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AN APPRAISAL OF THE CONCEPT OF CHI IN IGBO RELIGION AND THOUGHT

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AFRICAN LANGUAGES UNDERGRADUATE PROJECT TOPICS, RESEARCH WORKS AND MATERIALS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

The Igbo concept of chi is not an ordinary abstract concept but a living reality in everyday life and experience of the individual in the community. It is an operative principle that has far reaching effect on individual psyche and self-actualization. Hence, the need for appraisal of the concept of chi, the guardian/ personal god in Igbo traditional religion believed to be responsible for the success or failure of a person in life is very important. This is because central to this belief is the question of choice of one's destiny, which is a subject of debate among Igbo scholars as they argue on different aspects, but closely interrelated interpretations of this phenomenon.

According to Chinua Achebe, there are two clearly distinct meanings of the word chi in Igbo. The first is often translated as god, guardian angel, personal spirit, soul, spirit-double etc. the second meaning is day or daylight but it most commonly used for those transitional periods between day and night or night and day. Without an understanding of the nature of chi one could not begin to make sense of the Igbo world-view. A consideration of the nature and implication of this concept which is so powerful in Igbo religion and thought was that a person’s chi normally resides with the sun, bringer of daylight, or at least passes through it to visit the world. Which itself may have an even profounder implication for it is well known in Igbo cosmology that the Supreme Deity, Chukwu Himself, is in close communion with the sun.

Despite the ambiguous and contradictory nature of some aspect of Igbo belief and thoughts in chi and the current condemnation of the belief in this phenomenon by Christian religion, its influence is still prevalent. For instance, many ‘Igbo Christians’ have implicit belief in the efficacy of chi in their journey through life and often resort to its consultation when they encounter challenges in self actualization. In fact, a critical analysis of some of the scholars on the interpretation of chi especially Chinua Achebe (1986), Arinze (1978), Ilogu (1974), Metuh (1999) and Isichei (1976) suggests a theological reflection of its likeness to the biblical account of creation of man in the image and likeness of God. Thus, there arises according to Okafor (1992:21) from: 

… the Igbo concept of chi this one theological fact-that  everybody possesses some godhead, some divinity. This is a simple syllogism resulting from the premises that the chi is the divine force, the active manifestation of God in his creature and that every human being has his own chi and not only human beings but all creatures at large.

This suggests that no matter how primitive a culture may seem, God has a way of revealing himself to human beings in every culture. Thus implying that chi represents the ‘imago Dei’ in man as conceived by traditional Igbo.

At the philosophical level, a critical evaluation of the Igbo concept of chi despite being a religious issue is neck deep in question of individual freedom and responsibility, which has ontological implication in their philosophy of existence especially when it is used to denote destiny, which may either imply destiny or dispenser of destiny. Thus, evoking a kind of fatalism when viewed from the perspective that one’s fate in life is entirely determined by chi, which may warrant some people to resign to accepting events in their life blindly leading to fatalism. They nevertheless do not allow this to degenerate or relapse into quietism. (Okafor 1992:21) For them, manipulation, negotiation and even renegotiation are normal way of navigating the journey of life to placate negative forces militating against the fortunes of the individual, family or the community. This is because he understands life as market where bargaining is the order of transaction.   Hence, the apparent conflicting views on chi when critically analyze will yield different responses or approaches to the same or similar thought- provoking events at different moments and situations in Igbo world.  Thus, some of the ambiguities and paradoxes evident in the signification of chi are conflicting yet complementary life experiences, each of which is true in its own right. Thus, Okoro (2008:61-62) rightly advice that:

Chi is a good example of a symbol with accumulative intention, a traditional sapiential and religious symbol which has taken on so many contradictory values that tend to neutralize one another. The chi symbol also demonstrates the potentiality of some symbols to acquire oppositional values and function that make polysemy one of the prime problems of semantics.

He further states that “what is important is not the raising of particular philosophical problems; but the spotting of the general philosophical orientation of the chi/personal destiny issue in Igbo culture.”(Okoro 63). Like in most African cultures and religions, Igbo culture is a participatory one in which God, Chiukwu/Chineke the Supreme creator  is believed not only to have created  human beings, but is involved in the daily living of the individual through the agency of chi and other spirit beings.

