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Religious Studies

An Investigation Of The Concept Of Sin And Evil In African Cosmology, With A Specific Focus On The Ahiazu Mbaise Community

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ABSTRACT

In Ahiazu Mbaise, the concepts of sin and evil have deep cultural, social, and psychological implications. Traditional beliefs, influenced by Christian teachings, shape the community’s understanding of morality and spirituality. Ancestral veneration, moral codes, and taboos play a vital role in maintaining community cohesion and identity. Socially, the concepts of sin and evil serve as tools of control and norm enforcement, but they can also lead to conflicts and accusations, particularly concerning witchcraft. Psychologically, they evoke feelings of guilt, fear, and anxiety, prompting coping mechanisms and rituals for protection and cleansing. Understanding these implications is crucial for appreciating the complexity of belief systems and their effects on individuals’ lives in Ahiazu Mbaise.

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Sin is a concept that is present in almost all religions and cultures of the world. It is defined as an act that violates divine law and results in negative consequences, both in this life and the afterlife. In African cosmology, sin is also present, but its interpretation and consequences differ from those of Western religions. African traditional religion perceives sin as a breach of social and moral order rather than a violation of divine law Abanuka, (2014: 72).

African cosmology is diverse, and it varies across the continent. However, many African societies share the belief in a Supreme Being, who created the world and governs it, and ancestors who serve as intermediaries between the living and the dead. Sin is not only a matter of individual moral transgression but also affects the social and cosmic order. Therefore, the consequences of sin go beyond the individual and extend to the community and even the entire universe Adogame, (2014: 93).

According to Abimbola, (2015:79), sin in African cosmology is seen as a disruption of balance and harmony in the world. It can be committed through various acts, such as theft, adultery, murder, and lying, among others. The consequences of sin can range from personal misfortune to social disorder, natural disasters, and even the wrath of the gods.

Furthermore, the concept of sin in African cosmology is linked to the notion of ubuntu, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of all beings. According to Mbiti (2019: 88), ubuntu is the belief that “a person is a person through other persons.” Therefore, sin not only affects the individual but also the community. The social and moral order is disrupted when one person violates the norms and values of the society.

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Evil has been a topic of discourse in African cosmology and has been a central aspect of African belief systems and cultural practices for centuries. The concept of evil in African cosmology is complex, multifaceted and intertwined with religion, culture, and traditions. It is a topic that has been of interest to scholars, researchers, and philosophers, with many attempting to understand its origin, nature, and effects on African societies Aluede, (2012: 69).

According to Mbiti (2019: 132), African cosmology is based on a belief in a supreme being, who is the creator of the universe and all living things. The supreme being is the source of all good and evil in the world. However, African cosmology posits that evil is not solely the result of human actions but can also be caused by spiritual forces and ancestors. This belief is reflected in African traditional religions, where evil is seen as a spiritual force that can cause harm, misfortune, and illness.

Also, the concept of evil in African cosmology is also intertwined with cultural practices, including traditional healing, witchcraft, and ritual sacrifices. For instance, traditional healers are believed to possess the ability to diagnose and treat illnesses that are caused by evil forces. Witchcraft, on the other hand, is believed to be a tool that can be used to cause harm or bring misfortune to individuals or communities. Ritual sacrifices, which are performed to appease ancestors and spiritual forces, are also believed to have the power to avert evil.

According to Mbiti, (2019:111), African cosmology is based on the belief in a spiritual world that is intertwined with the physical world. In this worldview, every event in the physical world has a corresponding spiritual dimension. Therefore, the concept of sin and evil is not only limited to individual actions but also extends to communal and environmental contexts.

In Ahiazu Mbaise, like many other African communities, there are beliefs and practices that are related to the concepts of sin and evil. For instance, the Igbo people believe in the existence of “ogbanje,” a spiritual entity that causes children to die and return to their mother’s womb to be reborn Onwuka, (2013 : 67). This belief is based on the idea that the spiritual world has a direct impact on the physical world and the actions of individuals.

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Moreover, the manifestation of sin and evil in Ahiazu Mbaise can also be seen in the practices of traditional religion, which is still prevalent in the area. The worship of deities and ancestors is an integral part of the traditional religion in AhiazuMbaise. The actions of individuals are believed to have consequences not only on themselves but also on their ancestors and the community as a whole.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The African cosmology is deeply rooted in the beliefs and practices of its people, with the concept of sin and evil playing a central role in shaping their worldview. However, there is a lack of comprehensive understanding of the nature, causes, and consequences of sin and evil in the African cosmology John Mbiti, (1969: 54). This study investigate the concept of sin and evil in the African cosmology, specifically in the context of Ahiazu Mbaise, and identify the factors that contribute to their manifestation and perpetuation in the community.

Ahiazu Mbaise, located in Imo state, Nigeria, is a diverse community with a rich cultural heritage, religious practices, and social customs. However, the prevalence of sin and evil in this community has been a persistent issue, affecting its socio-economic development and well-being. The lack of a comprehensive understanding of the nature and causes of sin and evil in Ahiazu Mbaise has hindered the community’s efforts to address and mitigate their effects.

Therefore, the statement of the problem for this study is to investigate the nature and causes of sin and evil in the African cosmology, specifically in AhiazuMbaise, and identify the factors that contribute to their perpetuation.

 

1.3. Aims and Objectives

Aim:

The aim of this study is to investigate the concept of sin and evil in African cosmology, with a specific focus on the Ahiazu Mbaise community.

Objectives:

The objectives of this study are:

  1. To explore the traditional beliefs and practices surrounding sin and evil in the Ahiazu Mbaise community.
  2. To examine the impact of Christian influences on the concept of sin and evil in the AhiazuMbaise community.
  • To identify the cultural, social, and psychological implications of sin and evil in the Ahiazu Mbaise community.
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1.4 Methodology

This research work made use of two methods, the methods of data collection (primary and secondary sources) and the methods of data interpretation and application (historical, phenomenological).

Under data collection we used primary and secondary sources.

Primary Source: This has to do with the first hand information or data collected directly from the people about the work (oral interview).

Secondary Sources: This has to do with information gotten from textbooks, journals, internet and magazines.

Under data interpretation and application we have Historical and Phenomenological

Research Questions:

This study will address the following research questions:

  1. What are the traditional beliefs and practices surrounding sin and evil in the Iheteafoukwu community in Ahiazu Mbaise LGA of Imo state?
  2. How have Christian and Islamic influences impacted the concept of sin and evil in the Ahiazu Mbaise?
  • What are the cultural, social, and psychological implications of sin and evil in the Ahiazu Mbaise

 1.5 Scope and Limitations of the study

This research will be limited to Ahiazu Mbaise LGA and its surrounding. The study will draw on primary data collected through interviews, surveys, and participant observation, as well as secondary sources from scholarly works, books, and articles on African cosmology.

One potential limitation is the sensitivity of some traditional beliefs, which may be challenging to access due to their secretive nature or reluctance to share with outsiders. Additionally, the research may face constraints related to language barriers and access to certain remote regions.

  • Significance of the Study:
  1. The significance of this study lies in its contribution to the understanding of the concept of sin and evil in African cosmology.
  2. This study will provide insights into the traditional beliefs and practices surrounding sin and evil in the Ahiazu Mbaise LGA and will also examine the impact of Christian and Islamic influences on these beliefs and practices.
  • Furthermore, this study will identify the cultural, social, and psychological implications of sin and evil in this community, which can inform interventions and policies aimed at promoting the well-being of the community.

Pages:  50

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF               

Chapters: 1-5                                          

Source: Imsuinfo

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