IGBOSCHOLARS INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL…ISSN: 2476 -843X. Vol.3. No. 1, June, 2016. Pub. Igbo Scholars Forum Nigeria.

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1. Pre-Colonial Igbo Democracy in National Development
Ephraim-Chukwu, Anthonia Chinyere, Student of African Culture & Anthropology
Faculty of Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Nigeria
2..Christianity in Awka: faith or syncretism
Nmah, Patrick Enoch, Department of Religion and Human Relations, Nnamdi Azikiwe
University, Awka-Nigeria patricknmah@yahoo.com +23481272729, +2348056032439,
Anedo Alex Alfred Onukwube, Department of African & Asian Studies, Nnamdi Azikiwe
University, Awka Nigeria. onunedoal@yahoo.com +2348037859249 ; +2348149225739
3. Foundations and Principles of Social Order
Ogugua P. I. Dept of Philosophy N.A.U Awka and Ogugua C.I.
Anambra State Judiciary Awka
4. Poignant Poetics: The Aesthetics of Igbo Mask Chants
Chike Okoye (PhD), Department of English Language and Literature, Nnamdi Azikiwe
University, Awka e-mail: okpilimbem@gmail.com
5. Task-based Language Teaching in an Elementary Igbo Language Classroom
Angela Ụlọakụ NgọziNwankwere 08038851236; kwelingnau@yahoo.com, B. I. Mmadike
0805029941; benifenwemmadike@gmail.com & C.A. Eme; 08035611899
mrsceciliaeme@yahoo.com Department of Linguistics Nnamdi Azikiwe University; Awka
6. The Use of Festival Drama in Promoting Nigerian Culture: The Example of the Odo
Festival Drama
Amaechi, Faith Eucharia Nnedinso, M. A. Student of African Culture & Anthropology, School
of Post Graduate Studies, Nnandi Azikiwe University, Awka – Nigeria. e-mail:
7. Religion and Development
Ogugua P.I. Dept of Philosophy Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka and
Ogugua, C.I. Anambra State Judiciary Awka
8. An Analysis of the Verb Phrase (VP) of Basic Nigerian Pidgin Sentences
Christopher Ufuoma Olushola Akaruese, Faculty of Arts Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
chrisakaruese@gmail.com 07037537711/08052404513
9. A Study of Code-Mixing and Code-Switching in Nigerian HIP HOP RAP Music
Dereck-M.A, Department of Linguistics, NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka;
ChukaOkeke Charles, Department of Linguistics, NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka;
Nicholas. C Akas; Department of Theatre& Film Studies, NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka
akasdancescholar@gmail.com 07068993401
10. A Sociolinguistic Study of Greetings in Ngwa Speech Community.
Nwokocha, Ngozi Stella1 Department of Linguistics, Igbo and Other Nigerian
Languages, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. ngozistella202@gmail.com
Ahamefula, N.O.1 Department of Linguistics, Igbo and Other Nigerian Languages,
University of Nigeria, Nsukka. & Ezemoka Augustina, F.C.T. College of
Education, Zuba, Abuja
Pre-Colonial Igbo Democracy In National Development
Ephraim-Chukwu, Anthonia Chinyere
Student of African Culture & Anthropology
Faculty of Arts
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Nigeria
This work studies pre-colonial Igbo democracy in national development. In Nigeria democracy,
the executive wields much power and this makes it has many lapses these lapses makes the
country to be underdeveloped, this is not so in true democracy which the Igbo people practiced
in the olden days. The research therefore, was carried out to bring to limelight how Igbo people
practiced their democracy in the olden days. This will help in developing the nation if Nigerian
government should copy it. Data for this work was collected from various books written by
renowned scholars. Functionalist theory was used to analyze how arms of Igbo democracy
perform their functions at family, kindred, village and town levels which the representatives of
various constituencies in Nigeria fails to do. It was equally used to portray where Nigeria have
their lapses and this hinders development in the nation. In view of this, the work suggested that
candidates seeking for elective positions should be made to swear with an ofo which is the
strength of Igbo democracy. If this is done, both the voters and the leaders will know that the
music has changed and everybody will perform their function very well and there would
development in all sectors of the nation.
The white men that came to Igbo land were expecting to see the type of kings or queen they had
in their countries. They compared the Emirs of Hausa and Obas of Yoruba to Igbo land. When
they did not see these types of kings they concluded that the Igbo people do not have kings-Igbo
enwe eze. The type of kings (leaders) the Igbo culture areas had in those days were not hereditary
like those of the Europeans, Hausa, Yoruba and Benin rather, it was the type that emerges when
the need arose. The leader will gave direction until the problems were resolved and when this
happened, the king went back to his normal position. Uchendu, (1965:46) avers “failing to find
powerful chiefs who wielded influence over a large territory, as were found in northern and
western parts of Nigeria, they naively concluded that the Igbo people were living in ordered
anarchy”. Corroborating Uchendu, Okafor (1992:4), opines that the British colonial
Administration encountered obstacles of great magnitude when it first came to Igbo land. It had
enjoyed considerable success in the western and northern parts of Nigeria. Through their
agencies of western Obas and northern Emirs, the British Authorities successfully introduced a
system of indirect rule in those areas.
The Igbo had organized system of democracy. They are so good in it that when the Europeans
came, they did not know how to penetrate them because unlike in Hausa and Yoruba where they
met Emir and Oba respectively, they could not find any king in Igbo land, hence they said that
the Igbo has no king –Igbo enwe eze. This assertion was wrong because the Igbo people have
various kings that emerge only when there is need for his role , when he finishes his function, he
goes back to the society and lives like ordinary person. They have yam king- ezeji/diji, palmwine
tapper-diochi, hunter-dinta, wrestler-dimgba, scarifier -dioka, deity priest-ezemmuo. There king
is not hereditary because when they dies there titles will be no more.
Ogbalu,(2006:24), in his own view says that the word eze which has now gathered around it the
idea of kingship as a result of the Igbo people’s contact with British system of monarchy meant
nothing more than a headman in a particular sphere or a wealthy man of affluence. All the idols
had a head priest and he was referred to as the eze (king) of a particular idol-eze arusi or eze
mmuo. The priest was the eze of the idol for which he was responsible and was called
accordingly eg- Eze Ogwugwu, Eze Ngene, Eze Omaliko, Eze Aro, Eze Udo etc.
Igbo people had several institutions that helped them to organize their activities. These
institutions includes age grade, masquerade, umuada, inyomdi,etc. The governance of their town
was not vested on one individual. The oldest of the village in a town has certain privileges.
Nwala, (1985:167) opines that a hierarchy of seniority and social status plays an important role
in Igbo political community. He says that seniority is a function of age and birth while social
status is achieved within the open competitive social system. Both of them modify each other.
There were the priests, elders, diviners, medicine-men and the first born sons, the tilted men,
members of secret society and the age- grade; all have their recognized roles within the political
framework. There were efforts to utilize experience, knowledge and expertise of elders and
priests, the physical prowess of younger men, energetic and influential leadership of the titled
men as well as to exploit the economic power and influence of the wealthy citizens for the
general welfare of the whole community.
Meaning of Democracy:
According to Mish (2004:331) democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested
in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation
usually involving periodically held free elections, a government by the people especially the rule
of majority. From what Mish said, we can now see that democracy is not practice fully in Nigeria
because the supreme power is vested on the elected rather than the people. This hinders
development in the country because the elected ones are there for their selfish interest- to loot
and not to lead. They do whatever they want. In true democracy which is practice by the Igbo
peoples, once the elected representative fails to do his work, he is withdrawn from the cabinet by
those who elected him and another person is elected. Moreover, the representatives are mainly
the oldest person or titled men who had sworn oath of allegiance. They do not commit any
atrocity else the deity they have been sworn in with will strike them down immediately.
Harper (2010:11) opines that democracy implies that man must take the responsibility for
choosing his rulers and representatives, and for the maintenance of his own rights against the
possible and probable encroachment of the governments which he has sanctioned to act for him
in public matters. This means that any leader elected is obliged to protect the rights and interest
of the electorate. In Nigeria, this hinders development because the leaders do not care about the
rights of those who elected them. Take for instance the various bills they are sponsoring and
passing in the national and state assemblies, they do not consider common masses in the bill. If
the government of Nigeria will practice democracy, there will be major development in Nigeria.
Hornby (2010:398) defines democracy as “a system of government in which all the people of a
country vote to elect their representatives. Lincoln says that democracy is the government of the
people by the people and for the people USIA (1991:4). Going by what Lincoln said, the
electorate are the major participant in democracy because they are people to choose who leads or
not and this is what Igbo democracy did. Appadorai (2004:137) views democracy a system of
government under which people exercise the power either directly or through representatives
periodically elected by them.
National Development:
Scholars on development believe that high level of social organization and social system is not
only paramount for development of the country, but also to the development of individuals.
National development is the ability of a country or countries to improve the social welfare of the
people, by providing social amenities like quality education, potable water, transportation
infrastructure, medical care etc.
According to Nkom (1997:223), national development is an attempt to build a better society, a
society characterized by greater material prosperity and better life chances for the majority of the
population: a society characterized by significant improvements in the people’s capacity to
understand, control and transform their environment for their own good and that of humanity in
general; a society which opens up new opportunities for the personal upliftment and cultural
fulfillment, a society in which creativity, productivity, fairness and popular participation are
enhanced. In his own view Adamolekun (2006:92) states that the overall objective of every
government, regardless of its implicit or explicit political ideology, is to bring about a qualitative
improvement in the standard of living of its citizens by promoting industrialization, agricultural
development, the construction of roads, railways and other transport facilities and providing
social and welfare services, especially in health, housing and education. Supporting
Adamolekun, Nnamani (2009:23) says that national development refers to improvement in the
social status of the people and the society in general. It necessitates provision in reality and not
deceitful of such services, as health, education, housing, roads, portable water and electricity. It
also encompasses reduction of poverty or reduction of the status of women and improved
standard of workers.
The Federal government draws up national development plans and policies based on the
perceived needs of their citizens these include an emphasis on reducing poverty, affordable and
available housing and community development. The goal of all national development is to
improve the lives of the citizens in question within the context of a growing economy and an
emphasis on the good of the community as a whole national development council. Judging by the
prevailing realities in most of the states in Nigeria, it does not appear that the administrative
reform exercises have produced desired results.
The Structures of Igbo Democracy
The Family-Ezinaulo
The family in Igbo democracy plays a vital role. Olisa (2002:220) observes that it is within the
family that the individual, in the course of his development, learns the relationships between his
kindred and other kindred and those between his village and other villages at town level.
According to Nmah, (2003:41), corroborates Olisa, he says that it is from family that an
individual is taught to obey the law, to observe the norms and traditions of the land. The family
is made up of father, his wives and the children from all his wives. Each lineage is made up of a
number of territorially kin-based units called Umunna whose widest referent is the patrilineal
members, real and putative, and whom a relation cannot marry, Sometimes it is loosely applied
to all the members of the group in contradistinction to other like village groups. Within the
environment, there are compounds that made up Umunna. Ogbukagu, (2008:169) avers that the
umunna or kindred men constitutes the most strongest and the most effective means of managing
and controlling excesses in village democracy and also an essential vehicle for maintenance of
law and order.
The family has a function to perform in the Igbo democracy. It is the function of the family to
bring up their children in the accepted way of the community or town. They pay their taxes- utu
ezi and equally nominate one male from that household to go to war should erupt. All the family
members recognize and respect the eldest among them as Okpala; it is the duty of Okpala Obi to
represent his family at Umunna level. He makes sure that his household is not short changed at
Umunna gathering. He brings back all the due share for them, pays their leviers and protects their
interest. He performs his function very well because he is adjured to be close to the ancestors. He
dare not soil his hands with bribe in order to short change the shares of his lineage oke ruru ezi
na ulo.
Umunna- Kindred
Olisa (2002: 221) says that the Umunna is made up of people who are believed to have one patri
lineage. Each kindred are under the leadership of an Okpara (literally elder) who may be an
elderly man or young man. The Okpara holds the ofo of the family and performs all duties
attached both to his leadership position and to the ofo as the binding ritual symbol of the kindred.
His duties include performing scarifies for members on request, representing the kindred vis – a
–vis other kindred’s at the village level, presiding over the meeting of the kindred members
where conflicts and other problems are resolved. His privileges include the traditional respect
everyone gives to him, entitlement to certain parts of big game or domestic animal slaughtered at
home for any purpose and his right to the normal labour on his farm by younger adult members
of the kindred at certain times of the year.
The strongest bond of unity within the kindred is the ofo of the kindred according to olisa (2002:
222) The presence of the lineage ofo does not preclude other ofos being held in the kindred for
every adult is entitled to a personal ofo and every shrine is entitled to an ofo, the ofo signifying in
each case the relationship between the holders and Chukwu. Justice is executed with the aid of
the ofo, upon which disputing parties could be made to swear. When the lineage enact new rules
for itself, or desires struck adherents to establish rules, final sanction is demonstrated by Isu ofo
(knocking) ofo on the ground) by all concerned.
The Okpara that is holding this ofo is councious about it, because it is a symbol of justice, he
says the truth at all time, else the ancestors will strike him dead or visits him with an ailment. He
goes to the village meeting and represents his kindred. Perform his duties well and bring back
their shares. The various representatives in Nigeria democracy should copy this from Igbo
people. They should be made to swear with ofo before they are elected as representative in their
various ward and constituency. If this is done they will perform their function which is bringing
development to their people. Ogugua (2013:201) posits, “One thing is certain, that ofo is a
symbol authority in Igbo land. Another point is that not everybody can have or hold ofo because
it means holding the soul of a people”.
The village according to Olisa (2002:223) is in its composition of federation of kindred or subvillages,
which in itself is a cluster of kindred. The strongest basis of unity and solidarity here is
the common attachment to one Ani (earth goddess) which embraces the village and the whole
town. Another factor of group solidarity is the ofo which is held by the Okpara Ukwu the most
senior of the kindred’s constitutes the village, the bond of common ancestries is still recognized.
The heart of Igbo democracy is the village council which is composed of the Okparas of the
kindred’s as ofo holder, all adults, and titled men if they are not Okpara, and elders. The
leadership role in this level is provided by the Okpara of the most senior kindred. The Okpara
and other ofo holders supply the ritual authority to make decisions effective, the elders supply
knowledge of the customers and laws of the community.
At the village council all the decisions and laws are ratifies with ita oji Ala (eating of kolanut of
the Earth Deity) when this is done, they are bound to uphold and protect the law of the village
and to inculcate same to their younger ones at kindred level. This means that they are performing
their functions.
The government at the town level is made up of the representatives of the village heads. The ofo
holders of each village and the titled men, elders and wealthy men made up this council. The
oldest of the villages that made up the town is the ofo holder of the Deity they have in common.
In Awgu town for example, Umuhu village is the ofo holder. They perform all the ritual
concerning Awgu town.
According to Olisa (2002:223) Government at the town level is the extension of what happens in
village and kindred level. The town assembly is like the village council, an informal body and
not a regular constituted executive authority. Its meetings are called when occasions arise,
usually by the town’s announcers (every village has one) going round in the night to announce
the meeting. The town’s external relations with other towns is one of the most important
concerns of the town assembly, organization of war, reprisals for wqrongs done to members by
people of other towns disputes about land boundaries, all these are taken care of at the town
level, so the maintenance of common property – roads, markets and so on.
The judicial functions of the town assembly include settlement of disputes between villages,
kindred’s or even individuals. The procedure here is very much like that adopted for other
purposes. Every adult present can give opinions before final decision is reached by the elders and
the ofo holders who also announce the decision.
From what has been said about Igbo democracy which is what true democracy should be, the
representatives in family, kindred, village and town levels perform their functions well. This is
due to the fact that they are all ofo holders. They swear by the ofo that they will always do the
right thing else, let ofo strike them dead. For development to reach all the four corners of
Nigeria, the voters and leaders should emulate Igbo democracy.
Arms of Igbo Democracy:
The leader (Onyeisi): The leader in Igbo democracy is not autocratic; his works is to carry out
the decision of the General assembly. His reign is not hereditary because he does not transfer his
reign to his son or descendent. There are a lot of thing that were put into consideration before
choosing a leader; he must be a freeborn of that village, he must be of unquestionable character
and a worthy man in all raminification. In the olden days a leader was chosen from those who
have taken the highest title. Again he will be an elder who had integrity.
Process of Election: Two or three people will be nominated and from them the leader will
emerge. The electorate may consult a deity to ascertain the authencity of the election. When the
leader emerged no one will doubt it.
The Executive-
Ndi Okwu Di N’ aka the executives in Igbo democracy are elected by general assembly of the
people they represent. If it is the town, they are elected from various clan/kinsmen. Their work is
to help the leader to execute the decision of the general assembly. They are not there to fill their
bags just like the Nigeria senators and representatives do. They perform the functions of which
they are elected because they are sworn in with a deity to do so.
The General assembly- Ohanaeze orNdi Onu na-eru n’ Okwu:
The general assembly is made up of people that have come of age that is young men that had
started paying tax in their various towns, villages and kinsmen. They are free to air their views
at any matter in the village assembly. They are the people who votes during election and can be
voted for to become either a leader or the executive. The functions of general assembly is to
make decision, they are not there to take money before voting for someone, they vote for only
credible person, because in the Igbo village democracy everybody exercise his right, nobody is
paid to vote or be voted for unlike the Nigeria nation where electorate are paid by the candidates
to vote for them.
How Igbo Democracy can help National Development:
The Igbo democracy can go a long way in national development if the agreement of the national
conference which states that all the state should practice true federalism will be put into practice
in Nigeria. That is each zone should control the wealth that comes from their area, the Igbo
democracy starts from the family level, ezi, in this, the oldest plays the role of the head there, he
controls their wealth and give account of it to the family members. The Umunna and village
level equally manage their affairs. Equally the towns manage their affairs also. The town declare
war and made peace with whom even they deem fit, they practice autonomy and it bring
development in each family, clan, village and town level because there is always competition to
outdo the other people.
Nigeria government should emulate the type of democracy practice in the Igbo village assembly
and allow the common masses to air their view by organizing town assembly with
representatives which will be documented and aired, they will know what the people they are
leading are need and how to provide it to them, this will bring development.
The representatives of various senatorial zones and constituencies should perform the functions
of which they were elected to do and avoid filing their pocket with constituency money meant
for building various infrastructure like pipe born water, good road, bridges, modern markets,
health facilities there will be development in the country.
The president will borrow a leaf from Igbo democracy and stop being autocratic. The function of
the Igbo leader Onyeisi is to execute the decision of the general assembly, nothing more noting
less, if the general assembly needs good road, good education and so on that is what he will do.
But what do we have in Nigeria, a Country where one man will wake up and increase the price of
Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to N145 naira per liter without consulting anybody.
There will be development in Nigeria if the electorate should examine themselves and adopt the
way, the Igbo democracy is being practice. The electorate, ndi onu na-eru n’okwu do not take
bribe to vote for someone, rather, they choose their representatives and leader from a trustworthy
person, a person not collect with integrity and unquestionable character.
They must be of age and has started paying their tax. In last 2015 general election African
Independent Television (AIT) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired the video of
underage voters in the North. All these thing hinders development because if the wrong person is
elected the masses will suffer.
Therefore, I urge the Federal government of Nigeria to adopt the real democracy, which is
government of the people by the people and for the people by listening to the masses, they
should call a town hall meeting through the senator and reps in every community and state so
that the poor masses can say their minds. This will bring fast development. The president who
leaves in Abuja do not know what is happening at Awka or Awgu. He does not know that this
road is bad or that bridge has collapse, the masses through their representatives should tell the
president their needs. That is performing the function of which they were elected to do they were
elected to work for their constituencies and not for their interest.
Adamolekun, L. (2006).Politics, Bureaucracy and Development in Africa Ibadan: Spectrum
Appardorai, A (2004). The Substance of Politics. New Delhi:Oxford University Press.
Harper D. (2010). Online Entymology Dictionary. Retrieved 10th May,2016 From
Hornby, A.S. (2010). Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mish, F.C. (2004). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) Massachusetts:
Merriam-Webster’s Incorporated.
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Ligoil (Eds.), Culture and Democracy (pp.220-229), Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University
Nnamani, L. C.(2009) Politics of Development and Underdevelopment Enugu: John Jacobs
Classic Publishers,
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Scholars Forum (pp.197-214). Awka: Multipurpose Publications.
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United State Information Agency (1991).What is Democracy? Washington: USIA Publications.
Christianity in Awka: faith or syncretism
Nmah, Patrick Enoch
Department of Religion and Human Relations
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka-Nigeria
+23481272729, +2348056032439, +2348145272729
Onukwube Alex Alfred Anedo;
Department of African & Asian Studies,
Faculty of Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria
onunedoal@yahoo.com +2348037859249
In the course of this research work, I observed some challenges in Awka Christianity: lack of
commitment of Awka Christians in Jesus Christ; the practice of vain syncretism by those who
profess Christianity, Chris-paganism, believe in sorcery, witchcraft, marine spirits, sun and moon
gods; animal deities etcetera. The ignorance of scriptural truths and theology has also contributed
to the resurgence of witchcraft in different dimension–related beliefs and practices among
Christians. Pastors and evangelists are more prone to issue superficial condemnations than to
give systematic teaching on philosophical, religious and theological beliefs and values in Awka
context. The work recommended that Christian faith in Awka should be total christocentric and
sola scriptura. Methods of approach are historical and descriptive methods with the review of
related extant material.
To O’Donovan (1996), God sees the human race as divided according to the language and
culture groups to which people belong. The human race developed into different language and
culture groups through the descendants of the sons of Noah according to Genesis 10:4, 20, 31-32.
Thus the division of the human race into separate ethnic nations was hastened by what happened
at the tower of Babel. With time many of these original groups probably split into smaller groups
with different language dialects and other cultural differences. In the great commission, Jesus
commanded his followers to take the gospel to every one of these nations of people, in order to
make disciples in each group (Matt. 28:19-20). In the book of Revelation (especially Rev. 7:9-
10), we discover that when God’s purposes are completed there will be people from every one of
these ethnic groups gathered around the throne of God to worship him.
The ancient town of Awka is conspicuously in the known at the annals of history in Igbo land
and by extension Nigeria. Their trademark as blacksmith, in metal and woodcarving prowess
also brought them civilization and fame even before the coming of the Europeans with their
Christianity and act of governance. Although it was not easy for the missionary to settle at Awka
on their arrival, but even when they eventually did, history has it that Awka people in spite of
their existing traditional religion still embraced the Christian faith. The issue of concern as time
went on up to this contemporary era has been the continuous drifting of Awka Christian faithful
from good Christian beliefs and practices and having to meddle with traditional religious
activities even as a Christian. These acts of them have been seen by many as an act of playing
Jesus (Christianity) in the morning and voodoo (fetishism) in the evening. This speaks volume of
the participation of Christian faithful of Awka in traditional ceremonies which entails
masquerade performances, idol feasts and patronizing of dibia (the traditional medicine men). In
this study, we intend to carry out a survey on Awka and its Christian and religious life, with a
critical look at the Awka Christians acts of meddling with Awka traditional beliefs and religious
Conceptual Framework
McKinney (1985) defines witchcraft as “an inherent capacity to exert supernatural influence over
another person. This influence frequently causes harm, and it explains phenomena such as
breaches in social relations, anti-social behaviour, unexpected occurrences, sickness and death.
This belief is a philosophical attempt to deal with the question of evil. It has its own natural
“This explanatory system provides answers to questions of why particular
Occurrences happen to specific individuals at the time they do. It does not
invalidate their understanding of empirical cause and effect of an occurrence.
Rather it deals with its ultimate cause” (Evans–Pritchard, 1976, p. 71).
To Shaver, and Strong (1976), values are “standards and principles for judging worth. They are
the criteria by which we judge ‘things’ to be good, worth, while, desirable; or on the other hand,
bad, worthless, despicable; or of course, somewhere in-between these extremes. We may apply
our values consciously. Or they may function unconsciously, as part of the influence of our
frames of reference, without our being aware of the standards implied by our decisions”(p.15).
There are three important elements in the above definition namely first, that values are concepts,
not feelings; second, that we may not be conscious or explicitly aware of the values we hold;
third, that values are dimensional rather than absolute categories. Rokeach (1973), remarks that a
value is a belief and like all beliefs, values have cognitive, affective, and behavioural
components. Christianity is the religion that is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the
belief that he was the son of God.
To Packer (1993), faith means union with Christ by the Holy Spirit in the whole sweep of his
redemption, and that means that all Christians, however new or immature their faith, have died
with Christ, been raised with Christ, are ascended in Christ and will share Christ’s glory. Faith
denotes a belief which, so to speak, takes a man out of himself, and puts him into Christ. It is not
simply a belief that carries an intellectual assent, but one wherein the believer cleaves to his
Saviour with all his heart (Douglas, 1980). Faith is the body of truth (the Christian faith) to be
found in the Creeds. Again it is the human response to Divine truth (Livingstone, 1977). The
later definition is applicable to our research work.
Syncretism is the mixture of different religious ideas. To Livingstone (1977), it is the attempt to
combine opposing doctrines and practices, especially in reference to philosophical and religious
Awka people: a brief ethnography
To Okafor (1992), there is a mystery with regard to the origin of the first Oka (Awka) people,
that nuclear group around which other people attached themselves to form Oka town. These first
Oka people were known as Ifiteana. To them others came and joined them and they all fused
together to become one whole–the Oka people of today. These Ifiteana people were living in Oka
under the names of Urueri, Amaenyiana and Okpo respectively. Who they were, where they
came from (if they came from somewhere), who their own ancestors were, are not known. Oka
people simply said of themselves that they were Ifiteana stock.
Okafor (1992) maintained that Awka people claimed to be the most ancient nation in Igboland
and that no other nation surpassed them in antiquity. Thus other people have history or stories of
where they came from but Awka have none. They believed that other Igbo communities took the
names of their gods and days of their week such as Eke, Oye, Afo and Nkwo from them. The
name Oka is derived from Okika-na-Ube shortened to Okanube. Okika-na-Ube is the god of war
ad hunting and the Ifiteana people the progenitors of Awka worship Okika-na-Ube; so they were
called Umu-Okanube or Umu-Oka hence their town became Oka. The name Oka was changed to
Awka in 1908 by a British colonial secretary, Mr. F.S. James.
Furthermore, this Ifiteana community lives together at the present Nkwelle later they separated.
Urueri remained at Nkwelle with the original Nkwelle people namely Achallaoji, Umunamoke,
Agbana and Umudiaba who came and joined them and they become one village. But it is
unfortunate that the original Urueri later decreased in number to the extent that they joined
Achallaoji family. Amaenyiana on the other hand were later split into two; the main Amaenyiana
and Ndu group. They all live in Okpuno Ochu the present old Enugu and ring road junction. The
main Amaenyiana group does not live long because they killed their brother and were asked to
leave the town. Ndu group later moved to the present Umuayom and formed Umuokpandu
family. This made them to take over the headship from Urueri. The Okpo people settled near
Nwannu stream. They were the founders of the three villages, Amachalla, Amudo and
Umuzocha popularly known as Amachalla na-ato meaning the three Amachalla villages.
Other people that came to settle in Awka are Umudioka and Agulu. Umudioka came from a town
in Idemili known as Umudioka–Akpom. They were popularly known as Diokas. The Diokas
usually came to Awka to do business. Later one of them known as Ichide decided to settle at
Awka. He later got married to Nwanyanwu. Nwanyanwu is from Amikwo village. She bore four
sons. Ichide having seen that he has settled in Awka called his brother Udeke. They both settled
together and were the founders of the five families of Umudioka Village popularly known as
Another theory of Oka origin has it that the founding father was Nneoshi (Kanu, 1996). He
wandered from one place to another probably in search of a better place to farm and hunts and
later found himself at the present Ugwuoba in Enugu State. He settled there and has two sons
Ugwuoba and Oka. When Nneoshi died, Ugwuoba his first son occupied his father’s obi and
lived in the family house as the tradition demanded and the name of the place became Ugwuoba.
Oka who is the second son moved out of the compound and settled at Amaenyi meaning the
abode of elephants in the present Awka. His families were the founders of the two major sections
in Awka namely Ifite and Ezi. Ifite section were the original habitation of Ifiteana while Ezi were
the outskirts that is why Ifite section always take the first share and Ezi the second in sharing of
things in Awka. Udoye and Ofoegbu (2011) said that, “Awka comprises thirty three (33) villages
grouped into two Ezi and Ifite sections and each section is divided into three and four quarters
respectively.” (p. 85). The two sections and their respective quarters are Ezi with Amikwo,
Agulu and Ezioka quarters. The Ifite section has the following Ayom-na-Okpala, Amachalla,
Nkwelle and Ifite-Oka quarters. In sharing things quarter by quarter Ayom-na-Okpala takes first
share, because of a part of Amaenyi-ana family known as Umuokpandu family that are living
there who became the head after the disappearance of Urueri while Nkwelle especially the
Achallaoji takes the second share, because of the remaining part of Urueri that joined them. The
thirty three villages in Awka in order of taking shares according to Okafor (1992) are:
Umuayom, Umunnoke, Umuoramma, Umuokpu, Achallaoji, Umunamoke, Umudioka, Agbana,
Amachalla, Amudo, Umuzocha, Ezinato-Ifite, Enu-ifite, Agbana-itife, Omuku, Umueri,
Umukwa, Umuogwai, Umuogbunu 1, Umuogbunu 2, Umudioka, Umudiana, Okpaeri,
Igweogige, Isiagu, Obunagu, Umuogbu, Umubele, Umuanaga, Umuike, Umujagwo, Umuenechi
and Umuoruka” (p.42).
Awka is a rich town blessed with economic trees, water and other natural resources. They are not
very good in farm work. They substitute agricultural practices with crafts work. Okafor (1992)
asserts that Oka people before the advent of British people in 1905 were great people,
resourceful, inventive and courageous. They specialized in iron, copper, brass, and bronze work.
Afigbo (1981) said that “after the Awka blacksmith had finished his assignment, Eri rewarded
him with an ofo which conferred on him special claims to the smith profession” (p. 41). This
depicts that Awka people are professional blacksmiths, since ofo is a symbol of authority. They
specialized in producing farm implements, hunting spears, weapons of offence and defence like
guns, knives. They manufacture also musical instruments like ogene (gong). Hence Awka people
were known for egwu ogene the metal gong music. They use it to make money and to entertain
people during Imoka festival, marriage ceremony, title taking and funeral rites and so on.
Awka people substitute agriculture with crafts work, but that does not mean that they do not farm
at all. Hence they practice subsistence system of farming. They cultivate crops like maize,
cassava, and vegetables. Some of their women use the cassava to produce garri that is why there
are cassavas grinding machine centers in Awka urban. Their major markets are Eke Awka and
Nkwo-Amaenyi markets where people from Awka and nearby communities buy and sell their
farm products.
Christianity, civilization through western education, commerce cum Awka new status as the
capital city of Anambra state and headquarters of Awka South L.G.A. made Awka people to
assume a new form of occupation. Apart from Paul University and Central School Awka, which
were among the oldest schools in Awka, there are many public and private schools in Awka
nowadays. The establishment of primary and secondary schools cum universities in Awka gave
the people opportunity to attend school. Today most of them are graduates and this offered them
white collar jobs. Thus some of them are medical doctors, teachers, soldiers, policemen, lawyers,
African traditional and Christian religious leaders, and bankers in both public and private
establishments in and outside Awka.
