BURIAL CEREMONIES IN IGBOLAND A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF INTERNATIONAL AND CHRISTIAN BURIAL (A CASE STUDY OF ABIA STATE IN IGBOLAND)
One of the most neglected aspects of our culture that is ancient yet essential to our existence and will be a part of our culture is the way of burial ceremonies, particularly among the three major religions of Nigeria: African traditional, faith, Christian, and Islam. The evidence suggests that all three religions promote peace and believe in God as the supreme being, but their methods of worship and beliefs differ. This study attempts to critically analyze the similarities and differences between the old and Christian funeral ceremonies. These processes are entailed and their ideas and aspects that need to be changed in the contemporary world, particularly within the Igbo ethnic groups in Nigeria. Interviews with oral and literature reviews comprise the major component of this research. Knowledgeable people were interviewed in an unusual situation, and relevant literature on the subject was studied and reviewed as the basis of the study. This research is divided into four chapters. Chapter one covers the general research objectives and reviews of the related literature. Chapter two examines funeral ceremonies held in Igboland (traditional and Christian burial ceremonies are discussed). Chapter three examines the funeral charges and impacts of modernity. Chapter four is a review, summary, and conclusion. The study reveals the distinctiveness of the Igbo culture, which is not affected by the current wave of today’s Western civilizations.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
aro-chukwu, a community located in Abia State. It is also known as God’s state; it is situated in the geopolitical zone of South-East in Nigeria. Abia state was established from the former state of Imo in 1991, and its capital city is Umuahia.
This state is divided into 17 local government areas, including Aba-North, Aba South, Arochukwu, Bende, Ikwuanp, Isala Ngwa North, and Isiala-Ngwa South, Isikwatos, Umu-Nneochi, Obi Ngwa, Ohafia, Osisoma Ngwa, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa-East Umuahia-North, and Umuahia-south.
Abia state was taken out from Imo state on August 27th, 1991. “Abia” is an acronym derived from the initial letters of four different groups of people. Aba, Bende, Isuikwuato, and Afikpo are currently in Ebonyi state.
Totalling 5’243.7sgkm surface area, Abia state is bounded to the north and northeast by states Anambra Enugu and Ebonyi, respectively. To the west lies Imo state, while to the southeast and east are cross River State and Akwa Ibom state. To the southwest, there is Rivers state. The southern portion of the state falls within the revenue portion of Nigeria. It’s low-lying with a heavy annual rainfall of around 2400 millimeters extreme from April to October.
1.1.3 People & Culture
The Aro-chukwu are part of their Igbo ethnic group, predominant in the southwestern region of Abia state in Nigeria. Their traditional dialect is Igbo, with English widely spoken and used in official languages for the areas of governance and business.
Globally, Igbo have been extremely well-traveled. Aro-Chukwu tends to be Christian and is entrepreneur-oriented. They are considered hardworking, market-oriented, extremely welcoming, and accommodating, possibly due to their migratory nature, according to an interview with Ozomo Okoroafor Nwokoro from the Otuu community.
1.1.4 The Land and the People
In terms of ethnological and geographical aspects, it is more effectively depicted as a whole comprising the central region. About Afigbo (1973), in 1973, the area was being extended eastwards and westwards into the form of a narrow belt that merged with the land that is Onitsha and the other smaller rivers of eastern Nigeria. He further explained that several Lother groups and other sub-ethnic groups within this region. Certain groups have a language that is not identified and are known by different names such as Epie, Alissa, Saka, Abua, etc. After leaving the Nri — Awka, The hinterland is home to the numerous and large Ibibio natives. Between them and the border of Okirika and Andoni are the people known as Ogoni. Ogoni.
In terms of economics economically, the Igbo stick to agriculture, and land is among their most valuable assets. Before planting their seeds, they thank the gods with huge harvests and express their gratitude—some groups. Take part in fishing due to the natural advantages of the rivers.
Nigeria is a nation composed of distinctive ethnic groups, including Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba. Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Each group has its way of conducting funeral rites that differ from other groups. The Igbo and other Africans are committed to the cremation of loved ones. The Igbo remain true to their culture of names, festivals, funeral rites, and thanksgiving. Nowadays, the advent of civilization seems but has little effect. Despite the speed at which Western Civilization is being spread, it is not the case that all Igbo practices have been drastically altered or adapted to the wave in Western Civilization on different traditional methods. This is evident by the belief that the traditional views and the concept of earth and funeral rituals are still strictly followed.
However, many other ethnic groups, such as Onicha Olona in Delta State, have embraced the trends in Western Civilization in performing burial rituals. The Igbo group is adamant about the traditional burial ceremony, despite the dramatic changes to the traditional burial rituals. The advent of Christianity also introduced a different style of burial ceremony that differs from the customary practice that is the norm for Igbo people. This study, therefore, examines the differences between Christian and traditional funeral rites and the traditional burial ceremony of the Igbo.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The advent of Christianity has positive and negative effects on the traditional rituals of Igbo. Igbo.
