The conflict between Igbo traditional religion started in the 19th century. This contact was dramatic in different dimension. First, it widely challenged some of the tenets of the Igbo traditional religion. On the other hand, the contact made a dramatic conversion of the Igbo people into Christianity.
Igbo world view revealed that the Igbo people are by nature religious. They eat religiously, they walk religiously, they talk religiously, and religion is an integral part of the Igbos.
The people appease the gods and ancestors through regular sacrifices, most often, these sacrifices are made with the killing of goats, rams and fowls, and drinks. Other ritual objects such as Oji (kola-nut), Nzu (white chalk) and Ose Oji (alligator pepper) are used for the sacrifices.
The chewed kola-nut is smeared on the Ofo and idols. It is conceived that the gods and ancestors partake in these animal sacrifices.
When Christianity came to the Igbo society, the early missionaries considered the Igbo traditional religion as paganism. The traditional people are called idol worshippers.
The Igbo world view also revealed the Igbo people as falling and throwing away twins into Ajofia (evil forest) in the Igbo world view, the delivery of Ejima (twins) is considered as an abomination.
The mother of twins is believed to have sinned against the earth goddess. Christianity, on the other hand, is against the killing of twins. The ten commandment prohibited murder (Exodus 20:6).
Christian missionaries considered the Igbo traditional religion as barbaric. The early missionaries preached against the killing of twins. The mother of twins was the first early converts to Christianity.
Christianity preached against the Osu caste system as practiced among the people (read more about it here).
Christianity offered freedom to the outcastes; they were among the first converts in Igbo society. The Igbo traditional religion is noted for its erected shrines, these shrines were places where sacrifices and offering were made.
When Christianity came to the Igbo society, the missionaries saw the shrines as a place where pagan sacrifices are made. They preached against the sacrifice made to the shrine and in place of these shrines, churches, were erected, some of these shrines were exported to Europe where some of them serve as tourist centers.
Igbo traditional religion is not that bad as conceived by the early missionaries. The Igbo traditional religion believes in one God called Chukwu the creator of Heaven and Earth. This belief is also affirmed by Christianity.
However; the tension created by both Christianity and Igbo traditional religion needs to be harmonized no wonder the Catholic Church now recognized Ozo title and new yam festival.
Written by Nwafor Michael Ililochukwu (Oboncho).
Photo credits: Google images