Awka Religion and Culture
The most common religion in Awka is the Igbo traditional religion (at times known as African
traditional religion). In respect of cultural practices or festivals, the most popular cultural festival
in Awka is the Imoka festival. Okafor (1992) said the Akpoto native doctors from Idoma were
invited by Awka people to prepare a medicine to appease the spirit of Nomeh who was the most
beautiful girl in Awka then and was said to have been murdered at Umuezeukwu war with Awka
people. Nomeh was buried in what is now the shrine of Imoka. The name of the medicine Akpoto
native doctors made for them is Akwali-oda-omumu also known as Akwali Umuoka or Imoka.
Okafor believed that the medicine was buried at the spot Nomeh was buried and when the
medicine became powerful Awka people started worshipping it as a god and celebrate its festival
once a year. Thus Imoka or egwu Imoka became an annual festival in Awka that takes place
mostly in the month of May.
During this festival, Awka people both home and abroad members are expected to participate in
the festival. Masquerades from various villages in Awka are expected to assemble at Imoka
shrine at Nkwo Amaenyi market. The women celebrate their own a day before the men’s day. On
the women’s day, masquerades are not allowed to perform that day while on the men’s day
which is the actual Imoka day masquerades are allowed to perform. It is also pertinent to point
out that Imoka festival takes place four days after the visit to Umuokpu shrine. One of the sacred
or totemic animals in Awka is the enwe Imoka (black money) which is venerated and cannot be
killed by the people. This is because of the people’s belief that the black monkeys are the Imoka
children and that Imoka used them to inform Awka people that war is approaching Awka if there
is a threat of such. There are certain deities worshipped by the people such as Agunabo and
Akpu-taakpu deities located at Umuzocha village; Akoyoli deity is worshipped by Umudioka,
associated with ancestral cult and is located at Umudioka Obu-nese; Ofufe and Ngene deities are
idols worshipped by the people of Umuayom-na- Okpala; Ofufe deity is located at Umuoranma;
Nwagu Ofufe deity is located at Nkwelle village and is associated with ancestral cult; Oye nwaofufe
deity is worshipped by Umuokpu village; and Agulu-nne-buzo deity is worshipped by
Agulu-Oka village.
The Advent of Christianity in Awka
Christianity came to Awka in 1899 and 1903. Their first visit in 1899 was on one of their major
market days and their arrival attracted a crowd. Okafor (1992) said that Avo Agulu was in full
swing. Men and women, but mostly women were bustling about pricing and re-pricing
commodities offered for sale. Suddenly there was a more than usual excitement from Umuenechi
end of the market so people gathered to know what was happening and they saw an Awka man
from Umuokpu leading the missionaries; a white woman and two white men who were church
missionary society missionaries. The people were excited and those that followed them reported
that they stopped at the house of Owo Ukaozo in Umuanaga village. Okafor said that the
missionaries were of the Anglican Communion. They preached the gospel to the crowd and
promised that they will come again. The missionaries visited again in 1903 and the people gave
them a land to build a church at the place known as Ajo-ofia (evil forest) by Agulu quarters.
Later another land was given to them near Udo shrine at Iyiokpu quarters where they built both
school and church known as St. Faith School and St. Faith Church respectively. Today there are
many churches in Awka such as the Roman Catholic Church, Methodist Church Nigeria, and
Presbyterian Church of Nigeria. The Baptist Church, Evangelical Church of Winning All,
Deeper Life Bible Church, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, The Redeemed Christian
Church, The Assemblies of God Church, Grace of God Mission and so on.
According to Idowu (1973), when the missionaries came to Nigeria to teach and preach, they
found ready to their hands communities of people who were educable in every way. Apart from
preaching the gospel, they taught their converts or the adherents of the new faith to read and
write, employing, of course, the only method known to them-that of western education (English
system mainly). By a certain miscarriage of purpose, however, their effort succeeded not only in
enlightening, but also in enslaving the mind, inasmuch as it inculcated that the only way to
human dignity and full-grown personality was to be in everything like Europeans and to despise
their own culture. It was in this way that Christianity arrived in Awka dressed up in European
garb. It was immediately associated with civilization in the sense of being well dressed in
European fashion, dexterity in European etiquette and manners, and proficiency (or dabbling) in
the use of English language with a corresponding disdain for their own culture, a disdain which
crystallized into inability to use their own language properly. It must be said here that if at the
beginning, any one had enough vision to suggest that while accepting Christianity, Awka people
did not need to throw away what was good and valuable in their own culture, such a person
would have been accused of rank ‘heathenism’ by the European religious educators whose set
purpose was to exterminate as of the devil anything that had no meaning for them; such a person
would also probably have been stoned by the Awka natives in whom inferiority complex was
them finding a soothing compensation in the adoption of what appeared to them to be a
fashionable and more acceptable way of life. Thus, today, we find especially in Catholic,
Anglican and like churches that in spite of the political independence of Nigeria, the way things
are done in Europe and America still forms the norm and standard by which the life of the
Church is ordered.
Awka and Jesus in the morning and Voodoo in the evening
By this 21st century, the growth of Anglicanism, Methodism, Catholicism, Evangelical Church
to Win All (ECWA) and the like has slowed down in Awka. With very few exceptions, the
decline has continued to this date. Never before had any large religious body in this community
lost members steadily for so many years. Many theories have been advanced to explain why
these old denominations have fallen on recent times. The least credible theory attributes their
decline to the effects of Jesus in the morning and Voodoo in the evening, dust to dust rite, Imoka,
secularizing effects of industrialization, urbanization, and the spread of mass education (Johnson,
Hoge,and Luidens, 1993).
If syncretism and secularization were the sole explanation, all but the most culturally insulated
sectors of European religion would be losing members. Biblically conservative nondenominational
Christian fellowships, for example are among the fastest growing groups
whereas in many areas the former “mainline Churches” are stagnating or continuously shrinking.
To explain the decay of the mainline denominations, one must look instead for special factors at
work within these churches themselves or in the lives of their constituents. The tendency of
many adolescents who had been confirmed in these denominations from the early 1990s on to
drop out of church and not return is a threat to the church growth. When the congregation is left
to the graying and balding heads, rising death rates will diminish the ranks of the mainline
denominations even further in the years ahead. Given the reluctance of so many parents to talk
about religion or to instill their own views in their children, the prospects that their offspring will
make a serious Christian commitment are even dimmer than their own prospects turned out to be.
And among the “religious” dropouts the prospects are dimmer still.
The underlying problem of the mainline churches cannot be solved by new programmes of
church development and sanctions alone. That problem is the weakening of the spiritual
conviction required to generate the enthusiasm and energy needed to sustain a vigorous
communal life. Somehow, in the course of the past decades, these churches lost the will or the
ability to teach the Christian faith and what it requires to a succession of younger cohorts in such
a way as to command their allegiance. Admittedly, doing so has become increasingly difficult for
churches as close to the very center of Europeans culture and institutional life as the mainline
denominations are. The challenges posed to Christianity by various secular ideologies and moral
systems have been truly formidable in recent times. Many of the forebears of these mainline
churches read such authors as Charles Darwin, H. L. Menchen, and Aldous Huxley. In response
to the currents of modernity, denominational leaders promoted ecumenism and dialogue, but they
did not devise or promote compelling new versions distinctively Christian faith. They do not
fashion or preach a vigorous apologetics.
To O’Donovan (1996), non-Christian religions have arisen in the world for a combination of
reasons. The main reasons have probably been wrong concepts of reality, resulting from
superstition and ignorance. These wrong ideas have been actively given to human minds through
the discerning lies of Satan and demons (1 Tim. 4.1). In the Old Testament, the pagan people
who surrounded the Israelites had patron gods or goddesses who were known to them by name.
For example, the Moabites worshipped a god they called Chemosh and the Ammonites
worshipped a god they called Molech (1 Kings 11:7). The Philistines worshpped an agricultural
god they called Dagon (Judges 16: 23). The Sidonians worshipped a fertility goddess called
Ashtoreth (1 Kings 11:15). The Assyrians worshipped a god they called Nisroch (2 Kings 19: 36-
37). These spirits often required evil practices, such as human sacrifice (Jer. 32:35) and sexual
immorality (Jer. 2:20, Ezek. 16:25). It seems that each ethnic group had one or more traditional
spirits whom they were required to worship and obey. Even God himself describes these pagan
spirits as the particular ‘gods’ of each of these people (1Kings 11:33). Missionaries entering
groups of people who have had no contact with Christ, often report severe conflict with demons,
especially in the early days of their ministry.
Awka religious, through all their varying forms and degrees, still show men worshipping,
praying, sacrificing, building altars and shrines, making pilgrimages to holy places and
exhibiting so much of what is recognized as religious belief and practice. One will also be
familiar with the various types of religious leaders-priest, prophet, mystic, saint, diviner, teacher,
proselytizer, mediator, saviour, or sacral ruler. In phenomenological terms, a limited number of
physical features are being referred to time and again: caves or rock shelters, sacred stones or
stone circles, feathers, hills and mountains, sacred groves. The overarching and commonest term
is the ‘shrine’, with or without a hut or house as part of its structure. Awka religious beliefs and
practices could be described as apostasy (cf. Heb. 10:29; Nu.15:27-31).
According to Barrett (1970), basic to these loyalties are certain time-honoured institutions: the
family unit; the family land; the polygamous economy; the lineages; traditional religion; the
ancestor cult; the magical worldview; divinations; and the like. The Christian mission has been
faced with this kind of highly developed pagan society all down the ages. In the early church,
strenuous efforts were made to discern at what points in the pagan world these could be found a
praeparatio evangelica preparing the way for acceptance of the gospel. The realities of pagan
religion were accepted and the relevance of Christ. It is certain that the majority of the converts
regarded the old objects of their worship as existent, worsted indeed by Christ but still active and
not wholly to be deprived of their activity till the coming of the kingdom of God. The redemptive
operation of Christ lay in deliverance from demons rather than in deliverance from sin (Bailey,
1932; Nock, 1933).
Traditional African people know that certain spirits demand practices of ritual worship and
obedience from the people under their influence. Sometimes they have appeared in dreams, and
sometimes they have communicated these demands through a possessed person or through a
diviner. The evidence all points to the same fact that non-Christian religions involve contact with
satanic powers of darkness. Sorcery and witchcraft are found all over the world. These practices
are also found in most African cultures including Awka. They are the cause of great fear in many
African societies (O’Donovan, 1996). In Awka culture, a distinction is made between a sorcerer
and a witch. A sorcerer is a person who purposely uses mystical power for or against someone.
In sorcery, there is almost always the use of ritual words or ritual practices, such as the use of
magic, spells, curses or the use of medicines. In most cases the sorcerer or sorceress will
demand a fee for his or her service. A witch, on the other hand, is thought to be a person who
compulsively acts with evil supernatural power. Witches act because of an irresistible inner evil
power. Sometimes they are believed to act blindly, without knowing what they are doing.
It is thought that witches are either born with these evil powers or get them by becoming part of
a community (coven) of witches. The witch is believed to be a prisoner of the evil power within.
Thus witches do not need to use ritual words, magic medicines, spells or curses to perform their
evil deeds. Instead, the power to do evil comes out from within. Witchcraft is thought to be
carried out unconsciously by the witch when he or she is asleep. The witch is believed to leave
his or her body and fly about at night seeking ‘to eat human flesh’. It is believed that when the
witch eats the flesh of a person, the person becomes weak and sick and finally dies. This belief
about witches and witchcraft is very strong in Awka and in many parts of Africa.
For a great many people, including some weak Christians, the fear of witches and witchcraft is
the greatest single fear in their lives. The fear of witchcraft can be so great that a person can
develop serious symptoms of physical or mental illness. The Bible recognizes sorcery and
witchcraft, but it does not make a strong distinction between the two (Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4;
Deut. 18:10-11, Isaiah 47:9-12).
Traditional beliefs about witchcraft are a way of explaining the ultimate caused of any evil,
misfortune or death. According to Kunhiyop (2008),
Barren women, people whose children die at birth, women with irregular menstrual
flow, accident victims, traders who suffer losses, office workers who fail to get
promotions, a political candidate who fails to get elected, a student who fails
examinations, a person who notices scratches on his or her body, a hunter or
fisherman who fails to bring home meat, a farmer with bad crop yields, a football
team that consistently loses matches–all suspect witches as the cause of their
misfortune. Even those who are most successful in their business or profession
constantly fear being bewitched by envious relatives or friends. This shows the
extent of average Awka person’s belief in witchcraft.
Natural causes and witchcraft are not mutually exclusive, but complementary. The one supports
the other, accounting for what the other does not account for. Awka people do not deny the
working of natural causes. They would never deny that a motor car accident caused the death of
a young man crushed by a car. But they would assert that this was not a complete explanation;
things do not just happen. It must have been witchcraft that put the young man in harm’s way.
Belief in witchcraft thus serves a very practical purpose in explaining events and the causes
behind them. For example, death is not regarded as a natural phenomenon, and the death of a
young man or woman is especially unnatural. Witchcraft is real in the mind of Awka man and is
considered the enemy of life. “Harmony, order, good neighbourliness or good company,
cooperation and sharing, propriety and equitableness, honesty and transparency-all of which
constitute signs of how the human and created order should be–are denied in the most
fundamental way by witchcraft” (Magesa, 1997, p. 187). Awka people believe that witchcraft is
real as a result of oral tradition. They have heard the stories relating to witchcraft. They have also
heard the confessions of perpetrators and the testimonies of victims.
Awka Christians who are trying to be relevant to their culture must begin by accepting that there
is something such as witchcraft, by which we mean the general power of Satan and his evil
cohorts to bring suffering and misery to humanity. It is not unbiblical to accept this. To
Kunhiyop (2008), belief in witchcraft does not exonerate us from asking serious philosophical
questions about it. The two critical philosophical disciplines that are relevant to a study of
witchcraft are metaphysics and epistemology. To take one example, witches are often accused of
eating human flesh and drinking human blood. When such an accusation is made, we need to ask
a metaphysical question: Was this action metaphorical or literal? The Nupe people of Nigeria,
for example, believe that such “eating” is spiritual not physical. Christians, too, admit to a
spiritual sharing in the body and blood of Christ each time they take communion. But they do not
each actual human flesh or drink actual human blood.
At the epistemological level, we have to ask ourselves: How do we know whether a story is true?
To underline this point: stories and confessions about witchcraft do not prove the reality and
certainty of witchcraft. They simply affirm the belief in the existence of witchcraft. Though the
belief in witchcraft attempts to provide a solution to the existence of evil in the world, the
solution it offers is inadequate.
Our understanding of witchcraft must not be based on stories but on the teachings of the Old and
New Testaments, both of which warn the people of God to have nothing to do with any form of
witchcraft (Lev. 19:31, 20:6-7; Ex. 22:18; Deut. 18:10-12; 1 Sam. 28; Gal. 3:1; Acts 19:13-19
etc). “Jesus’ power is super power and Satan’s is powerless power,” as in the chorus children
sing in Nigeria. The basis for this assertion is that Jesus has stripped evil forces of their power:
“having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing
over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). The Bible is often used merely as a source of proof texts to
support our traditional opinions and beliefs. However, when properly interpreted, the Bible does
not support the kinds of doctrines of demons, evil spirits and witchcraft that are supported,
nursed and propagated in Awka. Though Awka experiences and stories like any other African
society are relevant and should be interacted with, the truths we believe should be based solely
on the scripture.
Some of the causes of Jesus in the morning and voodoo in the evening on the part of the
missionaries include ignorance; avarice; imperiousness; faulty biblical interpretation; multiplicity
of missionary agencies; land hunger; personal quarrels; hankering after ancestor worship;
condemnation of polygamy as an institution, which was not a moral issue in African traditional
society; missionary ignorance of Awka psychology; language and culture (that is African
personality). To Ayandele (1970), “Any African who does not contend for the purity of his race
is not worthy of a place in the ranks of humanity” (p.286). For many African literati today,
including Leopold Sedar Senghor, African personality (identity) has mainly a psychological and
emotional connotation, clearly discernible in their abstract philosophy, songs and poetry.
Christianity and Voodoo Syncretism: Its Syntheses
Witchcraft, sorcery and spirits have nothing good to offer; they encourage disrespect for parents
and children, disunity and hatred among families, and even murder. Christian rituals are often
seen as new and more powerful protection against the attacks of one’s enemies and those who
may be jealous. Missionaries, early African church leaders and same contemporary leaders have
dismissed belief in witchcraft as mere superstition. In doing this they fail to understand the Awka
worldview. To Turaki (1982), “The major pitfall of the pioneering and early missionaries was the
way they berated African culture. Their attitude was in the main the basic negation of African
culture, custom, religious and social life” (p. 27).
Church leaders are now painfully aware that dismissing witchcraft and the like as superstition no
longer carried weight with many members of their congregations. Many young and old
Christians can tell countless stories testifying to the power of witches and wizards, but can hardly
tell one story about deliverance from demonic power. Nominal Christianity has also contributed
to the resurgence of witchcraft. External change without an internal transformation does not
affect the whole person. Many Awka indigenes have confessed that they became Christians
because it was the expected thing to do. In most former mission churches, it is normal to be
churchgoers. Though at the external level these churchgoers claim to be Christians, they are
unbelieving and unchanged and cling tenaciously to deep-seated traditional beliefs and values.
According to Mbiti (1969), “A careful scrutiny of the religious situation shows clearly that in
their encounter with traditional religions, Christianity have made only an astonishingly shallow
penetration in converting the whole man of Africa, with all his historical cultural roots, social
dimension, self-consciousness and expectations” (p. 263). In the same vein, Shorter (1977), notes
that “at baptism, the African Christian repudiates remarkably little of his former non-Christian
outlook. What remains above the surface is in fact, the tip of an iceberg. The African Christian is
not asked to recant a religious philosophy. Consequently, he returns to the forbidden practices as
occasion arises with remarkable ease” (p. 10). The resurgence of witchcraft, sorcery
communities in Awka illustrates the point.
Ignorance of scriptural truths and theology has also contributed to the resurgence of witchcraft–
related beliefs and practices among the so-called Christians. A quick survey would show that
many professing Christians have no knowledge of the scriptures and are unaware of what the
Bible really teaches on many issues, including witchcraft, sorcery and witch-hunt. Pastors and
evangelists are more prone to issue superficial condemnations than to give systematic teaching
on the philosophical, religious and theological beliefs and values in Awka context. According to
Neill (1957), “Almost everywhere, there has been grave failure in the giving of systematic
instruction to the members of the Christian faith” (p. 130). Oosthuizen (1964) averred, “Why
does the African, in times of human crisis, revert back to non-Christian practices? This appears
to be the rule rather than the exception because the Africans past have been ignored and no
attempt has been made to penetrate it with the regeneration power of the gospel message; the
converted African lives in two levels” (p. 4). The breakdown of law and order corruption, maladministration
and ecclesiastical poor leadership, made children and young people of today, to
claim to be experts in witchcraft, sorcery and the like. There are no checks and controls to curb
the modern mass hysteria of belief in and practices of witchcraft.
Witches are detected by means of an oracular technique, such as the manipulation of a special
rubbing-board (which it sticks it confirms the suggestion put to it) or the administration of a
strychnine poison to fowls, the victims determines or confirms the identity of the attacker
(Beattie, 1980). To avert conflict, the witch will be asked to withdraw his witchcraft. Witchcraft,
oracles, idols, magic and sorcery form a coherent system on the levels of both thought and
action, and as social institutions they have important implications for the life of the community.
Awka is associated with blacksmith. This, too, is also associated with particular rituals, and joint
participation in these is mandatory.
The old natural religions continue to thrive in Awka. While Christianity vies for supremacy in
Awka thirty three villages, she has failed to banish the rain gods, witchcraft, sorcery and spirits
in these communities. Frequently the pagan rites such as ikponye aja n’ili (dust to dust), imoka
and okuko onye uwa have fused with a faith in Jesus Christ. The clashes between Christianity
(especially Catholic Church) and Awka beliefs and practices are becoming increasingly bitter.
Yet, as hard as the monotheistic and polytheistic faiths have struggled for supremacy,
Christianity has for now failed to wrest power from priests of Imoka. With its nature deities, the
Awka mythology is often the only stabilizing force in a world full of suffering, corruption, poor
political institution, fraud electoral institution, displacement, unemployment, poverty, illiteracy,
terrorism, religious fanaticism or extremism and death, where everything is in constant flux, but
rarely changes for the better, where-in many respects–time has stood still. This is a world
populated by nymphs and sirens, by elfin spirits, sun and moon gods, marine spirits, and by
animal deities such as cows, stags, tortoises (and other reptiles), lambs and calves. At the end of
the 19th century, the British ethnologist Taylor (1871) coined the term animism (the Latin word
anima means soul or breath) to describe this pantheon, correctly assuming that plants, animals
and objects also have souls in the minds of these “primitive peoples.” Someone who attends
church in the morning at midday night easily invite a voodoo priest over in the evening or even
day time to read the kola nuts.
Practically everywhere the cult of the dead or ancestral cult intermingles with Christianity,
“There is scarcely any distinction between the secular and religious spheres; faith is
omnipresent”, says Stinger (1997). It is therefore no surprise that when a person is sick, he seeks
for a preacher to pray for him, a traditional medicine man and a doctor to administer drugs, and a
local sorcerer, or oracle to find the root cause of the sickness.
In Kenya, for instance, the modern-minded Kikuyu, Flashing cell phones and Ray-Bans, happily
journey to Mount Kenya and pray to Ngai, the supreme God of the animists despite often being
members of one of the numerous congregations. In Benin City, Nigeria’s “human trafficking
hub,” where the women from the region’s slums begin their journeys to Europe’s red-light
districts, the path to the gods of nature runs through a backyard reeking of urine. The voodoo
priest Chief John Odeh, receives his flock in a white gown. His upholstered throne is trimmed
with red satin. Beside him hang drums made of cowhide and the sword-like insignia of his
position, known as Eben and Ada. As the voodoo mass begins, Odeh flourishes a chicken over
his head, mumbles unintelligible incantations and pours liquor over the skulls. Then he takes a
knife and cuts the bird’s throat. Blood fountains in every direction, splattering onto the wooden
fetishes–crudely carved figures with huge penises. More liquor is dispensed, another invocation
mumbled, bringing the juju ceremony to its conclusion. Tribute has been paid and the king of the
night appeased.
Citing James Johnson, one of the heroes of African personality, posited that James Johnson did
not believe in the oneness of the human race. He perceived the fact that history and geography
had introduced differences between peoples all over the terrestrial globe; he described that these
differences be not only recognized, but also respected. Geography and history, he noted, had
been responsible for the evolution of different cultures and civilizations. In the light of this fact
he believed that civilization could not be absolute but relative.
In defence of and respect for African culture, for which Edward Blyden is better known, James
Johnson was asking that Africans should know themselves as a people, a race, distinct from other
peoples and endowed with attributes unique to themselves. Christianity per se, Johnson was
convinced, was a culturally neutral ideology which was capable of growing in different cultures
and environment without losing its sublimity or compromising its tenets.
Conclusion and recommendations
The evidence for the persistence of traditional religious attitudes in Awka is overwhelming.
Some resisted the incursion and stuck to the gods of the fathers. Others wavered: first parleying
with the missionaries and later recovering their balance and bolting back to the ancestral gods.
Some accepted literally what they had heard, being especially frightened by the doctrine of
heaven and hell which was emphasized in the preaching of the early missionaries. Of course,
there were variations of an instrumental approach to religion: some converted so as to gain
wealth, new status, knowledge, security, exemption from forced labour, safety and success in
competition either at a personal or communal level. For example, Agulu accepted Church
missionary society to help it in its war with Amikwo. Christianity sits lightly on Awka people.
The failure of the gods in crises opened the traditional cosmology to the co-option of new gods.
The Bible recognizes that spells and curses and people such as witches and sorcerers do have
power. But their power is nothing in comparison with the power of Almighty God (Is. 47:9).
This gives us a clear hint that the Christian does not need to fear the spells or curses of a sorcerer
or a witch, no matter how strongly they are applied. Jesus Christ, who lives in the heart of a
Christian, is infinitely more powerful than the power of any sorcerer, witch, evil spirit or evil
power in the universe. Indeed, such persons and such powers are terrified in the presence of
Christ, who dwells in the heart of a Christian. This was seen in the case of Simon the Samaritan
sorcerer, who was humbled in the presence of the apostles Peter and John (Acts 8:9-24). It was
seen in the case of the Gerasene demoniac, who was humbled in the presence of Christ (Mk. 5:1-
Sorcery and witchcraft are severely condemned by God as wickedness (Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10).
King Hezekiah’s sin Manasseh was severely condemned by God for his practices of sorcery and
witchcraft (2 Kings 21:6, 2 Chron, 33:6). The flying by night and eating of human flesh are
issues of traditional belief. The Bible does not address these beliefs. Evil eye is a demonic power
which some traditional people possess. When a person has the power of evil eye, they can stare
at people and cause severe physical or mental disorders.
According to O’Donovan (1996), a traditional healer may also have demonic powers. It can
happen that the traditional healer will be able to remove (appear to heal) the sickness caused by
demons through a sorcerer, a witch, or a person with evil eye. In this way, Satan can strengthen
both the belief in witchcraft and the belief in traditional healers and witch-doctors at the same
time. By doing this, Satan draws people away from trust in God and tempts them to trust in
things which God has condemned.
But God has given us the spiritual weapons through the promises of his word to deal with such
attacks of the evil one. The Bible tells us to take up the shield of faith, with which you can
extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Eph. 6:16). Since witchcraft, magic, spells and
curses have power because of the power of Satan and his demons, a Christian who is walking in
holiness of life has authority from the Lord to overcome the power of such magic, spells and
curses in the name of Jesus Christ.
Note the warning which God gave to the Israelites about being deceived by such spirits: “They
have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed” (Amos 2:4). This is not
surprising, because people feel a strong emotional attachment to their ancestors and relatives.
Traditional religious throughout the world which seek the help of ancestral spirits, reveal a
consistent pattern of belief which has very effectively deceived people. Such beliefs have kept
many people from finding a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, making
disciples from all groups of people on earth is a priority for the church. The church must finally
include people from every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth (Matt. 28:19, Rev. 5:10; 7:9). The
great commission will not be completed until believers have been discipled in every ethnic
group. There is therefore no value in speaking with evil spirits who possess people and speak
through their mouths. It is also clear from the titles given to the fallen angels in Daniel 10:12-21,
that demons attempt to influence and even control human governments for evil purposes (Rev.
The Bible says, “The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Cor. 4:4).
This is probably an important reason why we are specifically commanded to pray for
government leaders (1 Tim. 2:2). The prayers of God’s people help to free the minds of these
leaders from the strong suggestions being made to them by Satan and demons. In summary,
demon activity includes deception, murder (Jn. 8:44), torture (Matt. 12:22; Luke 13:11-17),
physical sickness (Job 2:7, Acts 10:38), and mental illness (Luke 8:27-29). Other activities
include sexual uncleanness and violence (Matt. 10:1; Eph. 5:5; Rev 17:14; Luke 8:2; Ecc. 2:8–
King Solomon with his 1000 wives and concubines was clearly preoccupied with sex-hindrances
to the work of the gospel (1 Thess. 2:18; Eph. 6:12; hindrances to prayer (Dan. 10:12-13; Matt.
26: 38-43), general harassment of the people of God (2 Cor. 12:7; Luke 22:31), promotion of
idolatry, witchcraft and various pagan and occult practices (Psalm 106:35-37; Deut. 18:9-12,
32:16-17; 1 Sam. 15:23; Rev. 18:2), the working of strange occurrences and deceiving miracles
(2 Thess. 2:9, Rev. 16:13-14) and so on.
Confessions, stories and experiences of sorcery, idolatry, and witchcraft and so on are a clear
demonstration of what people believe based on their cultural experience. As Christians, we need
to address our culturally postulated reality of witchcraft pastorally with seriousness, sensitivity
and respect. We should not live as if there are no evil spirits and witches, but should live with the
full conviction that God is in control of every situation.
If the mainline churches want to regain their vitality, their first step must be to address
theological issues head on. They must listen to the voices of lay liberals and provide compelling
answers to the question, “What is so special about Christianity in Awka?” Christianity is,
however, intended to be the religion not of one particular race of people only, but of the whole
world. But in different countries it will wear different types, if it is to become indigenous to
every soil.
Ayandele, E. A. (1970). Holy Johnson: pioneer of African nationalism 1836-1917. London:
Frank Cass.
Bailey, C. (1932). Phases in the religion of ancient Rome. Berkeley: University of California
Barrett, D. B. (1970). Schism & renewal in Africa: an analysis of six thousand contemporary
religious movements. London: Oxford University Press.
Beattie, J. (1980). Other cultures: aims, methods and achievements in social anthropology.
London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Douglas, J. D. (Ed.). (1980). The new Bible dictionary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press.
Idowu, B. (1973). Towards an indigenous church. Ibadan: Oluseyi.
Johnson B., Hoge, D. R. & Luidens, D. A. (1993). Mainline churches: the real reason for
decline. First Things 31 (March), 13-18.
Kanu, R. C. (1996). Christianity and culture at Cross-roads: A case study of Awka town.
Unpublished project, Department of Religion and Theology, Paul University-
Kunhiyop, S.W. (2008). African Christian ethics. Bukuru: ACTS.
Livingstone, E. A. (Ed.). (1977).The concise Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Magesa, L. (1997). African religion: the moral traditions of abundant life. New York: Orbis
Mbiti, J.S. (1969). African religions and Philosophy. London: Heinemann.
McKinney, C.V. (1985). The Bejju of central Nigeria: A case study of religious and social
change, PhD dissertation, Southern Method University.
Neill, S. (1957). The unfinished task. London: Edinburgh House Press.
Nock, A. D. (1933). Conversion: the Old and the New in religion from Alexander the Great to
Augustine of Hippo. London: Oxford University Press.
O’Donovan, W. (1996). Biblical Christianity in African perspective. Carlisle: Paternoster.
Okafor, A. (1992). The Awka people. Onitsha: Chudo.
Oosthuizen, G.S. (1964). Post-Christianity in Africa: A theological and anthropological study.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Rokeach, M. (1973). The nature of human values. New York: The Free Press.
Scupin, R. (2000). The anthropological perspective on religion. In R. Scupin (Ed.), Religion
and culture: An anthropological focus. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1-15.
Shaver, J. & Strong, W. 1976). Facing values decisions: rationale building for teachers. Calif:
Shorter, A. (1977). African theology: adaptation or incarnation? Maryknoll: Orbis Books.
Foundations and Principles of Social Order
Ogugua P.I
Dept of Philosophy N.A.U Awka.
Ogugua C.I
Anambra State Judiciary Awka
The issue of foundations is very serious that is why real attention need to be given to it. The
scripture understood it so much when it says, if the foundation is destroyed what can the
righteous do? The answer is, nothing or very little. In the spiritual and in the physical spheres,
the issue of foundation must be taken seriously. Little wonder, this paper discusses the topic
from the philosophical science angle; which is concerned with the search for the ultimate
principles of reality with the sole aid of human reason. Now, let us examine the foundations of
the social order, which are thus; personality, nature of man, freedom, law etc.
It seems uncanny to us to accept that in any place in the whole world there will be a being that is
just like us in everything. Why? It is because we know we are unique, original and unrepeatable.