Some communities of the Igbo are religiously oriented and have considered the traditional culture of society, which they believe nothing (the Western Civilization) should be changed. However, some people who adhere to Christianity changed their beliefs completely due to the advantages and the promises of heaven that are part of the Christian faith. Some also adhere to syncretism within the Christian religion, which has become an issue during funeral ceremonies because people with different beliefs would prefer to conduct their burial rituals.
For instance, customary practices are mixed with Christian burial rites for burial ceremonies. The degree of diversion or syncretism present in traditional burial ceremonies is not well-known.
There are also theories that burial ceremonies of the past are not the same as a half-century ago. The magnitude of Christianity’s influence on burial practices has not been adequately studied. It is not known much regarding continuity and changes in traditional burial rituals. This is why we can consider an examination of the conventional burials and Christianity burials in the Igbo of interest to the present. The study will increase with a broad understanding of cooperation and conflict in burial ceremonies among both religions.
Certain terms and concepts used in this study would be helpful to readers. This study attempts to explain them in the manner employed in the research.
These concepts include:
- Funeral Ceremony
The term “culture” is used to describe the totality of the way of life of a particular group of people, including how they eat and dress, how they talk, and rituals, among others. As per Niyi Salami (2004), culture can be described as an overall way of life and a complex social legacy of people, including their beliefs and notions of acceptable behavior and the ideal life.
Based on Walter Rodney, culture is an entire way of living that reflects what people consume, dress, walk, and view death and the afterlife. The author went on to say that the word “culture” encompasses all that man can do in a certain society. That means that the people’s culture is composed of their beliefs, customs, and values. It reflects the whole way of life.
Bogmyoko Olubunmi (1999) Her project on the historical significance of culture for the people in Ijebu Ode explained that culture is an essential element of our existence and that a community could not exist without it.
Ajetunmobi, Ajetunmobi, (2006) Culture is the entirety of the society’s culture that includes all the information, knowledge about beliefs, customs, beliefs, and talents acquired by members of a group and their learned behaviors, practices, and habits that are passed down from generation to generation.
It is also a complex mix of objects made of materials, behaviors, and ideas to different degrees.
It is the distinction between the exposure to cultural heritage and their time of life. The older you get, the more of your culture you will be aware of. It is the New Standard encyclopedia defined culture as the material things, the institution of politics, and its customs.
Based on these definitions made by many scholars, it is possible to conclude that culture refers to the complete lifestyle of the population within a certain society.
Based on the Holy Bible Ecclesiastes (Chapter 7 2,) “it is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart.” Mbiti (1979) declares that death is the difference between the realm of spirit and the human body, the visible and the invisible.
But, as death is everywhere in this world and doesn’t spare anyone, every Igbo man is worried about how the end will come upon him. Therefore they believe in the good and bad deaths.
It is a tradition for the Igbo people. Igbo communities or individuals that, when someone has lived an exemplary life, even at a very old age, and after the individual dies, the proper funeral and burial ceremony should be conducted in honor of a happy death. The majority of people, if not all Igbo, including this researcher, wish themselves a good end.
However, on the other hand, the Igbo believe that a fatality is a curse. It results from an incident, like falling from a high point, like a palm tree, gunshots or murder, drowning at the bottom of a river, dying in a market square, etc. Everyone wants a good death for him. Everyone wants to die naturally—the funeral of the deceased.
Webster Dictionary (2000) defined burial as where the deceased (deceased) are laid for burial in the tomb.
Burial is the most common method for dealing with a body when it dies in Africa. In addition, the burial method differs, with some burials of their dead in the home where they lived at the moment of death. Others also bury their deceased in their compound and others in their homes.
But, the mindset of the people buried in Lgbo communities reflects their conviction that dying signifies the final physical separation of one’s family and family.
Thus, the ceremonies associated with burial ceremonies of a deceased person in the country of Igboland are contingent on the person’s social standing and the financial stability of the children and families. To support this assertion, Ikegwu Jason (1989) states that preparing for the burial of an older adult depends on the financial standing of the child and the type of the death. Funerals among Igbo are an older tradition, as are the early settlements.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Through the literature on hand, it is apparent that despite the many studies conducted by a variety of researchers on various topics about burial practices in the Igbo, there is very little or no research that has focused on a comparative analysis of the funeral ceremony of Christians and traditional Christians or those who practice syncretism.
The entire literature concerning funerals focused on the respective religions without comparing similarities and differences, especially between the Igbo. Informed by these issues, in addition to the truth that all historical study is guided by attainable goals, which are the fundamental factors of the researcher, The main objectives are:
- investigate the nature of the religion that is traditional to Igbo. Igbo
- Examine the burial tradition ceremony and Christian funeral ceremony in Igbo. Igbo.
iii. Consider the similarities and differences between a traditional funeral and the Christian funeral
- Discuss factors that affect changes and continuity in burial rituals.
