Religion plays vital and significant roles in shaping human life and living standard. In the African community, religion is an institution that structures and determines the level of man’s consciousness and devotion.
Almost in every community in Africa, exists a notable and identified religion that people of the clan and community are known with.
However, in the Nigerian community exist three major religions, namely; Christianity, Islam and Traditional Religion. Nigerians are mostly identified as either Christians or Muslims, a very infinitesimal number of people are tagged as traditionalists in the Nigerian context. This is true resting on the solid fact that Islam and Christianity arrived in Nigeria as foreign languages.
Islam came into the country through Sokoto Jihad, which was as a result of installing caliphate in the country. Uthman Dan Fodio led the Muslim community then and had loads of followers. Years after years, the team and followers metamorphosed into millions, generations upon generations embraced the religion willingly.
Christianity came into limelight in the country through the advent and efforts of the Missionaries. The Missionaries also referred to as the Labour Party are the main opposition group to the Conventional Party in the United Kingdom. They came to Nigeria to preach, installing right senses, teaching morals and particularly the gospel of Christ. As the Nigerian community keeps molding up, adherents embrace Christianity in millions.
Furthermore, there are calculated existence of other religions which varies on the notion of belief and acceptance of faith. Many worship and believe in things like; iron, water, stone,creatures (animals, human beings), spirits and so on. It is interesting to note that the Constitution harbours and host all kinds of religions in as much as it does not trample upon the existence, constitution and peace of the Nation.
Like it is in the global space, there are numerous numbers of religions that people around the world engage in and trust to worship. It is countless and outrightly justified to mainly specify the number of religions. It is a known fact that the world is free and there is liberty to participate and practice what we have utmost belief in.
There are also individuals who do not believe in any religion or existence of God, they are referred to as ATHEISTS. These sets of people openly argue that all that is embodied in heaven and earth are natural and naturally existing, this concept actually disagrees with God’s existence.
Basically, religion positions man’s level of spirituality, consciousness and obedience to serving God and humanity. It shapes human thinking, directs man’s level of intuition and nurtures the thoughts of man along a particular path to ensure obedience and respect for the SUPREME BEING.
AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
There are several kinds of African Traditional Religion which includes belief in a supreme creator, belief in spirits, veneration of the dead, use of magic and traditional African medicine. According to Lugira, it is the only religion that is said to have originated in Africa.
Now, let’s go down to Nigeria where various kinds of traditional religions exist. More than 400 ethnic groups exist in Nigeria but they are mainly classified into three parts; Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, each of these parts have traditional religions that are practiced.
The Yorubas have various gods, called Orisa that they believe in, like; Ogun(god of iron), Sango(god of thunder), Osun(a woman said to have transformed into a river – River Osun), Obatala(referred to as the creator), Ifa and so on.
Brief emphasis will be made about the Orisa generally.
Orisa are the human form of the spirits called “Irunmole” sent by Olodumare in the Yoruba traditional account. The Irunmole are meant to guide creation and particularly humanity on how to live and succeed on Earth, called “Aye”. Most Orisa are said to be deities previously existing in the spirit world, called Orun as Irunmole, while a few others are said to be humans who were deified upon their deaths due to extraordinary feats.
The concept of Orisa is similar to those of deities in the traditional religions of the Bini people in Edo State, Southern Nigeria, the Ewe people of Benin and also the Fon people of the Great City of Benin.
Osun is a goddess and one of the “Orisas” of Yoruba Land. She is one of the most popular and well-known Orisas. Osun is the deity of the fresh water, sexuality and fertility, beauty, pleasure and love. It was said that she was one of the wives of “Sango”-a strong and mighty god alongside, she was his favourite. One of the things that most people do not know about Osun is that she was the first woman to be referred to as an “Iyalode” a prominent representative of the women in the community.
Osun is the Orisa of the river, her devotees/ worshippers offer her sacrifices and perform ceremonies at bodies of fresh water such as canals, rivers and streams. The festival where all this is done is tagged, “Osun Festival”.
The Osun Festival is celebrated in August of every year. People from all over the world – white, black or “coloured” attend the two-week long Osun- Osogbo Festival which is usually held at the Sacred Osun Grove in Osun state, the Western part of Nigeria. Here in Nigeria, her worshippers put on white clothes which symbolizes purity.
Osun is noted for providing the needs of the people especially giving children to the barren, many women go to the river to seek for children from the Goddess who open- handedly fulfil their request. Thus, she is called the Goddess of Fertility.
– Oso, Oluwagbemi Joy