Although the word personality is common, it is not easy to define. Ogugua writes:
When people use it, they refer to something slightly different. It is derived from
the Latin word ‘persona’ meaning mask. It means, simply put, an individual as he
manifests himself and as seen by others. The term can be defined in many ways. A
number of approaches are available; the trait-type, dynamic, behavioural and
phenomenological approaches, emphasizing the dimensions and organization,
motivational factors and interplay of different components of personality, the ways
in which habits are acquired and the role of the self and the individuals
interpretation of the world respectivety1
Using the phenomenological approach, personality is for Micschel “the distinctive patterns of
behaviour (including thoughts and emotions) that characterize each individual’s adaptation to the
situations of his or her life, 2
Personality is dynamic, fluid like, it keeps changing, it is not the same as identity, t is rather a
mixture of nature and nurture. On account of the fact that an individual is a unit of the
constituents of the State and that it is only by understanding his personality as the State is the
individual writ large’ as opined by Plato, that his social nature can be comprehended; which
gives us access into our understanding of the State and what order in such a unit could be. We
hold that personality characterized by uniqueness, self-subsistence, thought, action, participation,
Freedom, responsibility, solitude, consciousness, auto-transcendence, etc. is a foundation of
social and political order.
Nature of Man
We think that any theory of the state or society more so a socio-political order has implicit in it a
theory of human nature. Human nature is what we think, conceive and hold the essential and
distinguishing qualities of man to be; and it is no doubt a combination of biological,
psychological, social or even a combination of ontological, epistemological, moral, psychophysico
chemical properties of man as these make them unique. Leslie Stevenson asserts:
The meaning and purpose of human life, what we ought to do and what we can
hope to achieve- all these are fundamentally affected by whatever we think is the
real or true nature of man. Lapati supports this view point thus:” Basic to the
study and understanding of any theory that deals with human behaviour is the
concept of the nature of man underlying that philosophy or theory,,3
The question of human nature falls within the ambience of metaphysical anthropology. Modern
epistemology and scientific methodology hold that scientific and non-scientific thoughts are
products of opinions, and we do not think these opinions flow from the blues. We believe that
they spring from somewhere in ontology and worldview. So Marshall seems right when he holds
that our perception of things is dependent on our commitment, “from particular ways of looking
at the world- a fundamental metaphysical commitment”? It is not surprising therefore to see
multiple systems of anthropology springing up: epistemological, biblical, metaphysical, etc.
Whatever is the case, we know via reason and experience that man is a social animal, a “beingwith”,
with a transcendental focus; a being made up of body, soul and spirit. We think Messner’s
remark is ‘adrem’, he states:
It is equally true that any metaphysics which refuses to take parts of experience
into account or tries to explain away facts of reality lapses into dogmatism of one
kind or another, consisting of hypotheses or assertions based on inadequate or
non-existent empirical or philosophical grounds4
Man as a member of society is not only externally dependent on others but is metaphysically
dependent in his essence. Man as the image of God, cannot be in the likeness of God except by
being communicative in a metaphysical sense. Hoffner asserts: “…all personal being essentially
strives towards giving and sharing, so that personal being is of its essence ordered to the ‘thou’ of
the other and to society.
Man is both a creature and creator of culture. Little wonder, Aristotle stated in his Politics “…he
who is unable to live in society or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be
either a beast or a god” And Higgins, emphatically testifies that men do not live isolated lives
but have ever acted as members of some group 7.
The Pope in PopulorumProgressio states: “We are the heirs of earlier generations, and we reap
benefits from the efforts of our contemporaries” 8 So you see only very little, if we be right, we
can call our own.
We can see that we have community building qualities (powers): language, society and morality.
Language is very vital as it is a process of wording our horizon (society). It creates a community,
for it makes communication possible. Mounier opined:
Common opinion notwithstanding, the fundamental nature of the person is not
originality nor self-knowledge nor individual affirmation. It lies not in separation
but in communication 9
And our chief task, according to Mounier is not to master nature but, increasingly to bring about
communication leading to universal understanding10 Karl Jasper equally understood the
importance of communication and advices that: “An avoidance of true communication is
tantamount to a relinquishment of any self- being, if I withdraw from it, I am betraying not only
the other by myself,11
We can glean from the above, that language is important; and should be looked at with
seriousness; for it the language is not correct, we cannot get what is meant to be communicated.
Arbitrariness in the use of words is dangerous, for the word of man is man. He who wants to
communicate owes others the duty to communicate the truth. If language is polluted, it is
undermined hence, it dissolves the truth or at best hides the truth; and truth which flows from
openness is indeed at the basis of society. Or do you think it is uncommon to see people who live
alongside others without relationship? In that situation, each one is on one’s own, within one’s
cocoon, there is no relationship it breeds death.
This ability to communicate and relate introduces sociality, which is usually noticed in these
instincts: sex, imitative and play. These instincts push men to relate with the other; that of sex is
at the physical level, while those of imitation and play, coupled with love are at the
psychological and spiritual levels. We think these instincts are power; apart from sex, the rest
could be seen as spiritual powers which aid in community building; when community building
goes on, it cannot withstand the shock along the path unless the community is built on social
virtues: truthfulness, justice, fidelity, love, etc.
Man as a creature of culture met a cultural domain and develops this as he comes of age so to do.
Nell-Breunig remarks:
Here we see … entitative and moral values that lie absolutely beyond the reach of
separate individual, which even God’s creative power could only confer on social
beings and make accessible to them12
In this work, we beg to differ from Boethian concept of the person as “rationalist
naturaeindividuasubstantia”, and the Greek’s ‘persona’ meaning mask, likeness or representation
but rather as “per-se-une” – that which is one in and with itself; that means one that is properly
integrated, whole, hence one with integrity.
It is because the members of society are free beings that we made freedom serve as one of the
key pillars for social order. Little wonder, Pope John Paul II defines man by his capacity to act,
and he acts because he is free. We know that for an act to be seen as a human act it must be one
seen to have flowed from freedom, knowledge, voluntariness (volition), intention, etc. Man is
always an actor and cannot be otherwise, being means (suggests) acting or else why do we say
“agere sequitur esse”
Osuagwu states:
Fundamentally- ontologically, man is man by his action, by a special grade of
action that characterize’s him as such – not by pure biological acts of man
(actushominis) – but by that action which scholasticism describe as “actus
Characteristics of human act in scholastic- Thomistic tradition are “actusvoluntarius”,
“appetitusrationalis’, moral action, and auto determination: A critical look at these qualities,
shows that freedom is basic, for an action to be conscious, deliberate, etc.
Freedom is a popular word, yet atimes isused. Freedom is not licence, doing as one likes. Pope
John Paul” states:
True freedom is not advances in the permissive society, which confuses freedom
with licence to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims
a kind of general morality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are
free to organize their lives without a reference to moral values. Such an attitude is
destructive of freedom 14
What then is freedom? It is a word with nuances of meaning scholars have made a distinction
between “freedom from” and “freedom to “the former is couched in the negative while the latter
is couched in the positive; freedom from restraints and freedom to perfect oneself via selfknowledge,
self-awareness, self determination, self-transcendence, etc. Maritain observes:
the word freedom, like all big words for which men are ready to die, and which
are ladened, not only with the riches of the object, but with the desires, the
dreams, and the supreme generosities of the subject, the word freedom conveys a
great number of meanings; yet these meanings though widely different have
something in common 15
In whichever way, freedom is used; it has a ring of choice and responsibility around it. John
Locke sees it as a power in any agent to do or forebear any particular action, according to his
determination, or that of the mind, whereby either of them is preferred to the other33
Grisez et al state that “…the freedom to direct oneself by one’s own choice is the freedom most
proper to a human being,,16
We think freedom is tied up with conscience in a sense, as it connotes, acting in accordance as
one’s conscience directs.
It is because man is free that we can rightly think of and work for a balance between authority
and the individual. If not for freedom, we would simply be ‘zombies’ and do everything we are
asked or commanded to do. There are things the State cannot rightly ask, Sullivan states: “What
it cannot ask is hate, falsehood, treachery, any evil doing on the part of its citizens; it cannot
demand in short, the sacrifices of the citizens eternal life, for no temporal good17
Freedom is not absolute; it rather points towards choice-making which has consequences, Mill
observes that a
…human being is not a machine to be built after a model and set to do exactly the
work prescribed for it, but a tree which should be allowed to grow and develop
itself on all sides according to the tendency of the inward forces which makes it a
long living thing18.
In as much as freedom is a right of an individual, it has a ring of obligation/duty around it. Your
freedom to fly your hand ceases immediately another person starts to feel threatened.
So, you can see that freedom is a duty you have necessarily to undertake with regard to any other
person; for the golden rule says “do unto others as you would like them do unto you”. Benn has a
point when he argued that “this … sets a limit to freedom but it also gives it its logic and dignity,
since we are by nature social beings,,19 It is no longer difficult to see that freedom will only be
realized within the ambience or limits of law.
Law is purposeful, and indeed a necessity. Ogugua writes:
Since consent is the highest degree of human freedom it does look like law protects
true freedom as it does not impose any hardship on anybody. The law is that which
the polity truly and sincerely upholds to give them support in their actualization of
their common good. Law is value laden hence is end oriented. The purpose of law is
intrinsically conjoined with the end of the society and is grounded on this end. Law
exists for the total well being of man as man 20
Law is not unnatural; as such it is not an imposition; for it is related to the nature of man and
even things. Ogugua asserts:
Man is made up of a body, spirit and soul. The primary end of law must be capable
of satisfying these varied aspects of man. It must include all possible social and
spiritual needs and goals of man 21.
When a man is in an orderly frame of mind, he thinks rationally and reasonably, and can inject
the same order in this mind externally unto society. This is because thoughts are seedlings of
realities, as thought influences action and behaviour. Ogugua remarks
Law is only a necessary instrument of putting man’s aggressive instinct under
control. So law is natural to man in the sense that being in chains is necessary for
a violent mad man 22
Even if we all were angels, we still will need law to function at our optimal level, for a lawless
society cannot be orderly. The first principle of natural moral law states: Good is to be done and
evil avoided. We need rules (laws) to make it operational in our society. And if these laws will
aid us to discover and affirm ourselves, they must be not only consistent but coherent for if they
are irrational, inconsistent, they will no longer be in our best interest.
That there is a State points directly or indirectly to an authority; and this authority is sovereign. It
follows that if the State has authority, it has the right to issue orders and the citizens are indeed
obliged to obey the given orders.
We may ask in view of what happen in Africa most of the time, whether a citizen is legally
obliged to obey the orders of a ‘defacto’ qovernrnent for people claiming authority. If we
acknowledge that he should because of power and not authority then we admit he has prudential
obligation so to do. But if we hold that he has right to do so, then we admit moral obligation. But
notwithstanding the arguments put up we maintain that might cannot be right, for the end does
not justify the means. Power no doubt may oblige, it does not confer right. Raphael states:
The fact that we often use the word ‘ought’ and should to express prudential
obligation shows that we think there is a choice. 41 Although he is obliged to obey,
he has strictly speaking no obligation.
We are indeed concerned with moral reasons for political Obligation, for legal reasons may not
rightly ground political obligation. Legality may be associated with the authority promulgating a
rule/law but not the authority of the state. Raphael sees these moral reasons in theories of social
contract, consent, general will, justice and general interest or common good.
Having presented the foundations or grounds for socio-political order, let us now quickly draw
basic and essential principles of socio-political order from these foundations.
The Principles of Socio-Political Order
The principles we would like to discuss here though briefly are: principles of horizontality,
solidarity, subsidiarity and common good. These are modes of being which crops up from the
foundations of order in society.
The Principle of Horizontality
Individuality and communality suggest relationship that is not really qualified. Is it on the same
footing? If so, then it means there is equality, this ensures that we share’ adequately the
experience of self discovery, self-affirmation and self-development. What it means is that we
recognize that though we are different in a sense, we are still same, on a level, and not beings
that operate on the principle of verticality. We think this principle by recognizing co-presence of
the other via dialogue introduces the principle of solidarity.
The Principle of Solidarity
Solidarity is from the Latin Soliciare’ meaning to hold firmly together. It has its foundation in
personality, for man is essentially social or communal, hence he needs cooperation and mutual
support to actualize his person. Hoffner holds:
… this principle is grounded in the ontologically pre-given mutual connection of
the individual and society (common involvement); on the other hand, it implies
the moral responsibility resulting from this mode of being (common liability)23
Solidarity is not only an ontological principle it is equally an ethical one. It is an indispensable
project of any human being; we see it as a step in the right direction for human maturity and
excellence. Why? It is due to the fact that it implies a union of our beings, ensures participation
and ontological sharing of ourselves. We cannot realize ourselves outside solidarity (society). To
be human is to live in ‘solidum’. According to the Catholic Diocese of Awka it is:
… a deliberate choice to enter in some degree into the world of those who are
deprived – to share in a significant way in their experience of being mistreated,
by passed or left helpless. It springs from compassion and a choice to deepen
this compassion by sharing in the suffering of the poor: and to devote oneself
generously to the common welfare 24.
The Principle of Subsidiarity
The word subsidiarity is from the Latin ‘subsidium’ meaning help rendered from reserves. This
principle though related to those of subsidarity and common good is different from them, to see
it as same with the two no doubt will plunge us into conceptual problems and methodological
confusions, and will no doubt cause traffic jam in our discourse of these primary principles of
social order and everything will become every other thing. Then we end up not being able to
distinguish. It presupposes these other principles, as it promotes the right to beingness
participation, and self-determination.
It is a weighty principle which recognizes areas of proficiency by different units in society and
encourages industry and initiative in each unit as society though sovereign in a sense does not
mean that it is omni -competence as a unit and that it can survive without the subsidiary
functions performed by other units: individuals, groups, etc., Pope Pius XII on July 18, 1947
maintained that:
…activity and achievement on the part of society may always be a buttress only,
and support and complete the activity of the individual, of the family and of the
professional groups.
This principle designates the complimentary and supplementary roles played by units in society
for the well-being of the units and the whole. In it is buried the idea of complimentariety and
relationship. Hence, the community of a higher order should not interfere with the roles of
communities of a lower order; each unit is best equipped to carry out its functions.
The Principle of Common Good
Individuality and sociality (communality) suggest a relationship. The question is, is it always on
an equal footing? It does not seem for usually you see conflictual tension here and there. It is to
avoid this naturally tense situation that common good becomes necessary and important so as to
ensure that this relationship is neither super-or subordinated. It is on the footing of balance that
every social entity can by the law of entelechy meet its common good, for there is common good
peculiar to each entity.
For Aristotle, the good life is the end of every political society and since no society can attain
this good life without being in an orderly and peaceful form, common good which is a principle
of social order plays a cordial rule. Common good is a horizon of search for true values to build
the community and move it forward. It entails personal freedom, responsibilities and cooperative
activity and at the same time preclusion of anti-social impulses and cutting to the barest
minimum ambivalence of human interest.
Common good is that good that is common to all; not a summation of individual goods. For
Messner, it rather
…meansthat social cooperation makes it possible for the members of society to
fulfill by their own responsibility and effort the vital tasks set for them by their
existential ends”.
In the words of Thornill, it is “a good or benefit which human persons can only attain through
the co-ordination of their several activities” 25 and according to an author common good puts
the cord that links all together in order, for it is communion in good living and public welfare.
For according to Maritain it is common good only on condition that it is according to justice and
moral goodness … “26
Having gone this far in our discourse nothing is left for us to do than to conclude. This piece of
work has pointed out what we consider to be at the rock bottom of social order and the principles
that make social order possible and realizable. It is very clear that the ruled and the governors
have roles to play to ensure there is order in the society by emphasizing on the necessity and
relevance of the constitution and the rule of law, suggesting the indispensable role of the
judiciary which points to the need for the independence of the judiciary
1. Nwakaeze-Ogugua P.I “The African Personality” unpublished pp 3-4
2.Mischel, W. Introduction to Personality 2nd N.Y. Holt Rinehard& Winston 1972, P. 2.
3.Allport, G.W Pattern and Growth in Personality N.Y. Holt, 1961, P. 28
4. Steverson, L. Seven theories of Human national oxford: Clarendon press, 1974, p.3
5. lapatiAmerigo “Skinner and the Nature of Man” in the New Scholasticism xxxxvii (1973)
pp 501-502.
6. George Marshall “HumaNn nature changes” in the New Scholasticism, LIV No. 2 (pring
1980) pp 168-169
7. MessnerJohannes Social Ethic: Natural law in the Western World Review London: B. herder
Book Co, 1965, P. 6
8. Hoffner, J. Christian Social Teaching. P. 34
9. Aristotle Politics
10. Higgins, T.J Man as Man
Milwaukee: the Bruce Philosophy 1949,
11. Populorumprogressio 17
12. Mouiner, E. Personalism
Paris 1949, P. 17
13. Edward, P. Encycopedia of Philosophy p. 411
14. Jaspers, K. Philosophy Vol. Chicago: Chicago University press, 1970, P. 54
15. O. V. Nell- BreuningWorterbuch der Politik
16. Osuagwu, I. M. The Human Person as a Free Agent Pope John Paul II’s Phenomenological
Personalism” in Personalism and Humanism in the Philosophy of Pope
John Paul II Annual memorial lecture series, No. 1 Nimo: Rex Charles
&Parick Ltd, 2007, P. 202
17. John Paul II Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1981 L.
Osservatore Romano English ed 8 Dec 1980, P. 150.
18. Maritain J. Scholasticism and Politics N.Y: Doubleday, 1960, P. 118
19. Edward, P. (ed) Encyclopedia of Philosophy Vo. 1 & 2 N.Y: Macmillan, 1972, p. 366.
20. Grisez g & Shaw, R. Beyond the New Morality Indiana: University of Notre dame 1980, p.
21. Sulliavian S. J. Introduction to Philosophy USA:Bruce, Co. P. 178
22. Mill, J.S. On Liberty ed by Raport E. Cambridge: Hazkett Pub Co. 1978, p. 56
23. Benn, S.I. A Theory of Freedom Cambridge: Cambridge University, Press 1988
24. Ogugua P. Law and State op cit p. 4
25. Ibid p. 5
26. Ibid P.5
27. Raphael D. D. Problems of Political Philosophy
28 Hoffner Op cit p. 43
29. Aghamelu, F. ‘Morality for Child Right and Development “citing InstrumenttumLaboris:
in Sophia: An African Journal of philosophy Vol. 3, No.
Calabar: Pyramid Publishers 2001, p. 47
30. MessnerJohnannes Social Ethics: Natural Law in Western World revised London: B.
Herder Book Co, 1965, p. 124
31. Thornil, John, S. M. The person and the Group Milwaukee: The Bruce Pub Co. 1967, p. 45
32 Maritain J. The Person and the Common Good Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press
1966,, p. 53
34. Grisez, G & Shaw, R. Beyond the New Morality Indiana: University of Notre
Dame 1980, p. 11.
35. Suillivian, S. J. Introduction to Philosophy U.S.A.: Bruce, Co. p. 178.
36. Mill, J. S. On Liberty ed by Rapport, E. Cambridge: Hackett Pub.
Co. 1978, p. 56.
37. Benn, S. I. A Theory of Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1988. p. 155.
38. Ogugua, P. Law and State op.cit p. 4.
39. Ibid., p.5
40. Ibid., p. 5
41. Raphael, D. D. Problems of Political Philosophy f•r~
42. Hoffner Op. cit. p. 43.
43. Aghamelu, F. “Morality for child right and development’: citing
instrumentumlaboris” in Sophia: An African Journal of
Philosophy Vol. 3, No. Calabar: Pyramid Publishers 2001,
44. Messner Johannes Social Ethics: Natural Law in \ western world revied
London: B. Herder Book Co., 1965, p. 125
45. Thornill, John, S. M. The person and the group. Milwaukee: The Bruce Pub.
Co., 1967, p. 45.
46. Maritain, J. The person and the common good.
Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press 1966, p. 53.
47. Nwakaeze-Ogugua, P. I. Op. cit. p. 3
48. Ibid., p. 3
49. Ibid., p.3
50. Okafor, F. U. “Law, Democracy, and Public Affairs: The Nigerian Case:
in Philosophy and Public Affairs proceedings of an
International conference held at Bigard Memorial
Seminary, Enugu April 29-May 3, 1997, p. 76.
51. Elegido, J. M. Jurisprudence. Ibadan: Spectrum Law Publishing, 2000, p.193.
Poignant Poetics: The Aesthetics of Igbo Mask Chants
Chike Okoye (PhD)
Department of English Language and Literature
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
e-mail: okpilimbem@gmail.com
The Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria are an ethnic group known for their many and culturally rich
traditions. The mask or mmọnwụ cult, one of these traditions, is a haloed institution among the
Igbo. The masks are regarded as ancestral spirits that visit the land of the living periodically in
order to commune, direct and intervene where necessary, in human affairs. These masks play
numerous roles of which chanting words and poems of wisdom and entertainment in a sort of
dramatic performance could function as either a means to an end or an end in itself. This paper
through the context-based pragmatic analysis theoretical framework method examines these
chants and finds them laden with aesthetic elements which are functional, entertaining and
satisfying as any poetic performance or verse could be.
The Igbo are one of the major ethnic groups that make up Nigeria; alongside Hausa and Yoruba.
They inhabit the south-eastern part of the country and are bordered by the Igala to the North,
Bini and Isoko to the West, and Ibibio, Efik, etc., to the south. Much of the Igbo land lies in the
tropical rain forest belt east of the River Niger, while a little lies west of it nearer the Bini people.
The Igbo are known for their mostly patriarchal societies and their uniquely decentralized system
of government where the role and post of absolute monarch is more or less non-existent. Their
rich culture and traditional heritage also panders towards male dominated affairs where the
majority of the most feared, revered, and influential institutions are mostly controlled and
operated by men. In families, before the heightened dominance of Christianity, the ọfọ is seen as
the symbol ofauthority on which during communal sacrifices at family shrines, blood of
sacrificial animals is spilled. Men carry this ọfọ as family heads and leaders.
The institutionof ọkpalaas clan leader, existence of NzenaỌzọ prestigious societies, age groups
(all for males), the all-female ụmụadasocieties, etc. are all amongst the operative ambits of the
Igbo cultural ontology, omenanị, in order to control, pilot and guide the day to day existence of
the Igbo. They are principally institutions of tradition, law and order. But this group of
institutions could not have been complete without including the often dreaded and haloed mask
cult: the mmọnwụ/mmanwụ or mmụọ institution.
Masks among the Igbo
The Igbo mask cult is basically male-dominated and operated.There could be vague and isolated
cases of female involvement in some obscure part of the Igbo, but that is not the interest of this
paper. One of the major functions of the mask tradition and institution is entertainment but it is
also well known as a traditional Igbo arm for the maintenance of law and order. Many parts of
the Igbo have different names, roles, concepts and projections about and for the mask concept
but common denominators such as fear, reverence, and excitement run across the length and
breadth of the different parts of the Igbo. This simply means that whether we are accosted by or
interested in the northern Igbo mmọnwụ, mmanwụ, mmụọ etc., or the Nsukka area odo, omabe,
etc., or the South-West riverine owu, okorosha, etc., or the ekpe, ekpo, ọkọnkọ, etc., of the Bende
and Ngwa areas near the Cross-River region, we are dealing with a sacrosanct and feared
ancestral entity of the Igbo (The Dead Among the Living 15).
Masks almost always entertain by performing. Their performances are regarded as traditional
Igbo theatre. The sight of a masquerade performance is always an interesting and awe-inspiring
sight to behold. According to Chike Okoye in his the Mmọnwụ Theatre: Igbo Poetry of the
The kinetics and mnemonics that accompany the drama, the emphatic movements to and fro, the
forward dashes and abrupt stops, the affirmative nods and disagreeing shakes of the head, The
dignified show-spins, the dance steps and the mainstream chants… are part of the mask’s dance
Depending on the variations of a particular Igbo culture area, the mask performance could be
solely drama with poetry or narrative playing a supportive and secondary role; or it could be an
Igbo area where the poetry or chant takes precedence while the body movement becomes the
supportive drama of sorts to actuate poetry in motion. This paper is more interested in the aspect
where the mask chants are the central focus of the mmọnwụ performance.
For the Igbo of the Awka-Nri-Agulu-Ekwulobia-Arondizuogu axis, the chants or narratives of
the mask are the focal points of its performances. The body movements serve to explicate,
accentuate and emphasize the narratives. The sacrosanct and haloed reverence with which these
parts of Igbo hold the mmọnwụ is because it is regarded as, to quote Ugonna’s Mmọnwụ: A
Dramatic Tradition of the Igbo,
(a) A mask with the supernatural powers regarded as a visible spirit in the community and
accorded all spiritual awe and respect.
(b) A spirit coming from the underground in a masked form;…
(c) An age –old form of mask supposed to come to man’s world from the spirit world.(2)
This view imbues the mask with the roles of elder, ancestor, sage, etc., whose wisdom once
voiced should be digested and adhered to. According to Okoye, “As an aspect of oral tradition,
the mask tradition has within its fold, parts and branches that are storehouses of proverbial
literature, unique poetry and idiomatic expressions which have remained incidentally oral…”(6).
These make the mask utterances very important for the positive development of the Igbo psyche
and polity.
Poetics, Aesthetics, Chants, and Analyses
Poetics broadly concerns the theories of literary forms and literary discourse. But here, we are
more interested in Jonathan Culler’s description of poetics in his LiteraryTheory:
AVeryShortIntroduction where he says that
Poetics is distinguished from hermeneutics by its focus
not on the meaning of a text, but rather is understanding
of how a text’s different elements come together and
produce certain effects on the reader. (emphasis mine)
Again, TheEncyclopediaofPoetics lends credence to this strand of poetics:
The aim of Poetics (is)…to move audiences… ‘to discover
how a poem, produced by imitation and representing
some aspect of a natural object – its form – in the artificial
medium of poetry, may so achieve perfection of
that art form in the medium that the desired aesthetic
effect results.’
As for the ‘aesthetic effect’, Aristotle is obviously aware
of the issue, since the Poetics discusses the effects of
tragedy on the emotions of the audience. (934)
Meanwhile, according to M H Abrams in A Glossary of Literary Terms, Alexander
Baumgarten’s description of aesthetics in his Latin treatise Aesthetica, as ‘the aesthetic end is the
perfection of sensuous cognition, as such; this is beauty’, lends credence to its modern usage as
designating ‘the systematic study of all fine arts, as well as of the nature of beauty in any object,
whether natural or artificial’ (3); and this is germane to our present study of Igbo mask chants.
There are many categories of masks across Igboland. The major functions of these masks vary as
a result of the immediate contextual needs of and the original intent of the mask owners – the
community. Nevertheless, no matter how macabre, fantastic, bland, repulsive or weird a mask
might appear, there is always an element of spectacle bordering more or less on entertainment
surrounding its essence and presence.
As was hinted earlier, certain parts of the Igbo prefer masks that are more physically expressive
than vocally narrative; while for some parts, dramatic masks count as nothing if they do not
indulge in guttural chants of poetic narratives known as the mbem. Mbem among the Igbo is the
general name for chants and poetry. Mbem mmọnwụ is used to refer to mask or masquerade
chants. Mbem mmọnwụ is poetic; and is often in verse. It has all the qualities and features of
traditional, oral, Igbo poetry. Summarizing Emeka Nwabueze’s point in his “The Aesthetics of
Narrative in Igbo Masquerade Drama”, the mbem contains the encrypted form of the Igbo
essence, portrayed in rhythmical lines of verse (87). Like all good poetic renditions and forms,
the mbem mmọnwụ is like the proverbial dry meat that fills the mouth because it takes
considerable time to unravel and never fails to awe the audience with lasting revelations of
further vistas of meaning.
Poignancy, in addition to its natural and original meaning will assume a contextual profundity
when applied to the Igbo chants of the spirits – mbem. Because of Igbo ontology, the import of
liminal and ancestral invocations, vocalizations and interventions are immensely felt and held in
high esteem; even when entertaining. The concept of dulceetutile finds a neat fit in the Igbo
mask paradigm because as the chants entertain and please the audience, potent words of advice
and chastisement also fall into place and get heeded. Surely, to be delighted and reprimanded by
the spirits must be a wonderful experience.
The poignancy is more felt when one is an initiate of the mask cult. This is because mask speech
and chants often manifest in varying meta-language levels, mostly codified and encrypted for the
benefit of a select few (especially initiates) who literally nod in comprehension and appreciation
as the mask’s genius and wisdom in the chants unravel.
Chanting masks speak.They speak to people through guttural chants mostly codified but
generally intelligible to the majority of the populace. The chants (mbem) could be satire,
lampoon, praise, self-praise etc ( “The Aesthetic of Narrative” 93); and could also adopt boastful,
arrogant, challenging, daring, warning, guiding, advising, chastising, etc, tones in the rendition.
The chants are rendered in a drawled, sing-song, reedy, unearthly tone accentuated by a pipe-like
contraption worn over the mouth. This gives the speech a rasping and unearthly edge and makes
it sound more ominously ancestral.
The tonal nature of Igbo language affects the mbem and imbues it with a conspicuous rhythm
that is characterized by ‘lines’ marked out by breath-pauses or breath-groups. This understanding
is based on the observation that the chanter pauses for breath at the end of a group of utterances.
These utterances are the line of Igbo mbem. Interestingly, just as English poetic prosody contains
feet within meter, so does the Igbo mask mbem contain igidi in the breath-pause. Again,
according to Okoye,”…the Igbo experience and apply tone-terracing…a notion that Igbo speech
and verse features a gradual downward slope in pitch towards the end of articulation of a line”
(118). This means that there is a conspicuously rhythmical diminuendo effectexperienced at the
last syllables of an mbem line. This contributes to heightening the ominous spirit-ancestor effect.
Sample chants from masks belonging to Agulu and Arondiziogu communities of the Igbo, who
are known fairly well as proud and respected practitioners of the masquerade institution, will be
represented here and aesthetics highlighted. Odogwuanyammee, Okwuanyịọnụ and Akịka-ata-
Okwu maskswill be used.
The Odogwuanyammee name literally translates as “(the) red-eyed brave”. The title suits this
Arondizuogu mask because of its exploits that mostly border on derring-do. The mask is
believed to be very fetish and steeped in dark magic and charms. It likes to regard itself as
invincible. It is a single mask often accompanied by a staff carrying mask side-kick and a human
troupe numbering between 8 and 12 who handle the musical instruments. The mask chants solo
and where necessary, the human troupe provide choruses and refrains. Odogwuanyammee’s
chants are accompanied by melodious and rhythmical music dominated by bass tom-toms. The
themes of its chants are often taunting, challenging, sanctimonious, self-righteous, heroic and
sometimes ritualistic.
Mgbe m na-eje wee puta n’Ezinanọ
Obu ekuo mwee nee anya nene Danda
Danda wee gwaba m okwu
Wee sị na ya egbugo ichi n’ihu gbuo n’azụ
5 Wee dịka dike na-adị ma ọ kwado agha.
Na ọ bụile ọma ka ejule ji aga n’ogwu
Na a na-eji ego akpa nzu
Were nzu ewunyere ndị nwụrụ anwụ
Na ọ bụ ndọm ngha ka na-eji ejide agụ dị ndụ
10 Wee kee ya agbụ
Na nnwa m na-atịlị oyi na-agba ọkpa n’ọgụ
-ka m mara kwa a mara
Na ọ bụ ọ nịa ka eji a bụ dike n’agha
Ma na ihe na-eku ume na-anwụ anwụ
15 -ka m kpachara anya
Mgbe ahụ ka m ji nee anya n’ihu nee n’azụ
O nweghi onye m fụlụ
M wee je were igbe eji e je ọgụ gbanye n’aka ikenga m:
Sị onye gbaa n’aka ikenga m
20 Ọ bụrụ ya ọnwụ
Onye gbaa m n’aka ibite
Ụwa a dịrịya mma!
