The Influence of Syncretism on the Ethnic Denominations of African Religion in the Benue Valley of Nigeria: The Tiv in Perspective

Andrew Philips Adega


In a competitive world where everyone and every system is trying to outdo one another to create a sense of relevance, the tendency of not being satisfied with a particular way in which something has been done over the years is often to copy or emulate what the other is doing. Religion is not free from this tendency; and this creates a situation where some elements or a reasonable chunk of ideas are copied and fussed into a religious tradition from one or more opposing or distinct religious groups. The idea of fusion in religious circles is known as religious syncretism. The paper is motivated by the seemingly fusion of Christian and Islamic patterns of beliefs in the Ethnic Denominations of African Religion in the Benue Valley of Nigeria. The paper adopts the Phenomenological and Analytic Methods. In the area of data collection, two main methods: the primary and secondary methods of data collection have been employed. In the primary source of data collection, observation and oral interview methods were used. On the other hand, the secondary sources of data collection employed the use of textbooks, journal articles, newspaper/magazine articles and e-sources. The paper discovered that syncretism has been a reoccurring decimal in religious circles. Thus, a particular religion copies and infuses into its system some distinct ideas from a different religious tradition. The Ethnic Denominations of African Religion in the Benue Valley particularly Tiv Religion has been greatly influenced by syncretism. Tiv Religion has adopted and fused certain beliefs from Christianity and Islam in such areas as prayers, use of prayer beads, holy water and worship patterns. It is the view of this paper that if this trend goes unchecked, the Ethnic Denominations of African Religion in the Benue Valley especially Tiv Religion would wholly syncretize itself in the garb of foreign religious traditions. The paper suggests that the adherents of Tiv Religion should continue with their unique way of prayer and worship as prescribed in Tiv Religion instead of syncretizing different religious practices with the prospects of losing their entire culture to foreign ones. The uniqueness of Tiv Religion and culture must be protected from going extinct. The practitioners of the Ethnic Denominations of African Religion in the Benue Valley must note the fact that God listens to those who worship him through different cultural platforms. Therefore, one does not need to adopt foreign ideas to be relevant or heard by God. This is what makes God, God.

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