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This study aimed at bringing out the influences of traditions and culture of Ebira people on the practice of Islam in Ebiraland. It was observed that Islam was resisted by the pagans of Ebiraland, but eventually accepted it through peaceful means that condoned the practice of both systems together. This is because the traditions of Ebiraland such as belief in masquerade, Ori festival, divination with rosary, reincarnation and witchcraft have some influence in the life of some Muslims in Ebiraland; hence the mixing of Islam and traditional practices of Ebira people become common among most Muslims, especially in their marriage and aspects of faith. The study was limited to the five local government areas located in the central senatorial district of Kogi State. Survey design method was used where a proportional stratified sampling method was used for the percentage sampling fraction. A Questionnaire was designed and administered to both scholars and Muslim traditionalists. 430 respondents were randomly selected. Five (5) Null hypothesis and (5) research questions were formulated and analysed at 0.05 alpha level of significance using Wilcoxon sign rank test computing hypothesis one, while spearman rank order correlation test computing hypothesis Two - Five. The result of the findings revealed that there is a relationship existing between religious ignorance and prevalence of tradition and culture in Ebiraland, which has tremendous influence on their religious practices. Similarly, there is lack of perfect comprehension of the knowledge of Tauhid and Islamic teachings, as well as inability to distinguish Islamic tradition from that of Ebira culture and tradition. Hence, the research suggested the establishment of religious institutions and organisations that are fully acquainted with the misleading traditions and cultures of Ebiraland to evolve a training guide for the youths, old males and females through the true and perfect teachings of Islam. The research also suggested modification in the existing mode of preaching and teaching of Islam in the area of study.



Title page                                                                                                                    i

Declaration                                                                                                                  ii

Certification                                                                                                                iii

Dedication                                                                                                                  iv

Acknowledgement                                                                                                      v

Abstract                                                                                                                      vii

Table of Contents                                                                                                       ix

List of tables                                                                                                               xii

Operational Definition of Terms                                                   xiv


1.1       Background to the Study                                                                                1

1.2       Statement of the Problem                                                                                2

1.3       Objectives of the Study                                                                                  3

1.4       Research Questions                                                                                        3

1.5       Significance of the Study                                                                               4

1.6       Hypotheses                                                                                                     4

1.7       Scope/ Delimitation of the Study                                                                   5


2.0       Introduction                                                                                                    6

2.1       Overview of Ebiraland                                                                                    6

2.1.1    Geographical, Climatic Condition and Population of Ebira Land                 10

2.2       Traditional Belief in Ebiraland                                                                       11

2.2.1    Belief and Worship                                                                                         11

2.2.2    Reincarnation  -                                                                                               13

2.2.3    Belief in Masquerades            -                                                                                   15

2.2.4    Belief in ‘Ori’                                                                                                 20

2.2.5    Witchcraft                                                                                                       25

2.2.6    Death and Burial                                                                                             27

2.3       Culture of Ebira People                                                                                  30

2.3.1    Marriage in Ebira Land                                                                                  33

2.4       Overview of Islam in Ebira Land                                                                   38

2.4.1    Muslim scholars Activities on the Development of Islam in Ebirland          40


3.0       Introduction                                                                                                    46

3.1       Research Design                                                                                             46

3.2       Population                                                                                                       47

3.3       Sample and Sampling Techniques                                                                  47

3.4       Instruments                                                                                                     48

3.5       Validation of the Instrument  -                                                                       48

3.6       Method of Data Analysis                                                                                48


4.0       Introduction                                                                                                    49

4.1       Scholar Analysis                                                                                             49

4.2       Traditionalist Analysis                                                                                    55

4.3       Summary of Major Findings                                                                          68



5.1       Summary                                                                                                         70

5.2       Conclusion                                                                                                      70

5.3       Recommendation                                                                                            71

5.4       Limitation of the Study                                                                                  72

5.5       Suggestion for Further Studies                                                                       





Table 4.1: Distribution of respondents in frequency and percentage

by Religion                                                                                                      49

Table 4.2: Gender                                                                                                       50

Table 4.3: Marital Status                                                                                            50

Table 4.4: Islamic educational back ground                                                               50

Table 4.5: Which of the following cultural practices are you

aware of  in your locality?                                                                              51

Table 4.6: How do you view the cultural practices in relation

to religious faith?                                                                                            52

