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THE CONCEPT OF SACRIFICE IN IGBO RELIGION: A CASE STUDY OF NKANU EAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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Chief Yagbe Awolowo Onilu, sacrifice ...

                                                CHAPTER ONE

                                               INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Humans have always been concerned about the necessity of a peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious society in order for individuals to fully fulfill the purpose that God has given them for living. To put it another way, people want to live in a place where life can be truly honored to the fullest extent possible while they wait for its ultimate fulfillment. Humans have always been concerned about the necessity of a peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious society in order for individuals to fully fulfill the purpose that God has given them for living. To put it another way, people want to live in a place where life can be truly honored to the fullest extent possible while they wait for its ultimate fulfillment.The traditional Igbo community holds that these entities have the ability to both sustain and destroy, and that a positive relationship with them is advantageous to humans. For this reason, sacrifice plays a significant role in the Igbo people’s religious and social lives.

Offering something in order to receive something else is known as sacrifice. When someone gives up something in order to receive something else in return, it has significance. The idea of offering something up for exchange sounds a lot like bartering. Giving up something worthwhile in the hopes of receiving something extremely precious back is known as sacrifice. This can manifest in affluence, freedom, trust, love, self-respect, and favors. It might even be done to prevent more damage, which entails keeping what matters to someone.Nu (2013) defines sacrifice as “giving up or foregoing something valued for the sake of something of greater value or having a more pressing claim.” It can also refer to providing food, objects, or animals to a higher cause, such as divine creatures, as a kind of worship.

The forces of evil and destruction are also resisted by sacrifice. The Igbo cosmology, sacrificial kinds, ceremonies, essence, and purpose of sacrifice in Igbo traditional society in comparison to other live faiths must all be taken into account in order to fully comprehend the significance of sacrifice and its place in Igbo modern society. Thus, sacrifices are offered in order to satisfy gods and avoid suffering loss as well as to achieve better things. However, sacrifice is the most fundamental and essential kind of ritual in African worship, and Nu (2013) maintains that “Africans believe that verbalization is not enough in one’s relationship with the supernatural.”

Awolalu and Dopamu (1979) define sacrifice in African religion as the act of giving the life of an animal, a human, or an object to a heavenly force or powers. The religion that the Igbo forefathers passed down to succeeding generations is known as Igbo Traditional Religion. Unlike Islam and Christianity, this religion lacks a distinct historical beginning. Therefore, it goes without saying that the Igbo people of southeast Nigeria acknowledge the location of their ancestors and hold various sociocultural and religious rituals in their honor. Igbo land is dotted with clan, kindred, and communal celebrations that demonstrate this respect for the living dead or ancestors. Giving names to newborns, communities responding to the names of ancestors, and ongoing commemorations in social settings are a few of the outward displays of belief in the reality of ancestors and their roles.

Performing their enactments or customs/culture to direct the vertical and horizontal relationships in their communities and kindreds are some examples. Others include promoting community celebrations like new yam festivals, Oji-rituals, Ofala, cultural dances, IgbaNkwu(traditional marriage ceremony), communal land ownership, and shared activities in their individual families and kindreds in order to foster unity and identity. An ancestor’s magical and religious abilities are thought to grant them a hallowed superhuman status, which may or may not be advantageous to their earthly kinsmen, even if they have passed away. He is now a spirit being instead of a human, and this has ontologically enhanced his power.According to Nu (2013), divining is a method of prayer used by the Igbo people. It explains the importance of prayer and provides guidance on how to elevate one’s prayers through sacrifice. This complex and multifaceted technique remains remarkably precise and efficacious in an era of abundant options.

1.2 Statement of the Problems

Despite being fully aware of the importance of ancestor cult within their own kindred, today’s Igbo descendants exhibit a casual attitude towards matters that touch on culture and custom. These people might not be very interested in issues related to ancestry or cult practices. It is important to note the impact of other faiths on Igbo culture, in addition to the two previously listed factors that work against Igbo society’s reverence for ancestors. The reverence that Igbo/Africans hold for their ancestors has undoubtedly been undermined by Western and Arab beliefs. The Igbo community’s mindset is gradually but steadily shifting from the ancestors’ focal point to church authority.This was accomplished at the beginning of Christianity through brainwashing and embracing a new faith that introduced a hierarchy of creatures and new worldviews. Within the context of Igbo traditional religion, the ancestors established societal norms and served as a point of reference for people in both cultural and social contexts. With the advent of Islam and Christianity, two new religions, obedience and regard were diverted. For the Igbo people, the honor and respect previously bestowed upon their ancestors was replaced by Christian saints and martyrs.Even within Igbos themselves, there are now a lot of misconceptions regarding the idea of sacrifice in Igbo society. The typical Igbo adolescent, particularly those who reside outside of the Igbo traditional society, come to view sacrifice as a wicked, demonic, and human act that ought to be abolished and reserved for evildoers. The Igbo people are frequently linked to cannibalism, human sacrifice, blood money, and discrimination against the Osu. The challenge is in understanding the true meaning of sacrifice in Igbo society and how it helps to maintain Igbo customs. To dispel this myth and present sacrifice as a meaningful religious ritual that has practical applications in both the individual and the community in practically every aspect of life.

