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COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE CHALLENGES OF THE FIRST SON IN BENIN TRADITION AND THE BIBLE
This project is a comparative study of the challenges of the first son in Benin Tradition and the Bible. It is generally believed that children are gifts from the Almighty God including the first son. The coming of the first son always brings joy. Incidentally these first sons suddenly become the greatest anxiety for most families in Edo Land.The overall aim of this study is to undertake a comparative study of the challenges of the first son in Benin Tradition and the Bible with a view to proffering solutions to the challenges confronting the former.To achieve the set objectives of the thesis, the multi-dimensional research approach was employed. This includes the historical, analytical, evaluative, comparative and phenomenological methods. The theoretical framework of this research was based on Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers’ Theory of Humanism. At the end of this study, the following are the findings:that it is generally believed that all children are gifts from the Almighty God the Supreme Being including the first son, that the first son is usually given a place of prominence in Benin tradition and in the Bible, that most first son face challenges in destiny fulfilment in Benin tradition and the Bible, that the first son becomes target of the evil forces because he is the first offspring of the parents and representative of the ancestors and that the total eradication of the challenges of the first son may not be feasible but using Benin tradition as well as Biblical counselling and prayers can reduce them.The thesis made recommendations that will help in reducing the stress or challenges that the first son, parents, other siblings and the society have been experiencing over a long time.
1.1 Background to the Study
In African society in general and among Edo people in particular, children are very important. The joy of a family is full especially with the coming of the firstborn whether male or female. NwaoruEmmanuelcited that the prayer on the lips of all couples in Benin is that God would bless their marriage with children. Fathers adore them for they prove their manhood and mothers worship them for they remove the stigma of barrenness. A Benin man enters into marriage with a purpose to be “fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” or to increase his community especially his family (75).
Even for the Israelites, children were a blessing while childlessness denotes a curse. Sarah earnestly implored her husband to go to her slave girl in her desperation to have children. Others like Rachel and Hannah cried earnestly to God for children and God answered their prayers. Hannah sang a special song to God to show her appreciation (75).
Thomas Ebhomielen mentioned that man is not said to be complete until he has given birth to children who would succeed him after his demise. Also according to him, the way the Esan people value children can be seen in the way pregnant women are taken care of, and after birth, the ceremonial bathing of the baby and the naming ceremony are very important.
John Mbiti mentioned that it is believed in many African societies that from the very beginning of human life, God commanded or taught people how to get married and bear children (104). This can be deduced from some of the names given to children such as: Omosukpon; (Children are greater than clothes), Omoariagbon; (Children are the reason why you are on earth), Omosefe; (Children are greater than wealth).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Incidentally, these firstborn children that normally create great joy and excitement to the family at birth suddenly become the greatest anxiety for most families in Edoland. This work is a comparative study of the challenges of the first son in Benin tradition and the Bible. The challenges they face are: late destiny fulfilment, premature death, poverty, late marriage, barrenness, mental illness, etc. Many reasons are attributed to this such as: inheritance conflicts, polygamous and stripes discrimination, envy and jealousy of other children in the family, over-zealousness for inheritance, laziness on their part, malevolent activities of witches and wizards or sorcerers etc.
This study also discovered that ancestral worship form one of the greatest challenges to the first sons. They act as agents between the ancestors and other members of the family. They are easily accused of using Ukhure the symbol of ancestral worship to afflict other children in the family instead of using it to pray for the protection, provision, and healing of others in the family.
Many people have looked at the first son situation from the perspective of heir-ship/inheritance as well as the benefits and privileges associated with the position of the first son and these perspectives have not really proffered solution to the anxiety or challenges that befall the first son, their parents, other siblings and the society. This forms the aspiration of this research. This study was based on the theoretical framework of humanism by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The overall aim of this study is to undertake a comparative study of the challenges of the first son in Benin Tradition and the Bible with a view to proffering solutions to the challenges confronting the former.
The specific objectives of this study are to:
examine the causes of the challenges of the first son in Benin tradition and the Bible;
identify ways in Benin tradition and in the Bible the first son can cope with life challenges;
identify the roles of parents and other siblings in the family, as to how they handle the challenges of the first son in Benin tradition and in the Bible;
investigatethe relationship between the first son and ancestors and show how it forms the fundamental challenge, and;
recommend ways to minimise the manipulation of the destiny of the first son by mystical powers using Benin tradition as well as Biblical counselling and prayers.