Statement of the Problem

The concept of Chi has been one of the most debated in Igbo Traditions, and yet the most ambiguous, enigmatic, and controversial to date. Right from the pre-colonial times, the early European writers who visited Igbo land observed the important place this concept had in the lives of the people. During the colonial period the official anthropologists to the British government and some independent scholars in the field called sufficient attention to this concept through their works. To them Chi meant various things starting from the Supreme God to the personal tutelary god of the individual. Even with the indigenous Igbo writers themselves, the problem was how to shake the climate of thought already established by the earlier writers. There is the tendency to appraise this concept in Igbo religion and thought.

Objectives of the Study

The study sought to appraise the concept of chi in Igbo religion and Thought. Specifically, the study sought to;

  1. examine the Igbo world and its traditional cosmology, chi;
  2. examine one abstract religious an cosmological concept, commonly known as chi, among the Igbo-speaking people of Nigeria.
  3. identify the identity construction in Igbo world, chi and individual accomplishment/self-actualization in Igbo world.

Research Questions

  1. How is the Igbo world and its traditional cosmology, chi?
  2. What is abstract religious an cosmological concept, commonly known as chi, among the Igbo-speaking people of Nigeria?
  3. What is the identity construction in Igbo world, chi and individual accomplishment/self-actualization in Igbo world?

Methodology

For this study, the survey research design will be adopted. The choice of the design was informed by the objectives of the study as outlined. This research design provides a quickly efficient and accurate means of assessing information about a population of interest. It intends to study the concept of chi in Igbo religion and thought.

Theoretical Framework

Anthropological theories of religion are diverse. Anthropological theories of religion usefully may be divided into three groups: social-solidarity (or social-glue) theories, wishful-thinking theories, and intellectualist (or cognitivist) theories. Social-solidarity theories take the needs of society as primary and explain religion by how it caters to them, especially by its supposed promotion of harmony and cohesion. Wishful-thinking theories take the emotions of individuals as primary and explain religion by its mitigation of negative feelings, such as fear and loneliness, and by its promotion of confidence or serenity. Finally, intellectualist theories take as primary the human need to comprehend the world. In this last view, the religious interpretation of the world is, first and foremost, an attempt at understanding. Each of these three may be combined with either or both of the others.

The social-solidarity theory has been the principal approach in anthropology since the latter began in the late nineteenth century. It is a form of functionalism, since it explains religion by its nominal inculcation of allegiance to a society. Religion does this by symbolic means, displaying special clothing, architecture, song, dance, and verbal formulae to augment communal feelings. Indeed, the social-solidarity theory sometimes is called symbolism, meaning that it holds that religion is entirely a symbolic activity that does not engage the world as a whole (as its performers or casual observers may think), but only human social relations. Its symbols may be covert and grasped only unconsciously.

That religious symbolism unifies society is not a new idea. In East Asia, for example, the use of religion by the state goes back at least to 1,027 b.c.e., when the new Chou dynasty cited its conquest of subject peoples as a sign that it had received the mandate of heaven. Later dynasties continued the claim. In addition, they enlisted Confucius as a quasi-religious figure supporting the state, as did governments in Japan and Korea. In Japan, both Shinto and ancestor worship also were made to serve national unity. In the West as well, the social-solidarity view (and use) of religion appeared early and has persisted. Starting at least with Polybius in the first century b.c.e. and followed by Bodin, Vico, Comte (Preus 1987), and Freud (e.g., 1964 [1927]), among others, and most recently Wilson (2002) and Roes and Raymond (2003), many scholars have held that religion maintains the social order.

The social-glue theory, however, owes most to Durkheim (1965 [1915]), who was preoccupied with how societies cohere. He said that they do it largely through religion, which comprises beliefs and practices that are “relative to sacred things” and which organizes followers into solidary groups. Sacred things need not include gods (Buddhism, Durkheim writes, is a religion without them) but are anything representing the essential elements of society. Profane things, in contrast, constitute a residual category of all that is not sacred. The distinction that religion makes between sacred and profane is its signal characteristic.

Relying on ethnographers of Australian aboriginal religion, Durkheim concluded that the chief object of worship for members of Australian clans, the “totem,” actually stands for the clan itself, and that it is the clan that is sacred. The same principle holds for complex, modern societies. The explicit object of worship, whether totem, flag, or God, represents all that is vital and hence sacred in society. By formulating and expressing the sense that members of a society have of their mutual dependence, a feeling that otherwise is only sporadic, religion consolidates and augments that sense. This helps to make members behave ethically toward their fellows and rallies them to the society’s defense.

