Igboland’s traditional religion is based on the belief that there is one creator, God, also called Chineke or Chukwu. The creator can be approached through numerous other deities and spirits in the form of natural objects, most commonly through the god of thunder (Amadioha). There is also the belief that ancestors protect their living descendants and are responsible for rain, harvest, health and children. Shrines, called Mbari, are made in honour of the earth spirit and contain tableaux of painted earth. Other shrines keep wooden figures representing ancestors and patrons. The evidence of these shrines, oracle houses and traditional priest in the villages still emphasise people’s beliefs, though with the western influence, Christianity has taken a more dominant role in modern Igboland.
Nowadays, there are a large number of churches as well as mosques and traditional religion worship centres available in Enugu State. The state is predominantly made up of Christians (some argue that history has it that Igbos descended from Israel), and there is no acrimony between the adherents of the different religious beliefs.
Oracle House near Ama-Nkanu
There is almost an equal split between catholic and protestant churches in Enugu. The state hosts two catholic cathedrals: the Holy Ghost Cathedral can be found next to Ogbete Main Market in the city; the other Cathedral in Enugu State is located in Nsukka. Most people are very disciplined to attend church services and it is hard for them to believe in the existence of ‘free thinkers’, i.e. people who do not feel committed to any religion.
One of the most important events in Igboland is Christmas and it signifies home return in the village. Even though they live most of the time in the city or somewhere else in Nigeria, Igbo families consider their one and only real home their house in the village. It is the two weeks around Christmas which bring families back together to the village. It is the time to catch up with other family members on what has happened over the year and visit relatives and friends in the neighbourhood. You will find the cities empty during this period only preceded and followed by the traffic peaks caused by travelling back and forth between the village and the cities.
Easter is the other event, though smaller in scale, which provides Igboland a break for festivities. People tend to go to their villages but most of them stay around in the city to visit friends and relatives.
In line of this, Mother’s day is the last one I want to mention. On this Sunday the mothers prepare special food for the whole family, which is obviously a feast on its own.