Home PoliticsAfrica News A Nigerian Catholic priest on a mission to save Igbo Ancestral and African-religious symbols.

While some Pentecostal preachers in eastern Nigeria set fire to statues and other ancient artifacts that they regard as symbols of idolatry, one Catholic priest is collecting their ad on a mission to rescue Africa’s ancient ancestral and religious artwork and symbols.

Throughout Africa, religious symbols and art are interwoven into the fabric of African spiritual practice and culture. For many precolonial African societies, Spirituality and daily affairs as it relates to culture are all in one..  So great artists and priests were committed to creating artworks that form an integral part of the culture, values, and spirituality.


Bronze Head of Queen Idia, one of four from the 16th century (Ethnological Museum of Berlin)

While many great African kingdoms like the Great Benin Empire’s art and influence of modern society are well known around the world, other African cultures like the Igbos in Nigeria has engaged in wanton destruction of their arts, and religious symbols largely due to the overt condemnation of every and anything Africa.

Throughout Africa, popular pastors and other religious organizations have engaged in a crusade of destruction. Demolishing and demonizing everything in Africa including African arts and culture.  the priest’s efforts to protect a history that is being lost because of the actions of some preachers.

Reverend Obayi said he had been partially influenced by museums in Western countries, which are under enormous pressure to return artefacts, such as the Benin Bronzes, that were looted during the colonial era.

“I visit museums in the West and I see artefacts, some from Benin even, and I made up my mind to preserve ours.”

The cathedral’s administrator, Reverend Father Eugene Odo, supports his initiative, comparing it to a Catholic-owned museum in Italy.

“In Rome for instance there is the museum housing things that the Romans did as pagans, and people go there to see the stages of human development,” he said.

According to Reverend Obayi, many African religions and saints such as Odinani, an ancient Igbo religion, were practiced before the arrival of Christianity and colonialism. Africans prayed to a spirit – represented by a statue – known as chi. It seeks intercession on their behalf from a Supreme Being or Chukwu.



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