Ala di Mma in Umuohiagu

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1 Ala di Mma in Umuohiagu An Igbo Concept of Reconciliation and Peace Bearbeitet von Gerald Njoku 1. Auflage Buch. XXII, 336 S. Hardcover ISBN Format (B x L): 14,8 x 21 cm Gewicht: 580 g Weitere Fachgebiete > Religion > Christliche Kirchen & Glaubensgemeinschaften schnell und portofrei erhältlich bei Die Online-Fachbuchhandlung beck-shop.de ist spezialisiert auf Fachbücher, insbesondere Recht, Steuern und Wirtschaft. Im Sortiment finden Sie alle Medien (Bücher, Zeitschriften, CDs, ebooks, etc.) aller Verlage. Ergänzt wird das Programm durch Services wie Neuerscheinungsdienst oder Zusammenstellungen von Büchern zu Sonderpreisen. Der Shop führt mehr als 8 Millionen Produkte.

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3 General Introduction This academic research was motivated by a philosophical curiosity about the Igbo concept of the Universe (Uwa), which theologically is also linked to their religious concept of God. The essence of Uwa, for the Igbo people, is actually the life itself, which they call Ndu but can be quantified in the material earth or land known in Igbo language as Aja, Uro or Ala in connected circumstances. Relevantly, for the Igbo traditional religion, more importance is attached to Ala as the source of life rather than its economic or material importance. In this way, the Igbo traditional religious belief in God has a necessary connection with their concept of the earth or land-ala, as already noted. This belief is derived from the concept of the universe (Uwa or Ndu-life), upon which everything in the world rests. Ala, in this case, becomes a phenomenological concept through which God, the Absolute Being, supplies the important needs of the people who live in it. Its phenomenological functions also include the protection and control of the beings in it, humans, animals, plants, as well as other animate and inanimate organisms. Ala, for the Igbo people, effects and reflects life and death. Human beings are said to be originated from it and go back to it after death through burial. This is the reason why Ndigbo regard Ala (earth/land) as a goddess. From the traditional religious point of view, Ala assumes the title of the giver of life and all the things surrounding it. Therefore, the emergence of the ethical, moral, religious and social norms was as a result of the respect accorded to this phenomenon the earth/land according to traditional Igbo religious thought. Hence, the concept of Ala-dimma has evolved, which literally means, good land or good life. More light shall be thrown on this. These normative laws were created, not only to foster respect and appreciation for the natural gifts from the land but, in a deep sense of religion and worship, to eradicate evil in the community. To violate these cultural norms means to offend the goddess Ala (life as such), who must be appeased in order for the aberrant one to be accepted back into the community after any abominable sin has been committed. In the Igbo cultural context, sin can also be seen as disobedience, a missing of the mark and disrespect for the giver of life. Evil or sin is not only a social problem of man, it is also a fundamental religious issue since committing it affects not only the community but also the giver of life and creator of human beings. 1

4 However, man is a religious being who feels remorse of conscience and pain when he commits sins or breaks any law. He actually feels guilty, and guilt itself has much to do with both morality and spirituality. The Igbo people take sin seriously because it defiles the Land, which is seen as disrespect of God in general. Sin in Igbo culture and religion is something which affects the wellbeing of the entire community, especially when it has to do with the breach of certain norms in the community. This is where one can see the relationship between social and religious lives as a useful connection of human beings who live together. Every member of the community reacts against the sinner, who can be severely punished and even be ostracized, depending on the gravity of his or her offence. This is the consequence of a sinful act. The only thing that can bring the sinner back to his people, physically and spiritually, is the sacrifice of purification and atonement for the abominable sin that has been committed. This is the goal of the Ala-dimma concept, through its method and ritual of Ikwa-ala and Oriko, which after being purified and Christianized in the process of inculturation, can enrich the Sacramental Reconciliation and Eucharist. This thesis concentrates on these issues and many more relevant issues surrounding its theme in the light of inculturation. Aim To add to these philosophical and theological curiosities over the general concept of Ala and its necessary religious connections with God, the following points will be considered. First and foremost, to develop the themes of the religious, cultural and social values surrounding the importance of the Igbo Ala, the earth goddess of the entire Igbo people, focus shall mainly centre on Ala-dimma and its associated cultural ritual methods of achieving reconciliation, justice and peace. These methods are known as Ikwa-ala na Oriko, which are regarded by the Igbo people as valuable cultural concepts that originate from the moral desire to respect life, to unite, to love and to revere the giver of life Himself. He is represented by the earth goddess Ala, according to Igbo religious thought and culture. In this concept of conflict resolution known as Ala-dimma, Ikwa-ala na Oriko are the ritual sacrifices of purification used for reconciliation among neighbours who live together in the community. Observed as a cultural value of the Igbo people, it is pertinent to embellish the Ala-dimma concept with the Sacrament of Reconciliation in relation to the Holy Eucharist. The Church s endeavour in its fundamental responsibility for people s cultural values can be seen as a better, natural way of teaching Christ to the Ndigbo of 2

