IMPACTS OF CHRISTIANITY IN NNEWI ANAMBRA STATE: THE ANGLICANS AS A CASE STUDY
ABSTRACT Christianity as a religion has affected all spheres of life among the people of Nigeria. A careful study of the religious background of the Nnewi people will show that Christianity has found its way into both the urban and rural areas of the Nnewi society. This study is aimed at looking into the relevance of Christianity in the development of the Nnewi nation. For better understanding of the project, a brief introduction to the lifestyle of the Nnewi people prior to the advent of Christianity will also be made. The division of work for this study is as follows:- 1 General background study via the aims, methodology and clarification of terms. 2 The historical origin and organizational lifestyle of the Nnewi people. 3 The advent and expansion of Christianity looking at the Nnewi traditional setting before Christianity.4 Contributions of the Christian religion to the Nnewi nation. 5 Evaluations, Recommendations and Conclusions.
Christianity as a religion has been involved in many cities of the world since the emergence of the world. However, with the various denominations in Christianity, I would focus more on Anglicanism. This project work would therefore encompass the history of Christianity in Nigeria, the spread to Nnewi in Anambra State with the case study of the Anglicans stressing out its impacts. The history of Christianity in Nigeria especially in Nnewi town which is among the towns in Igboland located in Anambra State in the South eastern part of Nigeria present certain discoveries that are both positive and negative. Discoveries has been made on the people of Nnewi and their culture, they are known to have great cultural value that makes them unique. Religion is part of them and thus they cannot live without it. An adage says :- “Okpukpem bu ndum. Onye nwere Okpukpem Nwere ndum”. This means :- “My religion is my life. Whoever takes away my religion takes my life”.1 The Igbo people place so much values and attachment to their religion. With the advent of Christianity in Nigeria, especially in the Igbo land, the traditional religion of the Igbo people began to encounter some challenges. Some of the traditional practices were abandoned when Christianity took a firm ground in Nnewi town. The first Christian contact in Nigeria occurred in the fifteenth century when the Portuguese introduced Roman Catholicism. However, it was virtually extinguished over the following 200 years until Roman Catholic missionaries returned in the 1800s.Since then, the catholic church has grown and now claims approximately 19 million members and adherents mainly in the south east. The Anglican church of Nigeria now numbers over 11 million members and adherents. The growth of the church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) since the end of the slave trade has been a very rapid one. It is interesting to know that within two centuries, Christianity and indeed Anglicanism which started like child’s play in Badagry and Abeokuta has spread like wild fire to all nooks and crannies of our country Nigeria. Christianity came into Nigeria in the 15th century through the efforts of Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal.However, it was not until 1842 that Henry Townsend of the church missionary society sowed the seed of Anglicanism properly when he landed in Badagry from Freetown, Sierra Leone.2 The background of this study is that Christianity has come to stay in Nigeria and states within the country. Although, Christianity poses a form of threat due to its various denominations which sometimes speak in different voices. Christianity in Nnewi, Anambra state is what I would research on and expose in this work, I would specialize more on the Anglicans, other things to be considered in this work include the origin of the people of Nnewi, their religion and activities of the missionaries and how they affected the traditional religion of the Nnewi people.
1.2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY – This work sets to expose the impacts of Christianity in totality to the Nnewi people but focusing on the Anglicans. – To put away the people’s faith in the powers of idol worshipping and to help them find peace in Christianity. – This work is aimed at looking into the relevance of Christianity in the development of the Nnewi nation. – To expose the relation of the Anglican church to other denominations and its emergence in Nnewi nation. – To examine the origin of the Nnewi people and their religion, how peculiar it is to them and also the activities of the Christian missionaries in Nnewi, Anambra state. – To make suggestions/recommendations on how the Anglican church of Nigeria can reflect the life patterns of Nnewi traditional society.
1.3 CLARIFICATION OF TERMS AND CONCEPTS There are three basic terms that needs clarification in this work : Christianity, Anglicans and Traditional society.
1.3. 1 Christianity A monotheistic system of beliefs and practices on the old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior. The Christian religion was founded on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.3 Christianity is today the world’s most wide spread religion, with more than billion members, mainly divided between the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches. It originated among the Jewish followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who believed that he was the promised Messiah (or ‘Christ’) but the Christian church soon became an independent organization, largely through the missionary efforts of St. Paul. In 313 Constantine ended official persecution in the Roman Empire and in Theodosius I recognized it as the state religion. Most Christians believe in one God in three persons (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) and that Jesus is the son of God who rose from the dead after being crucified; a Christian hopes to attain eternal life after death through faith in Jesus Christ and tries and try to live by his teachings as recorded in the New Testament.
1.3.2 Anglicans The name “Anglican” means “of England” but the Anglican church exists worldwide. It began in the sixth century in England, when Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine to Britain to bring a more disciplined Apostolic succession to the celtic Christians. The Anglican Church evolved as part of the Roman Church, but the celtic influence was folded back in the Roman portion of the church in many ways. The Anglican church was spread worldwide first by English colonization and then by English-speaking missionaries. The adherents of these practices are known as ‘The Anglicans’.4 The word “church” has been misused, thus Billy Graham one of the American evangelist of the twentieth century says : The Invisible Church is that larger body of believers who, down through the ages, have sincerely trusted Jesus as Lord and savior. One becomes a member of the Church when he receives Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The visible church is the present day universal church, composed of the local group of Christian .In it are both the wheat and tares….5 The Anglican church is the church of England and its overseas off shoots. Anglicanism is a protestant firm of Christianity. It is sometimes seen as being the middle way, between Roman Catholicism and extreme Protestantism. This is because, in the English Reformation, the English church kept the early catholic ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. The critical point which led to the Anglican church was the outright rejection of the Pope and so of the catholic church as an organization.
1.3.3 Traditional Society This is the third term I would like to clarify for the progresss of this work. In sociology, traditional society refers to a society characterized by an orientation to the past, not the future, with a predominant role for custom and habit.6 The term “traditional” refers to those societies that are small scale, are derived from indigenous and often ancient cultural practices.
1.4 METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY The method or research for this study is the radical, practical approach. I would rely on quantitative and quantitative sources of social research such as surveys, interviews with some lay and ordained members of the Anglican church of Nigeria, analysis of documents from school libraries, institutes, online research ( E- library), journals, text books and research papers. This course is illustrated with a wide range of hypothetical and real-life case studies.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY This work would focus on Christianity in Nnewi, Anambra State. An attempt will be made to bring out the methods the Christian missionaries (Anglicans) used that led to the establishment and growth of Christianity in Nnewi. The scope so indeterminate and the interested parties amongst potential readers almost infinitely varied.7 Limitation to indepth stories/histories from materials.