Exploring the Existence of the Supreme Deity Concept in Igbo Pre-Missionary Contact Religious Thought

By Institute Of African Studies, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka.


Some studies assert with evidence that the concept of a supreme God is foreign to Igbo pre-missionary contact religious thoughts. They mostly point to western influences on such a “supremacy” concept in both the minds of the early observers of the Igbo and in the Igbo themselves who had been either proselytized or swayed by the proselytization of Christianity, consciously or not. Other scholars confirm the presence of a supreme God in Igbo religious thoughts. Using Georg Hegel’s Dialectic and Uzodinma Nwala’s Radical Interpenetration as theoretical framework, this work presents both views, collecting data through documentary evidence of ethnographic reports and closely examining the perspectives of ethnographic reports in pursuit of any undeniable proof of the existence and extent of structure and popularity of the concept of supreme deification in Igbo thoughts. The evolution of Igbo traditional religious systems catalyzed by migrant knowledge and the adoption and syncretization of the appurtenances of outside cultures were investigated. The researchers came to the deduction that for the pre-Aro adult Igbo, the definition of supreme Deity is different from western thinking today in that a supreme Deity is particularistic or universal in a decentralized form for a given Igbo clan and from the viewpoint of that clan, the deity is the highest among gods in the world (where “world” meant a smaller sphere than is seen today). Before Aro, then, many politically acephalous Igbo clans attributed supremacy to Ani, the Earth deity. Ani was popularized by the pre-missionary contact Nri (500BC -1500AD) who came from the east (Igala-Jukun-Hamito-Semitic cultures) with Chukwu (as a concept, not name)...
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Institute Of African Studies, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Institute Of African Studies, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka.



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