this sense, reconciliation can be seen as a natural spiritual cord that ties people to themselves and to God in a communal and Christian environment.
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Chapter Two


It is man’s religiousness, interwoven with his socio-cultural participation in an intensively traditional environment that prompts the necessity to take a brief look at the concept and the importance of man in the traditional Igbo world. Viewing man as a religious and cultural being is a focal thought among Igbo people. Such values that one may find in religion as well as culture give man a balanced sense of belonging in any society in which he finds himself. They are joined by a feeling of solidarity, authenticity and inspiration that enables him to deal with life’s problems at all times. The very first credit of man goes to God who gave him life, accompanying him all through his life and, above all, helping him to work out his destiny in his environment. The Igbo communal way of life can help one deepen his view of man’s religio-socio-cultural life. Thus, to describe man, one includes all people, male and female, whose lives are different from those of other earthly creatures. This is why the Igbo people see the world created by God as essentially made for man. J.S. Mbiti is correct therefore to say that:

“African ontology is basically anthropocentric: man is the very centre of existence, and African peoples see everything else in its relation to this central position of man. God is the explanation of man’s origin and sustenance: it is as if God exists for the sake of man. The spirits are ontologically in...

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