5 Africa. In this way, Christianity becomes relevant to the Igbo people, who already have rich cultural values and a strong faith in God. Another exceptional aim of this dissertation is to add more views to the Igbo Christian rite of reconciliation already proposed by some Igbo theologians. As shall be seen, the need will shed more light on the importance of inculturation in a cultural environment of the Igbo people, who are naturally communal. Therefore, the Igbo people, who have a valuable concept of Umunna brotherhood, can benefit greatly from the new method of the Igbo Christian rite of reconciliation which can broaden ecumenism and strengthen the socio-spiritual lives of the people. In this way, reconciliation can be seen as a natural spiritual cord that binds people together in a communal environment. Method There is already an evident claim by some faithful members of the Church that regular Sacramental confession is boring. On the other hand, the communal Aladimma method of reconciliation practiced by the Igbo-African people exposes those who committed sin to a public disgrace. Notwithstanding, this reconciliation method is still traditional and practicable for some Igbo Christians who are not yet satisfied with the individualistic traditional method of reconciliation or private confession of the Church. Evidence has shown that some of them still go back to fulfil the obligations of their customary norms, prescribed by their traditional leaders and the diviners, especially in matters of incest and other abominable offences. As an attempt to solve certain controversial problems of the overly stressed methods of communal and private reconciliation, the consideration of the proposed Igbo Christian rite of reconciliation in the process of inculturation can be a solution. At any rate, the method of this academic work can be considered as systematic and theological in the sense that God s plan to reconcile and reunite His people takes into account man s personal and spiritual motivations in the encouragement of the other people in his community. In other words, reconciliation accommodates both personal and communal aspects. The Theology of Inculturation shall be applied to synthesize the Igbo cultural method of reconciliation in Ala-dimma known as Oriko with its communal nature. It reflects on the cultural and traditional religion of the early Igbo people whose natural life gave birth to the present Igbo cultural values. Constructively, these cultural values need still to be purified in order to be considered Christianized. In inculturation, the cultural values of Oriko project the spirit of sharing, solidarity, unity and love and will enrich the Church s Sacraments of the Eucharist 3

6 and Reconciliation in its resemblance. The general approach of this work has a theological outlook that balances its aims and objectives with many aspects of Christian studies especially in pastoral, biblical, dogmatic and moral branches of Theology. The Classification of this Work For better elucidation, this work is systematically grouped into three major parts but divided into eight chapters with brief introductions and sub-headings. The first part deals with the religio-socio and anthropological structures of the Igbo people and has four chapters. The first recounts the Igbo regional background and the brief history of the Umuohiagu people of Owerri in Imo State. The town of Umuohiagu was chosen to be the area of focus in this research work. This chapter explains the Igbo anthropological background, culture, religious and social values, which are also the structures that can be used to highlight the original concept of Ala-dimma, the basic subject of discussion in this academic research. Chapter two deals with the Igbo concept of the importance of man, and examines the three important mystical events in the life of a person in philosophical, cultural, social and religious aspects. Under this survey, many cultural terminologies surrounding these mystical events shall be defined and explicated accordingly. Chapter three defines the concept of Ala-dimma and shows its implications as a moral norm that justifies the usefulness of a social standard and religious life of the people. This same chapter reviews the implications and justification of the customary and religious norms which affect the social life of the people. Chapter four concludes the first part of this work and defines the traditional method of reconciliation known as Ikwa-ala na Oriko. These methods are explained in relation to sacrifices and symbols, which have various classifications in the Igbo religious worldview. Here, the observable symbolic involvement attracts a juxtapositional analysis between the Oriko meal of reconciliation and that of the Holy Eucharist in some major circumstances of their relationships. Of course, there are sharp sacramental differences between them that make the Eucharistic Sacrament outstanding in its Christocentric nature, and it can have no other equivalent. The second part of the work, which deals with the Catholic Theology of Sin, is classified into the fifth and sixth chapters. The fifth chapter traces the biblical understanding of sin in relation to its social and cultural understandings. Thus, sin is viewed as the fundamental problem of man. Its consequences are also dealt with, giving credence to the Old and New Testament notions and implications. Theological knowledge confirms 4

