Religion is a way to bring people together in a community and encourage individuals to follow a set of beliefs. Generally these are beliefs tied to respecting others, sharing with others, and doing and being good. Religion can be a very good vehicle for giving people guidance and direction when they are feeling lost or afraid, struggling with challenging situations and circumstances, or otherwise dealing with emotions they don’t know how to handle.
The history of Christianity in Nigeria can be traced back to the 15th century, when the Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive the shores of the region via the Atlantic. The Portuguese brought Christianity with them but were unable to successfully plant Christianity because of their involvement in slave trade.
In the 17th century, attempts were again made to establish Christianity in the region through Roman Catholic missionaries. Just like the Portuguese, the Roman Catholic missionaries also arrived as merchants. They journeyed into the hinterlands to do trade with locals and preach to them and even visited the cities of Benin and Warri. However, many of the kings and traditional rulers took more interest in the guns and mirrors the Europeans had brought with them to do trade, and barely showed an interest in the new religion being introduced to them.
But as time went by, Christianity began to gain grounds in the country as people started believing in the words of the missionaries and accepting the religion. The growth of Christianity in Nigeria has had significant impact on culture, education, politics and many other facets of social life. Hence, this affected the African traditional religion. As the predominant religion before the advent of Christianity, it faced stiff opposition and criticism from Christian missionaries.
A lot of traditional practices were declared taboos and irreverent by Christian missionaries. Polygamy, which had been an integral part of traditional heritage, was prohibited by Christianity while monogamy was encouraged and upheld. Christian doctrines frowned upon meticulous traditional practices such as blood pacts, oath swearing, oracles, vows, divination, and secret societies amongst others.
Many traditional practices which were integral parts of African culture were stopped, although now in modern time, we can point at several acts which were outrageous and inhumane at the time of nascent Christianity in Nigeria. An example of such influence was exerted by Mary Slessor; a Scottish missionary who worked tirelessly for women and children’s rights, and halted the practice of killing twins among the Efik people in southern Nigeria.
Besides ending barbaric practices, Christianity began to be deeply engrained in the way of life of Nigerians after obtaining independence from Britain. Family names, similar to those of former missionaries became common amongst Nigerians and many opted for Biblical names more often than before.
These Christian names are more common in southern Nigeria where Christianity is the dominant religion. Day-to-day lives of most Nigerian Christians aren’t devoid of religious references from exchange of pleasantries to business names. Official gatherings sometimes begin and are rounded off by short prayers, whether in private or public sector.
In as much as a larger population of Nigerians have embraced the two dominant religions in the country, Christianity and Islam, we all know that there are people who still uphold and practice the African traditional religion, even though their number is on the low. From their acts, they have shown they have nothing against the two foreign religions which have been accepted by the majority. But surprisingly, a young Nigerian traditionalist identified as Purity Nick who took to social media to pen down her greatest regret in life, has discredited and condemned Christianity.
According to the lady, she regrets ever believing in Jesus Christ, ever going to church, rejecting her roots, believing there’s a mansion in heaven, believing there is a man in heaven that will come for her someday amongst others. She claims all these common assumptions and beliefs are all brainwash.
“My greatest regret in life was 1: Ever going to church 2: Ever rejecting my root 3: Ever believing that there is a mansion up there for me oh please 4: Ever believing that there is a man up there that will someday come and take me 5: Ever believing in your Jesus Christ 6: Ever believing that Oku Mmuo is hell fire, how can hell fire be Oku Mmuo ? All brainwash”
In a post she shared earlier, she wrote:
“If we call upon anyanwu na agbara they will say is wrong.. But they worship on sun day. Who is fooling who?”
What have you got to say on this? Kindly share your comments, views or opinions in the comment section below.