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SIN AND ATONEMENT IN TRADITIONAL IDEMILI COMMUNITY OF ANAMBRA STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
In this contemporary age were morality is gradually deteriorating and westernization is taking over African typical setting and our way of life is disappearing, sin seems not to be anything despite its gravity to some people. In Idemili today, some practices and acts which insinuate sin are overlooked of its consequences due to the negligence and new belief of people on issue of sin. The teaching and idea of some Religious practices as disregarding of atonement to gods thereby closed the book for atonement and pave way to more sins. Because of the advent, impart and the influence of some other religious beliefs in the Idemili Traditional Community, atonement for sin is seems to a forgotten issue since the offender believes that there is no need for an atonement when the person must have prayed to his or her chi (God). It is serious among the people of Idemili North which is affecting the whole community at large.
The Igboman believes that when he sins he makes the higher powers frown (Arinze, 1970: p.200). Among the people of Idemili community of Anambra State, patricide, incest, stealing, climbing of a palm-tree by a woman, and killing of sacred animals (eke Idemili) and trees are regarded as offences which will be punished by Ala, the Earth goddess, and the ancestors who are the guardians of public morality. When a person commits any of these crimes, he must approach a priest who will perform expiatory sacrifice for him. If it is not atoned for, the offender or any of his relations is sure to receive some punishments. Thus if lightning strikes a man or his house, people believe that he or a very close relation has commit n offence that has not been confessed or atoned for.
Furthermore, it is believed that wicked people die hard and they usually recite with great necessity the various crimes they have committed before they finally die (Eze, 2000: p.199). The view of Nso-ala (taboo) are not respected because of the view that atonement is irrelevance. Some sins committed today are seen as nothing. The consequences of such violation is not giving to the person thereby create a negative effect on the person, family or community at large. There are laws and norms governing the cultural setting of Idemili community. God of African Traditional Religion supports forgiveness as well as Idemili Traditional belief. There must be an approach toward the eradication of such wrong act done by the subjects; failure to do it can affect the well-being of the people and the entire community at large.
This is why it is very important to ensure that a man’s sin is atoned for in order to appease the wrath of the Supreme Being, the divinities, spirit forces and the ancestors. It is against this background of sin and its atonement that this study was undertaken in order to investigate the traditional concept of sin and atonement in Idemili community of Anambra State.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
In Idemili Community of Anambra State, there exist many laws, customs, set forms of behaviour, regulations, rules, observances and taboos, constituting the moral code and ethics of the community. Some of these are held sacred, and are believed to have been instituted by Chukwu-okike. Any breach of these codes of behaviour (ethics) is considered evil, wrong or bad, and it is an injury against the law of this Supreme being and the society. This breach must be punished by the Chi (God), the community, divinities or the ancestors. Sin therefore is the breaking of the moral order, an offence against the Supreme being and therefore must be atoned for by the individual or the corporate community.
Sin in Idemili is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the society and has caused harm due to the negligence of atoning for it. In Idemili Community, sin of all categories has disrupted the peaceful society. These have led to sickness, incurable diseases, untimely death and infertility both human and the land. What the traditional Idemili abhors because they are sins, are what the so-called modern society cherishes because of its idea, knowledge and perspective of sin without considering its effect. Adultery, abortion, incest, stealing of yam and other farm items, killing of tabooed animals, desecration of sacred places, just to mention a few are no longer considered as serious sacrileges. Those who commit them do not care to atone for them in the traditional way. Because sins are committed with reckless abandon without any recourse to atoning for them (unlike what it used to be in the past), the offender, the people and indeed the entire society suffers for it. The chief priests of the oracles are no longer consulted to perform expiation sacrifice when sin is committed and the offenders are as well, do not consider atonement as being necessary.
The norms and taboos of the society are disregarded by the modern man. The average Idemili man no longer considers that when he commits sin, he makes the higher powers frown. Therefore, the increase in sin committed in the Idemili community in recent times is a problem and hence the need for its atonement. Built on the aforementioned challenge in the society of Idemili, the researcher is provoked to carefully and critically study the situation in which this is set-out to do, why are atonement no longer atoned for, how the effect of this may be dealt with.
3 Objectives of the Study
The main aim of this study is to examine sin and its atonement in Idemili Community, other objectives include:
i. to analyse the concept of sin and atonement in Idemili community.
ii. to identify what are sins among the community of Idemili.
- iii. to critically elaborate the consequences and effects of sins committed in Idemili community.
- iv. to examine the steps available for atoning for sins.
- v. to look at how the sufferings could be avoided/averted and normalcy returns to the people.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The importance of this research cannot be over-stressed. However, the significance of this study rests on the following points:
The study shall help to restore the moral integrity of the people. This research shall also highlight certain remedies available for atoning and removing one’s sin’s and being in harmony with one's Maker and fellow men. It shall equally educate us on what constitute offences in the community and enable one to avoid them 44 so as to be at peace with the inhabitants.
The study shall be significant for use in educational institutions as a reference material for further studies and also to contribution to knowledge, academic research for students, lecturers, theologian and the general public. This research shall be very significant for the preservation of the culture and traditional religion of Idemili community of Anambra State. Finally, the study will enable ethnographers and cultural anthropologists as well as moral reformers in understanding and preservation of the culture and tradition of Idemili community of Anambra State.
1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The study of sin in African Traditional Religion is wide and complex. In view of this observation, the researcher focused his attention to the study of sin and atonement and its scope covers the Idemili Community of Anambra State.
Furthermore, in the course of this study, the researcher encounters some challenges which contributed to the limitation of this work to some extent. First was the researcher’s observation to the means of sacrificial prescriptions associated with atonement of sin in Traditional Idemili Community of Anambra State. Time constraint was another limiting factor to the study. This is because a research of this nature needs ample time to interview all the votaries and ritual elders as well as priests in the sacred places of atonement. Also, financial constraint contributed to the limitation of this study because the research was embarked during this period of economic recession in Nigeria, the high cost of transportation to the study area for data collection and research materials.