Table 4.7: If you consider the cultural practices as a source of

religious deviation which of the following do you

consider as their attributes?                                                                            52

Table 4.8: Which of the following steps have you taken in order to guide

people on the Implications of the cultural practices? -                                   53

Table 4.9: Which of the following do you consider as your major

challenge in an attempt to guide people about the implications

of cultural practices                                                                                         53

Table 4.10: Do you have any organization or movement that

is responsible for educating and enlightening people about

 religious guidance                                                                                                      54

Table 4.11: If yes, which of the following status explains

your role in the organization? -                                                                       54

Table 4.12: Religion                                                                                                   55

Table 4.13: Gender                                                                                                     55

Table 4.14: Marital Status                                                                                          55

Table 4.15: Educational background  -                                                                       56

Table 4.16: Do you consider some of the cultural practices in your

Locality  to be contradiction with Islamic ideology                                       56

Table 4.17: Which of the following deviations in religion could be

found in the cultural practices of your locality?                                             57

Table 4.18: Do you participate in some of the cultural practices in your locality?    57

Table 4.19: Which of the following cultural practices in your

locality do you participate in? -                                                                       58

Table 4.20: Which of the  following describes the nature of your

participation in the cultural practices?                                                            58

Table 4.21: Which of the following groupings mostly

perform the cultural practices in your locality                                                59

Table 4.22: Do you attribute a negative implication to Islamic faith

of the people who are participating in some of the cultural

practices in your locality that are alien to Islam?                                           59

Table 4.23: Which of the following made you embrace or participate

in the cultural practices of your locality that are alien to Islam                     60

Table 4.24: Are you aware of the Islamic provisions against some

of the cultural practices in your locality?                                                       61

Table 4.25: Which of the following implications do you attribute to

the practice of alien culture in Islam in your community?                             62

Table 4.26: Which of the following means could provide solution

to the implications of cultural practices in your locality?                               63






This section explains some words that are either foreign or strange as they are used in the work

Ada-a:             Tradition or norms in the society.

Adedeguneta: Triplets (Children)

Adekedejo:     Judge of all judges

Adokita:          Name of a popular day masquerade in Okene town.

Ajari:               A child at a birth period coming out with bottom first

Akisobe and Agadgidi:    Security of night masquerade

Ayn:                (Arabic) Eye

Ayino:             A child born that comes out with placenta at birth

Banatu:            Elderly women seeking Islamic Knowledge.

Birru:               (Arabic) Good conduct or righteousness

Dada:              A child born with curly and tired hair

Ebira Tao:       People who dominate the central Senatorial district.

Ebira:               Good conduct or righteousness

Ebiraland:        Central Senatorial district of Kogi State.

Echipa:            Poison

Edekaki and Adiyaya: Spiritually strong masquerades that carry out judgment on witches.

Eika:               One of the names of the ancestors children who founded Ebiraland and later given as a name of one of district in Okehi local government a of Ebiraland.

Ejima:              The twins

Ekehi Iresu:     Dowry

Ekehi Uwhu:   Dis-virgin fee

Eku akatapa:  The comedy masquerade that speak through a hollow pipe covered with spider house or bat wings.

Ekuahete:         Another comedy masquerade, the announcer of the beginning of night masquerade that send the women indoor. 

Ekuechi:          A festival performed at the end of farming season.

Ekurahu:         Night masquerades

E.M.A.N.:       Ebira Muslims Association of Nigeria

Enebe:             Female witch

Ete:                  Ground

Eteohueje:        House hold god kept at the centre of the yard or compound.

Eyi:                  Eye, in Ebira

Idah:                A wide flat rock a place covered with a wide flat rock.

Idowu:            The child that was born after twins (a Yoruba borrowed terminology)

Idoza:              Collective or group farming for in-laws.

Ige:                  A child born that comes out with legs during delivering (a Yoruba

                        borrowed terminology)

Ihiana:             When is he going

Ihima:              (Contracted from the expression, Ihi mi ma); referring to the last born, whose other name is Onootu

Iraha Ekurahu: Dress of masquerades (conical bells worn at the waist for dancing)

Ire vuyi:          Here is offering of Kolanut.