1.4 Research Methods
The research method employed is the multi-dimensional approach to the study of religion. It includes the historical, analytical, evaluative, comparative and phenomenological methods. From the historical perspective we will be able to know the origin of the first son in Benin tradition and the Bible, the analytical method will help us to be systematic, rational and critical. The evaluative method will attempt to do a critic on the subject matter. The Phenomenological method was employed in conducting oral interviews with people in Benin who are vast in the traditions of Benin. All these was strengthened by the primary and secondary sources. Primary sources consist of oral interview while the secondary sources were the library materials and internet. These methods specified above, adequately assisted in the realisation of the set objectives.
The theoretical framework of this research was based on Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers theory of humanism. Humanism is a psychological perspective that emphasizes the study of the whole person. It looks at human behaviour not only through the eyes of the observer but through the eyes of the person doing the behaving. Humanistic approach is called phenomenological. Humanistic psychology begins with the existential assumptions that phenomenology is central and that people have free will, and not all behaviour is determined. Personal agency refers to the choices we make in life, the paths we go down and their consequences. Abnormal behaviour = incongruence and low self – worth (e.g. depression). Education and Motivation will help them.
A further assumption is then added – people are basically good and have an innate need to make themselves and the world better. The humanistic approach emphasizes the personal worth of individual, the centrality of human values and the creative, active nature of human beings. The approach is optimistic and focuses on noble human capacity to overcome hardship, pain and despair. Both Rogers and Maslow regarded personal growth and fulfilment in life as a basic human motive. This means that each person in different ways seeks to grow psychologically and continuously enhance themselves. This has been captured by the term self – actualization, which is about psychological growth, fulfilment and satisfaction in life. They said the way to really understand other people is to sit down and talk with them, share their experience and be open to their feelings. This is the method this research work is based.
A lot of interview was carried out with first sons, their siblings, parents and other people in Benin. Also according to the demonological school of criminology, that states that: “people commit crimes under demonic or evil influences”. Hence, some first sons using Ukhure(Symbol of ancestral worship) could commit some evil under demonic influence and make life unbearable for other members of the family. Some members of the family under demonic influence could also manipulate the destiny of the first sons. Whereas if the first sons are left alone they’ll be able to attain the self- actualization in line with the view of Maslow and Rogers. According to humanistic theory, the realizing of one’s full potential can include creative expression, quest for spiritual enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge, or the desire to give to society. Thus the foregoing virtues if well actualized by the first son would enhance his personality and position.
Solomon Oladimeji presented man as the crown of God’s creations. Man was created as a creative being and the crown of all creations. To be fully human according to him, is to fully reflect God’s creative, spiritual, intellectual, communicative, relational, moral, and purposeful capacities and to be able to harmonise these abilities (107). This is in line with Abraham Maslow theory of self-actualization. God’s plan for man includes that he lives with the consciousness that he is the glory of God’s creations and with the mind that he (man) shall be glorified with God at the end of age. Also that God created man as a rational being. He conferred on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. He was graciously given the ability to make rational decision. God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord seek his creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him (107). This also applied to the first son who was created by God as rational being. He has been conferred with the dignity of someone who can initiate and control his own actions. If the first sons cleave to his creator, he will attain his full and blessed perfection. When the first sons choose the part of sin, he would also face the consequences of his actions which have been attributed to the malevolent activities of witches and wizards or sorcerers.
1.5 Justification for the Study
This study is significant because children are very important to the people of Benin as well as other tribes in the world. The bible also makes it known at the beginning of creation. Children normally bring great joy to the family and the society at large especially the firstborn. These children that normally bring great joy at birth suddenly become the source of pain and anxiety to the family. The study offered insight into the challenges of the first son in Benin tradition and the Bible.
The first son often faces challenges such as: late destiny fulfilment, premature death, mental illness, late marriage, inheritance problem etc. Many authors only wrote on the importance of children and first son inheritance problem, none focus on their challenges that is why interview was the major source of information in this research work.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This thesis focuses on the first son in Benin tradition and some selected few in the Bible. The research discusses the challenges facing the first son in Benin and compare same with few characters in the Bible with a view to examine the nature, causes and ways of ameliorating the experiences. The thesis also makes recommendations that would help in reducing the stress or challenges that the first son, parents, other siblings and the society have been experiencing over a long time.
1.7 Organization of the work
The research work is divided into five chapters to give a systematic approach to the work. Chapter one deals with general introduction. Chapter two has to do with literature review while chapter three discusses the first son in Edo perspective. Chapter four deals with first son in Biblical perspective and a comparative analysis. Finally, chapter five deals with the summary, contributions to knowledge, findings, conclusion and recommendations arising from the research.
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