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IKA PEOPLE PHILOSOPHICAL/CULTURAL WISDOM By Onyekpeze

Dec 11, 2023
onyekpezeCHIEF DR ONYEKPEZE

IKA PEOPLE PHILOSOPHICAL/CULTURAL WISDOM,
THE WAY THE IKA PEOPLE VIEW AND TAKE THEIR PHILOSOPHICAL WORLD

Ika World structures on the way the Ika people view and manipulate their World, a world peopled by invisible and visible forces, by the living, the dead, and those yet to be born. The spirit world of the Ika people is densely populated with spirit beings, spirits and the living dead. The spiritual universe is seen as a unit with the physical. It is a World in which all these forces intermingle, and dovetail into one another, so much that it is not easy to draw the distinction or separate them; all afflicting and modifying behaviours.

Ika view of their World is that the spiritual and the physical are equi-primordially real. Material and spiritual forces have equal and ontological (dealing with the nature of existence) status. Both are equally and originally real. “It is by joining of a spirit to a material body that all things are created and it is by separation of spirit from body that they are destroyed. But, although spirit and material bodies have equal ontological status in concretizing reality, spirit is primary because it control and directs a thing’s behaviour. In Ika worldview, mind and matter spirit and body, have never been apart. Whatever exists in whatever form, is an intermingling and interpenetration of forces; that is, that reality is an admixture of material and spiritual forces.

The World of the Ika people is evaluated as both temporal and non-temporal with a character of action, which is a guide to their behaviour. Theirs is a World, which in all aspects-material spiritual and socio-cultural is made intelligible to them by their cosmology (about the universe, its origin and development), which explains how everything came into being. Through it, they Know what functions the heavenly and earthly bodies have, and how to behave with reference to the gods, the spirits and the ancestors. “In this conception, not only is cosmology an explanatory device and a guide to conduct, it is also an action system. As an explanatory device, the Ika cosmology theorizes about the origin and character of their cosmological ideas express the basic notions underlying cultural activities and define cultural goals and social relations.

The Ika believe that they live alongside in a world with all created beings and things, both animate and inanimate. The spirit world is the abode of the Creator, the deities, the disembodied and malignant spirits, and the ancestral spirits. It is the future abode of the living after their death. “There is constant interaction between the world of man and the world of the material and spiritual, the visible and invisible, the good and the bad, the living and the dead”. The latter are a part of the Ika people’s social world.

 

Ika Philosophical Concept of Man and the Role of Birth and Death.

The general concept is that man is made up of material and immaterial substances. The material is the biological being, while the immaterial is the spiritual being. The community of the dead exists alongside the community of the living such that the dead and the living form an unbroken family continuum. In other words, Ika families have supernatural dimensions made up of the living and of the dead members. They are organized in lineage with patrilineal emphasis just as those on earth.

In Ika conceptual view, man’s life is a cycle of birth, adolescence, adulthood of marriage, production and achievements, death and after death. Man does not stay in one stage of existence forever, hence he must move on to the next stage in a perpetual cycle. In this view, birth and death are so related as one is the result of the other. This stems up from Ika belief that it is only when the spirit is incarnated into the foetus in the middle of pregnancy that the foetus starts to twitch and move. Without the incarnation of the spirit in the foetus, there cannot be any possibility of blood circulation. When the baby is born later, the blood must remain in circulation until the same spirit that caused the first movement of the lifeless foetus departs it again, that is, ‘dies’ as it is customarily said.

Ika people see every birth as an opportunity of the grace of the Creator, whereby one is given a chance to atone for one’s sins until one’s life span runs out again, which automatically gives room for a new opportunity to reincarnate as a child.

Ika philosophy about death therefore, is that human body is subject to the eternal law of evolution and disintegration as well as the law of growth and movement. These laws guarantee that the body must grow and wear off like every other thing in nature”. That is, ‘dies’, just as the developing foetus in a woman’s womb is lifeless until the middle of the pregnancy when the spirit incarnates into it; so also, the natural human being must relapse into the earlier lifeless state before birth as the departure of what also caused its first movement, the spirit which is man’s core. Death is thus the shedding of physical body, the body that encapsulated the spirit that used to generate movement and life’s activities automatically drops down without further resistance. Death is thus, the point of disintegration of the prime mover of life-spirit that domiciles in the body for some definite time lag on earth.

SEE ALSO: FEATURE: IKA WORLD BY CHIEF DR ONYEKPEZE

Ika people believe that the phenomenon of death is the separation of the material from the immaterial components of man. The material part becomes decomposable, and for hygienic reasons, needs to be buried, while the spiritual part journeys and continues to live in the land of the dead. This is why in Ika, at the point of disconnection of life and death, the spirit is believed to be hovering in the atmosphere for a given number of days, usually according to Ika concept, five days, a period of izu, of mourning, in which funeral ceremonies are performed. At the expiration of this period of time, the whole premises are swept to completely obliterate the departed person’s physical foot-print in the sand in the neighbourhood. This is also to physically disconnect the deceased from the mortals as the deceased is construed to have become a spirit.

Ika tradition sees death as not the end of living of the deceased, but as a transition, a passage for it to enter another circle of living with “another physical body”. This gives rise to the tenacious belief in reincarnation. They believe that a human being has 14 (fourteen) appearances to make in the mortal world. In the process, the deceased reincarnates to perfect human being, or trees, lower animals, in the process of completing the 14 evolutionary reincarnations, that is transmigration. This is to say that a bad person may be reborn as an animal or trees and an animal as a person, etc.

Some babies who die with a short period of time (post birth), are said to have lived badly when they were on earth before; their untimely death stem up from the curses rained on them because of their atrocious deeds in their first appearance on earth. To make sure that such babies return to live useful and meaningful lives, Ika elders often break the curse with apothecary.

When a person dies, the living often try to reorder the deceased’s destiny for better living, with affluence in materialism and children by pronouncing such wishes into the air. Ika people believe that such pronouncements for the reordering of the deceased’s destiny, known as (ohihi/lhiehi) would follow him to the land of the spirits in the spirit’s realm.

To the Ika people, the land of the dead is home; man is only a sojourner on earth. Death is thus regarded as a journey, which man must make in order to reach the life beyond. Ika people also believe that the spirit land is not only very far, but the journey to it is hazardous. Consequently, the dead must not only be bidden farewell, but should be well equipped and placed in the hands of beneficent guiding spirits in order to reach there well.

In their view, there is a constant interaction between the dead and the living, the dead are reincarnated, death making transition from the corporal to the incorporable life of the ancestors possible. Corpses, especially those of the elderly ones, are properly buried in order that they would meet with favour of the ancestors and to enable contact with their descendants possible.

(To be Continued….)

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