CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION1.1 Background to the studyAfrica is known for its rich cultural heritage by which its cultural practices are globally recognized. Nigeria as a country in Africa is referred to as ‘giant of Africa. Apart from its dense population and natural resources with which the country is blessed, the country is also endowed with people of various rich and worthwhile cultural heritages. Notable among the cultural groups in Nigeria is ‘Annang’. Annang as a cultural group is found in the south Southern part of Nigeria. Annang Land is made up of eight Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State namely: Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Essien Udim, Oruk Anam, Ika, Etim Ekpo, Ukanafun and Obot Akara. The group is known for its bravery which is reflected in the popular slogan ‘Awo Annang Ade Awo Uko’ Meaning (An Annang person is a brave person). It implies that any person of Annang origin would always strive to tackle whatever challenge that he may encounter in his life. In addition, Annang as a cultural group has various traditions that are reflections of its cultural values. One of the traditional practices among Annang is Ekpo traditional culture. Ekpo is believed among Annang to be representatives of the ancestral spirits and acts an intermediary between the people and the ancestors.Christianity as a foreign religion came to Nigeria with the penetration of the western missionaries and evangelists. Christianity came with its own culture – western culture, the idea or perception of the westerners about us is that, everything about the blacks or Africans is barbaric and- that we have neither history nor culture. This foreign religion, when it came in, tried everything possible to do away with Africa culture and religion.Today, Ekpo is hardly seen and in some societies like IKot Ukpong in Obot Akara Local Government Area. The cult has been banned and generations to come may not know anything about this cult that brings out the Annang tradition. Most of the functions and contributions of Ekpo is no more beneficial to the community. As it was observed by the present researcher, it is only the Catholic Church that tolerates a fragment of practices of Ekpo by allowing ceremonial displays of Ekpo during cultural festivities (Aloysius Ntakpo, interviewed on 5/8/2017).We are also going to see how the intruding or emergence of Christianity destabilized the smooth existence of Ekpo cult in Annang society especially, Ikot Ukpong, Obot Akara Local Government Area. From the annal of history, no culture has ever appeared and developed except with religion (Akama, 2012:59). Although the two are not the same thing, but the inter-relationship is such that a culture without religion, a religion without culture is impossible and a utopia out of this world. The relationship, between the two is clearly captured in the analogy of the relationship between a living fish and its water habitats (Iwe 1985:58-59). Ekpo cult, an arm in African traditional Religion is known and recognized with Annang culture and in fact every culture possesses a religious sense (Akama, 2012:189).1.2 Statement of the problemIn Nigeria, in book and constitution, it is believed that Nigeria is a secular state. Theoretically, it is true but in practice, it has become a mirage or un-affirmed or uncertain fact because as a secular state, there should not be a state religion, one should be free to practice or be involved in any religion of his or her choice and can even be an atheist without any problem. We have three basic religions in Nigeria which are officially approved or recognized and these are: Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion (ATR) and right is given to citizens to choose from these and be involved (source).In Christianity for example, we have denominations like the Catholic, Methodist, Apostolic and Pentecostals and even sect like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and under all these, they still have arm like Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), Catholic Women Organization (CWO), Methodist Evangelical Movement (MEM), the Apostolic Witnesses and others. Ekpo is one of the arms of African Traditional Religion (ATR) which its primary assignment is to maintain order and instill discipline.1.3 Purpose of StudyThe general purpose or the aim is to examine the influence of Christianity on Ekpo traditional cult in Ikot Ukpong, Obot Akara Local Government Area. The specific objective are as follows:To determine the socio-political functions of Ekpo traditional cult.To identify the processes and practices in Ekpo displays.To identify the problems associated with Ekpo cult.To trace the history of emergence and development of Christianity in Annang land.To identify the influence of Christianity on Annang traditions with particular emphasis on Ekpo Tradition.1.4 Research MethodologyDescriptive method of a survey research was adopted for the study. In doing so, both primary and secondary data were employed. The primary source here was the data collected through the interview which involved going to villages in Obot Akara Local Government Area which the work centers on especially villages like Ikot Ukpong, Mbat Esifon and Nto Edino in accordance with time and space for the study. The secondary sources are ideas collected or used from the works of existing literatures that have bearing with the study. These included data, from textbook, internet material, magazines, reports, publications and journals etc. In addition the study is a qualitative type of research.