1.4 REVIEW OF EXISTING LITERATURE
Literature reviews are necessary to evaluate the quality of work done on the subject. Many books have been written about burial ceremonies among the Igbo in the current research. But, very little has been conducted before to study the origins and similarities of Christian funerals and traditional burials in depth. Additionally, no analysis has been shown to discover the similarities and differences between their method of performing their worship rituals because both religions are prevalent in Nigeria. Based on the mentioned above, some of the books have been relevant to the current research.
The current study draws from the research that was done by F. A. Arinze (1970). This study reveals the culture and history of the Igbo. However, the study did not address or describe the practices or rituals that the Igbo are accustomed to performing during funeral ceremonies. Arinze didn’t provide details of the activities that are socio-cultural for Igbo. Igbo group. Arinze said that funeral ceremonies are required to allow the deceased’s soul to go to the place of eternal rest. He also explains why the ceremony is meant to give an appropriate burial to the soul. He also explains that the ceremony will allow the deceased’s soul to be content in the afterlife. The deceased’s family (the family that mourns the decedent) typically incurred massive obligations to give the best funeral for the dead.
Chinua Achebe (1979) Only focused on the rituals carried out during the burial, such as the beating of drums, without making a clear comparison of the burial tradition to the one of Christianity. He stated that during the funerals, drums being beat, the firing of cannons and guns, and the hurried men cutting down trees for an elegant burial ceremony to the soul that has passed away is a widespread phenomenon. People should be able to sympathize with the deceased’s family members and demonstrate an understanding of how they are a part of their sorrow and grief, which allows the soul who died to rest peacefully.
- T. Bader (1966) T. Bader (1966) stated the importance of performing a burial sacrifice among Igbo to prevent conspiracy theories after the burial. He also described how the Igbo perform burial ceremonies that are crucially, but the discussion was not about the differences between the traditional burial and Christian burial. He explained that funeral ceremonies are required to allow the soul who has passed away to enter the realm of the spirit, and he believes that the ceremony is crucial. Bader stated his belief that the deceased’s spirit requires sacrifices to let the spirit rest. Peace. He also considered that if the ceremony was absconded, the ghost of the dead could be a nuisance or cause trouble to the community.
In the same way, F. S. Mbiti (1970) describes the mythology associated with certain rituals during burial ceremonies in Igboland and the physical impact on people. For instance, shaving hair symbolizes death and will result in many more deaths. The hairs are inexplicably countable in reincarnation, and the growth of hairs indicates that life will continue to rise. He also noted that these rituals could cost an enormous amount. He also said that, in most cases, large debts are created to give the most effective send-off’ to relatives who have passed away and pointed out that if the deceased were alive, they might not have been appropriately cared for.
This study has made huge profits from various studies related to the burial ceremony. There are numerous research papers on Igbo burial ceremonies, but little is known about the similarities between Christian burial and funerals in traditional ways.
There is common ground in Igbo burials, the most traditional Igbo burial and that of Christianity; however, there are points of difference. The issue of this was not mentioned in the literature that has prompted this research. This study will increase the knowledge needed to address the problems related to continuity and change in the traditional practices of religion and the influences of modern religion.
1.5 SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY
This research is extremely crucial because it will expand our understanding of Igboland’s history, specifically the tradition of the Igboland people that is unique and has not been heavily influenced by Western civilization in the present.
The research will help increase information and provide new insights into the traditional funeral and burial ceremonies of the Igbo. It will also broaden our minds on the difference between Christian burial practices and traditional burial. It will vividly illustrate the life of the Igbo and how they live and interact with others.
Additionally, the research work will add to the knowledge base in the field of the social and cultural history of the Igbo people and further expand our knowledge of the ancient religion of the Igbo people.
It will also help to understand the tradition and culture of the Igbo and their associated practices, particularly those related to burial, death, and funerals. It could also serve as an important source of information for other researchers on the topic of the funeral ceremony.
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The method used in this study is called historical research. It involves collecting information and critically analyzing and interpreting these source materials before writing.
The following steps were observed during this research:
- A field excursion was conducted to the Arochukwu Community, and Oral Interviews were conducted with prominent Chiefs and Custodians.
- A detailed interview and discussion were conducted in these discussions with traditionalists.
iii. The interview was conducted in the Igbo language and then translated into English to improve the coherence of historical thinking.
- The article also discussed the literature related to it, particularly those that dealt with the history of traditional religions and socio-cultural histories.
- There was also an individual observation of the funeral and burial ceremonies. The researcher attended the funeral and burial ceremony of a great grandparent in the Ozuzu Community, and the next chapter provides a description and historical analysis of the event.