Instructions: Read Passage I carefully and answer the questions that follow. Each question carries 3 marks
Religion in its various forms is very strong in Nigeria. In order words, Nigerian people are very religious. Most of them believe that there is an unseen supernatural world, apart from the natural world we see around us. This other world is inhabited by beings who are the source of our knowledge of good and evil. they watch and judge us and if we offend them they may have to be appeased with prayers and sacrifices. Certain individuals in the natural world-priest, prophets and diviners – are believed to to be endowed with special powers to make contact with the other world. These individuals lay down ceremonies or rituals which must be observed if due honour is to be paid to the unseen beings. The religious beliefs and practices of Nigerians can be classified under three main headings: Traditional religion, Islam and Christianity. in this passage, our focus in on Traditional Religion.
Traditional or indigenous religion continues to exert a strong influence on many people’s mind partly because of its association with their birth places and families. Each ethnic group has its own religious traditions, and these are often linked to some sacred spots in the ethnic homeland. Yet the various traditional religions have much in common: a remote but benevolent high god; under him, a number of lesser gods who interact with mankind; and below them various spirits who inhabit natural objects (trees, streams, rocks, etc.); below them again, and closest to living men and women, the spirits of the ancestors.
In Yoruba tradition, for example, there are more than 400 lesser deities presided over by the high god, Olorun. Because he is remote from mankind, shrines are not built to him and worship is not offered to him directly. The lesser gods, on the other hand, are the subject of special cults, each with its own priest and devotees. Eshu, the messenger of the Gods; Ifa, thegod of divination; Shango, the god of thunder, and so on. Traditional religion was also strong in other parts of Nigeria. In igbo Traditional religion, there were fewer gods. Although there was a remote high god, the most important figure was Ala or Ani, the goddess of the earth. In Hausaland, traditional religion has largely gone underground owing to the influence of Islam, but belief in the existence of ‘Bori‘ spirits and their power to possess people, especially women, is strong in some areas. Each spirit is associated with certain type of behaviour, which is manifested by the possessed individual.
Divination – the discovery of what is unknown or is yet to happen by supernatural or magical means – is an important element of traditional religion. It is often one of the function of ‘medicine men’ or ‘herbalists’. In Igboland, there also used to be several oracles which people consulted in order to seek solutions to their problems. With the coming of Christianity, their influence has however waned, but in areas like Arochukwu and Okija, the influence of such oracles is still strongly felt.
(Adapted from Grant, Nnamonu and Jowitt (1997), Senior English Project: For Senior Secondary School Students)