The fact that you clicked on this means that this topic is of interest to you. Religion is the declaration of faith and belief towards the existence of a supreme being. The belief of many Nigerian is that there are basically three types of religion in the country. Christian, Muslim, and traditional religion. However, many do not even know the difference between all the traditional religions.
Factually, popular religious identity does not account for numerous other traditional religion that exists in Nigeria.
Before the advent of the colonial colonialism in 1900. Africa was not void of religion. It was not colonization and foreign interference that brought religion into Africa. Before then, Africa surely had a way of communing with the realm of the spiritual. However, due to modernism, the majority of these traditional religions have been abated.
Nevertheless, it would interest you to know that there are still quite a number of traditional religions that are still practiced in Nigeria today. Just like we have numerous people go to Church on Sunday and Mosques on Friday. So do we have thousands of people who go shrines to worship their gods on sacred days.
In this article, we have compiled a list of top 10 traditional religions still practiced in Nigeria.
Ogun is regarded as the god of Iron. According to Yoruba mythology, this malign looking god was among the small gods that Oludumare (God) sent to come to establish the earth.
Among other gods, Ogun was considered to be in charge of security because of its fierce and obnoxious nature. Good to note, the worshippers of Ogun are predominantly the Yoruba people. However, there are some notable tribes that worship Ogun, like Bini, Igala, Nago and so many others. Infact, the terrain of Ogun worshippers extend across Nigerian borders into countries like Benin republic and Togo.
It began to have worshippers after people would call upon its name for protection or to give severe punishment to any offender. The punishment of Ogun is always a cruel one, it can even claim the life of whoever it has been sent to.
Funnily many people among the worshippers of Ogun are those that deal with metal. Like a blacksmiths, Drivers, and so on. To this present day, they’re still quite a number of Ogun worshippers scattered in different places in Nigeria.
Sango is regarded as the god of thunder and lightning. According to Yoruba mythology, he was the third Alaafin of the Old Oyo Empire. He is regarded as one of the most worshipped gods in Yoruba land.
The scope of its worshippers spread across borders. There are numerous Sango worshippers in countries like Brazil, Cuba, Columbia, and others. During his reign as the Alaafin of Oyo kingdom, the territory of the empire was extended to places like Benin republic, Dahomey and Port Novo. Little wonder we have so many people from Benin republic who speaks Yoruba.
Need I say more, the Igbos also have a rdordr of Sango worshippers. Though, they call it a different name, but then, a decorated monkey is still a monkey.
Osun is the name of a gigantic river that cuts across all Yoruba states. Osun is a river goddess whose powers know no end. She is a versatile person and can change within the twinkle of an eye. This minute she is the loving goddess healing all manner of sickness and diseases with her water. And in the next minute, she is full of rage and force, destroying things with floods.
Osun connotes the Yoruba word Orisun (Source or Origin). Osun is regarded as the fountain of happiness and the cradle of wrath and anger. She blesses people with beautiful kids, protect people who have sworn their allegiance to her. This goddess is one of the most popular in the entire Yoruba race and other tribes. There are numerous Osun worshippers among tribes like Igala, Ebira, Iṣan, Benin Kingdom. While the Yorubas call the goddess Osun, other tribes call it Olokun
Up until this present era, her worshippers are proud to show the beauty of their goddess. It would interest you to know that people come into Nigeria from all over the world just to witness the Osun festival.
In-between, It is imperative to let you all know that the Hausa people do not have a record of traditional religion. If there exists any traditional religion in the north aside from Islam, that means its worshippers are secretly worshiping it. But as far as written records would have it, there is none in the North. This can’t be disjointed from the fact that the northerners are highly theocratic in nature. Their culture and belief have a deep root in the religion that they practiced. In essence, it is very difficult to see a conventional Hausa Man practice other religions aside from Islam.
Having known this, let’s take a quick trip to the Igbo land.
Generally, all the religion that deals with worshipping a deity is called ARUSI in Igbo land. Having this in mind, we can then proceed to some of the most popular deities served in Igbo land.
Igwekala is the name of a masquerade in Igbo land. It is considered to be one of the biggest masquerades in the East. While other masquerades appear every year, Igwekala appears only once in every four years. This tells of how great this masquerade is. It is is one of the most worshipped deities in Igbo land.
The female deity of the earth popularly known as Ala. Its symbol is the python and the crescent moon. This deity is known with several names like Ani, Ana, Ale, and others.
She is well respected among other deities for her power over the earth and everything on it. Similar to the Osun deity of the Yoruba land, Ala is into fertility and creativity. According to Mythical belief, Ala is the husband of amadioha, the god of the sky. Until this day, even with the spread of Christianity and Islam, there are still numerous people who worship Ala.
Among other things that God created, the Igbo people cherish the sun so much. Owing to the fact that it provides light to the earth. ‘Anyanwu’ is an Igbo word which means sun. For the record, ‘Anya’ means eye and ‘anwu’ means sun. When there is sunlight, the eye will see clearly. The people of Igbo land immortalized the sun and make it one of the numerous deities that they serve.
Similar to the Sango (God of thunder and Lightening), Amadioha is the god of thunder and Lightening for the Igbo people. Among all other gods, he is the strongest and the fiercest. Amadioha is considered to be one of the most noble and the cruelest. Once Amadioha is out to strike, there is no going back. This makes it one of the most feared among other gods in Igbo land.
Every third market day of the Igbo four day week is meant for Amadioha. Interestingly, the main spot for Amadioha’s shrine is not even in Igbo land. It is located Ogboro ama ukwu, an area in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Ogbunabali is a god of revenge. It most strikes at the dead of night. Ogbunabali is a god of death or messenger of death as the case may be. It is one of the most used gods to punish any evil person in Igbo land. It doesn’t strike the saints or innocent one. But it makes no mistake in killing those who have committed a crime or who have done an unimaginable taboo.
Orunmila is regarded as the father and custodian of the Oracle. According to myth, whenever there is a serious situation or the people are in a state of dilemma. The person that people turn to for answers is Orunmila. People believe that Orunmila has an unhindered relationship with Oludumare (God).
The worshippers of Orumila are the Yorubas, the Benin, Igala to mention but a few.
So whatever thing that Orunmila tells the people, they believe the words are from Olodumare (God). That believe transient into this present era. There numerous Yorubas who believe in Orunmila. They consult him to hear the mind of Olodumare concerning their situation. Reasonably, just the Muslims and Christians build cathedrals and worship in magnificent buildings. So also, are the worshippers of Orunmila.
According to Yoruba Mythology, ỌBÀTÁLÁ Was the first god that came to the earth. He was the one that Olodumare (God) gave the responsibility of establishing the earth. He settled in Ile-Ife with other gods like Ogun, Osun, Laaroye, Obaluaye, Agboniregun (Orunmila). Obatala was the god of palm wine, and often times, he gets drunk with his own palm wine. He was naturally a leader of the people but not a crown king.
However, due to his unstable nature as a result of excessive intake of palm wine. It was believed that Olodumare withdraws the contract of establishing the world from him and gave it to Oduduwa, who became the first King of Ile-Ife. Ever since Obatala has numerous followers during his time on the earth, people practically worship him. That transient to this present era, there many Yoruba who still worship Obatala.
Without much Ado, one can deduce that there are things that education can not take away from Africa. There things that civilization can not snatch away from Nigeria. Funny as it seems, many Nigerian that believe in the imported faith (Christianity and Islam) are swift to condemning people that hold unto to the old faith. What most of us fail to understand is that the people of the old faith are still the reason why our history and heritage has not been completely washed away.