THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF URHOBO NATION
Christianity as a religion has crept into almost all spheres of life in Nigeria. A careful study of the religious background of the urhobo people will show that Christianity has found its way into the both the urban and rural areas of the urhobo society.
This study is aimed at looking into the relevance of Christianity in the development of the urhobo nation. For a better understanding of the project, a brief introduction to the lifestyle of the urhobo people prior to the advent of Christianity will also be made.
1.0 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Christianity is a product of the Jewish culture and religion. It is the gift of the Jews to the Roman Empire from where it spread to other parts of the world. Christianity often described as the most widespread religion since its inception has found its way into virtually almost all societies. The case of the spread of the religion can be attributed to the command given to the disciples and apostles of this faith by its founders Jesus Christ (Matt 28:19:20).
This research tries to examine the importance of this Jewish seed-Christianity-to the Urhobo people and nation who are located in the southern part of Nigeria. In recent years, the growth of Christianity in Urhoboland has been very rapid. The cause of this spread and expansion of Christianity in the land will also be treated. The history-political, economic and the social life the Urhobo people and their organizational structure will also be analyzed, as it will help to give a broad and clear and understanding of the task ahead. The lifestyle of the Urhobo people before the advent of Christianity and how Christianity has contributed to their development is not left out.
1.2CLARIFICATION OF TERMS
For a deeper understanding of this study, it is necessary to clarify some key terms and their related concepts. Some of these key terms and concepts are:
1.2.1CHRISTIANITY: Christianity is a religion that is based on or centered around the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity is about:
1. A person – Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity.
2. A people – that God has formed on earth.
3. A way of life – that God had given to his people1.
1.2.2DEVELOPMENT: According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, development refers to a gradual growth. It is also a new state of something that is likely to affect what happens in a continuous manner. It involves economic growth and increased standard of living.
Within the context of this study, development refers to the growth of the society in question. Development therefore is the process of improving the quality of all human lives in all aspect.
1.2.3SOCIETY: A society is a particular community of people who share the same customs, laws etc. or a people living together in communities2. Society is also a grouping of individuals which are united by a network of social relations, traditions and may have a distinctive culture and institutions.
1.2.4URHOBO: The Urhobo people are located within the hinterland of the lower reaches of the Niger Delta region in Nigeria, between longitude 50300 and 60 25 East and latitude 60 50 North. They are surrounded by the Bini to the North, the Ijaw to the South, the Ukwani to the East and Itsekiri to the West.3
Urhobo people belong to the Edo speaking people of Delta State. They constitute the major minority group in Nigeria and the seventh largest ethnic group in the country.
1.3AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The aims and objectives of this study are as follows:
To expose the impact of Christianity on the Urhobo people and culture and its role in the development of Urhobo nation.
To create awareness, a consciousness of the Urhobo personality and access the place of Christianity within the context of the Urhobo nation.
To invite an engaging conversation on the vital aspect of Urhobo history and culture which according to some scholars are under distress.
The major sources of this research work are from published books and internet materials. Occasional references to the sacred scripture of the religion in question will also be made. Interviews conducted in the course of the research are also included in the work. The primary sources are textbooks while the interviews are to serve as the secondary source.
1.5SCOPE OF STUDY
The work is limited to urhoboland. By urhoboland we mean the twenty two geo-political units or subunits, which make up the Urhobo nation. It is limited to the contacts and relationship between the Urhobo people and the Christian missions-how the religion of the Urhobo people affects Christianity and how Christianity also affected their dependence and interdependence etc though references to other societies and religion will also be made.
1.6DIVISION OF WORK
This work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one provides a general background study via the aims, methodology and clarification of terms. Chapter two discusses the historical origin and organizational lifestyle of the Urhobo nation. Chapter three is centered on the advent and expansion of Christianity while looking at the Urhobo traditional setting before Christianity. Chapter four looks at the contributions of the Christian religion to the Urhobo nation.
Finally, chapter five deals with evaluations, recommendations and conclusion.