THE CONCEPTS OF SACRIFICE IN THE IGBO LAND TRADITIONAL RELIGION
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITLE. . . . . . . . . . ii
CERTIFICATION. . . . . . . . iii
DEDICATION. . . . . . . . iv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. . . . . . . v
TABLE OF CONTENTS. . . . . . . vii
1.0 General Introduction. . . . . . . 1
1.1 Purpose of the Study . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem . . . . . . . . . 3
1.3 Scope of the Study . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.4 Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.5 Division of the Work . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.6 Literature Review . . . . . . . . . . 7
2.0 Historical Background . . . . . . 12
2.1 Sacrifice . . . . . . . . . 12
3.0 The Concept of Sacrifice . . . . . . 20
3.1 Thomas Hobbes on Sacrifice . . . . . 20
3.2 John Locke on sacrifice . . . . . 31
4.0 Comparison of the Two Philosopher’s Ideas of concept of sacifice Theory. . . . . . . . . . 39
5.0 General Analysis and Evaluation. . . . . . 50
5.1 Thomas Hobbes’s concept of sacrifice . . . . . . 50
5.2 John Locke’s concept of sacrifice . . . . . 56
5.3 Conclusion. . . . . . . . 60
1.1 Background to Study
Man as an intellectual being has always questioned the origin, sustenance, and existence of the universe. In a like manner, these numerous questions on the mysteries of life have led to the discovery of religion, hence man is regarded as a homo religious. Unlike other religions namely; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that have (known) origins, African Traditional Religion has no one specific founder. Christianity for instance, according to the Bible in the second book of Luke popularly known as the Acts of Apostles, points to Antioch as the place of origin of the word “Christians. In other words Christ was the founder and the disciples were for first time called Christians in Acts 11:26. In the case of Islam, it was Mohammed who founded it. In this regard, Africans have no recorded founder (s) or initiator (s) of their religion. Yahwehism (Judaism) on the other side of the coin, according to Okwueze (1998:51) is suggested to be founded by Moses. African Religion is as old as the continent itself. This has contributed immensely to the nature of the religion with multivariate practices of this religion all over the continent. This idea was echoed by Arinze (1970) in his book, “sacrifice in Igbo Religion”. Arinze said this with regard to sacrifice but it is so in many aspects of the traditional religion. That is why there are a lot of variations from one smallest indivisible society of Africa to another. In this vein, Isichei (1977:13-14) posits that:
One should not neglect to mention the value of traditional religion…West African religion tend to hold that the Supreme God is benevolent but that he stays remote from affairs of men. It is therefore believed that worshippers should give most of their devotion to many lesser spirits… Because they did not write, their wisdom has usually died with them.
All things being equal, its concept of the divine ultimate or transcendent being revolves around the Belief in the Supreme Being, the Belief in Divinities, Belief in Spirits, Belief in Ancestors, and practice of Magic and Medicine (Ugwu and Ugwueye 2004:32-49), Idowu in Gbenda (2006:19), and Quarcoopome (1987:40-43). From this, we can understand the belief pattern of other nations or societies in Africa irrespective of their languages and cultures like the Igbo nation or society, and other sub-regions or sections within the Igbo world like the Agbaja people of Enugu State.
According to Ogugua (2005:68), “between the Supreme Being and man is a region inhabited by spirits. Onunwa (2005:35) places African Traditional Religion (human being), in a triangular form with man at the center where God (the Supreme Being) is at the apex, divinities and spiritual forces occupy other two sides of the isosceles triangle, and the ancestors are at the base.
These writers tell us man’s relationship with the spiritual world. According to Abanuka (2004:5) there exists in Igbo Religion, symbols as Chi (reality); belief in Supreme Being (Chukwu), and gods (arusi/agbara) such as Anyanwu (sun god), Ala (earth goddess), Agwu (god of medicine and healing), Ahiajioku (god of yam), and Ikenga (god of achievement and success in life). He never kept aside the belief in ancestors (ndi-ichie/ndebunze). Ifesieh (1989:25-41) while treating the Igbo perception of the world which has religious bearing, relates the people’s belief in celestial/semi-celestial sphere: the sky (Igwe) star (kpakpando), sun (anyanwu) etc, as abode of Supreme God (Chineke), the ‘Earth’ addressed as (mother of fertility) the mother and rituals. They say it (land) is a free gift from Chineke, the creator of man,
Onyinye Chukwu; spiritual significance are also given to trees like the Ofo tree, Ogbu tree etc, mountains-Ugwu, rivers, irrational animals like mmuo okuko spirit of fowl, mmuo anu ofia-spirit of wild animals etc, spirit of family/kinship-mmuo uno or spirit of the house (domestic) etc. He calls all these spirits Igbo-four-arch-spirits, and the individual spirits-Ancestors (Nna Anyifa). Onuh (1992:21-28) views them thus: “Belief in Supreme God, Belief in Minor Deities namely the Sun Deity-Anyanwu, sky or Thunder Deity-Igwe or Amadioha, and the Earth goddess-Ala, the Belief in Ancestral veneration, and the Belief in Evil Spirits and Forces-Arusi.”. Madu (1997:5f) categorizes Igbo spiritual beings based on their vital ranks as follows:
…first, the Supreme Being (Chukwu, Chineke), The creator, second the Deities (mmuo) which include (a) Anyanwu-Lord of life and light, (b) Ala-the earth goddess mother of life and queen of morality
(c) Amadioha – God’s orderly and agent of instant justice,
(d) Muo-mmiri the divinely appointed temptress, (e) Ahiajioku-lord of agriculture, and (g) Agwu-nsi-lord of divination and healing. Third in his ranking is the spirit forces (Arusi/Alusi), fourth is the Ancestors (Ndichie), fifth is the medicine (Ogwu)
Having seen these Igbo belief patterns, we ought to see in this work how the traditional Agbaja people as part of Igbo people pay reverence to some or all of those spiritual beings in form of worship from the past to the present. This is because this research is worried with the nomenclature given to the reverence Igbo (Agbaja) pay to the supernatural beings in form of worship from time immemorial. They are often misunderstood to have believed in some things barbaric, devilish, and heathen and of no value. They say traditionalist bow-down to man-made images and objects. On this background, there exists the need to address this worry.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Worship is a very common language in religious studies or theology. Every religion has its systems of worship. The Nigerian foreign religions namely Christianity and Islam have their ways of worship and designated terminologies. In Christianity, they have different names for it namely services, mass, fellowship, litany, station of the cross, crusade etc, the Muslims have their “raka,” Jihad etc, formally organized liturgy.
