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In the first place, they had absolute control of the schools, and secondly, they targeted children as a sure way of safeguarding the future of their missionary efforts. Yet, the missionary strategy of caring for the sick, though evangelically rooted, was also used as a conversion tool by the missionaries.

Impulses to the Development of the Conflicts The Protestant approach, which focused mainly on preaching, was fiercely criticized by the Catholic missionary, Fr.


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Lejeune, who already had become unpopular within the Catholic mission due to his highhandedness. Under the aegis of the laity, these catechists composed a letter of protest against Fr. By this time, it was clear that catechists were indispensable in establishing missionary posts in the villages, which spurred Lejeune to change his approach to missionary activity. It is important to note that, Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries through the provision of medical care. Lejeune who has no patience or courage … who is that whip? Crossing The Niger - Ecumenical Option in Nigeria 19 The Roman Catholic method of evangelization through the schools has to be seen against the background of interdenominational rivalry.

This rivalry in part occasioned and accelerated the growth of the school system of evangelization used by the Holy Ghost Society in its work in the East. The missionaries themselves were French and often showed grave concern and fear at the possible intervention of a non-Roman Catholic government in Roman Catholic schools. The benevolent attitude of Sir Ralph Moor, however, dispelled this anxiety and the contest with the Protestants to gain the upper hand through the schools began.

Indeed the successor of Lejeune, Fr. His aim was to make the area immune to the Roman Catholic incursion, even if the said incursion brought about better welfare. Such a strategy, that was even ready to frustrate human development, poignantly illustrates the animosity felt on both sides.

Poverty and the Church in Igboland, Nigeria - Anthony Okwudili Achunonu - Google книги

Indeed, the conflicts divided Christianity all over again. They bargained for territories in the heart of Igboland and were strongly opposed to Catholic school establishments in the Old Calabar region. A conference to this effect was held in in Calabar where the Protestant missionaries agreed to collaborate and co-operate with each other in the mission. Lejeune and Fr. In , there were Catholics in the Onitsha-Owerri vicariate; by , the number had risen to 58 thousand; it was thousand by The story is virtually the same in Western Nigeria and the central parts of the country, especially in Benue and Plateau areas.

Christopher I. This divide was passed down to later generations. These Christian communities arose as a result of different reasons which included sentiments of nationalism like in the case of Ethiopianism. It must be noted that the nationalistic sentiments evident in the emergence of some AICs may also have been driven by anti-colonial sentiments at that time.

British colonialists established themselves in Nigeria by subduing the locals and so colonialism was never accepted by the people. Since both the colonialists and missionaries were considered as coming from the same origin, the missionaries were often associated with the colonialists, even when their intentions might not be the same. Thus, the anti-colonial sentiments were also visited on the missionaries and contributed to reasons for the founding of the AICs. This assessment confirms to a certain extent that the division within the mainline churches in Nigeria derives more directly from denominational missionary rivalries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries which was fuelled by the nationalism of the missionaries.

Today, the problem is further made complex with the explosive schisms, rivalries, inter and intra Christian bickering and politics. Christian denominations continue to grow daily within the erstwhile Lower Niger area, which remains predominantly Christian. All these require that ecumenical dialogue be taken seriously.

In fact, several other trajectories of division have appeared that reflect the missionary divisions of the past, and they make the same clarion call for a serious ecumenical engagement. First, are distinctive gestures of recognition. This is mainly found in the popular greetings adopted by different denominations in Igboland. Mitchell and H. See, R. Rotberg and Ali A.

Mazrui, eds. However, contrary to the reason offered by Mitchell and Turner, the Italian Ethnologists Vittorio Lanternari, traces the origin of the AICs to the rift between Christianity and indigenous African culture. While such identity markers are not wrong in themselves, one however observes that a problem of deep-seated repulsion of one another may arise where a person is booed or cajoled for using the wrong greeting in a particular community.

Second, is the problem of mixed marriages. Despite the canonical provisions concerning mixed marriages for Catholics 47, the reality is that such marriages still manifest clearly the depth of interdenominational bickering. In Igboland, mixed marriages are rarely celebrated. In most cases, the woman is compelled to follow the man to his church. Third, the denominational rivalry also plays itself out in the public political sphere.

The denominations in the Southern part of Nigeria, which is predominantly Christian, always feel they have a great role to play in determining who wins an election, especially the gubernatorials. In some states in Igboland, elections are purely concerned with the battle between Catholics and Protestants. There is the classic case of the elections in Imo State, which saw the incumbent governor, Ikedi Ohakim an Anglican , lose mainly on Humanities , Vol. Fourth, the modern proselytizing strategies of the Pentecostal and mainline churches are yet another form of the battle for denominational territories in Igboland.

