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THE ADVENT AND IMPACT OF CHRISTIANITY TO THE SOCIO- CULTURAL HISTORY OF UMUOWA CLAN
1.0. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Christianity originated with the ministry of Jesus in the 19thcentury Roman Province of Judea. According to the Gospel, Jesus was a Jewish teacher and healer who proclaimed the imminent kingdom of God and was crucified at 30- 33AD. His followers believed that he was then raised from the dead and exalted by God and would return soon at the inception of God’s kingdom.
In the early middle ages, missionary activities spread Christianity towards the west among German people. During the high middle ages, eastern and western Christianity grew apart, leading to the East-West Schism of 1054. Growing criticism of the Roman Catholic ecclesiological structure and its behavior, led to the protestant movement of the 16th century and the split of western Christianity.
Christianity in Nigeria by the early missionary activities began between 1472 and 1621 when the king of Portugal launched pioneering missionary enterprises in the kingdom of Benin and Warri. This attempt did not yield any lasting fruit. More attempts were also at entering Borno and Hausa lands by Catholics and Protestants alike, but it also failed. However, the story of modern missionaries in Nigeria began with the freed slaves in the Americas and Great Britain. They became the pioneers and the instrument of spreading and building Christian missions on the west coast of Africa especially in Yoruba land, the Niger and Cross River. One of such freed slaves was Bishop Samuel AjayiCrowther.
Umuowa is a town in NgorOkpalaLocal Government Area of Imo State in Nigeria. It is situated within kilometers 23 and 28 along Owerri–Aba road in Imo state. Its headquarters is in the town of UmunekeNgor. It has an area of 561km² and a population of 159,932 at the 2006 census. It is a notable place in Imo state because of the Local Government Area locational position. It connects Abia and Rivers state of Nigeria. There are many communities in NgorOkpala. They include; Umuowa, Obiangwu, Ntu, Alulu, Amala, Oburu, Obokwe, Eziama, Ohekelem, Nnorie, Umuhu, Ihite- Okwe, Obike,Elelem, Umuohiagu, Imerienwe, Nguru- Umuaro, Orishieze, Upe, Umuekwune, Logara, Umukabia- Ogodo and many others. It is the largest local government area in Imo state and one of the largest in Nigeria. The Imo Airport officially called Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport is situated at NgorOkpala with its busiest junction at Umuowa along Owerri– Aba road.
Christianity came into NgorOkpalain 1902 and from there dispersed into other communities which Umuowa was inclusive. Umuowa means sons and daughters or descendants of Owa. In Umuowa, the man Owa had five sons which made up the five villages in Umuowaclan which are Nnamawa, Egbelu, Awuka, Umuonyenwereand Umuotukwe.
Before the advent of Christianity, Umuowa people worshipped the Supreme God through the deities which are all gods. These gods have different names, notable among these gods are Ogirichi, whose wife is called Alakumeze. While the tabernacle of Ogirichi was with Awuka( the third village), that of Alakumezewas with Nnamawa ( the first village). There are other gods like Amadioha or the god of thunder, Agwuetc. These gods are usually represented physically by images made to look like human beings and are provided with shelters where those who worship them go to perform sacrifices.
However, the situation changed after the clan embraced Christianity and decided to worship the one true God and this made the people to see the worship of other gods as meaningless. The aim of this study is to give an account of the advent of Christianity in Umuowa clan and its impact in the socio- cultural history of Umuowa clan.
1.2. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In the works of Quebedeaus and Gallup in their book titled Black Christians and White Missionaries,Quebedeaus argues that "Christianity may be increasing its impact but to Gallup saw morality losing its hold" From the above quotes, one will notice that there is a wide gap between religious belief and practices. Again, the problem here is that the depth of studies of the impact of Christianity in remote Igbo culture areas is yet to be explored. Researches have been made on the socio- cultural benefits of Christianity in other communities in Imo state and other states such as the Umunakanu community, Orji community, Orlu community and others and how it has impacted in history of such community in Imo state and Nigeria at large. However the case is different about Umuowa clan as no effort has been made to discuss the impact of Christianity in the area.
The purpose of this work is to add to existing research about the advent and impact of Christianity to the socio- cultural history of Umuowa clan and how the people reacted to their new faith.
1.3. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objectives of the study are;
- Trace the background and the establishment of Christianityin Umuowa clan,
- Identify the origin, migration and settlement pattern of the people of Umuowa clan,
- Examine the pre colonialUmuowa clan in terms of political administration, socio- cultural life and their religion and beliefs,
- Analyze the advent of Christianity and its impacts in the socio- cultural history of Umuowa.
1.4. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of the study is to justify the impact of Christianity in the socio- cultural history of Umuowaclan.
As earlier noted there is no existing research on this topic and s such this work or study is an original research, showing the advent of Christianity, the reaction of the people to their new faith and the impact of Christian in the history of Umuowa clan.
1.5. SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This research seeks to identify the advent and impact of Christian in the life of Umuowaclan. The per iodization will span from the inception of Christianity in the community in 1902 till 1970 when the civil war ended with the people fully involve in their new way of life.
The limitation faced during the course of this work is the lack of existing work on the town and the inability to get enough facts about the work as the custodian of such information are dead and some of them cannot talk