Background of the study
One of such cultural institutions prevalent in Nigeria is the Igbo family system. The origin of the Igbo family system is difficult to trace in spite of the long years of education, and -the influence of western civilization. The reason for this could be due to different traditional world views, external influences and cultural meanings.The Igbo people live in the eastern part of Nigeria. They are bounded in the East by the Efik and Ibibio who seem to share some cultural similarities with the Igbo. Majority of the Igbo live in Anambra, Abia, Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi States of Nigeria. Igbo family is therefore defined as the basic primary social, religious, economic and political unity of the wider society made up of the father, mother, child(ren) or ward(s). Individualism is said to have no place in Igbo family system. The reality of this is found in the extended family system.
As an integral part of Igbo family system, the extended family members include patrilinial and matrilinial uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephew and in-laws. In Igbo family affairs, they have a say and have always made moral, social, economic and religious commitments to the growth of Igbo family system. They have craved and encouraged traditional values of their family members and their firm grip on their members has promoted the traditional Igbo pattern of life. Igbo people abide by the norms and traditions of their culture. This explains the reason why certain characteristic features can be predicted of the Igbo. For instance, the Igbo people are hard working and believe strongly in the dignity of labour. This is so because agriculture was their chief employment and everyone, even the children and women are engaged in it. Igbo tradition explains that the need for increased labour and agriculturally enhanced productivity explains the need for more than one wife in the traditional setting of Igbo family life. Igbo family had respect for elders because they believe that the elders are the closest link to and represent the ancestors. They believe in the enhancement of life, that is the reason why they abstain from bloodshed. This enhancement of life has added value for the unborn and the living dead in Igboland.
However, The advent of colonialism and missionary activities in Igboland brought about western education and civilization. This meant culture and in the words of Chinua Achebe things fall apart and things are no longer at ease. There were tremendous changes in authority and every sphere of Igbo life. However, the researcher’s concern here is on the effects of modernity on Igbo family, respect for elders seems to be affected because the spirit of individualism has taken place. Modernity has its influence on worldly passions, materialism and affluence. These are in enmity with Igbo cultural norms and values such as diligence, respect, honesty, hard work, patriotism, patience, truth telling and responsibility in Igboland today. The negation of patriotic acts has negatively affected Igbo cultural institution exemplified in Igbo family life. Less premium is placed on moral character of spouses because materialism seems to becloud their sense of objectivity to ideals and principles upon which Igbo family is built upon. Some parents especially mothers insist that it is either the men after their heart or no marriage. The men in question may be of questionable character but due to financial and material gratification, they see giving their daughter in marriage as an appreciation to such men who might be as old as their husbands. There are few cases such spouse must have been dating their would be mother-in-laws. In order not to loose them, they shift such relationship to their daughters in the name of marriage. Such mothers use all sorts of methods such as pleading, threats and petting to establish acceptance to the relationship. This is especially the case where such mothers are widows who turned business women. The patronage they receive from such intended in-laws is not easily forgotten, further, it is made a reference point and with a promise of receiving more if marriage is established. This is observed that when such marriage takes place in the family, the in-laws go to bed with their mother in-laws. The Igbo family in modern time has witnessed conflict of cultures. The acid of modernity does not only pollute Igbo system, but appears to bring about negligence and disregard on the Igbo value system. A look at what constitutes the statement of the problem w ill shade more light on the effects of modernity on the socio-religious activities of the Igbo as experienced in the family.
Statement of the problem
Igbo family is faced with the challenges of modernity evident in innovations and changes in patterns of life. The western culture has diffused in Igbo family and has eroded the core socio-religious values of the Igbo family system. The preference for and gluing to western culture has some benefits but its effects on Igbo family leaves much to be desired. Is modernity a curse or a blessing in Igboland. This has not been addressed by sociologists of religion, but has received comments by such literary and historical gurus like Achebe and Afigbo. Culture is dynamic in transforming people, institutions and relationships. The substance in this statement has not been investigated in recent time. Consequently, the weight of modernity on Igbo family in the age of internet, globalization, computer and other civilizing agents have challenged the socio-religious analyses of effects of modernity on Igbo family.Paramount among the negative effects of modernity on Igbo family discussed are individualistic spirit, ill-training of children by some parents and some good traditional values such as morality, good sanctions and taboos, respect for elders, decent dressing, etc. positively, modernity has brought about western education and eliminated some of the harmful cultural practices of the Igbo like human sacrifice, killing of twins and slave trade.Therefore it becomes consequential to critically investigate modernity and its socio-religious effect on Igbo families.
Objective of the study
The broad objective of this study is to critically investigate modernity and its socio-religious effect on Igbo families.Specifically, the study seeks:
1. To examine the indices or mechanism through which modernity penetrated into the Igbo Culture.
2. To investigate the ways modernity has affected the pre-colonial Igbo family and modern Igbo family.
3. To examine the implication of modernity on traditional value system and Igbo morality.
The research is guided by the following research questions
1. What are the indices or mechanism through which modernity penetrated into the Igbo Culture?
2. What are the ways modernity has affected the pre-colonial Igbo family and modern Igbo family.
3. Does modernity have any implication on traditional value system and Igbo morality.
4. What are the socio-religious challenges and difficulties posed by modernity on Igbo family?
Significance of the study
This research would help draw a policy guideline on the effects of modernity on Igbo family. As a reference point to the individuals, institutions on Igbo family system, the study is significant in promoting balanced understanding, social cohesion and harmony in the whole society. The society is placed in a better position to mirror the image of the family. The study would make our future generation have an improved conception of their fore-bears’ world-view. This will promote their value system. The study challenges the church and the family in Igboland to dialogue so that peace, security and unity would reign in Igboland through mutual tolerance, accommodation and respect for human dignity.The study will empirically add to the body of knowledge and serve as reference material for other academia in related field of study.
Research methodology is the specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information about a topic. To realize the objectives of this study, the paper adopts a methodology that is both descriptive and analytical. This approach relies on official records and a considerable volume of related literature. For the purpose of this study, the researchers adopted historical and descriptive methods. Information was sourced from secondary data collated from journals, articles, library materials and internet sources which are related to the study.
Scope of the study
The scope of the study refers to the area covered by the research. The scope of the study borders on Socio-Religious Analysis of effects of modernity on Igbo family. The study is however delimited to Imo State.
Limitation of the study
During the course of this research, the following factors are proposed to be a limitation.
Financial constraints: Financial constraints tend to impede the researcher’s efficiency in locating relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as in data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research is reduced. However the researcher will give in their best to make this research a success.
Definition of terms
Modernity: Modernity is an evolution of change in the human life. It brought about change in human application.
Family: The family is understood in this research as referring to the primary, social, religious, economic, political and moral unit of Igbo society. It is hierarchization made up of the father, mother and children or wards.
Religion: Religion in this research refers to an affixed relationship between man and God and between man and his neighbour. In other words, religion refers to a set of beliefs, practices, norms and values linking man to God and to his neighbour.
Society: Society comprises a group of persons living together, sharing the same world-view for the common good of its members.