Bishop Chinasa Nwosu burns objects that he believes are against Christian teachings

[SIZE=7]The Nigerian priest saving Igbo deities from the bonfires[/SIZE]
Published9 hours ago
While some Pentecostal preachers in eastern Nigeria set fire to statues and other ancient artefacts that they regard as symbols of idolatry, one Catholic priest is collecting them instead.
The artefacts are central to the traditional religions practised by the region’s Igbo people, who see them as sacred, and possessing supernatural powers.
But there are now very few adherents of these religions, as Christianity - led by Pentecostal churches - has become the area’s dominant faith.
BBC Igbo’s Chiagozie Nwonwu and Karina Igonikon report on the priest’s efforts to protect a history that is being lost because of the actions of some preachers.
Although he is referred to as “fire that burns”, there is nothing frightening about Reverend Paul Obayi, who runs the Deities Museum in eastern Nigeria’s Nsukka city.
Located in the compound of Saint Theresa’s Catholic Cathedral, the three-roomed museum boasts hundreds of totems, masks, a stuffed lion and carvings of Igbo deities.

When communities abandon traditional religious beliefs, primarily under the influence of Christian Pentecostal churches, some pastors light bonfires to burn the artefacts, which they say contradict the faith’s monotheistic beliefs, and which represent “evil spirits that bring bad luck”.
Sometimes worshippers of the traditional religions also torch their deities, in accordance with a belief captured in the Igbo proverb: “If a God becomes too troublesome, it becomes wood for the fireplace.”
But Reverend Obayi bucks the trend by preserving the rejected gods and goddesses, saying he uses religious powers to remove their supposed supernatural abilities. This has earned him the moniker Okunerere - “the fire that burns idols in the spirit”.
“I’ve already destroyed the spirits,” he said at his museum.
“What you have is just an empty shell. There is nothing inside.”
image captionMost of the artefacts at Deities Museum are wooden carvings
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.”
[SIZE=6]A treasure trove of deities[/SIZE]
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.
Though the Deities Museum hosts visitors who come from as far as Lagos to see some of the tagged items, it is in dire need of care and attention. The artefacts, some of them centuries old, are strewn across the museum’s floor, caked in dust. Some have been ravaged by termites.
But it is a treasure trove of Igbo deities - in one corner is a fearsome-looking mask surrounded by raffia, in another corner a deity used by tricksters - two oblong-shaped objects held together by string, used in the past to solve “mysteries” such as catching a thief. Hidden levers operated by the trickster were used to control the movement of the objects when the names of suspects were called out, making it look like an invisible force had discovered the thief.
But the pièce de résistance is the Adaada leja, a raffia-covered headless goddess, feted by those seeking children. Reverend Obayi said the deity was almost 200 years old.
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The items are from the “deliverance services” he has conducted over the past 20 years in towns and villages across Nigeria’s south-east.
“People write letters inviting my ministry to come and remove the idols that are disturbing them,” he said.
[SIZE=6]Ways of the ancestors[/SIZE]
Odinani, an ancient Igbo religion, was practised before the arrival of Christianity and colonialism. It is a form of animism where people pray to a spirit - represented by a statue - known as chi. It seeks intercession on their behalf from a Supreme Being, or Chukwu.
Other deities worshipped include:
[li]Ala - the goddess of fertility[/li][li]Amadioha - the god of thunder[/li][li]Ekwensu - the god of bargains and mischief[/li][li]Ikenga - an avatar of the owner’s spirit[/li][/ul]
Not many adherents of these ancient religions remain, and they endure persecution from the Christian majority.
Their sacred days are disregarded, traditions such as rites of passages are frowned upon and there have been instances where shrines have been invaded by Christians activists.
Nowadays, most practitioners of these religions are elderly, although a handful of youngsters are now rebelling against their Christian faith and learning the ways of their ancestors. COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionIn the past, most Igbo homes had small altars for the Ikenga
Chinasa Nwosu, a Pentecostal bishop of the Royal Church in the southern city of Port Harcourt, is a fierce critic of the traditional beliefs.
Bishop Nwosu first shot into the limelight in the early 1990s for tearing down shrines, burning the so-called idols, and uprooting what he denounces as “evil trees”.
These trees, some of them ancient, have their bases wrapped in white or red pieces of cloth and are sacred to adherents who worship and make small sacrifices to them. Some are in the family compound but most are in forests away from the community.
“God does not want us to practice idol worship. African religion, most of the time, is based on idolatry,” he said.
“Blessings come when you remove those accursed things,” he added, quoting the Bible. COPYRIGHTTHE ROYAL CHURCH
image captionBishop Chinasa Nwosu burns objects that he believes are against Christian teachings
He said that carvings and other artworks such as the Benin Bronzes and Ife Heads, which are artefacts stolen from western Nigeria and are now in Europeans museums, had not been consecrated to a God so he was not opposed to them being returned.
But he warned the Nigerian government that if it brought back artefacts that could be traced to “idolatry”, such as the Ikenga wood carvings in the British Museum, he would want them burnt.
Such views are vehemently opposed by Reverend Obayi, who remains determined to preserve the artefacts in his modest museum.
“They are artefacts that our children will see and they will understand how their forefathers lived,” he said.