When I came up to the four-road junction
Discovery dawned, I looked it was Danda
Danda started talking to me
Saying he has scarified his face and his back
5 And that he is now like a battle-ready warrior
A sweet tongue sees the snail through thorns
Money is spent in applying nzu
And nzu is used in burying the dead.
The perfect mist is used in capturing the tiger
10 In order to tie it up
For the kid unprotected against cold kicks the back
-This I should know
For steeling the heart makes a warrior in battle
But every breathing thing is prone to death
15 -That I be careful.
That was when I looked in front and looked behind
I did not see anyone
I then took my war-bracelet and put on my Ikenga-hand:
A foe on my Ikenga-hand
20 Meets his death,
But if one meets my left hand
His world would be better!
The above mbem features aesthetic devices. Line 2 contains alliteration in “Discovery
dawned…Danda”; while line 4 contains a symbolic extended synecdoche in “scarified”. The
process of making ritual or non-ritual cuts especially on the face is known as scarification; and in
this context actually symbolizes fetish preparations with charms infused into the cuts. Itthen
becomes both a symbol of magical preparedness and a synecdoche of the art itself. Line 6 is a
proverb that has to do with the success potentials of smooth and efficient diplomacy in turbulent
situations using the snail’s slippery ‘tongue’ movements that effectively guides it through thorns.
Alliterations also appear in the line,“…sweet…sees…snail through thorns”. The line, “the
perfect mist is used in capturing the tiger” is an aphorism. This probably underscores the
importance of poor visibility playing in favour of the ferocious tiger’s captors.
Another alliteration is in line 11;”…kid…cold kicks”. A proverb that emphasizes bravery
appears in line 13; while an aphorism on the certainty of death for all living things is present in
line 14. An effective caesura balances the effect of the antithesis that separates lines 19 and 20 on
one hand, 21 and 22 on the other. above serves for the literary devices in the verse. The next
level is one which is context-dependent; which means only locals, and mostly the mask cult
initiates can fully grasp the essential meanings behind the chant. The mbem is about the mask’s
journey for rite and ritual purposes. It is a narrative poem; one in a series that depicts vividly the
experiences of the mask on its quest. In the early parts, the mask meets Danda (a type of ant)and
in a kind of dramatic monologue, gives Odogwuanyammee pieces of advice.
The imagery of meeting a speaking and fetish ant is a metaphysical conception that underlines
the mmọnwụ’s supernatural and mystical dimensions. Interestingly, the Danda persona according
to the lines, disappears the way it appeared – without much ado. The mask at this juncture
becomes more prepared and resolves to carry on ready to meet with both friends and foes.
This is a mask whose name literarily means that the “mouth-that-will-not-tire-of-speech”. This
mmọnwụ from Agulu prides itself to be a social gadfly, a commentator and reservoir of the
wisdom of the forefathers. Always alone, with no musical or human accompaniment, it performs
its chants either on demand or of its own volition. Its rendition of chants depends heavily on its
tonal modulation of the rhythms of Igbo speech uttered in mid-tempo; in a sing-song manner
somewhere between a song and slowly measured speech. This mode lends a grave and revered
guttural quality to its chants. In varying lengths of independent verse, the mask brings forth
vestiges of social commentary, admonitions, observations, advice, satiric pieces, lampoons, and
Ụbọchị mụ na ụmụọkpụ nwere ikpe nwa m
Ineke wee chatọjuo m anya
A gwalụ m ndị nze na ọzọwee sị fa oo
Na okwu dị mma nze ataa ọjị
5 Okwu adịghị mma na nze ya ata ọjị
Nya kpatara ndị nze ji anwụ ọnwụ ikwu
Ha wee tiesị na okwuanyịọnụ e kwuwaa ọnụ
Na e ya-ekie agbụ oo
M kpọ ndị nze na ọzọ ha za m oo
10 M we sị fa, ọ ka mụ na ụmụọkpụ wee
Kpebe ikpe mmọnwụ
Onemgbe ka nke ahụ jiri bido n’ana Agulu?
Ọ bụ n’ana na ọ bụ nsọ
M sị fa na o nwere okwu m m’ekwu oo
15 M kwuchaa okwu, maka na inu ka Igbo ji eri okwu
A na mekwu na ana m ebe o o
Onye ọ bụna marakwa na
Ajadu Adaziana anaghịkwanụ aňụ nkwụ-enu aňụ
Ihe m gwara ndị nzena ọzọ ụbọchị ahụ gboo gboo
20 Ajadu Adaziana anaghịkwanụ aňụ nkwụ-enu aňụ
M sịfa na Ajadu Adaziana were nka ňụọ nkwụ-enu aňụ o
Igu a malụ were nka gbajisibe ọnụ
E were ha nka gbara efi ọsọ
M chịrị awọrọ nabara onwe m!
The day I had a case with the womenfolk my son
I got confounded with issues
I spoke to the Nze na Ọzọ, telling them
That in peacetimes they eat kola nuts
5 That in troubled times they still eat kolanuts
And that is why they die ignoble deaths
They all shouted that Okwuanyịọnụ has spoken the unspeakable
That he should be trussed up.
I called the Nze na Ọzọ and they answered me,
10 I now said: should I drag an mmọnwụ case
With the womenfolk?
When did that trend start in Agulu?
It is an abomination!
I told them I had something to say
15 When I finish…because the Igbo eat speech with proverbs,
I am saying and I am crying out
That everyone should know that
The Adaziana widow does not drink up-wine…
This I told the Nze na Ọzọ on that day far back in time
20 That the Adaziana widow does not drink up-wine…
If the Adaziana widow tactfully drinks up-wine
Palm fronds will wither in protest!
They tactfully avoided the irate cow;
I gathered my scales and left!
The aesthetics of this verse lie in the fact that it is a narrative and didactic anecdote on the allknowing
infallibility of the mmọnwụ persona and institution; and in extension, wisdom of the
ancestors. It also underscores the strictly non-participatory role of women among the
mmọnwụmask tradition practitioners of the Igbo. Lines 4 and 5 contain an aphorism that
describes the dishonesty and corrupt nature of the prestigious Nze na Ọzọ society, while lines 10,
11 and 12 feature a rhetorical question that underscores the non-participatory role of women in
mmọnwụ. Line 16’s repetition enhances emphasis in the same manner as lines 18 and 20. Line
22 is a metaphor of imagery concerning abomination and revolt while line 23’s “irate
cow”imagery is a metaphor for the mask and the traditions it represents. “Scales” in line 24 is
part metonymy and part synecdoche; the former because it could represent the mask as an entity
(a flaking one), or the latter because some parts of it actually look scaly.
Also an Agulu mask, it is similar to the Okwuanyịọnụ. Its name roughly translates to “speech
defies termites”, which means that speech or the spoken word neither decays nor spoils not to
talk of being prone to termite attacks. The effects and potency of the spoken word last almost
forever. This mask also praises itself,warns deviants, miscreants and adversaries. It also
comments wittily and satirically on social events and occurrences. Like the Okwuanyịọnụ, its
verses are largely epigrammatic.
Ọ dịka mụ gụlụ obodo
Mụ gụlụ nwa
Ọ dịka mụ gụlụ nwarọbụnagụ
Anya ọbụla fụlụ ugo
5 Nya jaa kenụ ugo daa
Na anya adị afụ ugo kwadaa
Nkili nkili ka a na-ekili ododo
Sị ejikwene ododo je nie ozu
I have the urge to clutch the people
And clutch the child;
I have the urge to clutch the child-in-the-wild
The eye that sights the eagle
5 Let it hail the eagle always
For the eyes seldom see the eagle
You can only admire velvet
It should not be used as a burial shroud.
The rhythm of the first three lines is unmistakable. The caesura occurring at the end of the first
line enhances the enjambment of lines 1 and 2; this also creates the balanced pause that spreads
into the free sprung rhythm of line 3. The repetition of “clutch” in identical places in the
threelines forms a medial rhyme, while the assonance of “child” in 2 and “child-in-the-wild” in 3
is musical.
Lines 3’s “child-in the-wild” is a descriptive personification for a spirit deity that is often situated
in the wild where if prefers to inhabit. Lines 4, 5 and 6 contain a proverb that emphasizes the
importance of making use of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, while 7 and 8 constitute an
aphorism that advises on the suitability of objects or things for specific purposes.
It is important to note here that after all said and done, a dry, abstract and paper document such
as this will never come near in semblance to the real poetry-in-motion that themmọnwụ mask
chant performance is. It is traditional African Igbo theatre where the ‘script’, audience, and
setting are always dynamic; ever-changing in order to suit particular exigencies. Again, the
descriptions of the performances, the reactions and participation of the audience, and the general
atmosphere of the performance in a natural setting is better experienced first-hand than through
any other means. Nevertheless, this paper has attempted to show that Igbo mbem mmọnwụ
chants contain aesthetic elements that are interwoven into the kernel of traditional Igbo lore and
norms that are important to the Igbo society and relevant even beyond. This position is
nevertheless in cognizance of the fact that the translations available on paper remain so; for want
of a more apt medium in order to tackle the problems of loss of untranslatableindigenous
expressions and nuances.
The Igbo mmọnwụ institution is a rich storehouse of traditional lore, customs, wisdom, etc.; and
through the mbem chant of certain categories of masks, this orature of the ancients aesthetically
adorned is continually re-enacted and re-adjusted to entertain, guide, and teach for the betterment
of the society.
Works Cited
Abrams, M H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.
Culler, Jonathan. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: O U P, 2000.
Nwabueze, Emeka. “The Aesthetics of Narratives in Igbo Masquerade Drama.” ENYO: Journal
of African Theatre and Drama. Vol I, No 2 (2002): 83-95.
Okoye, Chike. The Mmonwu Theatre: Igbo Poetry of the Spirits. Saarbrucken: Lambert
Academic Publishing, 2014.
Onyeneke, Augustine. The Dead Among the Living: Masquerades in Igbo Society. Nimo: Asele
‘Poetics’. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 1993.
Ugonna, Nnabuenyi: Mmonwu: A Dramatic Tradition of the Igbo. Lagos: Lagos University
Press, 1984.
Task-based Language Teaching in an Elementary Igbo Language Classroom
Angela Ụlọakụ NgọziNwankwere, B. I. Mmadike & C.A. Eme
Department of Linguistics
Nnamdi Azikiwe University
08038851236 / 0805029941 / 08035611899
kwelingnau@yahoo.com benifenwemmadike@gmail.com mrsceciliaeme@yahoo.com
The teaching of the Igbo language has been described as fraught with traditional pattern practice
of the formalists’ orientation. Positive dispositions indicate a need to inculcate current learnercentered
approaches to language teaching and learning. This paper sets out to propose the tenets
of TBLT in an Elementary Igbo language classroom, such that learners’ pragmatic use of Igbo
would be achieved in a natural context right from the classroom to the real Igbo world. The study
used a three-stage TBLT framework to attempt aredesigning of an existing content of an
Elementary Igbo course. Though the study encountered a myrriad of problems in this endeavour,
it discovered that the grammatical patterns could be adapted to serve as communicative tasks and
then be (re)constructed to teach required or desired skills. Such practices would move learners of
Elementary Igbo to a more practical focus on accuracy which flows into fluency. Teaching and
learning Igbo would also be moved more conveniently away from heavy emphasis on traditional
focus on form, which prescribes fluency before accurate production. It is believed that this
learner-centered movement would consequently stimulate in the learners a need and desire to
learn Igbo in an enjoyable, facilitative and effective manner, as well as engender vibrant needs
analyses processes in teaching and learning Igbo.
The need to depose the well known but heavily criticised formalists’ approach to language
teaching led to the change in focus resulting in more effective language teaching approaches,
especially the task-based language teaching (TBLT) approach. TBLTis an extension of the
principles of communicative language teaching (CLT) and an attempt by its proponents to apply
principles of second language acquisition (SLA) in language teaching (Izadpanah, 2010;
Richards and Schmidt, 2002). The aim is to develop process-oriented syllabi (Long and Crookes,
1993 and Breen and Candlin, 1980, in Larsen-Freeman, 2008) and design communicative tasks
that promote learners’ actual language use right from the classroom environment to the real
world of a target language (TL). Several authors perceive TBLT primarily as a classroom
practice (Van Avermaet and Gysen, n.d.; Larsen-Freeman, 2008) and as Izadpanah (2010)
observes, this perception offers it three main features. Firstly, it is learner-centered (also, Skehan,
2010; Nunan, 2004). Secondly, there are particular components like goal, procedure and specific
outcome. Thirdly, its focus is less on linguistic forms, but more on meaningful activities related
to content (also, Littlewood, 2002). Research in TBLT, especially in relation to English
language, abound in the literature and the field has grown “to full maturity”, while its goal has
moved from the most primary to the “multi-dimentional classification” (Izadpanah, 2010: 47-8).
The teaching of the Igbo language over the years has been heavily characterised by traditional
principles and techniques of language teaching akin to those of formalism. Ahamefula, Okoye
and Babarinde (2013: 36) agree with this assertion and observe, “[the] pattern practice approach
to language learning which has for long been the major approach to Igbo language teaching and
learning” has been described as “A major factor militating against Igbo language learners
attaining communicative competence” (Nwigwe, 2010, in Ahamefula Okoye and Babarinde,
2013: 36). Consequently, the time is ripe to adopt and adapt, into the study, teaching, learning
and use of the Igbo language, the principles and techniques of modern communicative
approaches to language teaching and learning. The motivation for the study stems from the result
of a diagnostic test with indications that an embarrassing 32% of the undergraduate first year
students who are of Igbo origin, are “encountering” Igbo for the first time in their lives in the
university. As such, this study posits that the prevalent structural syllabuses in use in Elementary
Igbo programmes need to be redesigned to fit current communicative language teaching
approaches like TBLT, which would benefit learners bettter.
Problem of the Study
This paper notes that a good percentage (22%) of the learners of an Elementary Igbo course has
been observed to possess low communicative abilities in Igbo (Nwankwere and Eme, 2015).
Some of the major reasons attributed to this situation include that the course is not proficiencybased.
It is designed to be taught primarily in English medium to introduce the structure of the
Igbo language to the students. Thus, there is heavy emphasis on the tenets of the formalists with
regard to grammatical patterns and the traditional approach to teaching them (Ahamefula,
Babarinde and Okoye, 2013). The sole use of this approach militates against the students’
acquisition of effective communication abilities or skills in Igbo, and thus, the approach falls
short of expectations in the current dispensation with Igbo emerging as a second language (L2)
in South Eastern Nigeria(SE), particularly in Anambra State. The situation raises the question of
what approach to adopt to inculcate the requisite effectiveness. On this premise, this study is
embarked upon to attempt an illustration of how some of the much criticised features of
formalism, like, the grammatical patterns and the translation exercises of the existing content of
an Elemenatry Igbo course could be redesigned and adapted to serve as communicative tasks and
be (re)constructed to teach required and/or desired skills to learners of Igbo.
Purpose of the Study
Now that teaching and learning Igbo at all educational levels is advocated in the SE and has been
flagged off in Anambra State, the purpose of this study is to examine the course outline of an
existing Elementary Igbo programme to discover if its activities are in line with current demands
for teaching and learning Igbo in promoting the learners’ communication ability in Igbo. For
instance, the study seeks to know if what is available is complaint with some tenets of TBLT;
and where the teaching and learning activities fall below expectations, to recommend the TBLT
approach. Specifically, the study seeks:
1. to discover the type of activities making up the current teaching units outlined for use in an
Elementary Igbo programme;
2. to examine these activities to determine their appropriateness in enshrining effective teaching
and learning of Igbo, particularly as L2 in the SE;
3. to attempt a redesigning of the existing course outline, where it falls short of expectation,
using TBLT features to reconstruct the grammar points and translation exercises into tasks for
use in a TBLT approach to the teaching and learning an Elementary Igbo course;
4. to propose the adoption of TBLT tenets in all Igbo teaching and learning programmes, in order
to achieve a progressive, measurable, positive development of the Igbo language;
5. to propose implementing current language teaching/learning demands, like using Igbo to
teach, learn and communicate in Igbo either as a first language (L1) or a second language (L2) at
all educational levels.
Research Questions
1. What type of activities are inculcated into current teaching units outlined for use in an
Elementary Igbo programme going on in the SE?
2. To what extent are these activities appropriate in achieving effective teaching and learning of
Igbo, particularly as a second language (L2) in the SE?
3. How can the existing structural syllabus be redesigned using TBLT features to reconstruct the
grammar points and tanslation exercises into tasks for use in a TBLT approach to teaching and
learning an Elementary Igbo course for enhanced effectiveness?
4. To what extent is it possible to adopt TBLT tenets in all Igbo teaching and learning
programmes to ensure appropriate use, steady and positive development of the Igbo language?
5. To what extent can current language teaching/learning demands be implemented in using Igbo
to teach, learn and communicate in Igbo either as L1 or L2 at all educational levels?
Significance of the Study
This paper observes that the Elementary Igbo course under study, with its English medium, could
not be said to be obeying a provision of Krashen’s (1985) input hypothesis, which as Nunan
(2004: 79) notes, requires the development of the four basic skills in such a way that in the early
stages of the acquisition (or learning) process, extensive listening and reading (reception) of TL
should precede speaking and writing (production). Motivated by the proposal of the output
hypothesis (Swain, 1985, in Nunan, 2004) that TL production is paramount because it helps
learners to ‘syntacticise’ or encode utterances grammatically, this paper undertakes to redesign
the Elementary Igbo II, a non proficiency course, into a skeletal TBLT course. The intended use
of TBLT principles and techniques in redesigning this Elementary Igbo course is, among other
benefits, meant to:
1. create awareness of the TBLT features that Igbo language teachers could adopt in the teaching
and learning process to help the students develop communicative abilities or skills in Igbo;
2. encourage the teachers of all Igbo language programmes to identify and appropriate, in their
teaching, some new instructional factors that facilitate their students’ learning and use of Igbo;
3. encourage using TBLT advantages to promote a student-centered learning environment for
4. encourage teachers of Igbo programmes to provide contexts or opportunities that will enable
learners to acquire the vocabulary and skills that will engender higher achievements akin to Igbo
for academic purposes;
5. promote the use of authentic materials in Igbo teaching and learning programmes to elicit
pragmatic use of Igbo in the learners;
6. provide in the classroom natural contexts for the study of Igbo in order to stimulate in the
learners a need and desire to learn the language;
7. stimulate redesigning of courses, syllabuses and curricula for teaching and learning Igbo in
compliance with current communicative approaches like TBLT;
8. engender the spirit of producing new materials that comply with the new age and trend,
particularly, with regard to computer technology for use in teaching and learning Igbo;
9. call for inculcating capacity building in Igbo with regard to the culture of training and
retraining of teachers and supporting staff in the new trends like TBLT and electronic teaching
and learning;
10. propose using Igbo to teach and learn Igbo L1 and L2 at all educational levels to promote
communication in Igbo; thus, motivating all stakeholders to inculcate the habit of doing all
things in and/or with the Igbo language;
11. propose the adoption of needs analyses practices in all teaching and learning processes of
Igbo L1 and L2 at all educational levels.
Scope of the Study
The teaching and learning of Igbo as L2 has become a reality in the SE, particularly Anambra
State; and Nnamdi Azikiwe University (N.A.U., hereafter) has established a Basic Igbo
programme (Igbo GS, hereafter) under the School of General Studies. Some departments also
run Elementary Igbo courses to different classes of learners. However, this present study is
limited to an Elementary Igbo course, a deparmental elective course designed to be taught in
English to introduce the structure of the Igbo language to the students. Though the course under
study is an Igbo course and this study proposes its being elevated, the objectives of the Igbo GS
of N.A.U. and those of other Elementary Igbo programmes, do not constitute the major focus of
this study.
Limitations of the Study
The study could not investigate all the available Elementary Igbo courses of all the departments
offering them inN.A.U. what more in the SE. Thus, only the Elementary Igbo II course offered in
one department in the second semester, 2014/2015 session, was examined and redesigned. As
such, the study is delimited to the particular Elementary Igbo II course taught by the teacher or
Literature Review
In recent times, the focus of language teaching and learning activities have moved away from
heavy emphasis on initial mastery of TL structure before language use. In the current focus,
more emphasis is laid on the use of TL in context followed by the treatment of TL structural
features encountered in a specific context (Izadpanah, 2010; Larsen-Freeman, 2008). The change
in focus arose from the discovery that the TL grammatical competence of language learners
trained in the formalist orientation was grossly inadequate as they failed to transfer the linguistic
habits learners mastered in language classes to communicative use in the TL real world. It was
argued that for language learners to communicate, they need to perform some social functions
like, promising, inviting, and the like. Thus, ability to communicate entails both communicative
and linguistic competences; that is, “knowing when and how to say what to whom” (Schmitt and
Celce-Murcia, 2010; Larsen-Freeman, 2008).
According to Larsen-Freeman (2008), criticisms of the formalist approach led to the birth of the
communicative approach in the late 1970s and early 1980s, yielding the CLT. Nunan (2004: 7)
describes CLT as “a family of approaches”. He notes that the theory posits that people learn
language through communication and a negotiation of meaning between interlocutors. Hence,
CLT as a learner-centered approach became very popular and developed fast. However, scholars
posit that it was criticised for its inability to provide all the skill and vocabulary needs of the
learners for higher achievements as in academics. Efforts to improve on the weak points of CLT
led to other methods like TBLT, a more advanced learner-centered approach. Nunan (2004)
expresses the strong link between CLT and TBLT. In TBLT, teachers are mostly concerned with
aiding learners to perform different tasks occasioning language use. The concept of ‘task’ has
been variously defined.
‘Task’ in Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT)
The concepts of tasks were introduced by Long (1985, in Nunan, 2004). Long (2005) according
to Larsen-Freeman (2008) further introduced needs analysis of real-world tasks. Johns (2010)
reports the lack of concensus and the difficulty in defining ‘task’, noting that in more traditional
conceptions, tasks are defined in relation to actions or ‘doing’. Continuing, he says that
advocates of the notional-functional tenets later expanded the ‘doing’ concept of task into three
categories: an action sequence, a notional-functional description and a list of teaching points.
Nunan (2004) and Izadpanah (2010) enlist many definitions of task by different authors,
including: Long (1985); Richards et al (1986); Breen (1987); Skehan (1998); and Ellis (2003).
Nunan (2004: 216) profers a definition of a task as, “[A]a communicative event having a nonlinguistic
outcome”. Larsen-Freeman (2008) adds that a task is a particular project which
students elect to do. Izadpanah (2010: 50) views tasks as “…classroom undertakens that are
intended to result in pragmatic language use.” He buttresses the point that tasks provide a
classroom context which activates learning process and promotes L2 learning. However, Johns
(2010) agrees that modern conceptions of ‘task’ see it as learners’ abilities in TL and provides a
global definition of task by Doyle (1979: 163, in Johns’ 2010: 321). Thus:
The term ‘task’ focuses attention on three aspects of students’ work: (a) the
products (or genres) students are to formulate, (b) the operations that are to be
used to generate the product, i.e., the process, and (c) and the givens, the
resources available to students in accomplishing the tasks.
This current paper adopts Willis’ (1996: 23, in Nunan, 2004: 3 and Izadpanah, 2010: 51)
definition of task as an activity in which “…the target language is used by the learner for a
communicative purpose … in order to achieve an outcome,” The teacher is required to exhibit
peculiar ability or accumen to choose appropriate themes and content (Nunan, 2004; Izadpanah,
2010) to achieve success. Different types of task exist as revealed below.
Types of Task
Tasks are of different types. Nunan (2004:1) classifies them into real-world or target tasks, which
“refer to uses of language in the world beyond the classroom”, and, pedagogical tasks which
“occur in the classroom”. Pedagogical tasks are of importance to this study. Nunan posits that
tasks designed to activate learners’ emerging skills have activation rationale. But tasks that
enable learners rehearse some future linguistic activities to be encountered in real-life, are said to
be reproductive tasks and have rehearsal rationale. Johns (2010) identifies two types of tasks:
genre-based and learner-centered approaches to task definition. The second is in alignment with
Nunan’s pedagogical task and are seen by learner-centered curricula from two other perspectives
as learner actions (known as ‘doing’ or action tasks) or, learner representations of tasks, which
he says was a popular notion in the 1990s in relation to the writing process. Tasks are the focus
of TBLT.
Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT)
Nunan (2004: 216) defines TBLT as an “… approach to language organized around tasks rather
than language structures.” Hence, Larsen-Freeman (2008) describes TBLT as an approach in
which classroom language is derived from the nature of a particular project (or task) which
students elect to do. This classroom language is not predetermined, but provides learners with a
natural context for language use since they must interact in TL to complete tasks. TBLT as an
approach has also been variously classified according to different authors’ positions, as the ones
examined below.
Types of Task-Based Language Teaching
Larsen-Freeman (2008) states that the different approaches to TBLT include: process TBLT,
like, Breen and Candlin’s (1980); project approach, like, Fried-Booth’s (1986); procedural
approach, as in, Prahbu’s (1987); meaningful interaction together with focus on form, like, Long
and Crookes’ (1993). Nunan (2004) proposes unfocused versus form-focused and consciousnessraising
(CR) TBLT. In order to use any TBLT type, some principles are adopted.
Principles of TBLT
TBLT does not focus on any particular language form or function, but on pedagogic task
completion. Nunan (2004), Nunan (2005, in Izadpanah, 2010) and Larsen-Freeman (2008)
enumerate some principles of TBLT including: class activities must have a perceived purpose
and a clear outcome. It is organised in stages and learners are given a pre-task similar to the one
they will individually do later. Nunan (2004) agrees with the position that scaffolding, that is
providing language support, will enable learners to see the logic in the task given to them and to
come in contact with the language of completing the task. Another principle demands thatthe
activity should make, on the learners’ thinking, a demand that is just above the level they can
meet without help. It demands that the logical thinking process should be broken into smaller
steps to aid students’ completion of the task. Another principle holds that in a mixed-ability
class, it is necessary to ensure that as many students as possible grasp the nature of the activity.
The teacher should use teacher-class negotiation to check the level of involvement of the
students in the process. If necessary, the teacher should adjust to help the learners perceive the
relevance of the whole process and to learn. In the Elementary Igbo under study, code mixing is
adopted to facilitate learning process because of the mixed ability of the learners.
Another principle provides for the use of different strategies. For instance, statements could be
recast or reformulated to correct students’ speech. As well, the use of a jigsaw task or scramble
game that engages learners in authentic listening, speaking, reading and writing could be
employed. In terms of listening, they could be made to listen to different parts of a total set of
information needed for them to complete a task. These in addition to other tasks would help
learners develop comprehension and all round communication skills. Different techniques are
employed by different scholars in deploying tasks in the classroom.
Techniques of TBLT
Basically, TBLT operates three major phases: pre-task; task cycle and post-task; and each of
them has a number of steps. Teachers use their initiatives to adapt the steps in their classrooms.
These are taken in more details in the framework.
Weaknesses of TBLT
According to Johns (2010), “…the problems of TBLT start right from a plethora of definitions of
task.” Izadpanah (2010: 49) notes that “…the divergent voices emanate from the various
perspectives of tasks.” There is no agreement upon what constitutes task difficulty. Authors also
disagree on how tasks should be broken down into mini-moves. Scholars observe that issues like
designing suitable types of task; what students should be asked to communicate about; the skills
or abilities the students need to be trained in through the task, and others, could militate against
TBLT designs. It is difficult to introduce and sequence tasks effectively in a unit of lesson. Some
critics of TBLT like Skehan (2010) note that tasks are highly unpredictable and their
interpretations do not portray learners’ individuality. It is also argued that only TL grammar
deserves to be taught and not tasks, which should come as a form of language use after the
conventional grammar teaching. The tasks in many TBLT designs lack unison, appearing as a
random collection of tasks with no relationship. Using TBLT alone is believed not to produce the
desired level of communicative effectiveness in the learners.
Strengths of TBLT
Despite the criticisms against TBLT, its tenets are extoled in high places. Larsen-Freeman (2008)
posits that tasks enable learners to acquire language in the classroom. By engaging learners in
meaningful project work, for instance, they learn language indirectly as part of learning and
using other information. In addition, Johns (2010) notes that TBLT is more authentic and holistic
than notional/functional or other alernatives. Izadpanah (2010) agrees with Long (2005) that
TBLT creates room for needs analysis such that course content would be made to identify and
correspond with learners’ needs. Unlike other approaches and types of syllabus, TBLT has
enormous body of empirical evidence from research findings of classroom-centered language
learning (Izadpana, 2010). Therefore, decisions on materials designs and methodology are based
on them. TBLT has a very objective system of evaluation, which is based primarily on criterionreferenced
testing. This entails that learners are evaluated based on their ability to perform a task
and not on their ability to complete a discrete-point test successfully. Another advantage is the
reintroduction of form-focused language teaching which is beneficial to L2 learners and to
language study and development.
This study adopts Izadpanah’s (2010) three-phased pre-task, task-cycle and post-task (language
focus) framework, which is a combination of Willis (1996), Gatbonton (1994) and Estaire and
Zanon (1994). As well, some aspects of Nunan (2004) are adopted to enrich the process and its
The pre-task phase
The two basic functions in the pre-task phase are: (1) The teacher has to introduce the task and
create interest in the learner to choose a topic and perform the task.
(2) The teacher activates topic-related words, phrases and sentences which will aid the learner to
carry out the task both in the language classroom and in the real-world.
(3) Izadpanah includes an optional function requiring the teacher to include a task that will
enable the learners to communicate as smoothly as possible in the task cycle.
The task cycle phase
There are three main components full of activities.
(1) Topic introduction sub-phase: The task(s) phase starts with the teacher introducing the task
and explaining it to the learners. After discussions and directions on the procedure, the planning
phase starts.
(2) The planning phase: Here, the teacher may choose to introduce the students to a TL use
context either by directing them before hand to attend a live function or to listen to a recorded or
live scene of TL people using the language in a similar task. With the aid of modern
communication facilities, the teacher can also tune in to such a recorded or live scene of a TV or
radio programme going on at the same time with their lesson and the students will listen to it live
in the class. The students can also be asked to read a text related to the topic of the task.
The teacher assigns the students to their teammates. Using the linguistic resources they possess
to achieve the expected goals of the task, students start working in pairs or groups. They decide
on a number of things by themselves. Since they know one another better than the teacher, they
appoint a leader or coordinator or spokesperson and carry out their task. They jot down points
that will aid them in writing up their reports. They choose the procedure for presenting their
report according to the teacher’s directives or as mutually agreed upon. They have a number of
options here; for instance, they could divide the report in stages and have each group member
present an aspect of it; or, they allow the leader or coordinator to do the presentation.
For Nunan, the students will rehearse this at step 5 before embarking on the actual task as
in step 6.
(3) The report phase: Finally, the students present a written or oral report or both, according to
agreed procedure. Individual learners answer questions directed to them by the teacher or their
fellow learners from other groups. Where a member is in difficulty, others would supply some
clues to help out (as an added advantage of their mixed ability). Ultimately, the teacher helps out
whenever necessary. At this point, the focus is on accuracy and not on fluency. For future
treatment in a form-focused teaching and learning, the teacher takes notes of whatever TL
features that wrongly occur at this phase.
The post-task phase: This is the language or form-focused phase. Here, attention is paid to
teaching the wrong forms that were noted during the task cycle phase. The teacher analyses the
specific TL features that were wrongly, but naturally, produced. Such features could be
phonological, morpholological, lexical, syntactic, semantic or pragmatic features. Subsequently,
a practice or drill stage may follow and the teacher conducts the students on the new words,
phrases, patterns, etc., that were identified during the analysis, task or report phases.
