CULTURE AND RELIGION IN IGBO
Many eminent scholars have attempted to define culture. Here, one or two may surface. E. P. Taylor, and English social scientist, has the view that culture is that complex whole which
includes knowledge, belief, art, moral, law, custom and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.
Professor B. O. Ukeje in his comprehensive definition, said in general that, culture may be defined as the fabric of ideas, beliefs, skills, tools, esthetic objects, method of thinking, eating and/or talking as well as customs and institutions in which each member of the society is born. In short, it includes the way each member of the society makes a living, the music he plays, celebrations and festivals, modes of communication and transportation, the house we live in and the food we eat. In his own opinion
Rev. N. SS Iwe asserts that culture may be concerned as the characteristic spirit and achievements of a
given set of people in a given society in the various spheres of human endeavours and experiences, In such spheres as philosophy and theology, the Arts, the Natural, Moral, Domestic and Social sciences and Technology. He goes further to say that
culture and way of life of a given society fundamentally and essentially stands for the distinctive spirit, vision of live, devices for living, norms and institutions, attainments, values and aspirations of that society. Having attempted to define culture, let us see the essential qualities or attributes of culture in
Culture is a social heritage in sense that it is hereditary and we are born into an existing culture which is transmissible from generation
It is a human response to the biological environment and spiritual conditions and requirements of existence.
Integrated complex and patterned – In the sense that it is a net work of norms, values, institutions, mores, folktales and usages
and achievements covering various aspects of life. Continuity in time and comprehensiveness in scope.
As human being lives and die, culture continues its march in time, exercising its way over all members of the society without exception. Essential spiritual and value oriented: In this sense culture is a
way of life devised and evolved by the ethos and spirit of the people of a given society.
With the knowledge of the qualities or attributes of culture.
Culture guides behavior, provides roles and social control. Culture has an identification role as by its stamp; it distinguishes one society of people from another.
Culture integrates, systematizes and interpret the values, institutions and norms of the society. It provides the basis and background for social co-operation and solidarity.
Culture receives and reserves, modifies and legitimizes cultural developments and accretion from time to time and generation to
Finally culture is the architect and molders of social personality; each person’s social status and personality is the product of his culture, through the process of enculturation an acculturation.
Culture and religion are different although related. That's why you can't talk about religion without culture and culture without religion. The definitions of religion from different scholars. E. B. Taylor maintains that “belief in spiritual beings or soul” was the root of all religious faith. He continues, “Animism would be taken a minimum definition of religion. Other opinions talk of magic as preceding religion. Religion whether traditional or Christianity can be
viewed as basically a relationship with and recognition of transcendental or supra-human being. This relationship is characterized by;
A belief system and some doctrine.
An implicit recognition of human self insufficiency and of transcendental or supra human (divine) assistance. An ethnic code as a moral guide to human conduct. Institutional structures and organization, hence organized
religion. Defined or identifiable rituals and ceremonials.
In short therefore, religion is a relationship with the transcendental (God, Allah, Chineke, Yahwe, Thoes, Obasi, Tamuno etc) with psycho-doctrinal, moral and ritualistic
dimensions and consequences. Such is obviously the characteristic features of any living world religion. However, religion as a study on an area of human experience is
primarily and principally concerned with fundamental issues and problems of human existence. That is to say, religion is concerned with the origin of human life, its meaning and purpose, its ultimate end and destiny, the basic problems of morality and justice, of evil and death of the transcendent and life after death.
CULTURE AND RELIGION
We now proceed to our second aspect of this discussion according to our methodology. As one begins to consider the relationship between culture and religion, it must be remarked that it is the perennial experience and consensus of mankind that as there has never being an existed society without culture,
so has there never been a true culture without religious dimension?
