Odinani

Odinani is the traditional religion of the Igbo people of southern Nigeria. Odinani has monotheistic and panentheistic ideas. It has one God as the source of all things.

Task 1: What does monotheistic mean? What does panentheistic mean?

Ala is the Earth Mother Goddess; female Alusi (deity) of the earth, morality, death, and fertility in Odinani.

The Igbo people of Nigeria call Her the mother of all things, but She is both the fertile earth and the empty field after the harvest. She is present at the beginning of the cycle of life, making children grow in their mother’s womb, and She is there at the end of the cycle, to receive the souls of the dead into Her own womb.  Her name literally translates to ‘Ground’ in the Igbo language, denoting Her powers over the earth and Her status as the ground itself.

Task 2: Look at this artist’s image of Ala. What does it tell us about what she is like?

The New Yam Festival, is an important way of marking the beginning and end of the farming season. It is a celebration of life, accomplishments in the community, culture and well-being. It is celebrated by several West African groups, such as Yoruba and Odinani.

Yam is significant to the planting and harvesting season of Ogidi community as it is regarded as a miraculous plant that signifies fertility. Once new yams are harvested from the farms in good quantity and conditions, it is believed that the year will be illustrious and that the ground will be fertile for other crops.

Task 3: Read here and then answer the following questions in full sentences.

  1. What happens during the opening ceremony?
  2. What is the slogan of the community farmers?
  3. Why do young women carry fruit baskets?
  4. What do the female drummers do?
  5. Who is Oya?
  6. What is the bata drum made from?
  7. What is irukere and what does it symbolise?
  8. What is Agbo Olode used for?
  9. How are feathers used in the festival?
  10. What is the main purpose of the festival?

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