Man’s journey on earth starts from the moment of conception. That is after the fusion of the male and female gametes to produce offspring. The terminal point of one’s sojourn on this planet is marked by death. Although death is the physical end of man’s existence in the physical realm, there exists a life that is obscured from the ordinary eyes of human beings.
This life is perceived differently by individuals. Some claim that there is no life after death. Others upheld that life continues after the demise of the physical body. According to Annang, philosophy, the neglect to accord befitting funeral rites to a departed relation may spell doom on the living members of the deceased’s family, since he could haunt them, ruin their fortunes, or at worst, deprive them of life.
In this wise, this research is intended to describe the traditional funeral rites of communities in Oruk Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State that aid the smooth arrival of the departed into the world beyond.
Subsequently, the investigation is analyzed in three phases as follows:
As traditional funeral rites in the nine clans that make up Oruk Anam local government area vary considerably, the main thrust of the research is to dissect the phenomenological evidence of what I see here and gather from fieldwork to develop this dissertation.
The beliefs and practices associated with traditional funeral rites in Oruk Anam communities are not carried out the way they used to be in the olden days. This has posed a problem to traditionalists, scholars and students of traditional religion as the exact method of burial is forgotten.
Prior to the advent of Christianity in the area, the remains of dead traditionalists were put in a native chest made of palm tree frond (mkpata). Fresh leaves of the same palm tree were weaved as a mat (odon) to raise the head of the deceased in the chest.
Inversely, carrying the corpse of a traditionalist to the mortuary is an innovation that has crept into traditional societies. For Oruk Anam, quick disposal of the corpse of a traditionalist hastens the journey of the departed to the other world. Mortuary usage, as Oruk Anam believes delays the swift passage of the spirit of the dead to the world beyond.
There is also an on and on the controversy about lying-in-state of a traditionalist in Oruk Anam communities. Long before the introduction of exposing the corpse of a dead person for people to see, when a traditionalist died in Oruk Anam, the corpse was not exposed for public views. But now, because of modern changes that had cut across Oruk Anam traditional communities, corpses of traditionalists are allowed to be seen by other individuals.
Furthermore, the internment of a traditionalist in Oruk Anam communities in a Christian style, especially when the deceased was poor and the children cannot afford funeral rituals is ambiguous. For a pastor to conduct funeral service for a traditionalist is a strange thing that happened in Oruk Anam communities. It is a serious blow on the traditional religion of the people.
Subsequently, widows of departed traditionalists are not accorded the usual treatment done in the past. When death occurred to the widow’s husband, funeral rites performed in the past are not carried out in the same way. This is detrimental to the widow’s longevity as essential burial rites are denied.
For traditional funeral rites in Oruk Anam communities to be done in a suitable way, adherents of traditional religion must maintain the burial process of their forefathers. The traditional burial rites in Oruk Anam communities vis-à-vis widespread irregularities in the funeral process pose a problem. Is traditional funeral rite performed the way it ought to be done? Which methods do adherents of traditional religion in Oruk Do Anam communities employ in the burial of traditionalists? This study therefore will examine the traditional funeral rites in Oruk Anam communities.