Iresu:               (Ebira) Head

Ise-ewere:       Secret gifts

Isiukoro:          The surviving child after several dead children

Istikhara:         Asking for Allah’s guidance in matters as recommended by the noble Prophet (S.A.W) 

Isoyitura:          100 Tubers of Yams to the In-laws with other foods stuff

Ita Uwhu:        White:  100 Tubers of Yams to the In-laws with other foods stuff

e cloth for the bride after dis-virgin    

Jiovo guengwuhi: To use as protective fence.

Mezeweyi:       I like you

                        Name given to children expected to die soon 

Ngworere:       Enter the open space

Obaji:              Means virgin line in Ebria

O’otuwhuo:     If he will reach tomorrow

Odenya Teku:  The custodians of masquerade

Ododo:            Means flower (of the vigin land)

Ododo and Obaji:  Names of Ancestral brothers

Oduajini Siuwho tenyi: He that cause hardship today and success tomorrow

Oganya:           Grave yard

Ogenemezina: Hanging but fall not

Ogente:           Spirit of a masquerade.

Ogu:                Asset

Ogugu:          Masquerade display for the dead

Oguohuta Anagisa Yiwaku:   The third god that divides any booty

Ohazara:          A price for waking the bride

Ohomorihi:      Almighty God.

Ojo:                 A male child born with placenta round the neck (a Yoruba borrowed


Okama:            Instructed me

Oke:                A child born with Amniotic bag or sac completely covered.

Okehi onyi:     Price given to the mother of the bride 

Okokokowukowu:      Almighty God

Oni:                 A female child born with placenta round the neck

Oniyewe:         A clan in Eika town that worships monitor lizard

Onogidi:          A popular masquerade in Eika town.

Onoku:           Special Ladies that come out at Night during the night masquerade outings.

Opochi:          Male witch or wizard.

Oratawuvo,     Ogwameme, Ikerenu, Itemirege, Adebira, Avereho: Names of Masquerades.

Ori:                  Idol

Orichabedubedu: Everlasting God

Osuvokode:     Price to touch the bed

Otanuvoge:      To stretch hands to meet

Ovasaraki:       Name of a night masquerade.

Oyi ye ozi:       Re-knowing a child or knowing the person that reincarnated through fortune telling

Ozaomarisi:     No one eats flies

Ozi Ajari:        Son of Ajari

Ozi Upai:         Son of masquerade

Ra-asu (Arabic)   Head in Arabic

Shirk (Arabic)   Associating partner with Allah.

Traditionists:   These are Muslims who uphold the practice of tradition and aspect of idol worship, they are as well the custodians of masquerades 




1.1 Background to the Study

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. All thanks be to Allah who revealed the Qur’an, the ultimate guidance, for the entire mankind. May His peace and blessings be upon the seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (S.A.W), who demonstrated the perfect way of life. In the same vein, may the Almighty Allah be pleased with the companions of the Prophet (SAW) and members of his family who sincerely delivered the trust of the religion to generations after them.

Islam is a religion which encompasses all that man requires. Therefore, the religion demands total submission to the dictates of the Shari’ah. The person who willingly and sincerely submits to the wills of Allah is known as a Muslim. The religion of Islam is not only concerned with the spiritual aspect of man, but also it covers all aspects that are required in the life of mankind. Notwithstanding, the religion accepts and assimilates other cultures, that conform to its religious belief system and moral values. Those cultures that are not in line with the moral teachings of Islam or not in touch with the belief system of Islam are totally rejected. This is in line with the following Qur’anic instruction.

ﮭ  ﮮ  ﮯ  ﮰ   ﮱ  ﯓ    ﯔ  ﯕ  ﯖ  ﯗ  ﯘﯙ   ﯚ    ﯛ  ﯜ  ﯝالبقرة: ٢٠٨


O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islâm (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islâmic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaitân (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy. (Q:2:208)


Islam spread to Ebiraland in early 1856. Ebira people are majorly divided into three dialects, (Ebira Opete, Ebira Etuno and Ebira Koto) but they have a common culture which is not separated from their system of belief. (Abdullahi 2013 and Shaibu 2013). Thus, the strong attachment of Ebira people to their culture could be a factor responsible for the difficulty in separating their cultures from religious practices after embracing Islam. This attitude therefore has adverse effects on their religious faith and moral values. In view of this, this research is designed to study the extent of the influence of traditional practices in the religious practice of the Ebira people.