Research Design
The study is an emergent research design (Dörnyei, 2007 in Small, 2012) approach. It describes
the processes of adjusting and readjusting an existing Elementary Igbo course based on a
structural syllabus and the reconstruction of the grammatical points and translation exercises into
tasks to be used in a task-based approach. As well, some language skills that were originally
neglected, such as reading skill in Igbo, were introduced for the learners’ benefit. Advantages of
the reading component include that it helps the learners’ to sharpen their retentive memory, like
recalling past events. It also helps them to relate points or facts logically. In addition, it can serve
to evaluation purposes.
The study started by examining the content of an existing Elementary Igbo course and
identifying the types of activities making up the former teaching units outlined for use (see
Appendix 1). Teaching these units the way they were presented was adjudged inappropriate and
incapable of enshrining effective Igbo communication abilities in the learners in the SE to
achieve positive, progressive, measurable development of the Igbo language. Consequently, an
attempt is made to redesign the existing course outline in compliance with TBLT tenets. Thus,
efforts are made to adapt the grammar and translation units and reconstruct them into tasks for
use in a TBLT approach to teaching and learning an Elementary Igbo course.
The following steps are proposed:
Step 1: Examine the course synopsis and outline the structural units covered.
Step 2: Analyse the various units to determine which of them would serve or be adapted to serve
as communicative tasks for use in teaching Igbo language skills in a simple TBLT framework.
Step 3: Select suitable units in the old structural course outline to be used as tasks.
Step 4: Adapt selected units from the existing course outline to serve as tasks.
Step 5: Choose and adapt tasks from other source(s) where applicable or necessary.
Step 6: Design new tasks where applicable or necessary.
Step 7: Construct a TBLT framework around each chosen task for classroom interaction.
Application of Izadpanah’s Framework
Below are sample redesigned Elementary Igbo II Course Outline and classroom activities
proposed. Note however, that they are not fixed. Any section of the course outline or classroom
activities could be adjusted to suit the teacher and learners according to genre or other factors of
interest to them.
Sample of Proposed Redesigned Elementary Igbo II Course Outline
To start off, the course outline is divided into sections, thus:
Akara Ejirimara Ihe Ọmụmụ: LIN 112 ‘Course Code: LIN 112
Usoro Ihe Ndị A Ga-eme/Atụmatụ Nkụzi ‘Teaching Plan’
Nkebi 1: Nnwale Nchọpụta Keọnụ ‘Section 1: Diagnostic Oral Igbo Test’
Nrụrịtaụka: Iji Igbo Akụzi Ka Mma Karịa Ngiliishi ‘Debate: Igbo Medium is Preferred to
Nkebi 2: Ụtọasụsụ Igbo ‘Section 2: Igbo Grammatical Units’
A. *Ogo Njike Ịmụ Igbo: Ụtọasụsụ ‘Pre-task Stage: Igbo Grammar
1. Ndubanye na Ntụgharị ‘Introduction to translation’
2. Mkpụrụasụsụ n’Igbo ‘Morpheme in Igbo’
[*Note that the various steps here come into play. The students are told to listen attentively to
native speakers whereever they go to; and fish out and pick up examples.]
3. Mkpụrụokwu Igbo ‘The Igbo Word’
4. Mkpụrụokwu Igbo Na-agakọta Ọnụ ‘Igbo Multiword Expressions’
5. Ndubanye na Nkejiokwu Igbo ‘Introducing Igbo Syllable Structure’
6. Ndubanye n’Ụdaolu Igbo ‘Introducing Tone in Igbo’
7. Ndubanye na Nsụpe Okwu Igbo ‘Introducing Spelling of Igbo Words’
8. Nkebiokwu Igbo ‘Igbo Phrase’
9. Nkebiahịrị Igbo ‘Igbo Clause’
10. Ahịrịokwu Igbo ‘Igbo Sentence’
A. Nkọwa Ahịrịokwu Site N’ọdịdị Ha Structural Classification of Sentences’
B. Nkọwa Ahịrịokwu Site N’ọrụ Ha ‘Functional Classification of Sentences’
Nkebi 3: Katigori Ụtọasụsụ Igbo ‘Section 3: Igbo Grammatical Categories’
11. Katigori Ụtọasụsụ Kemkpọaha ‘Igbo Nominal Grammatical Categories’
A. Onye ‘Person’
B. Ngụ/Ọnụọgụgụ ‘Number/Numerals’
CH. Oke na Nne; Di/Nwunye ‘Gender’
D. Nne, Nna na Nwa ‘Parents and Offspring/Young One/Kid’
12. Katigori Ụtọasụsụ Kengwaa n’Igbo ‘Igbo Verbal Grammatical Categories’
A. Tensị ‘Tense’
B. Aspekịtị ‘Aspect’
CH. Njụ ‘Negation’
Nkebi 4: Njike/Nkwado Maka Nchọcha ‘Section 4: Preparation for Fieldwork’
B. Ogo Ịba n’Ọrụ Nchọcha ‘Task-cycle Phase’
I. Mbido ‘Introduction’
13. Olundị na Asụsụ ‘Dialects and Language’
14. Igbo Izugbe na Olundị Igbo ‘Standard Igbo and Igbo Dialects’
15. Ụtọasụsụ na Olundị Igbo ‘Grammar and Igbo Dialectology’
II. Njike/Nkwado I ‘Planning I’
16. Ịmụ Ide Nkọwapụta/Esirimee Nchọcha ‘Training in Report Writing’
III. Nkọwa Isiokwu Nchọcha ‘Introducing the Topics for Fieldwork’
17. Isiokwu Nchọcha (Si na Nkebi 3) ‘Topics for Fieldwork (from Section 3)
IV: Njike/Nkwado II ‘Planning II’
A. Nkọwa Usoro na Ihe Ndị A Ga-emegasị ‘Procedure/Methodology for the Fieldwork’
B. Nkenyegasị N’otu Maka Nchọcha ‘Grouping for Fieldwork’
1. Igbo Izugbe na Olu ndị Abakeleke ‘Standard Igbo and Abakeleke Dialect’
2. Igbo Izugbe na Olu ndị Afikpo ‘Standard Igbo and Afikpo Dialect’
3. Igbo Izugbe na Olu ndị Ngwa ‘Standard Igbo and Ngwa Dialect’
4. Igbo Izugbe na Olu ndị Nsụka ‘Standard Igbo and Nsụka Dialect’
5. Igbo Izugbe na Olu ndị Orumba ‘Standard Igbo and Orumba Dialect’
6. Igbo Izugbe na Olu ndị Ọka ‘Standard Igbo and Ọka Dialect’
7. Igbo Izugbe na Olu ndị Osimiri ‘Standard Igbo and Osimiri Dialect’
8. Igbo Izugbe na Olu ndị Owere/Ọlụ ‘Standard Igbo and Owere/Ọlụ Dialect’
[Ọkwa: Ndị Abụghị Ndị Igbo Nwere Ike Sonye Ndị Ọka Maọbụ Otu Ọzọ Onye Chọrọ ‘NB: The
non Igbo Students Could Join Ọka Group or any Preferred Group’]
V. Nhazi na Nchọkọta Ngwa Nchọcha ‘Preparing the Instrument Before Fieldwork’
VI. Nchọta Ndị Enyemaka Nchọcha, dgz. ‘Getting Research Site, Assistants, Respondents,
VII. Nzọpụ Njem Ime Nchọcha ‘Conducting the Research’
VIII. Ndepụta na Nhazi Nchọpụta ‘Transcription, Organisation, Analysis, Findings’
IX. Ngosị/Ngụpụta Nchọpụta ‘Reporting or Presenting Analysis/Findings’
X. Ndepụta Nsụjọ/Ndejọ, Okwu Ọhụrụ, dgz. ‘Teacher writes new words, errors to be corrected’
Nkebi 5: Ogo Mgbazi Mmejọ ‘Section 5: Post-task Phase’
Iji Mmejọ, dgz., E Depụtara Kụzigharịa Ihe ‘The Teacher Uses Noted Errors, etc., to Reteach’
*Nkebi 6: Ịkụzi Ọgụgụ Igbo ‘Section 6: Reading in Igbo’
Ogo 1. Ogo Njike Ịmụ Igbo ‘Stage 1. Pre-task Stage’
Omume 1: Ịmụ Ọgụgụ/Ịgụ Igbo 1 ‘Activity 1: Reading Task in Igbo’
Isiokwu: Ákáǹkà Ntụgharị na “Ḿmụ́pụ̀tá Áhị́rị̄” ‘Translation and “Sentence Carving”
Ǹzọ̀m̀ /Ḿgbúbìrí 1. Ḿkpọ́líté Isiokwu na Ńjálíté ‘Step 1. Introduction’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ /Ḿgbúbìrí 2. Nkọwapụta Usoro ‘Step 2. Explain the procedure as seen in
Stage 2’
Ogo 2. Ogo Ihe Omume Igbo ‘Stage 2. Task-cycle Stage’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 1a. Ịhọta Ederede A Ga-agụ ‘Step 1a. Choosing a Reading Text’
b. Ịmụ Ọgụgụ: Ịgụ Ya Ugboro Ugboro ‘b. Learning Reading: Read Text Several Times’
i. Ịgụ Ya Ọsịịsọ N’ime Obi/Skimim ‘i. Skimming’
ii. Àgụ́àchọ́tá/Skanịn ‘ii. Scanning’
ch. Mkpọpụta: Ilekwasị (Isi) Ozi Anya ‘c. Pronunciation: The Message (accuracy not
d. Mkpọpụta: Ilekwasị Ụdaolu/Mkpụrụụda Anya ‘d.Pronunciation: Emphasis on
** Ǹzọ̀m̀ /Ḿgbúbìrí 2: Ḿkpálíté Mkpụrụokwu Ya ‘Step : Activating Topic-Related Words,
Phrases, etc.’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 3. Ige Mkparịtaụka na Redio/Tiivii, dgz. ‘Step 4: Listening to Radio/TV talks, etc.
Ogo 3. Ogo Mmegharị Ụtọasụsụ Igbo ‘Stage 3. Post-Task Stage’
**Ǹzọ̀m̀ 1: Ilebagharị anya n’ụtọasụsụ dị mkpa.‘Step 1: Focus on Identified Lapses in Grammar’
[*This section, like each of the sections/activities below can serve as a full task, with Steps 2-3
serving as the Task-cycle. If not, Stage 3, the Post-Task Stage, can serve as Step 4, the language
or form-focused componen of an activity. **This step may be skipped if the teacher feels that
enough words, phrases, clauses and sentences were activated at the preliminary grammar
teaching phase.]
Omume 2: Ịmụ Ọgụgụ/Ịgụ Igbo 2: ‘Activity 2: Reading Task 2 in Igbo’
Isiokwu: Ihe A Ga-agụ N’ụlọ ‘Individualised Home Work in Reading’
Ịmụ Ọgụgụ/Ịgụ Igbo 3: ‘Reading Task 3:’
Ịgụ Ederede na Klaasị 1 ‘Class Activity 1: Class Reading’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ /Ḿgbúbìrí 1. Cheta Usoro A Kọwara ‘Step 1. Rehearse Explained Procedure’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ /Ḿgbúbìrí 2. Mgbaso Usoro ‘Step 2. Follow The Procedure’
a. Ịgụgha Ederede A Họtara ‘a. Re-reading Choosen Text Severally’
i. Ịgụ Ya Ọsịịsọ N’ime Obi/Skimim ‘i. Skimming’
ii. Àgụ́àchọ́tá/Skanịm ‘ii. Scanning’
b. Mkpọpụta: Ilekwasị (Isi) Ozi Anya ‘b. Pronunciation: The Message (accuracy not
ch. Mkpọpụta: Ilekwasị Ụdaolu Anya ‘c. Pronunciation: Emphasis on Tone’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 3. Mgbaso Usoro: Mkpọpụta Ụdaolu ‘Step 3. The Procedure: Phonetic Focus
a. Kpọpụtagasịa Ebe Mkpọjọ ‘a. Point to/clear noted problem areas of
b. Oge Ajụjụ na Azịza/Ọsịsa Ha ‘b. Questions and Answers, Further Clarifications.
Omume 3: Ịmụ Ọgụgụ/Ịgụ Igbo 3: ‘Activity 3: Reading Task in Igbo’
Isiokwu: Ákáǹkà Ntụgharị na “Ḿmụ́pụ̀tá Áhị́rị̄” ‘Translation and “Sentence Carving”
Ǹzọ̀m̀ /Ḿgbúbìrí 1: A Gụọla Ederede na Klaasị ‘Step 1: Text Has Been Read in Class’
Ḿgbúbìrí 2. Kọwaa Usoro Ákáǹkà Abụọ A ‘Step 2. Explain Procedure for the Two
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 3. Mgbaso Usoro Ákáǹkà “Ḿmụ́pụ̀tá Áhị́rị̄” ‘Step 3. Follow “Sentence Carving”
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 4. Mwebata Ákáǹkà Ntụgharị Dị Icheiche ‘Step 4. Adopt Different Translation
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 5. Ntụlekọrịta Ntụgharị N’ụzọ Dị Icheiche ‘Step 5. Contrasting the Different Translated
Omume 4: Ịmụ Ọgụgụ/Ịgụ Igbo 4: ‘Activity 4: Reading Task in Igbo’
Isiokwu: Ákáǹkà Ị́zụ̄ Òkwè “Áhị́rị̄ M̀mụ̀pụ̀tàrà” ‘Scrambled Game Technique with “Sentence
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 1: Hàghásị́á Áhị́rị̄ Dị N’ederede 2: Ederede 3 ‘Scramble English Sentences of Text 2
(Text 3)’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 2: Nye Áhị́rị̄ Ńhàghásị́ Kederede 3 Nọmba ‘Number Text 3: The Scrambled English
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 3: Webata Ederede 3: Áhị́rị̄ Ńhàghásị́ ‘Bring Text 3, Scrambled English Sentences of
Text 2’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 4: Nchọpụta “Áhị́rị̄ M̀mụ̀pụ̀tàrà” N’ederede 1‘Identifying the Igbo equivalents of Text 3
in Text 1’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 5: Ndepụta Ha Ka Ederede 4 ‘Copy them out (Text 4, Igbo) with Same Nos in
Text 3’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 6: Nhazi Ha Ka Ederede 5 N’usoro Ederede 1 ‘Unscramble Text 4 to Align With Text 1
(Text 5)
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 7: Hazie Ederede 2 Nweta Ederede 6 ‘Unscramble Text 2 to Align with Text 1 (Text 6’)
Omume 5: Ịmụ Ige Ntị n’Asụsụ Igbo ‘Activity 5: Authentic Listening Task in Igbo’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 1. Kpọọ Mkparịtaụka Igbo Na Redio/Tiivii ‘Step 1. Play Recorded Conversation in Igbo’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 2. Ụmụakwụkwọ Igbo Kparịta Ụka n’Igbo ‘Step 2. Igbo Speaking Students Converse in
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 3. Ha Ige Mkparịtaụka Ndị Igbo n’Obodo ‘Step 3. They Listen to Igbo Conversations in
the Community’ Omume 6: Ịgụ Asụsụ Igbo N’òtù N’òtù ‘Activity 6: Group Reading’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 1. Họta Ederede; Nye Oge ‘Step 1. Select aReading Passage and Fix Time’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 2. Kenyegasịa Ụmụakwụkwọ N’otu ‘Step 2. Group the Students’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 3a. Otu Ọbụla Gaa N’ótù Akụkụ Klaasị ‘Step 3a. Each Group Stays in a Corner of the
b. Ha Gbaso Usoro A Kụziiri Ha, Mee Ya ‘b. They Adopt the Procedure and Carry Out the
ch. Onye Nkụzi Ga na-agagharị, Ịhụ Ha ‘c. Teacher Goes Round, Supervising and
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 4a. Otu Ọbụla Edetuo Ihe Ha Mere ‘Step 4a. Each Group Records Their Performance’
b. Onye Ọbụla n’Òtú /Onye Ndu Akọwaa Ya N’ọnụ ‘b. Individual or Group Leader’s Oral
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 5. Mmegharị Ebe E Mejọrọ ‘Step 5. Focus on Grammar, and so on’
[NB: Teacher can direct them to do this group work as take-home assignment.]
Omume 7: Ịmụ Odide Asụsụ Igbo ‘Activity 7: Writing Task in Igbo’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 1. Mmụgharị Abịịdịị Igbo ‘Step 1. Revision of the Igbo Orthography’
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 2. Mmụgharị Iji Abịịdịị Igbo Mee Okwu ‘Step 2. Revision of Igbo Word Formation
Ǹzọ̀m̀ 3. Ide Igbo n’Omume Dị Iche Iche ‘Step 3. Engaging in Writing Igbo in Various
Applying Izadpanah’s Framework in Designing Task-based Lessons in Igbo
Table 1 : Designing Task-based Lessons in Igbo
*Phases Examples of Options
1. Pre-task Framing the activity
Planning time
Doing a similar task
2. Task-cycle Time pressure
Grouping participants in small number
3. Post-cycle Learner report
Repeat task
[*Each of these phases can have more steps than presented in Izadpanah (2010: 53), as can be
seen from the course outline.]
Pre-task Stage
In the case of Igbo, the objectives of this stage include:
a) to teach the Igbo grammatical patterns in a mixed code (Igbo and English) to offer students the
opportunity of listening to Igbo in their learning process.
b) To introduce the initial Igbo vocabulary and language through the teaching units and contexts.
c) To use translation as a technique that enhances the meaning of the course content.
d) to invite the students at different points in the teaching process to emulate the teacher and their
more advanced classmates.
e) to ensure that the mixed ability of the class is used to the advantage of all, especially, the non
Igbo speakers.
All these are geared towards preparing the students with necessary vocabulary that will
enable them to perform the tasks in ways that develop in them the required abilities (skills) in the
Igbo language.
Activity 1: Introducing Reading in Igbo
This activity is designed to help the students consolidate their learning of the grammatical
structures taught them and to enhance as well as evaluate their reading comprehension ability in
the language.
Reading Task 1: Combined Activity
Topic: Translation and “Sentence Carving” Technique.
The Pre-task Phase: The teacher introduces a topic and endeavours to explain its procedure and
other aspects in such a way that the students’ interest are aroused to engage in the tasks.
The Task-cycle Phase: For a start, depending on the type of activity, the teacher can choose to
undertake a similar task, first in the class, together with the students. Contrarily, a recorded or
live version of the activity can be relayed in-class for the students to listen to and/or view. A
relevant text on the topic is chosen from any Igbo text at the level of the learners. The various
steps are followed in undertaking the tasks in-class. But, the teacher should give the students
ample opportunities to carry out the tasks on their own. The more advanced students should help
the weaker ones; or in this case, the first timers, that is, the Igbo L2 learners. They could be
directed to watch or listen to radio and/or TV presentations in Igbo; as well as listening keenly to
conversations between native speakers anywhere they encounter them. See Activities 3-5 below
for illustration of the translation and sentence carving tasks
Activity 2: Reading Task 2 in Igbo. Individualised Homework
NB: a) Students are asked to read or learn to read at home any short text at their level in
preparation for activities of the following week.
b) Students are urged to come to the next class with this homework and their copy of the text
they worked on.
Step 1.The Course/Class Representative collects the homework from the students and
submits to the teacher.
Step 2. The teacher ensures that each student has the reading text; and then refreshes their minds
about the whole procedure in a mixed code.
Step 3. The Procedure: Lexical/Orthographic Focus
a. Skimming: Having read/learnt to read the text at home, individual students are called upon to
read out different portions of the text quickly and aloud.
b. Scanning: Individual students are called upon to read out different portions of the text bit
slowly,searching for particular required pieces of information.
c. Pronunciation/Emphasis on Message: The teacher and the whole class pay attention and take
note of the pronunciation of important words and expressions to draw attention to their
meaning in the text.
d. Pronunciation/Emphasis on Phoneme/Tone: The text is read moderately fast, emphasising
the peculiar phonemes and tonemes of the syllables of important words, and so on.
Step 4. The Procedure: Phonetic Focus
1a. Teacher and class point out noted problem areas of pronunciation and clear them.
b. Students ask questions and get further clarifications.
c. The teacher leads as well as directs; appoints different students and assigns duties/tasks to
them from the text.
Step 5. The Grammar Focus
a. Emphasis on Grammar Points: If needed, students may read the text aloud again, not too fast,
emphasising important grammar points and expressions, to draw attention to their use in
the text. Problem areas of grammar (pronunciation and tone as well) are noted, if not yet
done. Alternatively, they can go straight to the main tasks from Step (b).
b. Students identify from the Igbo text tense, aspect, phrase, clause, sentence types, and so on,
they have learned.
c. They copy them out correctly.
d. They further classify the tense, aspect, phrase types, and so on, they have identified from text.
e. They identify and state the differences and similarities between phrases, clauses and sentences.
f. They identify and state the differences and similarities between phrases, clauses and sentences.
g. They write the differences and similarities down in mixed code, especially in Igbo.
NB 1a. Students ask questions and get clarifications.
b. The teacher leads as well as directs; appoints different students and assigns duties/tasks to
them from the text.
Step 6. Homework
Furthermore, the teacher may decide to give students a take-home grammar work similar
to the ones done in-class.
Activity 3: Translation Task 1
Step 1. Copy out the different types of word, grammatical pattern and structure you identified
and classified above.
Step 2. Translate each of them from Igbo into English, the different types of word, grammatical
pattern and structure you identified and classified above.
Activity 4: Sentence Carving Task I
Pre-task: Step 1. Introduction
If a text consists in compound or complex sentences, short sentences would be carved out from
each compound/complex sentence. This can also be done with shorter sentences. First, the
contextual meanings of such sentence carvings are ignored and new meanings are given to them,
if applicable. That is, they are translated on their face value. The whole text is then translated
according to context and/or original content. The various texts realised are then transliterated or
translated word-to-word. The two or more translated versions are then compared, and
Step 2. Illustration: Carve out different new Igbo sentences from your Text I and write them
down to form Text II (Igbo).
Step 3. Number serially those new sentences you carved out from Text I to form Text II (Igbo).
Activity 5: Translation Task 2
Translate those new Igbo sentences in Text II into English, on their own merit, that is, translate
them without recurse to the meaning of their original sentences in Text I. This will form Text III
(English), retaining the serial numbers.
Translation Task 3: Word-for-Word Translation/Transliteration
Translate word-for-word into Igbo, the English sentences in Text III, to form Text IV (Igbo),
retaining the numbers.
Translation Task 4. “Back-Translation”
“Back-translate” (retranslate) Text III into Igbo, to form Text V, still retaining the numbers. Note
that these exercises entail practice in writing Igbo and involve scrambled game (see, Nwankwere
and Eme, 2015).
Activity 6: Comparison 1
Step 1. Compare: a) Texts I and II (Igbo); b) Texts III and V English; c) each Igbo text and its
English equivalent; d) the English and Igbo Texts.
Step 2. State your findings in each case.
Step 3.State what you think your findings in each case imply for the teaching and learning of
Activity 7: Reading Task (English)
Step 1. Read Text III (English) again.
Step 2. From this English text, identify the different word classes, grammatical points and
structural patterns you have learned.
Step 3. Classify each of them into different types the way you were taught.
Activity 8: Comparison 2
Step 1. Compare the different word classes, grammatical points and structural patterns of Igbo
Step 2. State your findings in each case.
Step 3.State what you think are the implications of your findings in each case for Igbo.
Activity 9: Authentic Listening Task
Step 1a. The teacher plays a recorded radio/TV Igbo conversation programme or tunes to a live
b. Students who are native speakers of Igbo act as models in the class Igbo conversation task.
Step 2. The teacher directs activities and claries issues.
Step 3. Teacher directs students to listen to real life conversations of Igbo speakers in the
community in different contexts, during different traditional occasions like, marriage,
burial, daily life.
Step 4. Students also listen to live radio/tv conversations in Igbo at home.
NB: This task is incorporated into the teaching process since 65% of the class members are Igbo
L1 speakers and have Senior Secondary School Certificate level of achievement in Standard Igbo
(Nwankwere and Eme, 2015). Hence, they act as models for most of the Igbo versions during the
teaching process; and, for correcting their class members’ errors. Where the need arises, the
teacher clarifies.
Activity 10: Group Reading Task
Task-Cycle: Step 1. Students are grouped.
Step 2. Movement: Students converge in their current groups and each group assumes a position
in a different corner of the classroom.
Step 3. Each group gives each member opportunity to parcipate.
Note: The students are requested/trained not to laugh at people’s errors, but, to help the
concerned student to self-correct. They should also write the errors down and submit to the
teacher, through the group coordinator, for future use in more form-focused classes. So, the
students will monitor one another. The errors committed by each student is noted by the group
members, against each person’s name and turn. These would be collated by the group
coordinator and submitted to the teacher. This serves a lot of purposes, like, monitoring
individual student’s progress and problems that need attention. Monitoring the progress and
problems of a group of students and that of the whole class. Preparing for general form-focused
lectures, tutorials, and so on.
Activity 11: Writing Task
Writing Task in Igbo’
‘Step 1.The letters of the Igbo alphabet are enlisted and their pronunciation, etc., revised; as well
as the Igbo orthography rules of vowel harmony, consonant homorganicity and the like.
‘Step 2. The Igbo word formation processes are also revised, in terms of inherent words,
compounding and borrowing.
‘Step 3.Students are engaged in various writing tasks in Igbo.
Activity 12: Grammatical Analysis
Step 1. A sentence is read out aloud, first in Igbo. Then, the English equivalent is stated by the
Step 2. The sentence type is identified by the students.
Step 3. Students identify the grammatical points in it: clauses, phrases, word classes, and their
types. All these are done in turns. Note that this activity is/could be part of the translation
and sentence carving techniques.
Activity 13: Tone in Igbo Involving Multiple Activities/Tasks
Task 1. Revise the Topic
a. Explain tone in Igbo with examples of each type and/or class.
b. Name each Igbo toneme.
c. Explain the characteristics of each toneme.
d. Explain different tone marking conventions in Igbo with examples of each type and/or class.
e. Mention different tone assigning conventions and adopt one, for instance, the musical notation
technique of assigning tones.
f. Explain the assignment of tone to syllables.
Task 2. Practise tone marking with students in the classroom, using words of different syllable
structures and environments.
Step 1: Find example of words of different syllable structuresand tonal environments from given
i. Students have equal opportunities of participating, and none is allowed to dominate; though the
more advanced students serve as props to the weak ones.
ii. Individual students should be encouraged to strive to identify at least a word of each word
iii. Each student mentions or reads out the identified word(s).
iv. The class accepts or rejects a student’s proposal.
v. The teacher confirms.
Step 2: The class writes down or makes 4 lists of words (e.g., nouns, verbs, etc.) from the text
given. The words are arranged according to 1, 2, 3 syllable words, and so on (either
examples from their colleagues or words copied from a given text).
Task 3. Spelling: Taking the list word by word, according to syllable, the teacher invites
individual students to:
Step 1. spell each word in Igbo,
Step 2. They all write down the spelled word correctly.
Task 4. Tonal Assignment: Taking the list word by word, according to syllable, the teacher
invites individual students to:
Step 1.demonstrate (with gesture) the toneme to be assigned to each syllable of every word
Step 2. State the tone of each syllable of the word spelled, using the musical notation.
v. assign tone to the spelled word correctly.
Task 5. Pronunciation
Step 1.Students, taking turns, demonstrate (orally, musically)the toneme(s) to be assigned to a
word (in syllables),
Step 2. They use the correct tone(s) to pronounce Igbo word(s) written down (in syllables),
Step 3. They state the gloss or the translation or English equivalent of the spelled words.
NB1.: Students help one another to correct errors or mistakes.
2. The teacher helps students correct themselves (self-correction), where applicable or necessary.
Activity 14: Tonal Assignment I – Tonal Game
Task. Take some example words from the different word classes in an Igbo text (Text 1) and
assign different tonemes to them to realise minimal pairs and/or sets. This serves to build the
students’ vocabulary.
Step 1.Introduction: Explain the concepts and the procedure. Limit data to one-, two- and threesyllable
words at this level. Note that in the musical approach for this level, only three notes: are
used – m for high tone / ́/; r for down step / ̄ / and d for low tone / ̀/.
Step 2.Starting with the nouns, identify them in the text.
Step 3. Make a list of them.
Step 4. Arrange them well according to the Igbo alphabet.
Step 5. Gloss them or, simply supply their English equivalents.
Activity 15:Forming Minimal Pairs/Sets and Assignment of Tones
Task: Select ten words from the Igbo text, and form minimal pairs/sets with each. Then, assign
tone to
and gloss them. For example: from the word ‘ọka’, a minimal set is realized as in,
i) Ọ́ká (HH, noun) ‘name of the town/capital city of Anambra State.
ii) Ọ́ kā … (HS, clause) ‘He/She/It is greater than …’;
iiia) Ọ́ kà.(HL, sentence) ‘He/She/It is greater/more than (…); b) ọ́kà(HL, noun) ‘corn,
iv) Ọ̀ ká …? (LH, clause) ‘Is he/she/it greater than …?’
va) Ọ̀ kà …? (LL, clause) ‘Is he/she/it greater than …?’ b) ọ̀kà(LL, noun) ‘artist’.
NB: After treating some nouns, treat examples from other word classes in the text.
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The Use of Festival Drama in Promoting Nigerian Culture:
An Example of Odo Festival Drama
Amaechi, Faith Eucharia Nnedinso
M. A. Student of African Culture & Anthropology,
School of Post Graduate Studies,
Nnandi Azikiwe University, Awka – Nigeria
e-mail: amaechifen@gmail.com
Culture is a human concept, a social heritage of any society which is always specific and
distinctive way of life of a group of people. By this, we mean that culture has meaning only with
human person. Every human being is born into a cultural milieu rather than being organically
transmitted at conception as a genetic characteristic of an offspring. Adopting the functionalist
approach which suggests that several aspects of society have functions they played in
maintaining the social order as a whole, the crux of this paper therefore, is to showcase how we
can use festival drama which is part of our culture in promoting Nigerian culture. This can only
be achieved if we give up most of the borrowed western cultures that has invariably made a mess
of our avowed traditional values.
Culture, according to The Chambers Dictionary (2000:379) implies “…refinement in manners,
thought, taste, etc…, a type of civilization; the attitude and values which inform a society…”
Uwandu and Nwankwor (2006:73) writing on “The Concept of Culture in the Nigerian social
system” posited that culture has contents. Culture contents include beliefs, morals, norms, laws,
customs values etc. This is in line with the handy definition that culture includes the total way of
life of the people. Virtues as well as values, they added, are indispensible aspect of each culture.
As a matter of fact, the rate of cultural advancement in a given society depends on the level of
the society’s moral value or virtues of consciousness. These are salient ingredients that make the
food spicy.
Festival as defined by The Chambers Dictionary (2000:595) is “…a joyful or honourific
celebration; a religious feast; a season of or series of performances of music, plays, (drama) etc”.
Having looked at these terms, let’s go back to the topic of discussion which is The Use of
Festival Drama in Promoting Nigerian Culture.
Before the arrival and influence of western education and civilization which introduced writing,
the Igbo had different ways of educating her young. This method of enculturation is through oral
tradition. It is called so because it lacks written script and is handed down from generation to
generation through the words of mouth. Traditions are values, beliefs, rules, and behaviour
patterns that are shared by a group and are passed on from generation to generation as part of the
socialization process. This is part of the culture of the people.