1.3Purpose of Study

The main aim of the study is to provide a complete overview of the concept of sacrifice in Igbo traditional religion, as well as an examination of sacrifice’s significance. The study will also cover the reasons, types, and elements; yet, in order to attain this goal, one may encounter problems that may impede the creation of a great write-up.The Sub-objectives of the study is:

  • To investigate the meaning, contents of an ancestor and their place in Igbo family and cultural life.
  • To ascertain the reason for the gradual shift of attention to the respect given to Igbo ancestors from ancient times in the modern time.
  • To evaluate the role of Igbo ancestors in fostering unity, obedience among the people of Nkanu East.
  • To examine the influence of ancestral sacrifice to Igbo cultural society inNkanu East local government area.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This work will also provide a detailed Igbo traditional concept of sacrifice, and for everyone to know the role of sacrifice in the society, giving recommendations and unbiased analysis. It will also help to distinguish the positive and negative aspect of sacrifice in the society and the individuals. The significance of this study lies in the fact that it delves into the nature of sacrifices in Igbo traditional religion, which is almost going to disappear due to the misconception or apathy of our 21st generation over our traditional religion.And to understand the roles that sacrifice plays in the traditional Igbo community of today. This effort can also be utilized as a means of preserving and appreciating culture.

The Igbo people would benefit from this research because it will increase their respect for the cult of ancestors. It informs the Igbo people about the veneration of the ancestors. This would undoubtedly help the next generation of Igbo men and women understand the significance of their forefathers in Igbo communities.

This work is intended for general audience consumption, particularly for scholarly circles who wish to deepen their understanding of African ancestors and their customary responsibilities within households. Those who are interested in learning about diverse cultures will find it useful. Both undergraduate and graduate students studying African traditional religion will profit from this. It will facilitate their research and understanding of the Igbo-African concept of sacrifice.

The findings of this study may encourage additional investigation on the role and existence of Igbo sacrifice in Igbo communities. It may also inspire comparable studies on sacrifice in other African countries. The outcome will help people comprehend the role of ancestors in Igbo-African worldviews better.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This work covers mainly ancestral sacrifice as a demonstration of traditional consciousness in Igbo traditional religion. This society worked on here is made up of mainly Nkanu East local government area of Enugu State. This work tried to see how Igbo ancestral sacrifice provides protection from evil, secure the Igbo people, made farm fruits and harvest yields bountifully and secure the region from enemies. The study among other things isolated patriarchy as the basic community meetings or social occasions.

1.7 Methodology

The method of data collection and interpretation will be discussed in the following sub-section.

1.7.1 Method of Data Collection

The method of data collection was basically primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources of data were taken from group discussions, interviews and observation of events by the researcher. Many adherents of Igbo traditional religion were interviewed and the researcher did a participant observation study in many events rites, rituals and ceremonies. Secondary sources of information were drawn from journals, textbooks and seminars

1.7.2 Method of Data Interpretation

This was multi-dimensional. It incorporated the historical, sociological and phenomenological methods. Historical approach of this dissertation establishes Igbo people as a group with historical undercurrents. The work tries to situate Igbo people of Nigeria as a nation with its peculiar cultureand traditions and which tries to exist like other groups in her present geographical expression. History in this case adds value to a people’s identity, development and progress.

The sociological method of analysis employed here tries to explain Igbo concept of sacrifice as a societal tool for communicating with the gods and sustaining their values, attributes and deities among her citizens. The sociological method justifies Igbo sacrificeas a rallying point of the family, kindred, and community. It sees the ancestral sacrifice as the trusted and most functional ways of survival of all descendants of the patriarch. The phenomenological approach in the dissertation underscores the given, that is, Igbo ancestral sacrifice as a demonstration of community consciousness in Igbo societies. This approach tries to interpret the functionality or the present level of acceptability of ancestral sacrifice among the Igbo in the present situation. This appraisal is germane here because of perceived negligence of this in Igbo society. This method helped us ascertain the present mindset of Igbo people as regards respect for Igbo ancestors in Igbo communities.

1.8 Definitions of Terms

For the purpose of clarity, the following concepts are defined to indicate a sense in which the researcher is using them in this work:

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