The Urhobo Traditional Theologumenon on Afterlife and Christian Theology of Eschatology: A Comparative Study

By Ottuh, John Arierhi | Journal of Pan African Studies, May 2017 | Go to article overview

The Urhobo Traditional Theologumenon on Afterlife and Christian Theology of Eschatology: A Comparative Study


Ottuh, John Arierhi, Journal of Pan African Studies


There are practices that mark the identity of a people. One of such things is the culture and cosmology of such people. This culture and cosmology are in relation to religion. The Urhobo people in Delta State, Nigeria are not exceptional. They have their culture and worldview. All of these are weaved up in their traditional religion called African Traditional Religion (ATR). Within this religion, the Urhobo understanding of the Supreme Being called Oghene (God) is given an important place.

However, their understanding are similar and dissimilar to that of the Christian in one way or the other. For example it is similar in the believe that God is the creator of all things but dissimilar in the believe that other gods where created by God Almighty to help rule the affairs of humans. The Urhobo belief about God and afterlife will be the focus in this paper.

Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine the Urhobo traditional world view about God and the afterlife and compare it with the Christian Theology of Eschatology. In this study, the comparative model shall be explored as a methodology. The comparative model according to Ukpong (2006) seeks to establish similarities and dissimilarities between African and biblical life and thought, and correlate one with the other. In this case, the similarities and dissimilarities between Urhobo traditional theologumenon on the afterlife and the Christian concept of eschatology will be considered.

Conceptual Clarification

The term theologumenon is from the Greek, neuter theologoumenos. It is a present passive participle of theologein, meaning to discourse on the gods, talk about God, from theologos theologue. It also means a theological statement or concept in the area of individual opinion rather than of authoritative doctrine (Merriam-Webster Dictionaries, 2015). Such theological concept or idea could be informed by either theological doctrine or cultural tradition. It also refers to traditional-cultural theology. In the same line of thought, the Collins English Dictionary (2014) also refers to theologumenon as a theological assertion or statement not derived from divine revelation. Here in this work, theologumenon refers to the Urhobo traditional world view about God (Urhobo traditional theology) in the light of the afterlife and Christian theology of eschatology.

The Urhobo: Occupation and Cultural Heritage

Ekeh (2008) did a research work on "clans and kingdoms in Urhobo history and culture and described a basic unit of Urhobo culture which he termed clan. The word "clan" according to him came into existence at the onset of British colonial rule in Urhoboland in the beginning decades of the 20th century and that from prehistoric times, and even during that era of colonial rule, the Urhobo people employed their own native expressions, including ekpoto (that is, ekpo r' oto in full phrasing), to describe these units of Urhobo culture. Other words that were so used to describe Urhobo's cultural units were ekuoto and ubroto. However, that colonial term of "clans" dominated Urhobo studies and everyday analysis of Urhobo ways of life until its authority was undermined in the late 1990s. Ekeh also made reference to Otite (1973) in which the term "kingdom" was first applied to the special case of Okpe.

Otite's use of the term "kingdom" was specialized and was largely circumscribed by the unique events of Okpe history. Ekeh also pointed out that the publication of Otite's book in the early 1970s did not diminish the use of the term "clans" for describing Urhobo's subcultures nor did it lead to any upswing in the use of "kingdoms" in Urhobo studies and everyday life. To Ekeh, the various units of Urhobo is called clan even when kingdom is used by other scholars. Using the term kingdom to describe the various units of the Urhobo people could be controversial in the sense that some units which do not have a king cannot be called a kingdom. …

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