The social-solidarity theory of religion has several strengths, principally that religions do appear often to have produced solidarity (Wilson 2002) and that leaders in varied societies have used this capacity. However, the theory has weaknesses as well. Durkheim’s claim that religion’s central feature is its dichotomy of sacred and profane, for example, met immediate objection from ethnographers who reported that no such distinction was made in the cultures they studied (Guthrie 1996).

A second collection of theories may be called the wishful-thinking approach. According to these, religion serves as a palliative for human anxiety and discontent by imagining a more satisfactory condition, in either the present or the future. By postulating a world in which we can better ourselves by appealing to gods, or in which life’s suffering will be compensated by a better life to come, religion makes life bearable.

These theories, too, have an ancient lineage. Writers have noted that religiosity correlates with anxiety, at least since Euripides’ observation that stress leads us, because of “our ignorance and uncertainty,” to worship the gods (Hecuba 956, in Hume 1957 [1757]: 31). Similarly, the firstcentury Diodorus Siculus wrote that disaster chastises us into a “reverence for the gods” (Hume 1957 [1757]: 31). Spinoza (1955), Feuerbach (1957 [1873]), Marx (Marx and Engels 1957: 37–38), and the twentieth century anthropologists Malinowski (1955 [1925]) and Kluckhohn (1942) made comparable observations.

The wishful-thinking theorist most widely read, however, doubtless is Freud (e.g., 1964 [1927]). Anthropologists following Freud include Kardiner and Linton (1945), Spiro (1966), Wallace (1966), and La Barre (1972). As Freud is discussed elsewhere in this volume (by BeitHallahmi), I shall describe his ideas only briefly. For Freud, religions are delusions, “born from man’s need to make his helplessness tolerable” and are “illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent wishes of mankind” (1964: 25 and 47). Their particular features are “projections” of emotions and experiences.

The third group of theories is called intellectualism, cognitivism, or (occasionally) neo-Tylorianism. These hold that religion is primarily an attempt at understanding the world and at acting in accordance with that understanding. One such theory, in Tylor (1871), led the earliest anthropological approaches to religion. Tylor, who is classically humanistic, evolutionary, and comparative, describes religion as a universal attempt to explain certain puzzling human experiences.

Tylor’s theory, like the social-solidarity and wishful-thinking theories, has predecessors. Its comparativism and apparently its humanism date back to Xenophanes (6th century b.c.e.), whose fragments report that humans form their varied gods in their own varied images (Freeman 1966: 22). Ethiopians, for example, make their gods black, whereas Thracians give theirs red hair. Much later, Spinoza (1955) and Hume (1957 [1757]), whom Tylor credits with forming modern opinion on religion, more closely anticipated Tylor in writing that popular religion, at least, consists in our attributing human characteristics to the nonhuman world, in order to interpret our otherwise-inscrutable surroundings.

Tylor added to these earlier ideas an emphasis on cultural evolution, which, coupled with a more wide-ranging comparativism, strengthened the naturalistic view of religion as one more product of human mental activity. As a comparativist, he drew systematically on the reports of travelers, administrators, missionaries, and early ethnographers for descriptions of beliefs and practices around the world, in order to find a common denominator of religions. He saw differences in culture, including religion, as reflecting not genetics but forms of society, since a “psychic unity” of shared mental process exists among all humans. These emphases became part of the anthropological canon.

Tylor concluded that religion may be defined as animism, a belief in spirit beings, and that this belief arises universally from two experiences: dreams and the deaths of other people. Dreams, he said, everywhere are interpreted as visits from what is dreamed of (he termed the visitor the “phantom”). Death, in contrast, almost everywhere is conceived as the departure of something (the “life”). The phantom and the life then are conceived as a single thing, the “spirit.”

This is a thin unsubstantial human image, in its nature a sort of vapor, film, or shadow; the cause of life and thought in the individual it animates; independently possessing the personal consciousness and volition of its corporeal owner, past or present; capable of leaving the body far behind, to flash swiftly from place to place; mostly impalpable and invisible, yet also manifesting physical power, and especially appearing to men waking or asleep as a phantasm. (1979: 12)

Operational Definition of Terms

Igbo: Igbo is the principal native language of the Igbo people, an ethnic group of southeastern Nigeria. The language has approximately 44 million speakers, who live mostly in Nigeria and are primarily of Igbo descent.

Religion: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements.

Thought: An idea or opinion produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind.

Scope and Delimitation of Study

This study is on appraisal of the concept of chi in Igbo religion and thought. The study is limited to only the Igbo world.

Significance of the Study

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.