1.2       Statement of the Problem

The religion of Islam comprises detail guides to all that affect man’s life in this world and in the hereafter. This could be the simple reason why the religion demands its followers to be strict about obeying the religious injunctions in all matters affecting their lives.  Similarly, the religion is not silent in exposing all that could ruin the faith, health, personality and other aspects of man’s development. However, in spite of the number of years that Islam has been in existence in Ebiraland, their unguided cultures and traditions are still upheld and have negative impact on their religious and mundane affairs as Muslims. This trend has continued to the extent that some learned Muslims in the contemporary time appeared to be silent and hence turn away from the fact that the people are heading  to the wrong direction. On the other hand, some Muslim scholars decided to overlook or compromise with some misleading traditional practices in Ebira land. Therefore, some Muslims consider no religious implication in mingling their marriage practices with tradition and culture of Ebiraland, and Christian  method of marriage. The cause of this may be attributed to many factors. Of course, it is quite disheartening for a Muslim to uphold an unguided culture at the expense of the teachings of the true religion. Many would observe that such attitude could be as a result of  ignorance about the beauty of the Islamic way of life or because of the inevitable nature of their culture and traditions, or it may be attributed to the misconception or misappropriation of the Islamic objectives. If this misguided behaviour therefore, is not addressed, what would be the fate of other Islamic devotional exercises since Islam demands total submission? These issues made it necessary to undertake this research to enlighten and guide people to the proper Islamic practices.


1.3       Objectives of the Study

The study has the following as its objectives:

  1. To examine the nature of the traditions and cultures of Ebiraland in the light of Islam
  2. To evaluate the extent of the influence of cultures and traditions of Ebiraland on the lives of Muslims.
  3. To assess the factors that are responsible for the promotion of the traditions and cultures of Ebiraland among the Muslims
  4. To appraise the implications of the cultures and traditions of Ebiraland on the Islamic faith of the Muslims.
  5. To proffer solutions in the light of Shari’ah to the effect of cultures and traditions of Ebiraland on the lives of Muslims.


1.4       Research Questions

  1. What is the nature of the traditions and cultures of Ebiraland in relation to Islamic view?
  2. To what extent do the cultures and traditions of Ebiraland affect the lives of the Muslims?
  3. What are the factors that are responsible for the promotion of traditions and cultures of Ebiraland among the Muslims?
  4. What are the implication of these influences of the traditions and cultures of Ebiraland on the Islamic faith of the Muslims?
  5. What are the possible solutions from the Islamic guides to the effects of the traditions and cultures of Ebiraland on the lives of Muslims?


1.5       Hypotheses

  1. There is no significant difference between the culture and tradition of Ebira people and Islamic cultures and tradition.
  2. There is no significant relationship between traditions and cultures of Ebira people and the religious practices of the Muslims in Ebiraland.
  3. There is no significant relationship between religious ignorance and the prevalence of tradition and cultures of Ebira people among the Muslims
  4. There is no significant relationship between upholding the traditions and cultures of Ebira people with the prevalence of evil and crime among them.
  5. There is no significant relationship between shari’ah percepts on addressing effects of traditions and culture of Ebiraland.

1.6       Significance of the Study

The essence of the Islamic faith lies in the conviction and submission of a person to the injunctions of Shar’iah. Thus, one of the principal issues which Islam aims at destroying is every culture that promotes immorality, as well as it displays the capacity of destroying religious faith. Certainly, some of the cultures and traditions of Ebiraland either promote immorality or ungodly attitude. In view of this, any research that stands to expose those cultures and traditions that are responsible for the deterioration or decline in Islamic faith, with a view to providing solutions, is of great significance not only in safeguarding the faith of the Muslims from alien pollutions, but also in promoting the spirit of faith as well as encouraging others to accept the religion of Islam. This of course would serve as a means by which the attitude of the Muslims would concentrate on the guidance of Islam and hence the prevalent evils and crimes in Ebiraland would be brought to an end or minimized. These changes will therefore provide the environment with security, and ensure peaceful co-existence among people, and hence making all development plans to come to fruition.


1.7       Scope Delimitation of the StudyThe research revolves around the nature and the influence of cultures and traditions of Ebiraland on the lives of the Muslims. The study therefore is restricted to Ebira people who are situated in several states of Nigeria, but predominantly covers the whole of Kogi central senatorial district and Kogi local government boundaries with the Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa State and Edo State. The research revolves around Ebiraland and is restricted to Ebira Tao who are found in five local government areas: Okene, Adavi, Okehi, Ajaokuta and Ogori-Magongo.

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