Religion in Esanland

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Three types of religious practices are observable in Esanland. These are modern religions which comprise Christianity and Islam. The traditional or indigenous religion is also practiced by a large number of people in the area. Christianity, which made its debut in the area early in this century, is now posing a serious challenge to traditional religion. It is very prevalent among youths and educated adults. Christianity, which is of various denominations, has been consolidating its influence in the area since the coming of the Whiteman. For instance, at Ewu, the cradle of Assemblies of God Church, there ¡s an Institute for Advanced Theological Studies. And ironically, this medium sized northern town of Ewu, happens to habour one of the largest concentration of Muslims in the area. This is because of its geographical location — being very close to Agbede in Etsako, a predominantly Muslim community. Also at Ekpoma, the Catholic Church has a Brother Roman Renewal Centre and a branch of Saints Peter and Paul Major Seminary, a preparatory institution for the training of priests. The propagation of Christian religion in Esanland is marked by doggedness and unwavering zealotry as pastors and priests penetrate deeply even into communities that are far-flung for evangelical mission

Traditional religion is still widely practiced in Esanland The people believe in one Supreme God (Osenobulua) who is the master of the galaxy, There are other gods that are immediate to them and through which they can pass on their pleadings and requests to the Supreme Being. Such gods are deified in shrines adorned with statues and carvings where prayers are aid and sacrifices offered either in request for a dire need, for instance, like rain, following a prolonged spell of drought or in appreciation for a particular benefit it bestowed on the people, like a long spell of peace and harmony in the community or a very bountiful crop harvest. Apart  from this, there is a widespread belief that these intermediary gods can be appeased ¡n times of distress, sickness or premonition in the community with appropriate sacrifices. They can also be manipulated lo curse a real or imagined enemy or detractor. Alternatively, disputants to an issue can go and swear before the deity in order to prove guilt or innocence. Some of these gods include (Idigun) god of iron; (Osun) god of rain water; (Olokun) god of the sea, among others. In spite of massive incursion of other religions, traditional religion has continued to maintain its firm grip on the conscience of the people.

As a fall-out from traditional religion, there is, in the area, traditional healing practice. This is of two dimensions. One involves a known ailment or sickness which traditional herbalists can cure. The other involves some diseases which cannot be diagnosed and require divination by playing of the oracle. Here the troubled family could go to a diviner who. after incantations and playing his divining  tools, may recommend various sacrifices lo appease the angry gods or spirits.

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