Colonialism: nexus for myriad religious contentions in post-colonial Igboland (an historical overview)

  • CN Mbalisi
  • NJ Obiakor
  • CA Okeke
Keywords: Colonialism, Nexus and Contentions, African Traditional Religion, Religion and Christianity


The contact between African Traditional Religion (ATR) and Christianity is inextricably linked to European economic activities that culminated into colonialism. The contact was in fact, between two opposing cultures –African and European. Christianity since its introduction is perceived as an embodiment of Western culture, civilization and education. Over time, scholars have expressed opinions on the impact and influence of one religion over another. Many pro- Christian scholars maintain covertly and overtly that Christianity overwhelmingly overshadowed African Traditional Religion, and by extension, culture, tradition, customs and norms. Similarly, traditionalist scholars and adherents of ATR have conscientiously decried the extant views of the pro-Christian scholars as purely pretentious and presumptuous. Rather, the argument has been that ATR has remained very active and potent in spite of the perceived domineering posture of the Christian religion. References are made to the seeming clandestine cooperation between adherents of the two religions. There are obvious issues relating to oracular consultations, the use of magic and charms or voodoo powers which are characteristic features of ATR. Aspects of these features of ATR appear also identified among many Christian bodies. Outwardly, both religions appear to be at loggerheads, but inwardly, their cooperation is seemingly certain. There is palpable shift from the initial situation of “nemo dat quad non habet” (none gives to the other, what it does not have), to a more mutually interactive relationship. This paper attempts to reexamine and re-asses the contentions between ATR and Christianity in Nigeria. It questions the sanctity of the Christian religion against its unsuspecting mutual relations and romance with ATR in present day Nigeria. The historical-descriptive design was adopted and it was approached thematically, analytically and chronologically. Primary and secondary materials were consulted. The conclusion is interspersed with suggestions.

Key words: Colonialism, Nexus and Contentions, African Traditional Religion, Religion and Christianity


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2006-5442