I would love to buy some of this articles. I have a Bambara mask and a Tuareg one from Mali. Priceless

[SIZE=7]when you control someone’s mind , they will do all the work for you…[/SIZE][SIZE=4] that brainwashed and whitewashed african priest is doing what the missionaries were doing in the 1800-1900’s , thats what i mean by being colonised… he is so colonised , haoni shida disrespecting his grandfathers’ religions who actually cared about him , …did the missionaries didnt care about africans… so why fight your family for the invaders ? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=4]why go to a shrine and burn the whole thing…by now we all know why europeans were burning our shrines…shrines , idols and traditions are uniting factors …we all know why europeans hunted for the golden stool owned by the ashanti nation…meffi sana[/SIZE]

since that african fool knows zero history… hajui christianity got inspiration from african idols and paintings in egypt… it’s all in history…european history mind you…you can literally search this stuff…

those idols he is burning are symbolically older than jesus …africans should research and wake up…


burn your heritage to appease a jewish god…

@SledgeHammer ,do you see my point now? Why is religion so harsh? If the igbos dont recognize the white god why demonize them?


From gods or church?
My issue is,why is there no line drawn. If i want to worship an elephant or a cow let me do it,no?

From the doctrines brought forth by religion… Muslims call others kaffirs and are rewarded by 72 virgins and a member who stands firm… In the afterlife after they kill them kaffirs…
So false religion brainwashment going on around is the problem,

Isnt it the same as xtians being promised mansions and gold paved roads and domicile lions? Unless its just figure of speech compared to the lake of fire which all religions duly agree upon

you forget that the whole idea of religion was political… whats the need to organise , wear differently and seclude yourselves in the name of praying to your made up gods then harming people with different views ? doesnt sound holy at all

Death isn’t passed on as a paveway to earn the reward in christianity, Just your soul, acceptance and worship… Its that simple…

Or even if it wasnt, why not just be good, do good and be on the safe side. Good has never been rebuked for anything less than worthy

Has that ever worked? I hear all xtians are sinners from birth,they have to be born again?

Anything born out of a woman is subject to her original sin

Every person on earth ama? What about those who dont believe in that creation,eve and snake thing or even know about eve at all,are they in the same quagmire?

Why won’t you belief in the truth. It affects you anyway

Are you speaking from a xtianity pov ama you’ve subjected humans into a general thought of believing in “The truth”?..that’s biased you know?.

How would you convince a hindu,animist or me for example,into converting to YOUR religion sect ,dont forget their beliefs are eons older,well established and documented,by telling them that theirs is wrong? Dont forget,believers(followers of christ & muhammad) went to war to convert others by forcing or killing them yet other sects are obscured.

5.37 billion people couldn’t be wrong against 2.3 billion followers of jesus, albeit each with its own version not forgetting indiferences in following doctrines.I can tell you’re not catholic or anglican,7th day or mormon,you view them under different light,no?

Where,what,who is the truth in essence, and HOW does that affect ME in ANY way?
Forgive me but im sorry i find your explanation kind of rehearsed or passed down i’ve heard those lines before…you know,“repent or die,jesus is the light” kinda thing? Use your words not your sect’s