In African Traditional Religion, an organized form of worship as in Christianity or Islam is lacking. This work therefore, observes that the traditional religion generally and that of Agbaja people in particular share this problem. Worship in African is so wide that the way particular people worship could be entirely different from the way others worship. In Igboland, some worship in a specific place for a defined purpose while in some places for same purpose they worship in different place (s). When you talk of worship in Igbo worldview, so many interpretations come in, in view of the fact that the various studies done on African Religions have revealed multivariate viewpoints. In view of the fact that the religious systems of Agbaja people have not received its desired attention, the research has dwelt much here to unravel the intricacies of their religious worship systems in comparison with that of other religions that co-exist with it.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
This research has in mind, the aim of bringing to the surface the concept of sacrifice and the traditional worship (system) of the Agbaja people right from ancient to the modern age. This in other words is done to enhance the understanding of their beliefs, touch some aspects of Igbo/Agbaja traditional religions, and explain relevance and importance of the traditional worship system on the knowledge of the divine. This work would try to interpret sacrifice, prayer and worship in the Agbaja context and the language in relation with other Igbo dialects. All these and more form the basis of discussion in this research.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study will benefit the traditional worshippers in that it will help them prepare a good background for prospective worshippers. This is possible because the study has prepared a library where future worshippers can get some information on their system of worship as practiced by the ancestors or their predecessor. The traditional worshippers on assimilating the contents of this study will be able to appreciate their religious faith. The study also can guide them on identifying areas of their religious practices that call for amendments. It will also be beneficial to the Christians in that, it is informative, in the sense that they could be guided very well on strategies of evangelizing the traditional settings of Agbaja and environs.
Secondly it will benefit the youths in that they can make their choice of which religion to practice. It reveals to them some religio-cultural background of Agbaja (Igbo) which would help them in acquiring some essential knowledge required in academics like in areas of humanities and other cultural related studies from secondary to the tertiary studies, to mention but a few.
In the course of studying it, most of the religious crises, misunderstandings, etc will be controlled or minimized in the society. For it will foster mutual understanding and co-operation among the religious groups and sects.
This research throws questions to the conscience of those whose works are to make sure that the Traditional Religion is down-trodden especially in Agbaja. These groups go thousand miles to make sure they demolish traditional worship centers, force their parents, relatives, friends etc to quit from the worship, and preach against the traditional worship door-to-door. The study is also designed to highlighting traditional worship as the basis of Agbaja Religion.
The fruit and findings of this research work will supply researchers in future with adequate information for comparing worship systems in various religious systems and beliefs of the world. This study would also explore in a sense the riches of Agbaja traditional worship systems, which some people had previously condemned as heathen, barbaric, pagan, and idiotic.
Agbaja Traditional Religion is sustained by the traditional worship that provide stability to traditional Agbaja values in the social, political, economics, and religious life of the people. Consequently, this study would add to the existing literature on African traditional Religion and worship systems therein which serviced the religious ritual life of Agbaja people.
1.5 Scope of Study
In this research, the researcher concentrates more on the Agbaja people of Enugu West in Enugu State with regard to the major or fundamentals of their traditional worship systems.
The Agbaja include Ezeagu and Udi Local Government Areas in the present Enugu State. They share among others the Wa Wa identity as contained in Anigbo (1978:47) when he posits that:
This include… Udi, and Ezeagu. In normal circumstance Wa Wa is an expression meaning no” but it has since become a term of identity… Means not only sub-linguistic group, but also becomes synonymous with inferiority, ignorance, poverty and illiteracy.
1.6 Research Methodology
This research has a wide spread in its method. The researcher consulted textbooks, Journals, bible, dictionaries; the researcher involved also his little experience over the years in studying religion.
The consultation of knowledgeable informants was never kept aside. He embarked on field work to see things himself. The internet was very useful in this work. At the end, descriptive and comparative analytical approaches were used. For example, the work is able to in same areas to describe the nature and position of some other religions, compared with African Traditional Relation. And able to describe and compare the views of some cultures /scholars or authorities.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Religion: Hornby (1974:988) defines it as the belief in existence of a god or gods. Onyeidu (2001:14) also asserted that: “… as early as 1912, James Leuba had collected some forty-eight definitions of religion. But none of these was accepted as the correct definition of the term religion. While many of the definitions are arbitrary, others are subjective”.
Worship: is an aspect of religion that has been seen by many authorities as an act of paying reverence to the supernatural or other beings (living or non-living beings) It involves supplications, humility, requests, special body positioning etc. Hornby (1974:1379) defines it as “the practice of showing respect for God or a god, e.g. by praying or singing with others at a service etc. This definition fails to include rites, initiations, rituals, private worship etc adequately.
Sacrifice: Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship. While sacrifice often implies the ritual killing of an animal, the term offering (Latin oblatio) can be used for bloodless sacrifices of food or artifacts.