7 that death is one of the major consequences of sin and propagates its eradication as a solution to man s problem of evil in the manner that Jesus Christ lived and taught. In any case, there is the need for repentance after sin. The reason is to make forgiveness possible, which is necessary for reconciliation in the Theology of Sin. This chapter clarifies that Jesus Christ, who came to deal squarely with sin and its consequences, saw a great need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He instituted it and emphasized it as the central focus of His mission on earth. Chapter six delves into the historical meaning of the sacraments especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament is treated as the central focus of the mission of Christ on earth, as has already been said. The mystery of Christ is further described in relation to His teaching standard, pastoral life and administration. Clarifications are also given about the aspects of Christ s Theology of Reconciliation in various dimensions of virtues in the spiritual life of a Christian. This chapter concludes with a discussion on the relationship between the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the other sacraments, especially that of Baptism and the Eucharist. The third and last part of this work illustrates the theological evaluation of the relationship between the Ala-dimma cultural concept of the Ndigbo and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This last part is classified into chapters seven and eight, which can also be seen as the conclusion of the entire work. In chapter seven, therefore, the concept of the Ala-dimma method of reconciliation is subjected to critical analysis. Constructively, a hermeneutical-methodical approach is applied to reappraise the contextual interpretation in the relationship as well as the difference between Igba-ndu and Oriko concepts, which express the same views of reconciliation. If the value of Oriko, especially after its Christianization, can be considered as an Igbo cultural value of a proven quality, there will be no gainsaying that its concept can be likened to the virtues of Christian values of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is the insight that can be drawn from authentic inculturation, with reference to reconciliation as a virtue that justifies and effects a moral virtuous life. To conclude chapter seven, moral free choice, in line with the choice of reconciliation in the life of human beings, is discussed at length. Chapter eight, as the concluding chapter shows the inferences of the Oriko cultural value of the Igbo people and the virtues of the Sacramental Reconciliation as laying a basic foundation upon which inculturation can be defined. In summary, this chapter gives a general conclusion of the entire work, and draws attention to the aim of this thesis, which is the pastoral and theological importance of authentic reconciliation. Through the process of inculturation, the 5

8 resolutional equations of the Igbo cultural methods of reconciliation are balanced with the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the operational life of the people who are pastorally concerned. To this effect, the liturgical approach to inculturation is given a priority that will also favour the community and encourage more widespread ecumenism. All in all, throughout the remainder of this last chapter, new insights are added to the proposed Igbo Christian rites of reconciliation. References are made to the Owerri Archdiocesan working document on Emume Nsacha na Ndozi meaning, a ritual purification and peace and Echema s proposed Igbo Christian rite of reconciliation. Above all, the importance is highlighted of the reconciliation of human beings with themselves, their neighbours and God, whenever sin has taken place. In other words, a sinner is expected to return to communion with his neighbours and God after having lost the grace of God. This is a virtue that can reflect the unity of the communion of the Blessed Trinity. This is a process worthy of emulation, and can encourage one and all peoples to the final celebration of human salvation from a Christian perspective. Sources and Bibliography The main sources of this work include the sequential personal interviews with the elderly people, traditional titled men, and diviners in Umuohiagu and its neighbouring towns. The interviews included the chairmen of the instituted and conventional peace-keeping groups like the Ala-dimma, Udo-amaka, Oganihu-amaka, Umunna-buike, Onyeaghalanwanneya, among others. The unpublished constitution of the Ala-dimma Eziala-Umuohiagu was used, under the leadership and supervision of their chairman, Chief Julius Eke Njoku, in The lectures of Odenigbo and Ahiajoku in different series were succinctly consulted where necessary. Apart from personal experiences gathered as a child who grew up in the village, personal discussions with elderly people, Priests and Bishops on cultural and natural issues were of great importance to this work. Many Igbo/African books and articles dealing with basic anthropological and cultural issues of the Igbo/African people in the families and communities were used as the primary cultural sources of this thesis. To balance the interest in inculturation, the Holy Scripture and Catechism of the Catholic Church were extensively used, as necessary traditional documents of the Church. In addition, Magisterial documents including Papal Encyclicals, Letters, Exhortations and that of the Constitutions in corroboration with the Declarations 6

9 and Instructions from the Church s Council and Commissions proved useful. Of good use also in this work were Synodal Documents and Episcopal Conferences. Theological encyclopaedia and many other theological books written by renowned and erudite theologians were cited. The shared cultural, theological ideas and experiences in this work were invaluable. They give also an insight into the need and search for authentic inculturation. At the same time, they can challenge the Church s present administration on the practice of the realistic oneness of the Church, as the name Catholic depicts. Tolerance and accommodation, as typical marks of the Church instituted by Christ, must be demonstrated as the Church s primary nature among other characteristics. This thesis, therefore, does not only encourage the inculturation process as a new method of evangelization; at the same time, it challenges other people to research deeper in the future. In doing so, one can contribute to the enrichment of the Sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist as well as other Church s values of faith and evangelization, and above all, render constructive criticism on any unclarified issue that can be found in this academic work. 7

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