In this paper therefore, we will look into the Odo festival drama in Ikem, Isi-Ụzọ L.G.A. of
Enugu State with a view to assessing its relationship with culture. However, before going
further, let us provide a working definition of drama. Nnabuihe (1996: 11) writes that:
Etymologically, the Igbo word for drama is “ejije”. This is derived from
“jije/ṅomi”, meaning imitate, to arrive at the noun form known as “njije/nṅomi”,
meaning mimesis or imitation. Therefore, drama should be seen as an imitation
of actions or characters by a person or group of persons otherwise known as
actor(s) whose aim is to mimic, entertain and edify.
Eghagha (2001:470) sees drama as any work of art created to be performed on stage, which
through the aid of characters and actors convey a message to an audience for the purpose of
education, entertainment and information.
Clark (1968) in Akporobaro (2012: 465) categorizes Nigerian drama into two main divisions –
the traditional and the modern drama. Clark further sub-divides the traditional drama into two
groups – the sacred and the secular. Within the sacred drama, he identifies another two subgroups,
the one having to do with ancestral or myth plays and the one having to do with
masquerades or plays carried out by cult. The most notable of these dramas was the masquerade
display such as Odo, Ọmabe, Oriọkpa, Mmọnwụ, Ekpè among others.
Going by the statement made by Clark (1965) in Akporobaro (2012: 472) that:
If drama means the “elegant imitation” of some action significant to a people, if
this means the physical representation or the evocation of one poetic image or a
complex of such images, if the vital elements to such representation or evocation
are speech, music, ritual, song, as well as dance and mime, and … the aim is to
open the ear of the mind of a spectator in a corporate audience and open his eyes
to the beauty of form…”
Then the Odo festival drama has got much to offer.
By its very nature, drama aims at developing and influencing for good the character of the child
through imprints on the child’s mind as well as making him memorize and retain the values
which will make him attain laudable goals in life. This is why Barnfield (1975:15) asserts that
“drama deals directly with the child’s memory, understanding, will, imagination, emotion,
observation and person”.
Purpose of the Study
Odo whether as a masquerade or deity has its origin in ritual and religion and therefore an
important indicator of people’s interest, belief, values, and various aspects of social life which is
part of their culture. In recent times, there has been a great decline in the participation of people
in the festival. This is because the people are beginning to see it as agent of human destruction
ignoring the reasons for the rituals and sacrifices performed during the festival. Moreover, since
the culture is about being destroyed, it will keep our memories fresh and serve as a documentary
on a cultural phenomenon which is about to be phased out in this community as a result of
advancement in Christianity. The purpose of this paper is therefore to demonstrate that apart
from the ritual and religious inclination of the Odo festival drama, entertainment, as well as
source of relaxation for the performers, it still serves as a means of promoting the culture of the
Traditional Festival Dramas as Promoters of Culture:
According to Okafor and Emeka (2006:95-96),
Traditional festivals and ceremonies punctuate the traditional calendar and mark
the rhythm of traditional life. Whatever nature they take, those festivals and
ceremonies are indices to social values or what the people live by; reflect the
individual in the context of society or in the context of the people’s cosmos and
worldview; reflect or celebrate societal organization or structure; are a symbol of
continuity; often engage productive or creative activities; occur in societal,
predetermined times or manners; have powerful dramatic messages and contexts
and serve as integrative forces in the communities. Every one of them is, in a true
sense, a celebration of life.
Shobayo (2007), writing on the title “Preserving Culture through Festival” in Nigerian Tribune
of March 7, says of the Angas of Plateau State that:
in spite of the advent of Christianity which seems to have relegated the culture of
the people to the background, the Angas still holds on tenaciously to some of their
traditional beliefs…The most popular annual festival regarded as the symbol of
unity among the Angas is the Pusdung, often celebrated after the harvest
period…mainly to showcase the rich culture of the Angas and has jollifications,
dances by different types of masquerades and beer drinking especially the local
liquor such as ‘burukutu’ which often go down with ‘Namas’ otherwise called
dog meat.
Asomba (2001:38) made reference to the village feast in Things Fall Apart where Achebe
portrays a family feast on the occasion of a marriage which is also part of our culture:
Okonkwo’s friend was celebrating his daughter’s Uri. It was a day on which her
suitor, having already paid the greater part of her bride price, would bring palm
wine, not only to her parents and immediate relatives, but to the wide and
extensive group of kinsmen called ‘Umunna’. Everybody had been invited,
women and children. But it was really a woman’s ceremony and the central
figures were the bride and her mother. The picture which emerges is of a well
ordered socio-cultural community.
Although Odo is cult restricted to males, its social significance is wholly a communal affair.
Without the women, the foods for the spirit would not be prepared and without them the
dramatic performances which take place during the public appearances of these spirits within the
ancestral squares and market places would lack their conventional ritual and aesthetic
fulfillment. (Amankulor in Ofomata (2002:400).
The Origin and Characteristics of Odo
Odo is the men’s secret cult in Ikem. It has a dual existence. Its physical appearance is that of a
fierce looking masquerade while its spiritual nature lies in its powers as one of the great
messengers of Supreme God. Its origin is not known. There are many myths about its origin
most of which point to the fact that Odo was originally from the Supreme Deity and comes as a
messenger of God to this world in order to direct and protect his children on earth. Thus, Odo is
believed to be the incarnate of the dead ancestors who continue to take an active interest in the
affairs of their living descendants and relations.
Odo lives in the spirit world. It comes out once in every two years through the thick forest called
“Ụham” and stays on earth with its people for five months. It comes out in the fourth moon of
the year which often falls in the month of December and it stays till the end of May. When it is
with the people, it looks after them in every facet of life. Even after it retires to the spirit world,
it still looks after its people on earth; serving as a mediator between its men on earth and
“Ezechitoke” and sees that their problems were solved before the next round of its emergence to
the physical world. It is believed that Odo sees and knows all secrets in the spirit world and
those on earth.
Odo as a Festival Drama in Ikem
Odo manifests itself within the context of festival. This festival dramatizes in symbolic and
aesthetic terms, the major ritual and religious events of the people’s collectively shared
experiences. The drama takes place once in two years. It is a re-enactment of the cycle of life
and death. From man’s experience, there is birth, growth, and death, and perpetuation through
the cult of the ancestors. Through this drama, ancestral spirits return periodically, re-unite with
the living, shed their munificence among the living and then depart to reappear during the next
cycle of ritual celebration. From the agricultural point of view, it represents the cycle of planting
and reaping and planting again. We know that planting is followed by germination, growth,
maturation, and harvesting.
Initiation into adulthood is an important aspect of traditional educational process. The steps are
rigorous and ritualized, often involving self-denial and imposed physical affliction. After
passing through these rigours, the initiate becomes a man, who can be trusted with the
maintenance of secrets regarding things sacred. Let it be known at this point that initiation does
not make the new initiate super-human; he is still his human self except that he has after going
through the rites, been regarded as much more knowledgeable and responsible in the society.
The dramatic content of Odo cult cannot be treated in isolation. They are interwoven with
festivals. According to Modum (1978: 46):
The social and moral life in African traditional societies should be seen to be organized around
festival manifestations which fulfill the functions of social and moral control as well as provide
entertainment and diversions. The ceremonies are therefore important as indicators of group
interests and values and various aspects of social life. Okebalama (1991: 1) opines that “drama is
a reenactment of life”. He further says that “the Igbo find it convenient to express their feelings
(part of their culture and experience) through recreational activities, rituals, myths, legends,
folktales, ceremonies, festivals and masquerade play. Okebalama (2003: 84) posits that festivals
are communally owned such as Ékpè, Eshe, and Omabe of Nsukka while ceremony is an
individual affair such as child naming and marriage ceremonies which are all aspects of culture.
The important aspect of the civilization of Africa is concerned with the geographical or racial
origin of the people called ‘Bantu’. They have an adequate language and the traditions (culture)
of the tribes are preserved by oral narratives and folklore (which festival drama is one of them)
Manjula (2012:6). If we accept the definition of Culture as the “…refinement in manners,
thought, taste, etc…, a type of civilization; the attitude and values which inform a society…”
then festival drama which forms part of our culture has the capacity of expressing the thoughts
and feelings of the people and has rules for forming intelligible communication in the
community which has it as a common currency.
Besides, the functions of drama among others include correcting the ills in the society through
satire and other licentious activities; to preserve the cultural and traditional heritages, and to
assert cultural identity and sense of belonging; to promote the harmonious co-existence of the
various groups in the society, especially the communities where the theatrical (dramatic)
activities – festivals, rituals, etc take place (Ademeso 2001:463). This festival helps to inculcate
in the growing child the norms and values of the society as it leaves imprints on the memories of
the child according to Barnfield.
1. There should therefore be a re-introduction of story- telling in our homes.
2. We should revitalize festival dramas in our villages to inculcate our rich cultural values
into our modern society.
3. We should decry the enthronement of western culture as against our traditional cultural
4. Our curriculum planners should incorporate cultural courses into the curriculum.
5. Government should adopt some of these festivals into tourism and tourist attractions.
Ademeso, B. (2001) “A Brief on the Theatre” in Fakoya A.A. and Ogunpitan S.A. (ed) The
English Compendium Vols. 3&4. Lagos: Dept. of English, LASU.
Akporobaro, F.B.O. (2012). Introduction to African Oral Literature. (Rev. ed.). Lagos: Princeton
Publishing Company.
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of the Igbo Nation. Onitsha: Africana First Publishers.
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Barnfield, G. (1974) Creative Drama in Schools. London: Macmillan Educational Books.
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English Compendium Vols. 3&4. Lagos: Dept. of English, LASU.
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and Culture for Higher Education, Millennium Edition. Enugu: New Generation Books.
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(M.A.Thesis), Dept. of English, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
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System” in Orjiakor N. & Ojih Iyke (ed). Readings in Nigerian Peoples and Culture
Enugu: NGIB Publishers.
Religion and Development
Ogugua P.I
Dept of Philosophy
Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka
Ogugua, C.I
Anambra State Judiciary Awka
Religion is one of the cardinal elements of culture; though not usually talked about or
emphasized but it is a pillar for sustaining humankind and society, aiding culture which entails
activities of mankind to survive in any environment. Religion according to Karl Marx is the
opium of the people. But, is it really so? Religion can play the dual role of integrating elements
in any society and dividing elements in any society. The later role is negative, so it spins
negative energies which consumes the fabric of the society as it spits out violence and lots of
Religion is paradoxical, for it has double edge when it becomes an ideological weapon, but a
good tool, when it assumes its rightful place. It is only when religion remains within its sphere
that one can meaningfully talk of religion as a medium for development. According to Aguwa,
“…in the hands of the ‘saint’ religion is a veritable means of humanization. The villain on the
other hand employs religion to render selfish service to the ego: individual group”1
In a nation where religion has been given irrational latitude for one reason or the other, how can
it birth development? Being that religion has been politicized, and noted as the bane of nation
building. This has made many see self determination and nation- hood as a farce, as a play.
Aguwa holds
The history of religious dichotomy in Nigeria traces back to the
advent of Islam and Christianity. The development of the two
religions along with the politics based on the principle of
regionalism and ethnicism secured the dichotomy on very firm
The disintegrative force of religion coupled with its destructive angle have contradicted and
ridiculed the politics and philosophy of common identity though all of us are units of creation in
a consistent form.
Due to the fact that Christianization is not the same as Islamization, here is need for usual
boldness, courage and objectivity in looking at religion in order to allow it aid development in
Nigeria. Christianization has to do with persuasion but islamization has to do with the use of
force. he former denotes conversion of wiling persons while the latter compulsion of unwilling
persons entailing abrogation of their dignity and liberty.
Religion, if it must aid in the development Nigeria, must be a variable instrument of
humanization; and should not the blended with any other social institutions in order to uphold the
secularity of Nigeria.
The government should ensure that it is neutral when religious matters are issues of discourse.
Little wonder,
Ekwunife asserts;
In Nigeria, the government and her citizens are yet to accept fully
both in theory and practice the stark realities of pluralism of
religious belief and practices.3
Religion and politics blend well in man for he is both religious and political being. But in groups,
they don’t blend, the sources of the conflicts and problems lie strictly in the use of religion,
especially Islam, which is not proselyte, but uses force to get adherents.
Religion is inclined to dialogic relation with other socio-cultural institutions, that it why is can be
ffected by politics, for when it provides the base for politicking in a multi-tribal society,
allegiance must in most cases split along religious lines.
Religion is a complex phenomenon; little surprising it covers these realities, God, man and the
world. It is not amazing that it means different things to different people. There is need to stress
that it is not superstition though superstition appears to be religion. Religion, no doubt is
enshrined in mystery, entails study of the mysterium tremendum, the ideas of the Holy.4

What religion will do to development, or any relation is must have with development is heavily
dependent, on what it is, the nature of religion, and the uses we put it to. As an enigmatic and
complex concept, there is need for care in its application.
Ogugua P.I. et al states: religion is a slippery concept very difficult to define. Different scholars
have expressed it in a multi-furious way. This is due to the fact that it has to do with three great
realities in life: God, man and the world. t has to do with a dialectical relationship of the mind
with reality. “African Religion: Its relevance in the development of a Democratic culture (A
philosophical lnsight) in international journal of humanities, social sciences and Education
IJHSSE vol 2 Issue 9 September, 2015 p. 93 (93-104)
Ogugua P.l et al state that Religion is a reality … it is enigmatic and an elusive subject, hence it
defies a universally acceptable definition. Religion springs problems even at the level of
conceptualization. As such it occasioned the use of family resemblance definition which
accommodates in very strict sense what ought not ordinary be seen as religion.
Ogugua P .I et .al: Religion and politics in Nigerian society problems and prospects (A
philosophic probe) in Open journal of philosophy 2015, 5 193-209@ 193-204
Ogugua P.I. et al opine that since the study of religion interests people with different orientations
and interests, it is perceived conceived and defined differently…. It is a belief and an attitude,
and equally an activity distinguishable from other activities expressing a sort of relationship
between God and man. They continued etymologically, religion is derived from three latin words
‘religare” – to bind, relegate” – to unite, or to link and ‘religio” –relationship. It is an experience
that unites man with God.
“Religion and African identity.A reflection on Nigeria situation” in Open Journal of philosophy
2013, vol No. 1.A (248-254) @ 249. For Okere,
… by and large religion is the business between God and man. It
demands therefore both a theology or a theory of God and
anthropology or a theory of man and also a theory of the relations
between God and man.
Religion entails dealing with the transcendent being, supernatural beings, the world and man;
with even positions on eschatology. Why? It is simply because each religion has its own self
understanding, concepts, positions and its own expression of reality peculiar to it.
Most religions are dualistic i.e. Christianity, and Islam dealing with God and the devil, good and
evil, etc but African traditional Religion is syncretistic little wonder, it is not seen as
spiritualistic, at most it is spiritist; as it recognizes spirits and does not separate spirit and matter
as such for it lays values on both the spiritual and the worldly or ephemeral.
Religion is a matrice within the matrix of culture, for it cuts across relationships, regional ethnic
and even national. In Africa for instance, it is known to have fueled conflicts of different
magnitude and has created and sustained violence, fanaticism, intolerance, priest-craft, deception
and even some obnoxious and harmful cultural practices. It is manipulated by some for personnel
selfish reasons and even nurtured inquisition.
We do know that religion cannot aid development in chaotic atmosphere, so it has to do it by
combating these evils via dialogue, care, enlightenment and religious education. Radical
Christians are of the opinions that dialogue must not always aid development in every instance
i.e. Boko haram, jihad moves etc. Nmah Patrick is of the opinion that until Jesus returns there are
some people so deeply committed to doing evil that they cannot be restrained not by dialogue,
argument, reason and persuasion, but only by superior force.
Despite the fact that thinkers like Marx, Nietzsche, Engels, Prodhon, Lenin etc have seen religion
as problem of men’s infant clinging to forces, exhibition of psychological dementia, we still hold
that religion which they see as relevant due to hardship and ignorance of man still have role to
play in ensuring there is development in our society.
In Nigeria, one cannot rightly talk of political development without mention of religion. Could it
be right to hold that religion when not properly harnessed will retard development? Again that
when there is extreme religiosity without attendant spirituality, there must be retardation of
development. Africa is as religious as it is underdeveloped, does religiosity have something in
common with underdevelopment which is tied to ignorance, laziness and even consumerism?
Sarah C questions, “Are Africans more religious because as a way to cope with the hardship
associated with underdevelopment or is Africa more underdeveloped because of religions?
Both concepts have to do with beliefs and attitudes out development are equally a process of
transformation. Both concepts have to do with man and reality; but extremism in any of them
may spell doom for the other. Aristotle did say that” virtu in medio stat”.
Towards Understanding of the Concepts of Religion and Development
Many have split much energy and burnt some oil over these concepts, and have essayed their
best to explain them. Both of them are indeed fundamental to life, of needs adequate attention,
more so because happenings around the globe do show that there is need to look at them
critically to see what they are.
Having seen what religion is as shown in the work previously, we can only conclude that man
requires religion for any meaningful and sustainable development in the world, and as such must
work hard enough to ensure that the dysfunctional aspect of religion is contained. Development
can rarely come to people who turn their back to religion, for that society will struggle with
values to live by. For Africans, Mbiti holds that they are notoriously religious and Ogugua adds
that they are religiously religious. Does it mean they are spiritual? By no means so. Sarah .C
… Africans are as religious as is the continent underdeveloped…,
but I question the relationship between religion and development
in Africa. It’s more like a chicken and egg question. Are Africans
more religious because as a way to cope with the hardship
associated with underdevelopment or is Africa more
underdeveloped because of religions?
The question that needs be asked is, does extremism in one affect the other? Some may think so,
especially those who erroneously hold and think that we can outgrow religion with advancement
in science and technology. People among this group are those who propagated cult of death
philosophies or ideologies. Some of them hold that this negative view of religion is implicit in
their teachings and thought. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, Darwin, Ernst Haeckel Francis
Galton, Marx, Comte, Judith Jarvis Thomson Sartre, Simone de Beauvoior, etc Even Prodhon is
included for he opined that if God really existed, he should be too old to die. Negation of God or
value (real values) leads to negation of man and religion is about the relationship between God
and man not necessarily between man and spirits as we see when many mistake the supernatural
for supranatural. Religion entails worship of the Supreme Being, and only God is the being
involved. Omoregbe holds:
… the etymology of the word ‘religion shows that it is essentially a
relationship, a link established between two persons, namely, the
human person and the divine person believed to exist. It is
something that links or unites man with transcendent being; a deity
believed to exist and worshipped by man.
Omoregbe pitched his tent with family resemblance definition likewise Feuerbach who sees
religion as the worship of man, for him religion in its essence believes in nothing else than the
truth and divinity of human nature. But for Bouquet religion is “ a fixed relationship between the
human self and some non-human entity, the sacred, the supernatural, the self-existent, the
absolute or simply God.
Nietzsche as an apostle of doom used a mad man to proclaim the death of God and religion of
humanity, when he proposed the metamorphosis of spirit into a camel, then a lion, and finally
into a child. Arua examined Nietzsche thought and conclusion and states “Nietzsche is
inconsistent when he proclaims the death of the soul which is the seat of the spirit of man and at
the same time holds the permanence of the spirit in conquering its own world”.
Freud should fall into the same group with Nietzsche for he thinks that God is a creation of man.
He states the religious ideas are “illusions fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent
wishes of mankind.” He adds, “Religions would thus be the universal obsession neurosis of
humanity like the obsession neurosis of children, it arose out of Oedipus complex, out of relation
to the father. Probably, in the bid to be protected and pulled out of helplessness and
hopelessness. But the truth is that religion has a object of worship the supreme God so it is not
There is no extension or expansion of logic that would make religion an illusion for in the
process of dialectical growth, it enhances the growth and wellbeing of man and his society; in
short, it is indeed a tonic to human life. For Freud, man in his infantile stage was ignorant so to
say, and he anthropomorphized and apotheosized himself in his obsession to get out of
helplessness. He did think that religion is not only illusive but an illusion. There is no gainsaying
the fact that scientific culture cum secularism has helped in attenuation of religious beliefs and
feeling and is foundational to rejection of the idea of the sacred and the holy.
Now we turn our dragnet to development. Development has been explained variously by various
scholars. Notwithstanding how people describe it, it is mostly seen as a process. For some it is a
process of modernization and industrialization, some equally see it as an economic phenomenon.
But is it wholly an economic phenomenon? For Torado and Smith, traditionally, development
meant the capacity of national economy, whose initial economic condition has been more or less
static for a long time, to generate and sustain an annual increase in its gross national product
(GNP) at rates perhaps 5% to 7% or more. Development is in layers, quantitative and qualitative.
It could be at the individual (personal), national and international level. According to Rodney
“… development implies activity, increased skill and capacity self -discipline greater freedom,
responsibility and material well-being”.
In the words of Alao, development is
A multi-objective process designed to achieve among others, the
eradication of poverty and disease the liberation of individual
increased productivity within a balanced ecosystem, justice and
equality individual freedom and social security, cultural buoyancy
and the stable society.
UCF Himmerstrand explains
A property or attribute which in my view is a basic prerequisite
and criterion of development is the capability of a given society,
increasingly to use its own resources of land, minerals and manpower
to feed its own people even in a situation of population
For Nze, development implies dual factors thought and might; and Ogugua emphasized that
development is a troika of forces: It is very significant to note that development is not growth.
Little wonder, Pius Okigbo writes: economic growth relates mostly to things where as
development relates to man. But there is a common bond between them, you will need to
multiply the things, in sufficient number (growth) for man to be himself at his best
(development)” he adds “All the things required for his being, its many dimensions, have to be
available for him to fulfill himself as a member of society, as homo economics, as a politician, as
a religious man at work and at play etc. It is these dimensions that give the ‘thing: additional
meaning and make development possible” Okere writes: “It is an organic development of what
there already exists in some bibulous, embryonic form it is not a bursting out of the boundaries
of a given species rather a growth, a stepping from what I am to what I can be, all that I can be
within the limits of the possibilities of my species”.
Religion in Our Society: Development as Focus
Religion just like science, technology etc are matrices within the matrix of culture. Reality is not
captured by any of these matrices. Man has both material and non-material constituents; he is inshort
spirit in flesh. All these matrices should gear toward development of man in society.
Today, attention seems to have been focused on science as if it is the only thing necessary.
However, rationality is more than science. Arua attests that ‘reality is not totally encompassed by
what is scientifically scientific and technological verifiable and attainable.
Man is not a problem or a metaproblematic being as Arua posits but rather a mystery, having an
orientation and tilt towards the Divine (transcendent being). Man is the focus of every
developmental stride. Arua remarks, “Scientific culture is good and necessary for meaningful
development of man in sociopolitical arrangement of man provided that it does not develop into
scientism and lead to the weakening of religions consciousness and beliefs, as if it restricts the
domain of the real to what is empirically verifiable”.
Reality, just like facts is stubborn; it is readily too open and rigid cum rugged, refuses to be
covered or even side lined or side tracked. It wants to show and pronounce its presence. We have
observed that religion tends to polarize the nation at times and in a very dangerous way.
Ignorance based on perception and interpretation of religious beliefs or issues is deadly. Extreme
adherence to some religious beliefs, at the expense of contribution to upholding of human
existence is the bane of development in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Many a time, many Africans tend to embrace ignorance and laziness and in the height of their
idleness they became fatalist, by developing such collective cum religious group mentality, they
see hardship as religious but not spiritual any way. Instead of applying themselves and
resources at their beck and call, they cease to take action to seize opportunities and solve
problems threatening their well being. An author omments “… they would give homage to the
Gods but the key point is the they would act first”. This buttresses the wisdom in the title of a
book by Lao Russell God will work with you and not for you.
It does seem that most Africans have not allowed the head, hand and heart values to be
developed and work in harmony. They have not allowed a bled and bond to be created among the
cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. It is not surprising therefore for Africans to nurse
so much beliefs and dilly dally when it comes to acting out these beliefs.
Mbiti says Africans are notoriously religious and Ogugua comments that they are religiously
religious. Prayers are good; praying is wonderful but there is need to pray and work. We should
take some pragmatic steps to ensure we meet our developmental goals, prayer will not do it all, it
has its own role to play. We need to come out of our cocoon to be able to become what we ought
to be through intelligent and active involvement cum participation.
Religion can aid development if the adherents of all religions should shun bigotry not necessarily
fanaticism but deep rooted fanaticism, for one still requires an iota of fanaticism to succeed in
life, as it is the oil that lubricates the wheel of our existential being, without its possession it will
be difficult for any reasonable impact to be made. We must eschew extremism in religious
matters and strike to work out our potentialities in solving our existential problems for not all
problems is spiritual, some require our hands being on deck in order to remain alive and active.
Religion qua religion can aid in the regulation and harmonization of human life; it is not
surprising then for Benjamin Franklin to assert that “religion will be a powerful regulator of our
actions, gives us peace and tranquility within our minds and render us benevolent, useful and
beneficial to other. It is presumed that all religions hich worth the name should preach love, and
work towards honesty, and ensuing harmony via the institution of justice, and as such embody
the necessary tools for development of society. Little wonder, Ellis and Haar comment:
“Development practitioners therefore need to pay attention to religion … Religion whatever form
it takes constitutes a social and political reality.”
It stands to reason that multiple considerations need to be made in order to birth development
and religious considerations are part of these considerations for there is a religious or more aptly
put a spiritual dimension to development. We really need avenues or paths or even modalities for
creating the platform for the categories which are essential for harnessing of the vital conditions
for development potentials, more so in Africa with a lot of paradoxes and contradictions which
need to be brought together and harmonized.
Religion as one of the matrices within the matrix of culture need to adjust at some point in time
to accommodate what some term cultural change, which no doubt will ever remain a constant
challenges to man in the very bid to maintain his balance and redefine his identity, and this
entails maintenance of the logics of rationalization and socialization in order to know and
embrace continuity. This is due to the simple fact that: “As society develops and history
progresses, people interact and modify existing traditions to suit new situations “as opined by
Obiora Ike here is real need to search for innovative potentials in religions, which will help to
sustain the life of love, tolerance and even ecumenism, that would aid in the modernization
process anchorable on the rationalization platform.
Religion qua religion doesn’t impede the process of integral development but religion as
practiced today in our society can impede such. Obiora Ike asserts, “Our continent has found
neither the pluck nor the wits to free itself from the strange–hold of various exploitative
tendencies.”P37 It becomes very worrisome when our people suffer not from the hands of the
colonizers but religious people or on account of religion that ought to develop and build. Many
of our religious leaders are not qualified to lead, and they have proved themselves incompetent
this is replicated in how they have mismanaged both the resources (material) and the people
(flock) handed over to them and the gross and high level of corruption in different religions
sects and bodies from the look of things one may say that the essence of religion especially Islam
in Africa is the exploitation of peaceful atmosphere for the benefit of the Arab world, in
furtherance of their Islamic agenda, which has put Africa in severe and serious socio-political
and economic rises.
Although religion is very cardinal and fundamental to humankind and critical to our having
sustainable development, it has a dysfunctional character, that is why it should be handled
maturely. Why? It is in order to ensure that religion is used to meet the present needs of people
and equally the freedom of the future generations, for the earth is made to provide for us and
those not yet- born, the future citizens of the world and even of heaven. For religion to be able to
do this, here is need for a correlation of science, technology and the social network of relations,
for united, these forces can chart the course of development. Religion as an aspect of culture
belongs the social matrix that is social relations.
In order to really know development, we in Nigeria should take the issue of religion serious and
not allow it to be at the periphery. Nigeria is a secular state and should remain so, we must not
allow religion to be manipulated by cultural, political and ethnic affiliations, even if we give as
we have tacitly agreed to accept systems (sets) that are not religion to be so called by using
family resemblance definition to widen the tentacles of religion.
We must be able to reduce or eliminate bias in our study of religion and not be too particularistic
religions bias and extreme fanaticism can birth bigotry which must introduce conflict which
springs from religions cum cosmological exclusivism. Every religion is sustained by a world
view and religion gives meaning and value to worldviews via sanctions; and it stands to reason
that any world view that is anti-human, should not ground religion and cannot birth the Holy, and
God is the Holy of Hollies. The only thing that should be done for peace and stability is to
discard such worldviews. When religion is manipulated by people to hang on to power, we don’t
think it has anything to do with worldview; rather it has something to do with greed and
improper perception and interpretation of reality. We Kukah argues that ‘struggle for control… is
the root cause of the conflict and crises in the nation’s political and religious life as citied by
Most crises in Nigeria both religious and political have been engineered by the elites more
especially the politicians and they all have implication for the development and or stability of
Nigeria. It is not uncommon to see the government of the day engineering such as Babaginda did
in his days when he attempted or indeed enrolled Nigeria as a member of O.I.C organization of
Islamic countries. This action fuelled the national jury as agitations mounted. When the
governors muzzle the religious leaders, we are done for, for politics is not hitched on ideological
factors in Nigeria but on religious indications and calculations.
Religion is a great force, so should not be toyed with; it shapes our thought processes and
informs our artistic expressions and our whole life. Little wonder Geoffery Parrinder comments,
“All the arts have been brought in the service of religion: architecture and sculpture painting
and writing, music and costume
In order to apply something to get any meaningful result, you must know what you are applying
and understand it. For religion to really aid development there is need to study it very well and
see the assistance it can rightly render. We need to study religion not as in-group –out group
issues as it would generate rivalry but study it interdisciplinary, but bearing in mind that religion
has to do with man in the world relating with God Almighty, not forces in nature. John Fenton
suggests we use the emic–etic method to study religion. He writes “… the emic (inside) meaning
of a religious tradition is a description of that religions tradition by its adherents using their own
language and their own categories and system of organization. But the truth is that religion is a
complex phenomenon and as such could mean more than what people in a religion tradition take
it to be; asking yourself is African traditional religion really a religion? What of Islam is it a
religion? What of Buddhism? Do they really worship God Almighty?
It does seem we can get closer at the truth about religion by avoiding particularistic theologies of
what we now qualify as religion and study religion more objectively; this is using the emic
method. We are quite aware that in the course of interpretation there could be misinterpretation
and misapplication, and to get at the truth we must avoid reducing religion and its element to the
categories of other disciplines.
We need to tell ourselves the truth and see religion as a serious issue of great national interest.
We need not abandon our religions save where it is clear that after critical studies, we are not
really worshipping God as we weigh our beliefs and practices with other religions; this is
important if we should co-exist for a better future and sustainable development.
Every religion that worth’s its salt should partner with education which is a lifelong process for
the good of human life as it is equally geared towards the protection of human life and
enhancement of human flourishing and not be against life and education. Sustainable
development is interested in sustaining human life, ensuring that human dignity is protected and
man is empowered.
Religious conflicts have created so many problems for us, as such we need to engage in dialogue
in order to generate peace or at least calmness and not fuel the national psyche. Obiefuna and
Uzoigwe stated: sticking to “absolutes” is clear indication of intellectual limitation that would
make dialogue problematic. An objective study of religion is a combination off emic and etic
methods. When we really study religion phenomenologically and get at the truth our horizon
would be widened, and we will be properly positioned to live life more meaningfully.
Religion could ignite the spirit of dialogue, from auto-dialogue to intra and inter dialogue across
religions and communities, which would bring about communication. Obiefuna and Uzoigwe
point out clearly thus: “intrapersonal communication is necessary if one is to be patient enough
to understand and acknowledge the reasonableness in the seemingly senselessness of religious
beliefs and practices of other people.
