chapter  8
16 Pages

The Collapse of ‘Pagandom’ in Igboland

With an impact already being felt at the national level by the middle of this centurywitness their bid by then for ascendancy in the country-the Christianization of the Igbospeaking peoples is clearly a decisive socio-religious factor in twentieth century Nigerian history. Whilst at the turn of the last century their demographic rivals, the Hausa and the Yoruba, had for centuries been exposed and pervious to external influences, the Igbo remained in 1899 a self-reliant, self-contained, incorrigibly insular, independent and blissfully tradition-encrusted people. Not that the wider world did not attempt to penetrate Igboland: but such attempts, from the coast and the Lower Niger, were effectively neutralized, partly by geography and partly by the imperviousness of the Igbo’s cultural milieu to untried aberrating alien influences. Consequently in their blissful insularity the Igbo were saved the paroxysmal shocks that were administered on the Ijaw and Efik by Christian missions in the second half of the nineteenth century and the unprecedented mass movement of the Ọyọ Yoruba earlier in the century, provoked by the Fulani-Hausa jihadists who put a finishing stroke to the Old Ọyọ Empire.1