Literature Review

The concept of chi in Igbo traditional religion occupies a central role in relation to interpretation of individual attitudes and accomplishments in life. Life and its meaning cannot be understood without recourse to chi as a reference point. However, scholars on Igbo religion and culture have divergent views on the real meaning of chi. Chukwukere, I. (1983:523) observes that:

[... ] in the immense but widely scattered literature on chi, confusion still lingers over the exact meaning and full religious and social significance of the term. The main reason behind this can be traced back to the apparently strong legacy left by early Christian missionary scholars and ethnographers e.g. (Basden 1921, Talbot, 1926 and Thomas 1913), from which modern students of Igbo religion and epistemology ought to break away.

The above divergent views account for different interpretations of this concept especially from the semantic angle which gave rise to two major definitions of it either as a personal divine guardian spirit being or as an abbreviation for Igbo Supreme Being Chukwu/Chiukwu. as evident in some Igbo names like Chukwubuike/Chibuike, Chukwuemeka/Chiemeka etc.  Metuh, I. E (1981:46) highlights the above categorizations when he opines that "Chi in my view is one of those archaic root words which are found in some languages and which defy all etymology." Hence, he suggests that its interpretation should be sought among the traditional Igbo "who have live their religion, whose language, culture and modes of thought and expression are all permeated by it. These can best explain the terminology and the meaning it implies." The complexity associated with the interpretation of this concept becomes more compelling on the ontological level because a critical analysis of this phenomenon reveals that the concept of chi in Igbo cosmo-ontological belief system is susceptible to three interrelated interpretations; Chi as in Chineke the Supreme Being who creates, chi as in chi abola or chi efola (day break or as a  form of  greeting in the morning hours) , chi as a personal guardian spirit/ custodian of destiny or fortune. Only the context determines which of the three is uppermost in the Igbo man'smind when he uses the word chi.

Thus, Chi as in Chineke the Supreme Being who creates, usually spelt with capital letter “C”,  there are several hermeneutical exegesis of this phenomenon in Igbo religion by scholars. However, this writer agrees with Chinua Achebe’s (1998:71) interpretation because of its being in line with Igbo cosmology, when he avers that:

Chineke consists of three words: chi na eke. In assigning meaning to it the crucial word is na; which itself has three possible meanings….a) said with a high tone, na means who or which. Chineke will then mean chi which creates. b) Said with a low tone, na can mean the auxiliary verb does, in which case Chineke will mean chi does create, and finally, Said with a low tone, nacan mean the conjunctive and. Here, something fundamental changes because eke is no longer a verb but a noun. Chineke then becomes chi and eke. is the correct version.

Chineke which is being interpreted as chi who createsis nothing of the sort, but rather is an Igbo traditional religious dual deity, chi and eke. Achebe notes that “the early missionaries by putting the wrong tone on that little word na escorted a two-headed, pagan god into the holy of holies!” (Achebe 1998:71). He further substantiated this claim by saying that eke (or aka as sometimes realized in some Igbo dialect) as having the same attribute as chi. For instance, the name chinweuba (chi has increase) has another version Ekejiuba (eke holds increase). Similarly, Nebechi (look to chi) and Leweke (Lemeke) look to eke, both appear to have exactly the same meaning except that eke occurs instead of chi. He further explains that:

chi and/ eke are closely related deities, perhaps the same god in a twofold manifestation, such as male and female; or the duality may have come into being for the purpose of bringing two dialectical tributaries of Igbo into liturgical union.

The above assertion is plausibly based on Igbo cosmological principle of pairing as a way of explaining reality. For instance Achebe further used the expression, ikwu na ibe that translates as the entire community of kinsmen and women; Ogbo na uke for militant and aggressive band of spiritual adversaries; okwu na uka for endless wrangling; nta na imo for odds and ends to bring home his point. He therefore maintains that “if chi na eke should turn out to belong to this group of phrases, the idea of using it to curse a man absolutely would then make a lot of sense! …. Thus, he asserts that: “if you want to curse a man in the most thorough fashion, you curse his chi and his eke (or aka). That really takes care of him!” (Achebe, 1998:72) Arising from the above assertion Achebe  suggests that the attraction of early Christian missionaries in Igbo land to translate chi na eke as one word chineke “must have been its seeming lack of ambiguity on the all-important question of creation. They needed a

“God who creates” and Chineke stood ready at hand. Meanwhile, the Igbo traditional thought in its own way and style did recognize Chineke/ Chukwu as the Supreme Creator, speculating only on the modalities, on how He accomplished the work and through what agencies and intermediaries. (Achebe, 1998:72)

