The Impact of Christianity and Modernity on Ali - Earth Goddess of the Traditional Religion of the Ikwerre People, Rivers State, Nigeria
AbstractThis study generally focuses on Ali (Earth) deity among the Ikwerre ethnic nationality of South Eastern part of Nigeria. Ikwerre occupies four Local Government Areas in Rivers State, namely: Emohua, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City. The study attempts a reconstruction of the traditional heritage of beliefs and practices relating to Ali deity and examines, in the face of a rapidly changing world, where values are fast shifting with changes in Ikwerre religious beliefs and practices. Records such as books, journals, newspapers and magazines were examined. Turning to the core of the study, our research reveals that indeed, no natural phenomenon exerts so much influence and is as pervasive among the Ikwerre as Ali, the earth deity. The study shows that Ali is Ikwerre principal and arch deity and has a domineering and pervading influence on the people. Most importantly, this study negates the erroneous impression by foreign scholars, explorers, anthropologists, missionaries and ethnographers who operated in Africa that the people were not objective in handling the issue of morality. Our finding shows that in the last one hundred years or so, there have been tremendous changes on beliefs and practices relating to Ali deity. However, the story of the impact of Christianity and other agents of modern change on Ali deity in Ikwerreland is one in which at the instant of these agents of modern change, some features of the belief system elapsed while others remained resolute.
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