Death in Igbo African ontology
Keywords:Death, quest for the meaning of his existence, Igbo African society, Igbo conceptualization of death
AbstractDeath is man’s ultimate challenge. It is his ultimate puzzle. It is at the center of man’s quest for the meaning of his existence. Different cultures at various eras have approached death from their gamut of meanings. The Igbo African society like other cultures in the world have confronted death in their attempt to philosophically give meaning to their experiences. Ndigbo like the majority of the human race, have refused to accept the finality of death. No. Man shouldn’t just disappear. Among the Ndigbo, death is a continuum. The dead continue to live in the memory and activities of the community. Their status in the land of the dead, which by the way is not far removed from the community depends on how well they had lived and how well their progeny had discharged their duties towards them, especially by according them a befitting burial. In the Igbo ontology, the society is the center of existence. Even in the world of the dead, the dead exist for the society. They must continue to bid well for the community by granting it favorable auspices from the gods. Even when the dead don’t make it into the comity of the ancestors, they don’t just disappear. They hang around the community, causing great nuisances to their immediate family and the community at large. When the Igbo dies, he does not desire to be united to any god in any heaven nor to be punished by any demon in a hellfire. His being is essentially defined as “being with the community”. This work x-rays t the Igbo unique way of approaching death, relying on library research, oral traditions and interviews, direct observations of the community’s customs in practice and analyses of lived experiences in the community. It aims at bringing out distinctly in philosophical formation, the uniquely Igbo conceptualization of death as it relates to the meaning of life.
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