As earlier discussed, Chineke appears  to work through chi to create man and even consults or work with man either in making the world or enhancing its habitability. The Igbo traditional cosmology has it that the work of creation is not one fiat accomplice, but an ongoing process where Chineke and man dialogue on critical issues and moments, sometimes agreeing and sometimes not. Achebe (1998:73) further attests that:

[…] at crucial cosmological moments Chukwu will discuss His universe with man. The moments of man’s first awareness of the implications of death were such a time….For as we have seen a man may talk and bargain even with his chi at the moment of his creation. And what was more, Chukwu Himself in all His power and glory did not make the world by fiat. He held conversation with mankind; he talked with those archetypal men of Nri and Adama and even enlisted their good offices to make the earth firm and productive.

As a personal god, chi is believed to be responsible for the success or failure of a person in life. Madu (1995:33) describes it as a “personal god-divine afflatus-the spirit that animates human beings.” Okere (1971:142) adds that “chi is really a personal god. It is the Supreme God shared by each individual but more specifically in his aspect as giver and author of destiny.”  Ekennia (2003:27) was more specific in his description of chi as “a unique life force, which each person possesses. No two persons have the same chi, it is regarded as the Igbo principle of individualization….

Each person is unique and irreplaceable.”  Ojike (1955:183) similarly acknowledges that “No one’s chi is like another because no two persons are identical. A rich man’s chi is rich and a poor man’s chi is poor. A man’s chi is masculine and a woman’s chi is feminine. A man’s chi is equal to that man.” Achebe (1986:16) further stresses that "Chiukwu created humans in groups or sets but imbued each with his spark Chi.  This is intended to continue the creative process until the individual dies when his chi is recalled to Chiukwu." Thus, for her creation in Igbo world is a continuous process unlike the western perspective.  Some scholars have even associated chi with the

Christian guardian angel. Hence, one is inclined to agree with Chukwukere's (524) observation that "Chi [...] represents the central unified theme that incorporates the different facets of Igbo social thought and usages, especially those aspects concerning man's relationship with the inscrutable realm of the supernatural." Hence, Achebe, C (1975: 94-95) avers that:

Chi is an individual personal god which accounts for the fortune or the misfortune that one experiences in life. Hence, the meaning of a person's life is only realized as a collaborative venture mu na chi m so between the person and his Chi. People often make statements like I am in agreement with my personal god or chi as a reference to the collaborative dimension in the individual /chi relationship. However, there are situations in a person's life when it is believed that one's Chi may work against him.

Arinze F. (1978:88-89)   collaborates the above assertion when he states that:

[...] Most Ibos believe that each individual has a spirit, a genius or spiritual double, his chi, which is given to him at conception by Chukwu and which accompanies this individual from the cradle to the grave. Chi is strictly personal [...] The ordinary Ibo man regards his chi as his guardian on whose competence depends his personal prosperity.

For Ilogu, E (1974:146) "Chi is the divine particle in man by which he shares in the Supreme Being and the basis of which rests in  man's immortality and communion with the ancestors."  Metuh, I. E (1981:68) also sees it "as the immanent presence of God in man or man's guardian angel in life."  Isichei, E (1976:25) avers that "Chi is a personalised providence which comes from Chukwu and reverts to him at a man's death. Each man has his own Chi, who may be well or ill disposed." Chinwe Achebe (1986:17) seems to be more interested in its divine origin when she adds that:

[...] at creation, God entrusted each human being with a chi, a creative force, this creative force...is God's representative and emissary on earth, which helps or works in very delicate collaboration with each individual to fulfil those life's possibilities and attributes which the individual personally chooses.

A critical aspect of chi revealed by the above scholars, despite the overwhelming influence drawn from their Christian perspective especially as averred in Arinze, Ilogu, Metuh, Isichei and Chinwe Achebe is the fact that they all affirm that there is a necessary relationship between the individual, his/her chi and the choice of destiny/self actualisation in the journey of life. Secondly, they affirm the belief that chi is actively involved in the choice of destiny as well as active dispenser of this destiny package. However, what is in contention in this belief is the question of who made the choice of destiny package upon which the individual self actualization depends? Thus, a closer look at Chinua Achebe’s description of chi as a man’s “other identity in the spirit land, his spirit being complementing his terrestrial human being" as being in line with Igbo cosmological theory of complimentary dualism or what Okafor, C (2004:87) called the "phenomenology of pairing," which is captured in Igbo expression that "nothing exists by itself, since wherever something exists, something else exists beside it: Ife kwulu, ife akwudebe ya. Hence, Ndi Igbo do not conceive of any unpaired manifestation of force or being in their world. Thus, the existence of chi as a counterpart of the individual in the spirit world is in line with Igbo cosmology.