Prosperity gospel is in vogue since people are besieged by economic and socio- political problems. Instead of focusing on the doctrinal teachings and practices which are peculiar to their specific Christian communities, most preachers spend time castigating other churches in a bid to win more adherents. Indeed, the situation today calls for an emergency review of ecumenical relationship among the churches. Bridging the Gap with the Ecumenical Option Since the beginning of the 20th century, Christian ecumenism has developed as a response to the division among Christians.

This singular action attracted the condemnation of many, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Besides, it is a general impression that the ex-governor was notorious for his arrogance and total disdain for the poor while in office. However, at the heart of ecumenism is the goal of visible unity of the church, which does not do away with the diversity or plurality of Christian communities, as expressed in their liturgical, theological and spiritual traditions.

Poverty and the Church in Igboland, Nigeria

And in taking diversity seriously, dialogue as the means of achieving the desired unity, involves mutual learning and understanding to overcome obstacles in the path to unity. For one thing, telling our stories, seeking the sources and causes of our division, defining its excesses and counting its beauties help us to understand one another especially within the ecumenical context.

The divides brought about by the Reformation and its discontents are thus not to be considered irresolvable. Indeed, many beautiful things came out of it. At least the churches in the West now live in relative peace, particularly after the 20 th century programs of ecumenism. With such understanding, churches learn how to co-exist with much tolerance and mutual recognition of one another. More still, dialogue as a better means of fulfilling the mandate of Christian unity is provided a favourable ground to thrive.

In line with the above, Christians in the Lower Niger Eastern Nigeria-Igboland , as well as the different churches in Nigeria, can learn to embrace one another in mutual tolerance and recognition. Henceforth, UR.


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From a historical perspective, the revolt against the attitude of Fr. The Igbo traditional religion knows of no denominations as we have in Christianity or other world religions. These religious identities along family lines do not in any way instigate divisions within the community, rather they represent legitimate boundaries which ought to be respected but which also could be transcended in the interest of the communal good.


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  • Although these lay groups made some progress in addressing the problems of the period, taking the gospel message beyond conversion, adopting a more radical approach to evangelization, and building a healthier society remained sub- stantial challenges. Keywords: African church history; lay organizations; missionaries; Nigerian church history; Spiritans. The history of Christian activities in Igboland, particularly the work of missionaries, has been discussed by several scholars. It is necessary to provide some definitions and clarifications of terms used in this article.

    Christ's followers in the Catholic Church fall into two broad categories: the clergy and the laity. However, a third group, the religious, which Canon describes as "neither lay nor cleric," exists within the Church. The clergy are those elevated to the Holy or Sacerdotal Order.

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    With their ministerial function as priests, they act not only as shepherds of God's flock but also as an interme- diary between God and his people. The laity is composed of lay faith- ful who, although they are not priests, share in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly role of Christ. As such, they share in the evangelizing work of Christ as members of his mystical body, the Church, in a manner dif- ferent from that of the ministry of priests.

    In Nigeria, the Church has lay statutory bodies and pious societies, which are generally referred to as lay apostolate groups. The pious groups include the Legion of Mary, St. Anthony's Guild, and St. Corruption: Corruption is rampant in the government and commercial structures of the country. Over-Population: The high rate of population growth in Nigeria is very alarming and this is without corresponding increase in the rate of supply of basic infrastructural facilities and services.

    This eventually led to poverty without measure. Laziness: Nobody can miss hard-work and miss hard life. Many Nigerians are lazy and that is why many of them are poor. Unemployment: Unemployment is another factor that is 'responsible for prevalence of poverty in Nigeria.

    It promotes thuggery touting, begging, violence, prostitution, ritual killing and ultimately, armed-robbery. Unequal Distribution of Resources: The economic policy of a country determines the state of poverty or prosperity in that particular country. Uneven distribution of resources expose many Nigerians to abject poverty.

    Gender Inequality: Women are a disadvantaged group in many African societies including Nigeria. Educationally, some cultures do not believe in sending their female children to school. Many women also faced gender bias in terms of violent confrontations from their spouses which is tolerated in some cultures.

    Politically, women are given less decision making power and less control over people than men. Thus, gender inequality is a major factor that contributes to the increase of women poverty in Africa and Nigeria in particular. Religious Belief: An individual religious belief or. Some religious groups consider poverty as an ideal condition to-live in, a condition necessary in order to be closer to God, and also reach certain level of spiritual or intellectual status. Notable among these religious group are the traditional Catholics who viewed poverty as a natural condition, or God's will Oshitelu, There is a manifestation of poverty in almost every aspect of our life.

    This ranges from food insecurity, to poor clothing, poor housing, poor transportation system, poor educational system, poor health facilities and services, erratic power supply, lack of potable and regular water supply and so on. Few of these inherent crises and conflicts are discussed below.

    Food Insecurity. Lack of food is the mother of all lacks, it is the maximum degree or condition of poverty. Absence of food is usually associated with annoyance, sorrow, quarrel, violence, diseases and death. It is the maximum degree or condition of poverty. It is believed that many Nigerians are hungry, and that is why Nigerians are angry. Many families now feed on ratio that is, breakfast minus lunch plus supper ; while only a few could boast of balance diets.

