The idea of the supernatural exists in every traditional society all over the world. The ancient Greeks saw man as being a victim of the supernatural. It is however in the oral tradition that the supernatural has its strongest hold. Geoffrey Parrinder in his text African Traditional Religion says; “To Africans, the spiritual world is so real and near, its forces intertwining and inspiring the visible world that, whether pagan or Christian, man has to reckon with things invisible to mortal sight”(10). Thus, the supernatural occupy an immense position in the minds of the Igbo society as in Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine and The Great Ponds.
In the traditional society, some animals are treated with reverence and some birds are regarded as ominous. When a particular stream or wooded landscape is found unique, it is a supernatural manifestation. These unique places are seen as the abodes of communal deities or local spirits identifiable with the destiny of the different communities. All these establish that beyond nature, there are the supernatural.
1.2 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Igbo are a group of people whose culture and tradition mean a lot in their lives. They occupy a territory known as Eastern Nigeria which is made up of five major states namely: Abia, Imo, Enugu, Anambra, and Ebonyi states. Certain Igbo communities though in scattered formations could also be found in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, and Kogi states of Nigeria.
The culture and tradition of the Igbo are guarded by a number of beliefs associated with the supernatural. The supernatural are God, gods, goddesses, deities, forces or powers that cannot be explained by the laws of science or be easily comprehended. It is these supernatural who influence activities in traditional societies.
Man has been dependent on “assumed” higher authority, power or god who he believes knows and controls his affairs throughout his life time on earth. Despite the worthwhile advances made by science and technology to better his lot and understand his environment, it is surprising that:
He is still deplorably ignorant and the universe is largely a mystery to him. He does not understand the nature of space and time; he does not know what matter is made of, if indeed it is made of anything. Above all he does not understand himself (Amadi 1).
From the above quotation, it is obvious that man is a stranger even to himself. This is why he is dependent on the supernatural in order to find answers to things he cannot explain and this in turn leads him into worship and reverence for those supernatural beings whose understanding eludes him. Therefore, man’s dependence on the supernatural is very important for his survival in a world he does not understand. Part of this dependence is in the culture and tradition of the Igbo people whose belief in the ancestors and gods affects their lives and mode of living even in written texts. Thus,
The African writer who really wants to interprete the African scene has to write in three dimensions at once. There is the private life, the social life and what you may call the supernatural (Amadi 7).
It means that, the private, social and most importantly the supernatural life of the Igbo will be explored if indeed they must write. The characters whose lives we will explore from Amadi’s novels in the course of this work have been portrayed with that human frailty, weakness and imperfect nature of men who have eyes but could not see and ears but could not hear. That is to say that at one point or the other, humans are confronted with forces and circumstances beyond their control.