Also central to this belief is the choice of destiny, which some scholars interpreted to mean that the individual did in collaboration with his/her chi before birth. Uke (2007:224) is of this view when he states that “CHI creates an individual and assigns him a personal spirit or chi. This chi helps the individual in choosing the contents of his destiny package….” In addition, as a personal god in Igbo religion, some Igbo scholars believe that Chi connotes Eke, which though are different concepts are essentially connected to each other as in Chi-na-eke as earlier explained above by Chinua Achebe. Thus Metuh (1999:50) succinctly adds that it is the "creative emanation of God [....] although Eke is intimately connected with the creative action, he does not create. Igbo belief has it that when Chukwu creates, Chi chooses the destiny of the creature, and Eke (or Okike) lets him out into the world." (Metuh 1999:50). In an earlier work, he argues that:

Eke … maintains the unbroken ontological bond between a person, his family, lineage, clan and tribe. A son's life is the prolongation of the life of his father, his grandfather, his ancestors and the life of whole lineage. As its numerical strength increases, so does its life force become stronger. Hence, the greatest tragedy that can befall a man and his lineage is for him to die childless. (Metuh 1991:114)

Other scholars like Ezekwugo C.U.M (1987:101) opine that "no doubt, Chi and Eke are universal notions as far as Igbo land is concerned."  He explains that Chi with the big letter “C” Chiukwu or Chukwu is the Supreme God in traditional Igbo religion, while the chi starting with small letter represents the personal guardian spirit being.” He argues that both are the same and different things simultaneously, and cites some Igbo sayings and expressions in which they are portrayed as different entities, suggesting that chi is a person's life-spirit received from Chi (Supreme Being), while Eke is his patron-spirit (which can be either one of the ancestors or even a deity). Ukeh C. O (2007:224) further explains the sequence thus:

CHI creates an individual and assigns him a personal spirit or chi .This chi helps the   individual in choosing the contents of his destiny package and it is the Eke who finally lets him into the world. During his life on earth, chi and eke accompany, guard and guide him. At death, Chi brings him back to Chi. The main point is that chi is the Chi personalised for the sake of cultic convenience, and Eke is an attempt to maintain the ancestral connection and origins of the life of the individual. Eke is thus the patron, or something like a foster father, who, inter alia, maintains the essential ancestral link between its ward and forebears.

Another aspect of chi as personal guardian spirit which will help to understand its import in an individual's life has to do with it institutionalization in an adult home. Every adult married man and woman is expected to install a shrine for his or her chi as soon as he builds a house of his own for a man and as soon as she get married and have her own home for the woman. Their shrines are usually sited in front of the house. The husband and wife may have shrines adjacent to each other’s. (Okafor 1992:21) The above point can be further buttress by the processes and items involved in its installation for married woman in her husband’s house. This usually involves going to fetch the okuchi earthen dish from her own mother’s established chi cult called inyi, irota, irolu or ikute Chi (depending on the dialect) containing chi- bundle which symbolize the readiness of the person to feed the chi with necessary sacrifices.

(Ezekwugo, 1987:213) 

The above items are placed or buried within the tripod of planted ogirisi, ora, and ogbu trees to implant and instutionalize the chi cult in a married woman’s household from where the alom -chiworship and annual sacrifice is offered.  Ezekwugo (214) further explains that:

Alom-chi is a feast in honour of chi [….] Gratitude and appreciation for received favours disposes the giver to continue his act of  benefaction [….] The Igbo realizes that the giver of life and all good things should be given thanks and that this disposes him to do yet more. For this purpose a day is set apart in the year for a common worship of chi.

Thus, Ukeh (2007:224) opines that: “it is the chi, who brings a person all his good from the Supreme Being, CHI. He is the patron who wards off all evils from his god child, guides and protects him at all moments of the day." In summary, scholars on the chi phenomenon agree on its existence and relation with each individual in the Igbo world. Consequently each person sees his/her chi as a personal being, with which he/she could and should maintain an inter-personal relationship. What is our contention here is the extent to which this phenomenon can influence individual identity and self actualisation in the Igbo world.

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