Aristotle said that truth is like the proverbial door which nobody misses whole and entire, and we
add but in order not to miss it one must be positioned properly and aim at its direction and then
shoot and not in the opposite direction as it would amount to self deception to so do. Religion as
religion is one, but system vary and every system must ensure it is guided by the central themes,
tenets and principles in order to really bear the name religion. S.G. Mc keever reiterates that
paths are many but we need know too that any system that worships an ancestor, a human
personality that has not proved to be God via overcoming death or a demon is not really qualified
to be called religion.
Religion as a complex phenomenon is indeed an enigma, but it has something to do with
development, which must not be dependent on the history of such religious systems as
knowledge can birth insight, which can bring about change. Be it and end it, religion requires a
theory and understanding of God and man in order to thrive, as such will bring about a theory of
relations and even morality. It is here that worldview aids extensively as most religions are based
on dualistic understanding of reality, profane and the sacred etc. African traditional religion for
example is syncretistic; it is not influenced like Christianity by the soul and body dualism. In
order to save the soul, we are advised to flee from the world. Little wonder, cenobites who lived
in the caves, monks who go to the desert to live and in seclusion etc. but we do know that one
can live holy life even in the community one belongs.
For example, the cardinal teaching of religious systems aid in knowing whether any system is a
kin to development or not; Okere asserts, the great virtue of the OldTestament can be said to be
justice and that of the New Testament love. Between these virtues we define the Christian social
reality dealing justly and loving God and neightbour”.
Religion is a great force and needs to be harassed properly.In Christianity while used to
conservatism, it created problems in ATR as a conservative force it stuck to evil rites
andpractices i.e killing of twins, using human beings for sacrifices etc. Religion can equally
become a source of change, when and where it serves as a social catalyst i.e. In Christianity
papal statements in documents of the Catholic Church shows the new direction, pointedly
emphasizing that Christianity is nothing outside spirituality.
Man is a tripartite being, so any real and authentic religious system must be able to address the
spirit, mind and body of man, and only in these lines will it say it can enhance development.
Okere remarks, “The wars and greed and oppression that have pocked and seared the worlds
landscape for ages have essentially to do with this lopsided understanding of development… but
societies that have had this one sided material and often materialist development have shown in
many ways that all is not well with them and for all their wealth, they have only impoverished
the world… because development must be integral in order to do justice to the many sided
aspects and needs of human person and human society, it is not only the materials but also the
intellectual, moral, psychological and aesthetic sides off man that must be developed”
There is great need to restore balance in our understanding of these concepts, the spirit is man as
such is very important, the soul too is very important, and the body is not of less important for
the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Every spirit needs a body to operate on this physical
plane. Any ideology that belittles any of these components is faulty. The soul may seem to be
distinct from the body, but the truth is that they are inseparable, man is a unit. “We take note of
matter and spirit but we see matter as suffused in spirit and spirit as embodied in matter”
Religion, no doubt can engineer development. In the words of Okere, “prhaps religion has less to
fear from its enemies pponents than its own ambiguities and capability of abuses, abuses that can
turn if from an agency of development to that of backwardness obscurancy nay evil with good
Religion is a great force and can generate change and development but not without conditions.
Religion in order to do this, must of necessity preserve human values not just cultural values.
Religion is a communal or community affair or activity and should aid people to changing the
world; as it is to the world as ought to be with the aid of philosophy and science cum technology
and even social relations.
Religion should be able to teach us what we ought to do, that entails the proper use of freedom to
get our obligations and duties carried out cushioned on personal and societal schemes and platforms.
Bronowski states, “The concepts of value are profound and difficult exactly because they
do two things at once. They join men into societies, and yet they preserve for them a freedom
which makes them single men”. Authentic religion should be interested in realizing true
humanity, which entails human understanding of man, nature and God, for there is no human
worth and warmth without wisdom and goodness.
It is not in doubt we are living in an information age, suggestive of cultural reformation. “The
fabric of western culture, it tangled skein of social habits artifacts, and values, is being pulled
apart and made over – by us”. so said Bronowski. We may ask ourselves to what direction is this
pull? What future does such pull have for man? Are we orchestrating a future culture? If so, what
role would religion play to ensure the good of man?
Morality is not religion. Morality makes a man. Spirituality makes an ideal or what we may call
a real man. Religion and morality seem to be interwoven in Africa. Little wonder Okere (2006)
comments, “Indeed for the vast majority of human beings and certainty of Africans and
Nigerians, morality is religion based. They learn morality form their religion, frame it in
religious terms and ultimately justify if by appeals to religion and God”.
Complementing the statement above is the assertion of Hardon “cnsequently, the central place
occupied by the religious factors cannot be over looked if we would arrive at a real
understanding of the values of all peoples. Religions, it has been said is the key of history. He
adds, it is also the key to appreciating whatever a nation produces from the ancient monuments
of the Pharaohs and inscription of the early Chinese kings, to the current art work as Japan or the
latest novel in the United States”
Religion cannot bring about development without real dialogue: dialogues of life, action
discourse and of religions experience so emphasized Arinze. Dialogue presupposes an encounter,
not necessarily a confrontation for it will definitely bring about communication. Ogugua P.I.
points out obstacles to dialogue in his article Dialogue and Nation building (A philosophical
Approach). He equally X-rayed the principles of dialogue: openness, truth seeking, personal
contact, cooperation, frankness of position. He did not stress sincerity but truth not truthfulness.
Ogugua did point out conditions for dialogues.
Despite the subtle war between scholars who emphasized the ought and those who emphasize the
is one thing is certain, the verification or verifiability principle which science anchors on cannot
stand without the truth being told, whether it is truth as truth or scientific truth, there must be a
nexus of social relations to bring it about. We have the responsibility to tell the truth, and to work
out this truth or work for it.
In order to really work out the truth, there is need for freedom in dependence and consistent
persistency Bronowski emphasizes, the mark of independence is originality and one of its
expressions is dissent. Dissent in turn is the mark of freedom. That is, originality and
independence are private needs of the truthful man, and dissent and freedom are public means to
protect them. This is why society ought to offer the safeguard of free thought; free speech, free
inquiry, and tolerance for these are needs which follow logically when men are committed to
explore the truth”. We can ensure development by ensuring that freedom and tolerance are based
on respect for the other, his view and not on indifference and as such sustain human values and
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An Analysis of the Verb Phrase (VP) of Basic Nigerian Pidgin Sentences
Christopher Ufuoma Olushola Akaruese
Faculty of Arts
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
This study was carried out to illustratively analyse the verb phrase (VP) of Basic Nigerian Pidgin
Sentence because studies have revealed that pidgin which may surpass the three major languages
of Nigeria (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) in terms of population of speakers is not recognized as a
“language” because it is yet to be standardized. At this juncture, it is pertinent to state that the
basis for accepting Nigerian Pidgin (and perhaps all pidgins) as a language should be in the
facility of its usage by all. In order to achieve the aforementioned goal, both live pidgin
utterances and written samples were randomly collected through the library and field research
methods. For the analysis, basic Chomskyean phrase structure rules as propounded in 1957 and
1965 that analyse utterances in terms of their syntactic constituents were adopted as the
theoretical framework. At the end of the exercise, findings revealed that though, Nigerian Pidgin
has limited vocabulary drawn from the English language (lexifier/superstrate), it (Nigerian
Pidgin) has a system that can be described coherently just like the English language or any other
Key Words: Verb Phrase (VP), Nigerian Pidgin, sentences, Chomskyean phrase structure rule
and lexifier
One of the effects of the contact situation in some West African countries is the emergence of
Nigerian Pidgin based on English and that is why it is sometimes called contact language which
reflects the fact that the language emerged when social groups came into contact(s) or marginal
language which reflects the reduced grammar and vocabulary of the Pidgin.
However, despite the fact that Pidgin is creolising in some states like Delta, Rivers, Edo, Bayelsa
and a few others where it (Pidgin) is being used for broadcasting news over the Radio and
Television and in public enlightenment programmes including entertainment, numerous
advertisements and soap-opera in the entire country. Furthermore, pidgin as a language is
officially stigmatized and not taught in most Nigerian schools partly because of its labels such as
bad English, improper English, broken English, rotten English etc.
At this juncture, it is pertinent to state that some scholars like Francis, Quirk, Arts and Arts,
Radford, Omamoh and Elugbe have proved that today, Pidgin has a system that can be described
coherently. They further state that the words of any language can be classified into categories of
different types – nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions,
interjections and determiners. Evidence at all levels of linguistic description – phonology,
semantics, morphology, and syntax has been used to justify their claim, thereby debunking the
negative opinion of some scholars that Pidgin is a debased form of the British Standard English
(BSE) without grammatical rules.
According to Anagbogu et al, “anything that comes from the mouth of man which systematically
conveys meaning, any system of utterance with which people interact in society, is a subject
worthy of study” (21). Premised on the foregoing, this study analyses the verb phrase (VP) of
Basic Nigerian Pidgin sentences. In order to achieve the purpose of this study, both live Pidgin
utterances and written samples were randomly collected through library and field methods and
grouped along the following:
a) Simple sentences
b) Complex sentences
c) Compound sentences
For the analysis, Chomskyean phrase structure rule was adopted as the theoretical framework.
The rewrite rule which was used to show the internal structure of each of these sentence
constituents is presented as follows:
Data Presentation
From the data collected through library and field research methods premised on live speech
samples and recordings of conversations, jingles, radio and television advertisements, the most
representative material used in the analysis are presented as follows:
Simple Sentence
A simple sentence has only one main clause and one finite or lexical verb.
a) Dis na una bank.
(This is your bank)
b) I go marry him sister
(I will marry his/her sister)
c) I don go see am.
(I have gone to see him/her/it)
Complex Sentences
A complex sentence has one independent and one or more dependent clauses. In the T.G. model
of grammar, both clause and sentence have equal syntactic status as “S” (sentence). Normally a
dependent clause has a subordinator preceding it e.g. when, which, because etc.
a) I go put oil after him don hot small.
(I will add oil when it is hot a little)
b) You go go heven if you follow Jesus.
(You will go to heaven if you follow/accept Jesus)
c) Price go up because transport add money.
(Price hiked because transport fare increased)
Compound Sentence
This is the combination of two or more simple sentences of equal importance using any of the
coordinating conjunctions: or, and, but, etc. However, a semi colon can also be used in place of
these conjunctions.
a) Monkey de work and baboon de chop.
(The monkey works and the baboon eats/enjoys)
b) We get oil but we de suffer.
(We have oil wealth yet we are suffering)
c) Jesus, you don win; Satan, you don lose.
(Jesus, you have won; Satan, you have lost)
Analysis of Data
The Verb Phrase (VP)
The VP is a phrase whose head is a verb plus its complements. In order to reflect English
sentence possibilities, T. G. Phrase Structure rewrites the verb phrase (VP) as: VP Vb +
(NP) the VP rewrite rule means that a verb phrase consists of a main verb (MV) plus a noun
phrase which is optional.
VP Analysis of Simple Pidgin Sentences
Sentence 1
Dis na una bank
(This is your bank)
Phrase Marker
VP Analysis of Simple Pidgin Sentences
Sentence A
Dis na una bank.
(This is your bank)
Phrase Marker
Aux VP
PS Rule
Tn Present
una sing
bank +
Be Verb
Sentence B
I go marry im sister.
(I will marry his/her sister.)
Phrase Marker
Aux VP
Tns Modal
Prest M
Present go
PS Rule
VP Vb + NP
Vb Trans.
Lexical Verb marry
sister sing
Sentence C
I de kampe
(I am alright/healthy/O.K./fit, etc.)
Phrase Marker
PS Rule
VP Vb + Compl.
V Intr.
Compl Adv.
be de (am)
Sentence D
I don go see am
(I have gone to see him/her/it.)
V Complement
de kampe
Phrase Marker
PS Rule
VP Vb + NP
V Trans
Trans verb see
do + en
see am
VP Analysis of Complex Pidgin Sentences
Sentence 5
I go put oil after he don hot small
(I will add oil when it is hot a little)
S1 S2
Aux VP NP2
Tns. Perf. VP
Tns. Modal
do + en
Prest Modal Prest
Present go put oil after he Present don hot small
PS Rule
VP V + (NP)
V Transitive
Trans put (add)
Adj. Adv
Sentence 6
You go go heven if you follow Jesus
(You will go to heaven if you accept/follow Jesus)
Phrase Structure Marker
S S2
Pron. Tns. Modal V NP
Tns. N
2nd pers. Prest.
You Present go go heaven if Present follow Jesus
PS Rule
V V + (NP)
V Trans.
verb: go, follow
Sentence 7
Price go up because transport add money.
(Price went up because transport is costly)
Phrase Structure Marker
V Adv V NP
N N Prest
Prest Sub.
Conj N
Price Present go up because transport Present add money
PS Rule
VP V + (Adv) + NP
V Trans
Verb: add, go
Adv. – up
VP Analysis of Compound Pidgin Sentences
Sentence 8
Monkey de work baboon de chop.
(The monkey works and the baboon eats/enjoys the salary)
Phrase Structure Marker
S1 S2
Aux VP Aux VP
Present de work and present de chop
PS Rule
V Intransitive
Verb: work, chop
Sentence 9
We get oil but we de suffer.
(We have oil wealth yet we are suffering)
Phrase Structure Marker
S1 S2
Aux VP Aux VP
V N Prest Progr.
Present get oil but Present de suffer
PS Rule
VP V + (N)
V Trans.
Verb: get, suffer
Sentence 10
Jesus, you don win; Satan, you don lose.
(Jesus, you have won; Satan, you have lost)
Phrase Structure Marker
S1 S2
Aux VP
Aux VP
Tns. Perf
Tns. Perf Conj do + en
(;) V
do + en V
present don win ; Present don lose
PS Rule
V Intransitive
Verb: win, lose
A careful study and analysis of the data in this research revealed that Nigerian Pidgin has limited
vocabulary drawn from the English language (lexifier/superstrate), it (Nigerian Pidgin) has a
system that can be described coherently just like the English language or any other language.
The analysis also revealed that Nigerian Pidgin is characterized by reduced syntax,
multifunctionality (one word to many syntactic uses) and polysemy (one word to many
meanings). For example, the AUX and the VP in the sentence
“I don go see am”
(I have gone to see him/her/it)
There are lexical and morphological differences stemming from borrowings from indigenous
languages as in “don go”… “am”, the primary auxiliary “do” is used for the perfective instead of
“have”, and “am” as the object of NP serve as a cover term for either him, her, or it.
Works Cited
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A Study Of Code-Mixing And Code-Switching In Nigerian HIP HOP RAP Music
Orji Dereck-M.A
Department of Linguistics
NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka
ChukaOkeke Charles
Department of Linguistics
NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka
Nicholas. C Akas
Department of Theatre& Film Studies
NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka
This research explored the roles of code switching and mixing in Nigerian hip hop Igbo rap music. It
is aimed at extracting the effects such techniques have in the music industry and how they are being
appreciated by the target audience. In order to carry out this research, two of Nigerian Igbo rap
artistes were selected as they are known to either combine two or more languages in their music. It
was discovered that cultural, individual, as well as other socio-political and linguistic factors might
have necessitated the mixtures and the subsequent appreciation by the audience. In conclusion, it’s
clear that the code-mixed and code-switched utterances are triggered by some situations that are
necessary for the artistes to suit the taste and reach the communicative end of their pleasure-loving
target audience.
Rap music is one of the categories of hip hop music; it is a very popular brand of music in Nigeria
which is appreciated by both the young and old because of its unique style of presentation, form and
context. Omoniyi (2009) observes that “Nigerian hip hop artistes facilitate negotiation and
construction of identity through language choice. Apart from singing in English, these sets of
Nigerian artistes use Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) and indigenous languages in their lyrics in order
to set up what might be constructed as a Pan-Nigerian identity”. This research is aimed at
discovering why these artistes code mix in their songs. It focuses on some songs in which Igbo
language predominates in the pidginize English medium used. It is also aimed at examining the
nature of the code – switching being used, investigating the possible reasons for code- switching and
looking at its effects on Nigerian music industry.
Every artiste writes his or her own song and presents it in a particular way that will reflect the
artiste’s personal style and ‘trade mark’ as Nigerians would call it. They do this for listeners to be
able to identify their songs, for example: “Iyee” is being used by Phyno as an intro in most of his
raps, while “O mere eme” is used by slowdogg in most of his.
This study covers some selected songs by Igbo rappers: Phyno and Slow dogg from Nigerian music
industry. To achieve the success of this research work, the work is as well limited to the style of
code-switching and code-mixing
Literature Review
Language is a major means of identifying a set of people, nation or country. It is also a system of
communication in speech and writing that is used by people. Daramola (2004) defines language as a
patterned, social activity of humans, displaying patterns of substance (phonic and at least potentially
graphic) form (grammar and lexis) and context. Obiamalu and Mbagwu identified 5 socio –
psychological motivations for code-switching among Igbo – English bilinguals:
Language Attitude: Most Igbo speakers of English accord more prestige to English. Sometimes,
there is conscious display of knowledge of a supposedly more prestigious language by some Igbo-
English bilinguals. For example, the utterance in the example below seems to have been motivated
by conscious display of the knowledge of English.
“A instructi go m lawyer m ka o sue ya to court”
“I have instructed my lawyer to sue him to court”
Obiamulu and Mbagwu (2007) sees the above example as conscious display of the knowledge of
English because the “English verbs used in those utterances have readily available equivalents in
Igbo”. For example, it is more natural for the person that uttered the expression above to have
rendered it thus: “A gwago m Lawyer m ka gbayaakwukwona court”. The use of the verbs ‘instruct’
and ‘sue’ in the example seems to him to have been motivated by a conscious display of the
knowledge of English.
Subconscious Linguistic Behavior:
To some Igbo-English bilinguals according to Obiamalu and Mbagwu,code-switching has become a
habit and most times occur subconsciously when speaking with another Igbo speaker whether
bilingual or monolingual .such situation may be found in a public address, formal discussion in Igbo
and informal conversation with fellow Igbo people. It is subconscious because most people may not
be aware that they have switched or be able to utter particular phrases or words
Cultural Disloyalty:
The desire for foreign things among the Igbo, could also account for the predominance of codeswitching.
Afigbo(1979) quoted in Obiamalu and Mbagwu (2007) described the Igbo people as
those who recklessly abandon their indigenous culture for foreign ones. When compared with the
Yourba and the Hausa, it seems that the Igbo man is not proud of his language and culture. A
phonological structure of Yoruba is noted, for example:
Pan-paanu (‘P’ pronounced like Igbo ‘KP’)
These terms are found in the speech of Yoruba – English bilinguals and monolinguals alike. In the
case of Igbo the use of such adapted terms is seen as an indication of lack of competence in English
and therefore marks as uneducated. We view this as an indication of lack of love for one’s language
and therefore a form of cultural disloyalty.
Lexical Gap:
There are many concepts and expressions that donot have readily available equivalents in Igbo. Igbo
speakers in this kind of situation have no choice than to switch to English. The utterance in the
example below is a good example:
 E dissolve go board ahu
 “the board has been dissolved”
The equivalent of the verb dissolve ‘gbaze’ does not capture the intended meaning to dissolve a
board: the difficulty in getting an equivalent expression could have motivated the switching
Low level of competence in Igbo:
People who have not acquired enough competence in Igbo to enable them effectively use Igbo for
communication. Such people easily resort to code-switching to hide their incompetence .This is
common among the younger generation of Igbo speakers; some of whom acquired English as their
first language. In their classification, Obiamalu and Mbagwu referred Lexical gap and low level of
competence in Igbo as Linguistic motivations for code switching.
Implication of Socio-Environmental Influence on Nigerian Hip Hop Rap Artist
Some of the current Nigerian hip hop rap artists do not just sing out of mere inspiration rather a lot
of things contributed to their style and perception of music especially in rap. The modernized style
of rapping, center mostly,on the socio-environmental factors that motivates the individual rap artists
mentally, physically and socially. The communicative rap artist (not those for entertainment) use
their rapping songs to mirror their immediate environment and unveil some of the existing social
problems such as; poor education, level of social amenities, bad road, poor governance and while
some showcase their various parental upbringing and how it affected them. Akas Nicholas affirms
that “What we enjoy as rap should go beyond articulated lyrics into understanding the under tone
message the artist aims to achieve”. (45). It is the various socio-environmental implications and its
influence that differentiates one Nigeria hip hop rap artist from other both in content and form. The
various influences of socio-environmental are as follows.
The present Nigerian rap artist costume himself to either showcase where he grew up from, to
imitate whom he sees as role model and to portray happenings in the hood.
b.Dance Style
Some of Nigerian rap artist their semiotic-communicative dance style on video at times emerge out
of what is generally popularized to be invoke or through the artist aesthetic creative impulse.
c.The Lyric
This is where code mixing and code switching plays important role. It is the tonal style of the rap
that shows his background and tourist experience either to make an impact or attract favours and
popularity from the people he is using their tonal language. Based on this, the theme of this paper
has really aided in giving Nigerian hip hop rap artist a source of cultural identification, sustainability
and as a means of boosting economic status both for the artist and Nigeria as a country. To
enumerate further an analysis of some selected songs would be carried out. They are as follows:
Song 1- Chibuzor By Phyno Ft Stormrex
This song is a mixture of Igbo, NPE and English
 From lines 19 to 22
 19. ebe my guys gwamna one day
 20. nga eh blowzi ka i.cwehdevelopue my skillz
 21. mmuachochonav.c and everyday
 22. na dinning hall nnaaku beats naneu table
We could see intra and inter-sentential code switching; the intra-sentential switching is seen in
line 19
“Ebe my guys gwamna one day“
Which translates as “where my guys told me that one day”
What might have necessitated the “my guys” in the line could be that there is no exact Igbo
equivalent for guy, so the singer decided to use the most convenient to express his view, hence; my
In line 20, we observe an intra-lexical code switching in words used by him for instance childhood
(line 34) pass (line 51), etc These could have been necessitated by the culture factor i.e. the singer is
a strong fanatic of his language and could rarely pass his message without “igbonizing” the English
word. From the analysis in this song, it could be pointed out that the artiste code switched due to the
essence of attaining originality. Cultural value and bridge in the lexical gap brought about the
inappropriate translation equivalents
Song 2 Alobam by Phyno
Phyno in this lead single of his debut album “No Guts No Glory” gives respect to the state which
raised him (Enugu). Alobam is how Phyno regards his long time friends and associates who held his
back through his come up years.
The word “alobam” which means “ride or die” is a street code which was coined from the words
“armed robber” which was a nick name in the early 90’s given to someone that does
somethingcleverly without being caught. For instance, in a secondary school, if someone comes late
and instead of joining other late students in their punishment, he sneaks away, a fellow student
having seen his smartness, will hail him saying “alobam” it could also mean a “sharp guy”.
In the first line of the chorus,
“ha men kpasanaogbejuoeseiga………”
The “men” there which introduces an intra sentential code switch is being used there because of the
lack of adequate equivalent in the Igbo lexicon. “Men” there means a normal street guy and there is
no exact Igbo equivalent for it as words like “nwoke”, “nwokemmadu”, “nwatanwoke”, “okorobia”,
“okemmadu”, “onyeoshi”, etc are not the perfect equivalents to portray the intended meaning.
In verse 1, line 24
“they ball, abu m onunaekwuluilo”
There is an obvious code switching necessitated by the gap in the lexicon of Igbo. The word “ball” is
used there as slang which means to depart from a particular place. There could be close equivalents
like “puo”, “naa”, etc, but because the song is a street song and therefore requires street slang, it is
more apt to use the “ball” which portrays a richer meaning.
It is worthy of note that this song is a code mixture of Igbo, English and Nigerian pidgin English
(NPE). The NPE is made obvious in the hook lines. This might have been triggered by the aim to
attain the street flair.
In verse 2, line 10-12
10 “nehnwammabadakehdi way onye”
11 “kolu mu two, mmunwanko the way”
12 “guys naafuuzihanaezimdi way”
“The Way” as used there is slang which means “solution”. Igbo equivalents like “uzo; etc cannot
portray the intended meaning, “ kee the way “ just as seen in line 10 is a popular slang used by
“street boys”. In the eastern part of Nigerian
In line 11, “kolu mu two……”. The “two” as used there is a slang which means “an irrelevant talk”
or “rubbish”. It could also be spelt “too”
In line 26 and 27, verse 2:
“mmunaalobamsina we no dey
Carry last”
There is an intra-sentential mixture of Igbo and Nigerian pidgin, both necessitated by the aim to
portray the originality of the message.
In line 31, same verse 2; the reduplication “pinopino” means slang name for a “hot girl”. It could
also be called a chick
Verse 3, line 18 and 19
“illblissoga boss, capital team nine bukwa
alobam, alobam”
which translates:“Ill bliss the boss, capital team are all sharp guys”
The “oga boss” is used to show respect by the singer just as it is being used by “street boys”
In the last line of the music
There is a mixture of sounds probably due to the dialect of the singer. The mixture was obviously
intentional due to the originality and typicality which the singer wishes to attain. This is found in
“culli”- /koli/ instead of “curry” /kΛri/
Song 3- Good Die Young By Pyhno
One track that stands out on Phyno’s debut album “No Guts No Glory” has to be the reminiscent
“Good Die Young”
Phyno had made a quick time for a brief stopover at Hot FM Owerri, where he shared his feelings
about the song right before his performance at Star Music Trek on april 26, 2014. ‘More than
anything, ‘Good Die Young’ is my personal journey’ admits Phyno. ‘It’s a story of my struggles, my
rise and the battles I’ve had to face on my journey. It’s the story of losing wonderful friends like Mc
Loph-it’s all there, my story, in verse 1,2,and 3’, The artiste reveals
The song is predominantly written in Igbo, with mixtures of English and additions of slang.
In line 15
“todikwa holy and osina ode se kwakpoly”
“Kpoly” there is slang which means Indian hemp. In line 14, poly (IMT) is used because there is
obviously no word in Igbo to use to replace it
In line 40,
‘osim brother lay low’
The code mixing there between English and Igbo was triggered by the reason for attaining
originality because the person could not have been using the exact words “brother lay low” the
“brother” here reflects the closeness between them which is definitely not consanguineous.
In line 43-45
43. “2011 nnacho e shoot my video
44. enwerom chi chimanaegwumnakpokwana
45. radio”
In 43, the richness of the English vocabulary was explored, as “shoot” was used to express a meaning
that Igbo vocabulary CANNOT afford. This was what necessitated the enclitic “e” before “shoot” in order
to ATTAIN the Igbo nature.
In line 44, there is a broadening of the Igbo “chi chi”
This could be seen as Igbo slang borrowed from the English word “shilling” which means a coin
formerly used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Nigeria and many other common wealth
countries. The meaning has now been broadened in Igbo to mean “any money”. Hence, in that
sentence in line 44 and 45, it is translated as “I’ve no money, but my song is playing on radio”
The “radio” as used there is to maintain the familiarity with the audience, because so many of them
will understood more when radio is used in place of the Igbo equivalent “igweokwu”
Line 47 also portrays another lexical gap in the Igbo vocabulary as “loan” is well because there
is no exact equivalent in Igbo.
In line 52, “ndiorituu down”
“tuu down” is slang which means a sudden appearance of someone. It’s a mixture of Igbo-
“tu”(land, as in descend) and English- “down” (ana as in bottom)
In the last verse, line 1, 2,3,4,5 and 6, we can see the code mixing necessitated by the aim to achieve
1 obiajuluna one rapper nna e look up to
2 first time mfuluya I was so afraid to walk up to
3 I know say I want to
4 ofu obi asi m not to
5 maka then e gubaIgbo rappers o so na first
6 two
The rhyming scheme is seen in the sound /tu/ brought about by the words ‘to’ and ‘two’; this is also
seen in the same verse from verse 7-13, where the sound/ae/ as seen in words like ‘fan’,’plan’,’jam’,
and ‘man’
In same verse, line 22
“all man ebe” meaning “everyone cried”
“all man” as used here is slang which means everyone. In the Igbo equivalent, we could have
“nwokenile” “nwokenanwanyi”, “mmadunile” etc, but these may not be enough to portray the
exactness of the artistes meaning. Hence, a form of Igbo lexical gap exists.
This is a piece of praise of ugly girls; though no girl would admit that she is ugly because they
believe beauty does not only lie in the face, it is within. Notwithstanding their claims, slowdogg
believes that ugly [worwor] girls still abound, but he gave them some reasons to smile by stating
some factual points about the ugly girls in contrast with the beautiful ones. This music is a mixture
of English and Nigerian Pidgin English [NPE], then a little bit of Igbo. The artiste mixed NPE in the
first verse in order to soften the formality of the song. The English language in Nigeria is used
mainly on formal occasions, and the first line of the song is written in English.The effect of the use
of NPE in the second line is to make it less formal. As pointed. Slow dogg is a rapper who adds
comedy to his rap. This could be proven by the usage of NPE predominantly in this piece. This
explains why he immediately switched over to pidgin in the line 3.
In the 4 lines of the bridge, the singer had to switch to English because of the seriousness of the
point he tried to drive home. In line 16, ‘Nnaah, the girl choroigbu m with booty’ the Igbo language
was used there first and it translates ‘man, the girl got me fascinated with her booty’. The mother
tongue of the artiste was used in order to send the message home and connect to his own root. NPE
was predominantly used in this music by the artiste in order to widen his impact and reach, as the
NPE could be seen as a lingua franca in its own way. NPE identifies with Nigeria as a whole and can
be understood by a very high percentage of Nigerians irrespective of their tribe or background, and
even some parts of Africa like Ghana, Niger, etc.
The artiste tried to simplify his words to make sure that the target audience gets the message. That is
one of the reasons why he used predominantly the Nigerian Pidgin English. He even had to use in
his next verse, line 6, the compound word ‘half cast’ notwithstanding the fact that the word is an
offensive word to people of dual origin. The better form is ‘mixed blood’ but Nigerians understand
the ‘half cast’ more, and most of them do not even know that it is offensive
It is worthy of note that this particular piece code switches among four languages: English, Igbo,
NPE and French.The style of code switching found here was brought about by the lexical gap in the
Igbo language the aura of the cultural influence, the deliberate wish to code switch in order to get to
the target audience, the different moods of the artistes, among others.
The lexical gap found in the Igbo language could be found in the first verse by Slow dogg, line 12
and 14 in the words ‘immense’ and ‘florescence’ respectively, where there is no Igbo equivalent for
them that could suit the singer’s choice.
In the same verse, line 4‘Call me slow, baby’
The‘baby’ used there doesn’t just mean a little child, rather the meaning is extended to mean his
listeners, i.e. his fans.
In the lines 31 & 32, we have the French expression
32. Comment cava’
Going further to the next lines of the lyrics, it is noticed that this French mixture was brought
about by his comic nature to prove to the girl that he can speak French
The data collected in this work shows a lot of code-switching done by two of the Nigerian Igbo rap
artistes in their song lyrics. It shows how they use their indigenous languages as well as NPE and
English, even French in the composition of their lyrics.
After critically examining the randomly selected songs in the both artistes’ music, it has been found
out that code mixed utterances could be motivated as a result of language gap, societal factors,
stylistics motivations, domain message, intrinsic factors, amidst other motivations. It has also been
found out that some morphological processes like semantic shift, contraction and clipping are
employed alongside the code mixed utterances.
Finally, the use of pidgin by these artistes helps them cut across to all their audience from different
background, leaving no room for anyone to feel left out. NPE is a language that unifies all Nigerians
and the use of it helps facilitate closer rapport between users. Therefore, the use of NPE by the
artistes creates a form of connection between the artistes and the audience.
