CHAPTER ONEGENERAL INTRODUCTION1.1 Background of the StudyThe rites of passage represent four important turning points in life among African traditional societies. Birth with naming ceremony; puberty rites; marriage ceremony; and death with funeral rites; These mark the transitions of the individual from one stage of the life to another. Every ethnic group in Nigeria has a different attitude towards these rites, which are determined by customs, values, morals and originally based on traditional beliefs. Death and funeral rites, which are the last rite of passage in a person’s life, should be processed with great care and attention that will enable the deceased to enter the world of ancestors. Therefore, the Ibibio people celebrate these complex ceremonies in a special way. They have successfully stood the test of time, even though they have been thoroughly influenced by the advent of Christianity and modernity. Hence this work is to unravel the religious and socio-cultural significance of funeral rites in Ibibio society.1.2 Statement of the ProblemIn a time like this when change is radical and continuous, the Ibibio society has been penetrated by forces of modernity. It has allowed certain foreign practices to infiltrate into the major facet of the society without considering the aftermath. This culture especially the funeral rites customs have gradually been modified and have diminished the beauty of the Ibibio society.The society is now characterized by compromise and syncretism. In view of all these, there is an urgent need to rediscover the basic practice of funeral rites and to call its attention to the lapses and religious significant of this very rite as evident in Ibibio society.1.3 Significant of the StudyThis research will contribute additional insights to the existing knowledge on death and funeral rites of the Ibibio ethnic group. It will apply a new historical approach by studying traditional customs of the Ibibio people and their development from the pre-colonial to colonial and post-colonial periods. It will analyse modifications of traditional practices of death and funeral rites and explore the effect such changes have created on the rural people of Ibibio society. The study also represents an attempt to preserve some of the original African traditions in the form of customs, rituals and ceremonies.1.4 Scope and Limitations of the StudyThis research is limited to the religious and socio-cultural significance of funerals rites in Ibibio society. Efforts will also be made to examine the Ibibio funeral activities, modification, its impacts, and drawing a comparison between the original Ibibio funeral rites and modern force.1.5 Objectives of the StudyThis research work seeks to unravel a chronological analysis of Ibibio funeral rites and further bringing to limelight the following:Show how significant funeral rites are to the Ibibio people; Recognize and analyse important transformations that have occurred from pre-colonial to colonial and post-colonial periods; Explore different factors and influences which have caused these modifications in funeral rites; and Include different aspects and features that accompany death and funeral ceremony including the questions of expensive funeral and widowhood practices.1.6 Research MethodologyThere are two research methods that is employed in tackling this subject matter. This is to ensure accurate first hand information concerning funeral rite practices in Ibibio as well as investigate it impact on the rural people.The first is library research. Here, resources like books, journals, articles etc. are extensively used; also, field research interviews, which the researcher considers very vital. Various persons among traditional chiefs, religious leaders, opinion leaders, elderly men and women and any other persons who may be resourceful for this research is personally interviewed.1.7 Definition of TermsFuneral: It is a religious ceremony for burying the dead often accompanied with performance of rites and symbolic meaning to those who believe in them.Rite: These are traditional performance with great conventional significance to the people involve.