Christianity and the less privileged: the case of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Nigeria
The church missionaries who instituted Christianity and the churches in Africa, Igboland in particular, came with their liberation theology of setting the captives, down trodden and less privileged free from their ordeal. For example, the missionaries that came to Ebonyi built all the famous hospitals except the Teaching Hospital. Any visitor entering Abakaliki for the first time will be shocked to see mad people (adult and teenagers alike) roaming the streets. Similarly, some old men and women, the sick and disabled, also roam hopelessly and dejectedly begging for alms to survive. Some youths and teenagers are out of school hawking anywhere that can offer them opportunity to sell their wares. This set of people is classified in this work as the less privileged. This paper seeks to identify the ordeal of the less privileged in Abakaliki for the purpose of reminding the church that when the strength to work fails, when life aspirations and ambitions are not fulfilled, in time of frustrations and hopelessness, where governments fail in their duties and obligations to the citizens, the Church should add value to life. The method applied in this study is sociological and qualitative, aimed at detecting the problem and proffering solutions. Two research groups (1 and 2) were formed and sent to a random sampling of Schools (Primary and Secondary) to ascertain the cost of school fees in government schools, private Schools and mission schools in Abakaliki as well as the amount paid as salaries to the teachers. The second group was assigned to social homes (motherless, old peoples‟ homes, psychiatrics, hospitals and internally displaced persons camp) to investigate if such homes exist in Abakaliki and if they exist, whether they are functional. Are they owned by private individuals, government or the church? What are the criteria for admitting people into such homes? Government schools are supposed to be free but 9 schools out of 10 charge N2, 500 while one charges N2, 000 as Parents‟ and Teachers‟ Association (PTA) levy per term. It is necessary that the church and CAN build social homes (psychiatrics, old peoples‟ home, motherless babies‟ home, internally displaced peoples‟ home), and so on, to remove the less privileged from the streets of Abakaliki.
Keywords: Religion, Christianity, Less Privileged, Social Welfare, Education, Character, Moral Values