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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 Eight


A liturgical rite of the Ndigbo’s Oriko reconciliation can be adopted in the African Catholic milieu in the interests of inculturation. It is also necessary for the growth of the Church in Africa. Inculturation necessarily endeavours to settle certain religious issues between Christianity and traditional African religions and cultures in an attempt to achieve the evangelical mission of the Church. Initially, the natives of Africa, and the Igbo in particular, had the wrong impression of Christianity due, not least, to the assumed relationship between colonization and the early missionaries. In addition, there were the attitudes and methods of the missionaries, who did not understand and appreciate all African cultural values in relation to the missionary work of evangelization. The religious influence of Christianity on the culture of Africa appears confusing to Africans, who find it difficult to abandon their religious and cultural ways of life for the new Christian religion. On this issue of confusion, Echema says:

“This state of confused identity must be gotten rid of, before any meaningful elaboration of theology, whether such a theology be that of inculturation, of incarnation, or of liberation. To remedy this confused and disoriented African personality, there must be a new conversion”422.

The conversion needed for the Africans in this regard concerns, in a special way, the clarification and application of the primary sources of inculturation. These primary sources include: the salvific and divine role of God, as well as the mystery of Jesus’ incarnation....

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