It is the belief of Professor G. Zumini that no culture has appeared or developed except together with religion. According to Idowu, “It is true that any religion and culture are involved in each other and that is often difficult to draw a precise line of demarcation between the two. To go further on this may I quote
Rev. Dr. NSS Iwe: Religion is essential and inseparable aspect of human experience as culture itself. Religion and culture is twin,
essential, inseparable and interdependent aspect of human life. Religion and culture are so intimately related and connected that
in reality, it is impossible for a society to have a culture without religion, or religion without culture. In a sense, a living religion is as inseparable from culture and culture as inseparable from religion – as a living fish from its water. Though religion and culture are not identically one and same thing, as fish and water are not the same thing – religion and culture are two inseparable part of one human reality. As religion vivifies and illuminates religion, religion redeems and saves culture. This is much we know from the history and evolution of humanity all along the ages. From the above opinion, we realized that religion and culture are distinguishable but they know no separation in their relationship. As functionally, culture incarnates religion, and substantiate it, indigenizes and renders it relevant, visible and accessible, religion on its own part strives to enlighten and elevate, purify and define, defend and promote, guard, legitimize and perpetuate culture. There lies the mutual or reciprocal functional interdependence of culture and religion.
CULTURE AND RELIGION IN IGBO THE THEATRE FOR ACTION
Ṇ́dị́ Ìgbò) are an ethnic group in Nigeria. They are primarily found in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States. A sizable Igbo population is also found in Delta and Rivers States, Edo, Bayelsa,kogi, Benue,and Akwa ibom State.Large ethnic Igbo populations are found in Cameroon,Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea,] as well as outside Africa.
The spirit of Ndi Igbo is one, which sets a high premium on Divine virtues, on respect for parents and elders, reverence for and remembrance of ancestors climaxing in the institution of re-incarnation. Igbo culture values authority or political power to the extent that it is an instrument in the service of the people. Ndi Igbo values highly, the spirit of self- reliance and the sense of personal discipline or strong dedication to work, self fulfillment and personal achievement.
The chief virtues of igbo tradition are justice or fair play, truth or honesty and liberty or freedom to engage in self chosen pursuits.
Igbo traditional religion includes;
A strong belief in a provident and retributive God and in the world of spirits whose favours are to be counted and hostility and anger avoided and appeased wherever possible.
Animal sacrifices and graven images.
Taboos and purification rites.
Shrines and spirit grooves
Divination and priesthood
Sacred times, places, and laws
Pragmatic orientation towards the welfare of the individual and society.
Total absence of religious intolerance
Personal approach and commitment in religious matters in general.
Communion with ancestors, whose memories are perpetuated even to the point of re-incarnation.
We should note that igbo traditional (cultural and religious) practices are of a mixture of positive and negative dimensions.
Her language (Igbo language), the political and age grade systems, marriage institution, child birth and their concomitant rites, baby nursing period (Ino Omugwo) showing concern for the nature of a baby’s teething, naming of babies, showing concern to the type of death that occurs, burial practices, widowhood practices, inheritance, title holding, showing concern over a cock crowing at night, or a goat climbing a roof a house or a woman climbing a palm tree or a roof of a house. Some others include annual cultural festivals such as Itu aka rites, new yam festival, Gbudugbu ceremony , Okonko or Ekpo masquerading, and Iti Muo – Masquerading. Thrifts and life stock tenancy add to Uturu traditional practices. These practices mostly have their cultural and religious dimensions. It is this fact that inspired T.S. Eliot to assert that religion is culture and culture is religion.
Evidences also assert that some other cultural practices include human sacrifices, wars and skirmishes, quasi slavish state of women, slavery and trafficking in human lives, inhuman rejection and killing of twin babies, irregular and reckless matrimonial sexual relationship such as concubine and irrational rush to
divorce. Others include superstitious beliefs based on taboo and social inhibitions.
And now, let us recognize the positive elements of values of igbo culture and religion. They include;
1) Ndi Igbo recognize God as Father and Judge
2) They have deep love of liberty, truth and justice as the pillar of morality and virtue of life in society.
3) They have sense of discipline and dedication to work They have sense of self reliance and of achievement.
4) They have petty and loyalty to elders and constituted authority.
5) They use power and authority unquestionably in the service of the people.
6) They have reverence for ancestors and the sacred.
7) They have harmonious and functional integration of the sacred and secular, the religious and cultural, the spiritual and political- temporal.
8) They believe in religious freedom and accommodation for social growth, solidarity and harmony.
A lot of social changes in the cultural and religious practices in Igbo have been recorded.