The Nigerian society since independence has been disturbingly marked by inter-ethnic hostilities, religious intolerance, unemployment, poverty and intense corruption. The alternation of power between the military and the civilian elites has not yielded lasting solutions to these obstacles to national development. Dramatists like Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi, Femi Osofisan and a host of others, have engaged the Nigeria political imperative as they have used their arts to denounce the greed and ineptitude of politicians. They have shown interest in the project of national re-birth in a way that is different from the superfluous and grandiloquent spirit of the politicians. Sometimes these dramatists explore aspects of indigenous cultures to articulate their political and artistic concerns. One significant aspect of indigenous culture being explored in contemporary drama is the tradition of ritual cleansing. In a traditional society like Nigeria, myth, symbols and religious rituals nurture social interactions and regeneration. The practice of ritual cleansing is common to many communities as it is a significant aspect of the people’s religion and civic culture; they dedicate certain occasions to spiritual renewal by individuals and the community as a whole. Thus, this work captures the analysis of Wole Soyinka’s The Strong Breed and Femi Osofisan’s No More the Wasted Breed as they explore ritual as a weapon for social construction and regeneration for community development. Ritual in this study thus becomes the dominant instrument through which the Nigerian society is reflectedly purified. However, the societies captured in the two texts used for this study show different need and importance attached to ritual performance. Thus, Soyinka’s The Strong Breed examines ritual as a cultural ethnic cleansing annually embarked upon and making use of a carrier who takes the cleansing obligation upon himself while in Osofisan’s No More the Wasted Breed, ritual is employed as a dominant instrument of liberation. It is employed as the only way through which the society can be transformed from its ill-state.
Religion sits alongside other factors to determine the capacity to understand, respond and recover from Disaster. Following the occurrence of the Lake Nyos disaster and as it became clear that the horrifying natural episode marked a turning point in the lives of the hardest-hit communities, religious leaders and their faithful brought a faith perspective to the explanation and response to the event. This article focuses on these religious reactions to the Nyos disaster, and draws on published research, oral sources and previously unexplored archival sources. After presenting the pre-disaster religious landscape of the area, it first investigates religious explanations to the origins and impact of the event. Second, it explores ritual practices that were observed in response to the disaster. Finally, it highlights how the disaster was used as a justification for Christian social action and proselytization among survivors. In the conclusion, I make the case that the religious faiths in the Lake Nyos disaster area explained and responded to the event in ways that were couched in religious terms.
Ethical Guidelines for Sacrifice in African Traditional Religion: A Social Cultural Approach (Published)
The reality which religious thought expresses in the life of diverse religious adherents across the world cannot be over emphasized. For instance, sacrificial rite is one of the religious dimensions that occupies a unique place in every religious tradition. This paper therefore takes up the challenge to investigate, examine and re-appraise the concept of sacrifice in order to explicate its meaning, structure, religious connotation and symbolic dimension in human behavior essentially among the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Besides, the intrinsic values of sacrifice are thereby underscored as it fastens unity among those who are involved; expressing gratitude to their spiritual beings; fulfilling a vow; establishing a communion between man and the spiritual beings; averting the anger of the divinities and spirits; warding off the attack and evil machinations of enemies; purifying a person or a community when a taboo has been broken or sin committed; preventing or expelling epidemics; and strengthening the worshippers against malign influences. Furthermore, ethical principles vis-a-vis guidelines in the performance of sacrifice are equally explored. More importantly, this paper indicates that the interconnectivity of the concepts of sacrificial rites and ethical dimensions often go together, but devoid to exist except in the social context.