    Many eats what they lay their hands upon for their physical survival and nothing else. Lack of sufficient quality and quantity of food is associated with poor health and that is responsible for increase in infant mortality, sickness, diseases, stealing and death that have become so rampant in our society. Similarly, the brutality of the police on the high ways and the N In education, hunger affects a student's ability to effectively profit from the learning environment, and most hungry families withdraw their children from school to seek unproductive "employments like, house girl, pool house secretary, -bus conductor and so oh.

    All these do not have a lasting value and can only complicate and perpetuate poverty in the family. Starvation has serious damaging effects on the economy because it is the abundance or lack of food that ultimately determines the performance or production of every Worker in all sectors of the economy.

    How The Churches in Nigeria Can Help Eradicate Mass Poverty - Objectv Media

    For instance, food is one of those things that determine the performances of a lecturer and that of the students in the classroom because from it we derive strength to work or perform. Additionally, starvation is part of the root of all evils. Every other thing they may acquire later is secondary to their original purpose. So, the more, starvation increases the greater these social vices also increase in the society Shehu EI-Hafiz, This is not unconnected with poverty.

    One of the factors that contribute to inaccessibility of food to many Nigerians is high food prices coupled with unemployment, devaluation of the currency, and high rate of inflation which drastically reduces the purchasing power of the individuals, Poor Clothing: Just like food, clothing is paramount to human existence. Nobody can live in the realm of humanity without clothe to cover his or 8. Thus, clothing is natural, and a basic necessity of life.

    Many Nigerians however, jack the basic financial resources for proper clothing in the society due to unemployment, low income, irregular payment of salaries, high cost of education for their children, and so on. As a result of this inimical condition, average Nigerians resort to fairly used or second — hand tokunbo clothing materials which incidentally fill all our markets, and which sell cheaper and even faster than the new ones. In the year , a popular Chinese market in Lagos was closed down on the allegation that the marketers were turning the country into a dumping ground for substandard goods.

    The Chinese traders responded to the allegation in this way: " And now that the. Federal Government of Nigeria has laid embargo on the importation of such clothing materials, people find it difficult to abide, by such legislation and thus, designed various illegal means of bringing in such materials. Moreover, an average Nigerian is not selectiveabout what he or she wears. Certain clothe that is designed for rainy seasons is used during dry seasons and vice-versa.

    And one sees somebody boasting that he has been wearing a particular clothe for the past ten years. All these are manifestations of poverty and its inherent crises and conflicts in the land. Poor Housing: Housing is one of the most universally recognized basic needs of humanity. A proper housing according to Olatunde must not ordinarily serve as a shelter but must include all the necessary facilities, equipment and services such as electricity, proper ventilation, hygienic toiletry, potable water, furniture, telephone, security fence, access to a major road, and other infrastructures needed for human comfort.

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    This is inevitable because affordable and good housing constitutes a critical condition for the physical, psychological, social and economic well-being of human beings. However, despite government efforts to reduce housing problems in the country, many Nigerians are still homeless, and find abode under fly-overs and kiosks.

    We see family of eight or ten living in one or two rooms, especially in cities like Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, Portharcourt, etc. Many live in dilapidated or uncompleted houses at the expense of their personal safety. All these are reflections of poverty, and they have a very serious health, security or environmental hazards on the people of this country.

    In the words of Prof. Idowu Olayinka quoted by Olatunde ; "Poor people typically face greater environmental risks in their surroundings because they live in unhealthy locations and they lack the financial resources to pay for health services, food,. The reason for this poor housing condition is strictly connected with the high population growth. Similarly, the high prices of land and building materials, which go beyond the capability of average Nigerians has really compounded the pervasiveness of housing problems in the country.

    Bribery and Corruption: Bribery and corruption are closely associated with poverty. This is a country where one can hardly "obtain any favour free -of-charge, including those that belong to you by right. You have to buy your right otherwise you may be delayed or denied completely. Corruption is rampant in government and commercial structures of the country.

    Despite government efforts to curb financial crimes and other corrupt practices through institutionalized agencies like Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission ICPC , our public office holders are "still diverting the- public funds to their personal accounts for fear of poverty in the future, after they have tasted maximum life of affluence in government. Religious Decadence: Similarly, the enormity of poverty in the country had equally influenced our religious leaders and their numerous followers.

    This is an era of compromise, changing of identity and message; intra church conflict becomes rampant in our society all because of money. Religious leaders now seek power from strange sources in order to see vision and perform miracles just to acquire wealth. In the same way, the astronomical increase, in the number of churches in the recent times is partly associated with pervasive influence of poverty in the land.

    Muslims clerics are now fighting against one another all because of money, while Islamic sects are unusually increasing tremendously.