Religion in various forms is very strong in Nigeria. In other words, Nigerian people are VERY religious. Most Nigerians believe that there is an unseen supernatural world apart from the natural physical world. This other world is inhabited by beings who are the source of our knowledge of good and evil. They watch and judge us and if we offend them they may have to be appeased with prayers.
Certain individuals in the natural world—priests, prophets and diviners are believed to be endowed with special powers to make contact with the other world. They lay down ceremonies or rituals which must be observed if due honour is to be paid to the unseen beings.
The religious beliefs and practices of Nigerians can be classified under three main headings: Traditional religion, Islam and Christianity. This is the order in which each made its appearance in the country.
Traditional or indigenous religion continues to exert a strong influence on many people’s minds, partly because of its association with their birthplaces and family. Each ethnic group has its own religious traditions and these are often linked to some sacred spot or sports in the ethnic homeland; e.g. Ile-Ife. Yet, the various traditional religions have much in common: a remote but benevolent high god; under him, a number of lesser gods who interact with mankind and below them. Various spirits who inhabit natural objects such as: trees, streams, rocks, etc below them again and closest to living men and women, the spirits of the ancestors.
In Yoruba religion, for example, there are more than 400 lesser deities presided over by the high god Olorun. Because he is remote from mankind, shrines are not built to him and worship is not offered to him directly. The lesser gods on the other hand are the subject of special cults, each with its own priests and devotees. Eshu, the messenger of the gods, Ifa the god of divination and Shango the god of thunder and so on. Traditional religion was strong in other parts of Nigeria too.
In Igbo traditional religion, there were fewer gods. Although there was a remote high god, the most import figure was Ala or Ani; the goddess of the earth. In Hausa land, traditional religion has largely gone underground, owing to the influence of Islam, but belief in the existence of ‘Bori—spirits and their power to possess people, especially women—is strong in some areas. Each spirit is associated with a certain type of behaviour which is manifested by the possessed individual.
Divination, that is the discovery of what is unknown or is yet to happen by supernatural or magical means—it is an important element of traditional religion. It is often of the functions of the ‘medicine men’ or inhabitants. In Igboland, there also used to be several oracles which people consulted in order to seek answers to their problems. With the coming of Christianity, their influence waned.
It is so sad, disappointing and shameful that Africans are more religious in the entire planet. Yet, lacking behind in terms of development and progress; countries where the Bible and church are not paraded and where believe in God is little or none are obviously are doing well. Example, Singapore, Denmark, China, Japan etc. I am always thankful and happy that I left church and religion years ago. After I left Jehovah’s Witness I embraced spirituality and I could not have made a better choice! Even Jesus Christ said to worship God in spirit and in truth. Not according to religion!
Sadly in Nigeria where many people are possessed by religious spirits they misunderstand things which are natural part of human nature. For example, the Ozuu which is a natural wine used in ceremony in Nigeria; they say it is not good for a Christian to drink as it is used in shrines. Now the question is; are there not other things used in the shrines? One woman said that during her marriage she did not allow them bring in palm wine because it is used in shrines and idol worships.
There many so-called “Christians” (are they really Christians? I like to call them “Churchians”) who have this false belief that Kola nut is not supposed to be consumed by a “Christian” as it is used in idol worship and shrines. The truth is that all of these useless and blind beliefs are born out of religiosity, ignorance, misleading and brainwashing that religion has done to them!
To wrap up this article, I want you to watch this eye opening videos posted by a legendary Nigerian singer; Charly Boy. To me, Charly Boy seems to be one who is awakened. I love his Maverickness and Quirkiness. You are going to learn a lot from it. I actually enjoyed watching the videos as I watched it on repeat! They are videos you MUST watch! “A mind stretched by new knowledge can never go back to its prior form.” The Mastery of Life