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PROJECT TOPIC: THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY ON BURIAL RITES IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF NKANU IN ENUGU STATE)

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

        The biblical account states that God made the provision of a garden for Adam and Eve as their habitat after they had been created. It states, in regards to the divine restriction of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that “for when you eat of it, you will surely die” (Gen 2:17b); and obviously physical death became a reality of humanity following the account of the fall in Genesis 3. Also, the writer of the book of Hebrews states, when contrasting the principle of Old Testament sacrifice with the salvific efficacy of the propitiatory death of Jesus Christ, that “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb 9:27a). From the preceding scriptural passages, it is obvious that death is a common human phenomenon, acting as “the implacable enemy of man”, that is, of all human beings. It is the cessation of all vital human functions, certifying the loss and end of human existence. Death is described as “the natural end of life” and “the inevitable end of man” on earth. Roland Murphy says death “casts a fatal shadow over all human existence” and makes the experience of life to be futile and worthless when it strikes. Burial on the other hand is the act or process of disposing of a corpse. This may vary from culture to culture and from one religious or some ideology to the other. In African tradition generally the dead are not buried away from their land of ancestry. Burial, to be considered proper, honourable, meaningful and acceptable in most African cultures, has to be done in the deceased’s ancestral land. This traditional ideology forces on Christians to strive, against all odds, to also bury their relations, Christians and non Christians alike, in their ancestral land. But tension exists between such traditional insistence on burial of dead persons in their “home land” and the Christian understanding of the concept of the resurrection. How are Christians who fail to bury their dead according to traditional rite perceived by the people in the culture, and will dead African Christians that are not buried in their ancestral land not resurrect? This article examines the traditional philosophical reasons propelling the African insistence on the observance of burial in the ancestral land even today. It points out the attendant implications of such cultural insistence for the Church, particularly where living Christian relations fail to bury their dead according to required traditional rites. The study advances grounds why African Christians today, as transformed persons, are not obliged to such traditional observances especially burial rites and traditions.

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM

        The conflict that has generated from the issue of burial rites in the country especially in Nkanu land in Enugu state has left little to be desired as these disagreements have led to crises and in extreme cases, death. The impact of influence of Christianity on burial rites has actually been undermined especially in a cosmopolitan society like the south eastern part of the country.

1.3   AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

        The major aim of the study is to examine the influence of Christianity on burial rites in Nigeria. other specific objectives of the study include the following;

1)     To study the history of Christianity in Nigeria in general and    Nkanu in particular.

2.     To determine the importance of Christianity on the society.

3.     To assess the level of influence has had on burials in Nkanu   land in Enugu state.

4.     To recommend ways of improving the influence of Christianity         on burial rites in Nigeria.

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1.     What is the influence of Christianity on burial rites in Nkanu    land?

2.     What is the history of Christianity in Nigeria in general and      Nkanu in particular?

3.     What is the importance of Christianity on the society?

4.     What is the level of influence has had on burials in Nkanu land        in Enugu state?

5.     What are the ways of improving the influence of Christianity on       burial rites in Nigeria?

1.5   RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

H0:    Christianity has no significant influence on burial rites in Nigeria.

H1:    Christianity has a significant influence on burial rites in Nigeria.

1.6   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

        The study would be of immense importance towards the spread of Christianity and ensuring Godly burials not just in Nkanu land of Enugu state but in the entire country. The study would also benefitr students, researchers and scholars who are interested ijn developing further studies on the subject matter.

1.7   SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

        This study is restricted to the influence of Christianity on burial rites in Nigeria using Nkanu land of Enugu state as the case study.

Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


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