From the findings made in the course of this work, it is evident that code mixed utterances is
triggered by some motivations.Code mixing shows a language user’s dynamism and competence to
creatively compose songs in order to fulfill their goals of satisfying and communicating with the
pleasure loving and pleasure seeking audience.
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expressions’. (vol 3). Awka: Amaka dreams.
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Using Didactic Poetry To Moderate Vulgar Language Among Youths
Nonyelum M. Obi, Ph.D.
Department Of Igbo, African And Asian Studies,
Faculty of Arts,
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
+2348064444837; nonyemobi06@yahoo.com
The study sets out to examine the influences of didactic modernIgbo poetry on youth language.
Youth language is often commented upon by adults as comprising of slang items, vulgarism and
non-standard patterns. Parents and teachers as well, often have critical and negative attitudes
over the adolescent language, judging it as ‘sloppy’ or dirty and attempting to correct vernacular
features, vulgar words, slangy words, local accents, code-mixing and so on. This therefore
motivated the researcher into finding out the role of didactic modern Igbo poetry in shaping of
the youth language to help them learn choosing the right words and avoiding dirty words that
usually amount to vulgarism. The work is an analytical survey. To carry out this work
effectively, the researcher critically studied the selected didactic modern Igbo poems. In
addition, some literature relevant to the study were reviewed. Thus adequate information were
gathered which were analysed. The theoretical frame-work adopted for the study is Aristotle’s
Rhetorical Theory. This literary approach is relevant to this study because it advocates the type
of discourse whose chief aim is to persuade an audience to think and feel or act in a particular
way. It is hoped that this work will help in shaping the language of the adolescence as they will
learn to use vulgar and slang words with caution. The work which is limited to studying youth
language, highlighting and analyzing didactic motifs found in the selected poems reveal that: (a)
Sociolinguists generally agree that adolescence is life stage in which language change is most
clearly visible.(b) Didactic modern Igbo poems play vital role in teaching, rebuking and
advising the adolescence to use the right language. (c) The didactic motifs articulated in the
modern Igbo poems dwell on vital issues that will help to bring about the necessary positive
desired change. The researcher recommends that since didactic modern Igbo poems play vital
role in effecting the necessary desired change, Igbo poets have to devote adequate attention to
poetry writing.
Igbo youths in the quest for numerous identities in the globalised world have been entangled in
the dilemma of cultural alienation and therefore have embraced western style of life and
speaking as a form of identity without considering its cultural and moral implications. Obi (488)
notes that identity confusion had been increasing among young people in Nigeria ethno –
linguistic cultures as a result of globalization. She notes that the globalization of western
mundane values is capable of separating people particularly the youths from their natural
traditional and spiritual consciousness. The use of digital phones and internet connections among
the youths makes it difficult to monitor and control the lives of the youths. A critical observation
of the language of youths reveal rampant use of slangy items and vulgar language.
Youth language refers to all patterns of language use in the social age of adolescence,
encompassing all range of linguistic description. Sociolinguistics generally agree that
adolescence is the stage in which language change is most clearly visible. According to Eckert
(185), “Adolescents are the linguistic movers and shakers, at least in western industrialized
societies, and as such, a prime source of information about linguistic change and the role of
language in social practice.”
Research clearly shows that certain aspects of youth language especially slangs and vulgarism
innovations are frequently attributed to mass-media influences.
Youth language as Kotsinas (115-118) notes;
Is often commented upon by adults, and parents and teachers often have a
critical and negative attitude towards adolescent language judging it as “sloppy”
and attempting to correct vernacular features such as local accents, slang words,
vulgar terms, discourse particles, or code mixing.
As it were, the researcher restricts the notion of youth language to spoken language . The thrust
of this paper is to examine how didactic modern Igbo poem can be a veritable instrument in
teaching and admonishing the youths on the need to avoid using slangs and vulgar languages that
are capable of generating conflicts in homes and society at large. The theoretical frame-work
adopted for the study is Aristotle’s Rhetorical theory. This literary approach is relevant to this
study because it advocates the type of discourse whose chief aim is to persuade an audience to
think and feel or act in a particular way. In this case the direction of the study is for the poet to
use his poem to persuade the youths; to make them see why they need to be careful on how
they use slangy language. The youths have to be cautioned to avoid using vulgar expressions
that can be provocative so as to maintain and sustain peace and harmony in home and society.
Research proves that there are occasions where the careless use of slangs and vulgar words have
led to provocation and fighting due to the individual differences among the youths.
Youth Language
Youth language is taken to refer to all patterns of language use in the social age of adolescence,
encompassing all ranges of linguistic description. The numerous youth identities that developed
in the twentieth century, with their distinctive fashions in clothing, hairstyle, music, dance, and
language, were facilitated through the rapid growth of mass and social media. That is why youth
languages are usually associated with mass media influences.
Many studies on the youth language observe linguistic innovations and change as well as in
vernacular speech and in group interaction. Labov (350-353) notes that the vernacular
vocabulary that is habitually used by young people is referred to as ‘youth slangs’. Labov opines
that the areas known for their abundance in youth slangs are social categorizations, mental and
emotional states, sexuality, state of intoxication, evaluative and intensifying vocabulary. Often,
adults, both parents and teachers have critical and negative attitudes toward youth language,
seeing it as being ‘dirty’ and wishing to correct the vernacular features such as local accents,
slangy words and vulgar expressions. Many researchers see youth language as a reaction to
general conditions of adolescence as a transitional life stage. Adolescents are increasingly
engaging in social activities, in which group membership and sexuality play a central part. This
leads to what Eckert (14) refers to as “exposition of linguistic activity in secondary school”.
Language use in adolescence is also discussed in terms of the structure of adolescent peer
groups and communicative demands of peer- groups interaction. According to Chambers
Adolescence is an age of communicative nearness, in which dense social l
networks press for linguistic conformism. Most interactions take place among
friends and acquaintances. Practices such as verbal dueling in adolescent
interactions are means of demonstrating skills and claiming status in the peergroup.
Vulgar terms of address and taboo vocabulary can be considered as
markers of positive politeness(105)
That is to say that the youths always want to be closer and interact with peer group in their
language. Their language of communications usually comprises slang and vulgar terms.
Adolescents usually use vulgar languages and taboo vocabulary as a marker of politeness,
friendliness and solidarity. Chambers notes that adolescent’s networks are wider than those of
children, and therefore more open to external influences. Adolescent’s well known engagement
with pop music and media culture means that the resources they draw on in their linguistic
identity construction are not just local but also global particularly on a vocabulary level.
In addition, youths are known by their expressive and playful use of language. The researcher
has earlier stated that this study limits the notion of youth language to spoken language and faceto-
face interaction, also including telephone conversations and e-mails where the type of slangs
and vulgar languages can easily be assessed. As it were, youths are fond of using slangs, vulgar
terms and non- standard vocabulary in communication and in conversation. Young people
borrow a great deal of vernacular English words and expressions.
Slangs and vulgarisms are often invented in keeping with new ideas and developments. Okon
(167) notes that slangs and taboo words relate to occurrences of the time, thus confirming the
dynamic nature of language. Their invention often consists of using already existing words with
totally new meanings ascribed to them; that is, extending their semantic domain, and of coining
new words from already existing ones. Slangs and taboo/ vulgar words vary depending on the
speech community
Below are some typical examples of slang terms and vulgar expressions often heard among
Table 1
Slang Terms Connotation
i. Jambite ‘A fresh male student admitted into the university through JAMB’
ii. Jambito ‘A fresh female student admitted into the university through JAMB”
The words “Jambite” and Jambito were not found in the vocabulary until 1978 when the joint
Admissions and Matriculation Board came into being.
iii. Maintain Cool down
iv. Shine your eyes Be alert
v. Fuck up Disappoint/Spoil
vi. To viblate (from vibrate)to talk and so on.
Table 2
Okeke (39) identified these following vulgar expressions among youths__
Vulgar Expression Connotation
i. Ifensonye Coitus
ii. Nwabebinyemifegi Surrender your womanhood
iii. Do me, do me have sex with me
iv. Who get this thing wey dey wind Wanton shaking of the hips
v. Ifedaladaadago Flattened female breast (and so on).
As a matter of fact, many youths can comfortably use these words among themselves; but
there are some youths who detest these taboo words and as such will not like to partake in using
them. But research shows that many youths tend to use these vulgar and slang words without
caution. This act can lead to provocations and quarrels that can even escalate to a serious
problem. Moreover, some youths even tend to use these vulgar and slang words while speaking
with their elders and in official situations. It is in this backdrop that the researcher tends to
examine the role which modern didactic Igbo poems can play in youths’ orientation and conduct
with regards to their use of language.
Obviously, as noted above those youths that use dirty slangs and vulgar words lack good
upbringing. Another important factor that influence youth language is environment. The type of
environment where a child is born and brought up determines the type of language he/she will be
using. For example, the language use of a child born and brought up in Ajegunle area of Lagos
will definitely be difference with that of a child born and brought up in GRA and Festac areas of
Lagos. Research shows that children from rural area like Ajegunle use more of slangy and vulgar
Didactic Poetry
Didactic poem is the poem that has as its major purpose the instruction or guidance of the reader,
particularly in moral, or religious matter, as well as in politics, science, and other affairs. As a
matter of fact, all genres of literature may be considered didactic to some degree in that they
exist to communicate some emotional facts or idea. It is pertinent to emphasize that a work will
mostly be classified as didactic, if what the writer tends to pass across is given more priority over
its artistic quality.
In commenting on didacticism, Nwadike (58) notes that they have to do with teaching something
as well as urging people to change their bad characters. Obviously, didactic in all its
ramifications, has to do with teaching, instructing or advising with a view of improving a
person(s) behavior.
According to Andrzejewski at el (185), Mudi Sipikin, an Hausa (born in 1930) is the author of
some 300 didactic poems on religion, politics, science, economics, and social life. In a collection
of poems he published in 1971, he notes the skillfulness of the people of old, emphasizing the
virtue of uprightness, respect for social order and acceptance of the social hierarchy. He
deplores the weakening of family ties and the bonds among neighbours and contrasts this with
the situation in former times when even a stranger or lost traveler might depend on help and
would feel safe among the Hausa people.
Andrzejekweski et al (246), opine that poems that appear in Nigerian periodical are didactic. For
example, they advice women on how to be good wives, call on them to observe rules of hygiene,
teach them how to take care of their babies and to fight diseases, and the like. Other didactic
poems deal with social and economic problems, and in particular they try to teach and persuade
young people not to leave the village. They also advise and encourage the young people to join
in the ‘’Operation Feed the Nation’ campaign.
Theoretical Framework
The study adopts Aristotle’s Rhetorical theory as its bases. According to Abrams (311), the
theory advocates that the study of literary work will be based on the means and devices that the
writer uses in order to achieve the intellectual and emotional effects on the audience that will
persuade them to see the writer’s point of view. In the work of Mckeon (1328-1329) persuasion
means to influence, to explain, to urge and to advice. He further notes that of the modes of
persuasion furnished by the spoken words, there are three kinds: The first kind depends on the
personal character of the speaker, the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of
mind; the third on the apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself.
Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to
make us think him credible. The concern of Aristotle’s Rhetoric theory is with the type of
discourse whose chief aim is to persuade an audience to think and feel or act in a particular way.
In the present study, it is believed that persuasion will help to change the mind of the youths
with regards to their language use especially with their use of vulgar expressions and filthy
slangy terms.
Instructing and Admonishing the Youths on their Use of Language Using Didactic Igbo
This instruction and admonition is very necessary since adolescence is a phase of slangs and
vulgar terms usage as well as other non- standard vocabulary on all range of linguistic
description in their conversation.
The researcher will now examine Igbo didactic poems to illustrate her point on teaching the
youths to mind how they use their language so as to avoid making provocative utterances that
are capable of causing trouble and disorder among themselves and in society at large. In one of
his poems titled “Oji Onu Egbu Oji” (“A Braggart”), Ogugua (43) frowns at the attitude
exhibited by some Nigerian youths which can cause another ethnic crises if not controlled early.
His ill feelings against the behavior of some Nigerian youths which is similar to what led to the
past Nigeria/ Biafra civil war is stated in the following lines of the poem.
Igbo Version
Onu gi o gbawakwala
Dika igwe na- eti aku
Obi gi okowakwala ozo dika futbolu?
Itiwakwala umu nne gi ndi Nigeria
Dika Dick Tiger…..?
Oji onu egbu oji
Chere ka m gwa gi
Afo ano gara aga.
Translated English Version
(Has your mouth started sounding again
like a palm- kernel- breaking machine?
Has your heart started swelling up again like football?
Have you started beating your fellow Nigerians
Like Dick Tiger ……?
The braggart
Have you started (making trouble again) ?
From the lamenting tone, of the poem, it is obvious that the poet, Ogugua, is making reference to
the Biafra and Nigeria civil war and its destructive consequences. He notes that Nigeria is still
groaning the loss encountered in the civil war as shown in the following lines of poem.
Igbo Version
Nigeria aka agbas[gh[ mkpe
Ndi, i dubara n’onwu ike
Site ] okwu onu g[
Na ajo omume g[
Translated English Version
(Nigeria has not stopped mourning
those you led to untimely death
through your utterances
And bad behavior).
The poet sees wrong use of language such as provoking and inciting utterances, aggression and
fury as what is capable of causing crises and thereby distorting peace and tranquility in Nigeria.
Through the effective manipulation of language by the poet, the emotion of anger and fear
brought about by what the poet is saying is heightened. The level of the unguarded utterances
of fury and aggression manifested by the youths can be seen in the imagery employed in the
three similes the poet has used. The unhealthy utterances made by people are compared with the
kind of noise generated by a palm kernel cracking machine. Also their bitter and furious heart is
likened to swell up as a football. In addition, the people’s physical combat with one another is
compared to the boxing action of Dick Tiger.
By this poem, the poet tends to warn Nigerian youths whose careless and unguarded utterances
and actions are capable of generating crises similar to the past Nigeria/ Biafra war. His
admonition to the people reads as follows:
Igbo Version
Udo na ihunanya ka mma
Ndi Nigeria ka anyi biri n’udo
Burukwa nd[ nche umunne anyi
(Peace and love are better
Nigerians let us live together in peace
And be our brothers’ keepers).
In this last stanza with which Ogugua, the poet concludes his poem, he admonishes/ advises
people to maintain love and peaceful co-existence in Nigeria. The poet notes that avoiding
provocative utterances and exercising good manner will make way for peaceful co- existence in
Nigeria. The poet also advises people to cultivate the habit of being their brothers’ keepers
which is an aspect of African culture. The poet is concerned with how people use language. He is
aware of the fact that provocative utterances have always been the sources of many crises in
Nigeria. The poet understands that the adolescents always make heavy use of slangs and vulgar
terms in their communication and conversation; and as such there is the need to caution them
using didactic poems to avoid generating unnecessary crises and tension among themselves and
in the society as a whole. If the youths are not cautioned on their use of language, their negative
attitude in their heavy use of slangs and vulgar expressions could jeopardize their peaceful coexistence
and the unity of the society. Thus the poet warned the people against using provoking
and inciting utterances, aggression and fiery that can generate crises thereby disorder and
unnecessary tension and confusion in Nigeria. His literary work of art in this perspective
therefore becomes a veritable tool in shaping and controlling the adolescent’s use of language.
The Igbo poet, who sees him/ herself as part and parcel of the society, shows that he is
committed to encouraging positive attitudes among the people particularly the youths who are
the potential leaders of tomorrow. The poet therefore exhibits that quality of a man of many parts
which Ikokwu quoting Ezejideaku’s definition of poet notes that;
A literary artist is a man of many parts. He is at one and the same time a
visionary, a reformer, a political or socio- cultural watchdog, a satirist, a praise
singer, a chronicler of events, a teacher and the people’s spokesman(167).
Obviously, the message of Ogugua’s poem is still very useful to the present Nigeria situation.
Summary and Conclusion
The foregoing discussion so far has highlighted that youths language refers to all patterns of
language use in the social age of adolescence encompassing all range of linguistic descriptions
such as slangs and vulgar terms. The study notes that there is the need to call the youths to order
and guide them in their use of language to avoid creating unnecessary problems. This can be
achieved by using didactic Igbo poem to caution the youths to mind their language and to avoid
using provocating and inciting utterances that can generate crises among people.
Didactic Igbo poem, which is a type of Igbo poetry is a veritable tool if properly utilized in
shaping and directing the adolescents’ use of language.
Works Cited
Abrams,. M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms (9th edition) Canada: Wadworth Cengage
Learning, 2009 p.311.
Andrzejewski; B.W; S. Pilaszewicz, and W. Tyloch. (Eds). Literature in African Language
Theoretical Issues and Sample Surveys, Cambridge, London: University Press.1985
Chambers, J. Sociolinguistic Theory , Oxford: Oxford University, 1995 p.105.
Eckert, P. “Adolescent Social Structure and the Spread of Linguistic Charge” in Language in
Society. 1988, p. 185.
Eckert, p. Linguistic Variation as a Social Practice, Oxford ;Oxford Printing Press, 2000, p. 14.
Ikeokwu, E.S “The Literary Artist as the Visionary and Mirror of the Society” in African
Journal of Research in Education (Eds.),A Compilation of Research in Education
Theory and Practice Vol. 2,2002; P.67.
Kotsinas; U. “Young People’s Language, Norm, Variation and Language Change” in Stockholm
Studies in Modern Philology, N.S.11, 1997. PP. 125- 128
Labov; T. “Social and Language Boundaries Among Adolescents” in American Speech, 1992,
pp. 350-355.
Mckeon, R. The Basic Works of Aristotle. (Eds)., Chapel Hill, New York: University of North
Carolina Press, 2001, pp.1328-1329.
Nwadike, I.U. Ntoala Agumagu, Nigeria: Ifunanaya Publishers, 1992, p.58.
Obi, N.M “Globalization Process and Nigerian Literary Artists in the third Millennium”, in The
Humanities and Globalization in the third Millennium (Eds.), Awka: Rex Charles and
Patrick, 2010, p.488.
Ogugua, O.L.Obiageli, Onitsha: University Publishing Company (n.d.)pp.34-35.
Okeke, I.N “Vulgarism as the Language of Nigerian Popular Music: A Call for Re-educating the
Young Using Didactic and Folk Songs” in The Humanities & National Identity
(Eds.), Faculty of Arts NAU, Awka, 2013,p.39.
Okon, M.M. “The Use of Slangs Among University and Polytechnic Students of Calabar in
Four Decades in the Study of Language and Linguistics in Nigeria, A Festschrift For
Kay Williamson, Ozo- Mekuri Ndimele (Ed.) 2006,p.167.
A Sociolinguistic Study of Greetings in Ngwa Speech Community.
Nwokocha, Ngozi Stella1, Ahamefula, N.O.1 & Ezemoka Augustina2
1. Department of Linguistics, Igbo and Other Nigerian Languages, University of Nigeria,
2. F.C.T. College of Education, Zuba, Abuja
E-mail: ngozistella202@gmail.com
The purpose of this study is to investigate the forms of greetings in the Ngwa speech community.
This study is spurred by the dearth of documented resource materials on some aspects of culture
as the one under study, in some dialects or speech communities as the case may be; most
especially the under-tapped Ngwa speech community. The politeness theory of Brown and
Levison was adopted in this study. Furthermore, the Ngwa speech community was explored, and
their linguistic information was showcased. The method of data collection was oral interview
while the research population consists of speakers of Ngwa dialect, residing in Ngwa speech
community. Data for this study were collected through a survey research method while the
instrument for data collection was basically interview and observation. The study reveals that
there are some forms of greetings in the Ngwa speech community that were gender-bound but in
the course of time, it became gender-universal. Also, some other forms are socially based as well
as others that are determined by the purpose or the state of being of the inter-locutors.
To say that man is a social being is to state the obvious. He associates with his fellows in other to
meet his needs. Thus, out of necessity, man co-operates with the social nexus and gives a certain
measure of efforts to fulfill the needs of others as well as his. All these are placed together in the
concept of a society. Thus; as a result of man’s needs, they form what is called a society, where
they use language to communicate their intents.
Language according to Ejiọfọ (2006:6), “Language is one of the means by which a group of
people together with their culture are identified”. He further opined that language is not just a
feature but also a means of identifying the level, status and strength of the people. He states that
the language of any group grows as the people grow; but on the other hand, when the language
dies, the culture will definitely go down with it; Thus, affecting the people.
Bamgboṣe (2003:71) avers that, “language can be used for making a distinction in the society”.
That is why one cultures differs from the other; because, culture and language are interwoven.
Thus, while the culture of a society is expressed through language, language then embodies the
culture of the people and as such, is used to identify and/or distinguish them.
Since greeting is a culture, and because of its necessity, the most frequently adopted of all
cultures and as the culture of a people is expressed through language, so are their greetings.
A synopsis of the Ngwa people speech community
The success to the effort of tracing the anthropological account of the Ngwa people is attributed
to oral literature. According to this historical account, the Ngwa people settled where they
presently are today owing to the search for a greener pasture.
According to Wikipedia (2015), the ethnonym, ‘Ngwa’ is a term used to describe the people,
their indigenous territory and their native tongue. There is indeed, a dearth of documented
account of the origin of the word or the people ‘Ngwa’ but in the pre-colonial era; one source of
information appears to be a booklet written a few years ago by a prominent historian and
archivist, His Royal Highness, Eze J.E.N. Nwagụrụ. His proximity to the National Archives in
Enugu made his work an acceptable source of information.
One of the Igbo groups that are involved in migrating with other groups is the Ngwa people.
From culture, written documents and oral history, the following legend holds sway that Ngwa
people were of common ancestry with Mbaise people. They migrated from Nri (farther part of
Anambra), reached a point they met Imo River which at that time formed a natural barrier.
During a favourable season, possibly in extreme dry season, the river receded to a crossable
According to Akwaranwa (1988), at this time, the Mbaise group was busy roasting yam to eat.
The Ngwa group cooked their own and hurriedly passed through this natural barrier before it
grew back to its former level. When the Mbaise people were ready to cross, the river had grown
back to a frightful level. They therefore could not cross again.
Hence, they (the region across the Imo River) was named the Ngwa people ‘Ndị Ngwangwa’
which means ‘quick’ people. It appears that the first place of settlement by these pioneer settlers
was in a place known today as Okpuala Ngwa. This oral historical account has it that the word
‘Ngwa’ was a short form of the Igbo adjective ‘Ngwangwa’ meaning ‘quickly’. The Ngwa
people in turn fondly address the people across the Imo River ‘Ndị Ọhụhụ’ which was coined
from the Igbo verb (infinitive) ‘ịhụ’ which means ‘to roast’ because the roasted their yam instead
of boiling.
Further stressing, Amechi (2013), is of the opinion that Ngwa people are heterogeneous in decent
with greater affinity to Mbaise and Owerri people. The Ngwa man is a farmer by occupation and
takes any type of trade as a means of livelihood. He is industrious and fends for his immediate
and extended families as the need arises. The emphasis laid on peasantry, is further established
by the proverb ‘Nwa ogbede awọm nka avọ ahịa’, which means that ‘a small farm is greater than
trading basket’.
Nwaozuzu (2008:100) records, “the Ngwa dialect falls under the South Eastern group of dialects
(SEGD) spoken in areas like Isiala-Ngwa North and South, Obingwa, Osisiọma, Ụkwa East and
West L.G.A”. Since the dialects spoken in all these areas are almost identical, the data for this
research will further be drawn from the areas indicated above.
Theoretical framework
This paper anchors on the theoretical basis stated in the politeness theory of Brown and Levinson
(1978) and (1987). Politeness theory is the theory that accounts for the redressing of the affronts
to face posed by face-threatening acts to an addressee. It was first formulated in 1978 by
Penelope Brown and Steven Levinson. Politeness is the expression of the speaker’s intention to
mitigate face threats carried by certain face threatening acts towards another.
Brown (1978), avers that, to be polite means to abide by the rules of a relationship, and one is
impolite when he violates such rules. On the other hand, Holmes (2008:281), posits that,
“politeness involves taking account of the feelings of others. Wardhaugh (2006), is of the
opinion that the concept of politeness bears on face.
They further identified positive and negative politeness. To them, positive politeness involved
the positive and consistent image people have of themselves and their desire for approval. To
Holmes (2008), this type of politeness is solidarity oriented because it emphasizes attitudes and
values. Negative politeness on the other hand is the basic claim to territories, personal preserves
and right to non-distraction.
Greeting as a culture
In every society, there are certain ways of doing things of which most of them are acceptable as
norms. These modes of actions may be peculiar to a people thereby varying from one society to
the other. These accepted ways of doing things are adopted by the members of the society as
According to Igbo, E. U. M., and Anugwom, E. E (2001), culture are the generally learned and
shared ways of doing things that are peculiar to a given society. Thee further opined that culture
can be seen as the most peculiar and unifying property of a society, especially, when it is
reached that when people come and go (die),the culture remains. In other words, culture is superorganic.
In support of this, Aguene (2005), is of the view that whatever a group of people that inhabit in a
defined geographical area do to live their lives is their culture. The language they speak, the type
of food they eat, the type of house they build, how they greet one another, how they treat women,
hoe they treat the aged, hoe they govern themselves, how they worship, etc. He further stated
that all people of the world have their philosophy of live which guides them, and how they put
that philosophy into practice is their culture.
Bodley (2009), sees culture as the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social
groups learn, create, and share. He further opines that culture distinguishes one human group
from others. It also distinguishes humans from other animals. A people’s culture includes their
beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, technology, styles of dress, ways of producing
and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems.
Greetings according to Akmajian (2008), is basically an expression of pleasure at meeting
someone which varies enormously in complexity and formality.
Empirical studies
Many scholars have carried out researches on greetings and have arrived at different
observations in the various areas of study. Thus, Atowa (2006), observed that greetings as a
systematic act could mark respect or disrespect, appropriateness or inappropriateness. In her
research on the Ngwa dialect of the Igbo language, she observed that ‘maazi’ which is a form of
greeting marks respect for the elders or seniors. She also observed that in the Ngwa speech
community, it is the younger ones that initiate greetings. She further observed that on the arrival
of a visitor, duty calls that the visitor should initiate greetings and other pleasantries.
Orji (2009), observed that greetings in Isuikwuato express love and happiness. She further notes
that sometimes elders initiate greetings especially, if the elder needs help. Otherwise, the
younger one initiates greeting as fond in the Ngwa speech community.
Onuigbo (1993), notes that greeting in Igbo as a cultural performance are influenced by social
variables are the age, gender and status of the interactants. He further stated that initiation of
greeting in the Igbo society is predicted on asymmetrical relationship between greeters.
According to him, in the Igbo society, the younger ones initiates greeting with the older person,
the female with the male, the status inferior with the status superior. Where sex and age conflict,
age will be considered. He further observed that the first to initiate eye contact initiates greeting
and when the superior status initiates greeting, it is interpreted as an indirect remark on the
negligence of the younger one to fulfill his/her socially expected duty. Greetings cut across
cultures and plays a very salient role as it is the medium through which interlocutors initiate
pleasantries prior to any other desire or non-desire for communication.
This work bears on the general greeting patterns in the Ngwa speech community. The
observation method was adopted where about twenty-five adult native speakers of the Ngwa
dialect were observed on different occasions of speech act event of greeting. The data on
greeting were gathered during interpersonal and social interactions by the observed individuals.
The data gathered were analyzed and documented. The data gathered cut across the varieties of
the Ngwa dialect. Interview method was adopted where the need arose. The interview included
male and female adults who are knowledgeable in the culture of the Ngwa people, ranging
between the ages of 35-75 years; the respondents were randomly selected. The information
gathered was further analyzed using researcher’s intuition as a native speaker of the Ngwa
Greetings in Ngwa speech community
General greetings.
General greeting are called ‘ekele’ and are regarded as prime in the culture of the Ngwa people.
This is why the adage goes: ‘ekwee ekele ihu a saa’ which means ‘greetings initiate cordiality’.
Someone who does not greet is always regarded as being rude and/or not well trained. In the
English language and other languages of the world, several greetings are used to mark of the
three periods of the day. That is ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ and ‘good evening’. This does
not abound in Ngwa as one form of greeting can be used for the three demarcations of the day.
a. Greeting response
Maazị nde
Naawo nna nwafọ
Kaa nka nka mara ghị
Dabiri anyị mkpewara chi
It is worthy of note that in the olden days, it is only the aged females that are greeted with this
form of greeting but, in the present time, it has become a universal greeting among both adult
male and female individuals. This form of greeting is used to wish the greeted long life in good
health. Also, it is only the children and youth that initiate tis form of greeting and on no occasion
does the elder greeting children with this form of greeting.
b. Greeting response
Mma mma o Ị dị mma
Noteworthy is the fact that this form of greeting is found among native speakers of Ngwa dialect
around Ntigha area in Isiala Ngwa North. This sect are mostly marked by haven been influenced
by Umuahịa people and culture because of their proximity. Like the form of greeting above, this
form of greeting is being addressed by children and youth to the adult and old people. It is used
to with an elder well while the response is used by an elder to inquire about the child’s or youth’s
Other general greetings include:
Greeting response
c. Ị bịala Ee.
The form above is used to welcome a visitor.
d. Ị lọla Ee.
The form above is addressed to the owner of the house on arrival from a journey.
e. Gaanụ/Ijeoma Oo.
This form is used to bid farewell to a visitor while he/she leaves.
f. Ndo Oo.
This form of greeting is addressed to a bereaved or misfortune in sympathy of his/her ill
g. Imewala/jisike Oo.
This form of greeting is addressed to somebody at work to encourage him/her.
Socio-gender bound greetings
a. Greeting response
Amaala mmamma nụ iya
Kelewa nụ ,,
Mụọ nụ ,,
Zụọ nụ ,,
Rie nụ ,,
Kwezuo nụ o heee…
It should be noted that this form of greeting is only used by men in an occasion and it is being
addressed to a group of people and not a single individual. Women do not use this form of
greeting. Therefore, it is seen as an abomination if this occurs. The female counterparts have
their form of greeting when they are in a group for any event thus:
b. Greeting response
Ejee ndem di m di bụ ugwu
Ndem di m, kelewa nu o di bụ ugwu
Unu nabata m wo ma agwa ghị dị mma / ma alụọ ghị alụọ
This form of greeting is peculiar to the female folk most especially in social gatherings.
c. Greeting response
Singular. Plural.
Ị nọọla ye unu anọọla ye Ee
Ndeewo Ndeewo nụ Oo
It is worthy of note that a child or youth does not address this form of greeting above to an elder
but an elder can address a fellow or a child/youth with this form.
Findings and conclusion
This paper set out to investigate the forms of greetings in the Ngwa speech community. A point
that has clearly manifested itself is that some greetings in Ngwa speech community are age and
gender bound in the sense that some greeting are peculiarly addressed to elders by children and
youth and in most cases, a child or youth initiates greeting. This implies that greetings are
controlled by a set of norms.
From the above study, it is notable that greeting is used to initiate and maintain social relations.
Ikwu, L. O., Nwaozuzu, G. I., & Agbedo, C. U. (2013), accepted this by stating the fact that we
live in a community where there is need to communicate. These communications according to
them begin with greetings which form the preamble to any formal or informal discussion. That is
why it is patterned and determined by the status noted above.
In the Ngwa speech community, much importance is attached to greeting because it expresses
goodwill, love, appreciation, among others. It enhances solidarity and marks one’s identity.
Equally important, the study reveals that there are some forms of greetings in the Ngwa speech
community that were gender-bound but in the course of time, it became gender-universal.
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