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The phenomenon of reincarnation in the Igbo society has remained a mystery which even the Igbo people themselves cannot unravel, though they belief in its existence. The non-probability of the many instances of the existence of reincarnation in the Igbo society have made to appear as a dogma. This is because; the Igbo people have not developed any scientific nor empirical way of validating their belief in

the existence of the phenomenon. In this work, frantic attempt was made to resolve this mystery, or at best give more rational cum philosophical explanation to the Igbo belief in the existence of reincarnation. In doing so, the researcher discovers that what the Igbo people call reincarnation, is scientifically proven as the transfer of genetic traits and hereditary materials, which are transferred from parents to off springs.




1.1  Background of the Study

        The phenomenon of reincarnation is one of he concepts in African philosophy that has exercised the minds of both African scholars and natives of African origin, not only that it is a mystery which Africans themselves cannot explain, but it is at the same time, a some worth impossible occurrence which requires some ontological and existential explanations given the African world view. It is a belief among the Igbo

that there exist two worlds, the land of the living which they call “Uwa” and the land of the dead called “Ani-mmuo”, and for the Igbo, life moves in the circle of birth-death and rebirth; and that when one dies, he or she has the spiritual power to come back to life again, and that is what the Igbo call “llo-uwa” (reincarnation). Now, the major problem with this aged long belief in the Africans in the African/Igbo

ethno philosophy is that, Africans cannot empirically, scientifically, experientially etc explain the fact that, the old matured and long dead human is the person that has come to life again as a child. This therefore presents reincarnation as a dogma, which does not have any concrete-rational explanation and examination. But, it appears that, the Igbo belief in the phenomenon of reincarnation has some truth

  given the many instance of its occurrence in different Igbo societies and communities. Many have reported that, the new born baby atimes come to the world with some marks and some exact physiological features, which an elder in the family had when he or she was alive. Some of these instances and experiences of incidence of reincarnation places one in a dilemma between rejecting the phenomenon or reality. Hence, the researcher believes that, it is through a vivid philosophical examination via an inquiring into the Igbo concept of reincarnation that this puzzle can be demystified.


1.2   Statement of the Problem

        Though the belief in reincarnation is part of the African worldviews, culture and philosophy. It is however among those cultures and traditions that have not accepted any philosophy cum rational explanations. For if one beliefs that, the old man that once died in the family is who have come to life again, then that person will be unavoidably faced with the question of whether the old man entered the

womb of a woman and was born again? The rate at which the Igbo exercise their ardent belief in it, like the custom of taking a new born baby to native doctor to foretell who has reincarnated into that new born baby has prompted the researcher to raise such questions as what really inform this belief among the Igbo? How did the old person enter into the womb of the woman that gave birth to the newborn

baby? Is there any exchange of food and chemicals between the newborn baby and the old person that reincarnated into the newborn baby? These are some of the problems that surround this research. And the researcher beliefs that by adopting a more critical and logical approach that some of these questions can be resolved.

1.3  Objectives of the study

This research study aims at the following objectives:

To critically expose the Igbo belief in reincarnation in order to have a more detailed knowledge of it.

To look for a more rational cum philosophical explanation to the Igbo belief in reincarnation.

To use the empirical cum the scientific method of observation and experiment to examine the Igbo belief in reincarnation.

To develop a new outlook in the Igbo belief in reincarnation as a belief in African philosophy.

To expose African philosophy like every other philosophical traditions.

1.4   Significance of the Study

        This research will be significant or beneficial in the following ways:

        Firstly, it will serve as a source of reference for further studies and research, especially for undergraduate students in such disciplines as philosophy, Religion and History.

        Second, it will serve as one of those attempts to expose African worldviews, as a reaction to the western claims that Africans do not have a philosophy.

        Thirdly, it will help to encourage Igbo to be more rational and critical in their belief in reincarnation. Fourthly, it will help to demystify some of the puzzles that surround the Igbo belief in reincarnation through critical and logical expositions.

Fifthly, the research will serve as both educating and entertaining material for the lovers of African culture.

1.5  Method of the Study

This research will employ the critical, analytic, evaluative, expository and the argumentative methods of philosophy. The work will depend on materials from the library like books, journals, articles, memographs and Internet sources. The research will also make use of the modern MLA style of documentation in its citations.


1.6  Scope of the study

The study of reincarnation will be such a vast area in the study of metaphysics if it is been studied from the different philosophical traditions, backgrounds and conceptual schemes in the world. Thus, to make this work to be more focused, the researcher will concentrate on the concepts of reincarnation in the Igbo society or communities. However, allusions can be made once in a while to how it is being conceptualized in other African societies. And through the kind of analysis this work will achieve, it can be concluded that the researcher have really exposed the concept of reincarnation in a typical African society, using the Igbo society as a study case.

1.7   Clarification of Terms

At this juncture, it is pertinent to clarify some of the terms that we are going to be using in this work, and the sense in which we are going to use them. Some of these terms or concepts include the following:

(a) Reincarnation: In this work, the term reincarnation is used to mean the belief in the fact, that, at death of the physical body; that the soul of a human can enter another body and begin to undergo another earthly existence or life span. So, it is used in that sense in which the Igbo belief that, there can be life after the death of the physical body. It is in view of the above that, Ojong .K. opines that, “the belief in reincarnation upholds that the soul of the dead person returns to inhabit a new body” (86). One will see from the position of Ojong that, the Igbo like other Africans, reincarnation has to do with rebirth and immortality of the soul after the death of the body.

(b) African philosophy: Though philosophy in the real sense of it is philosophy everywhere, in this work, the construct African philosophy is used to mean the philosophy that reflects on African world view and notion of reality. Hence as G.O Ozumba writes,

African philosophy as it were, appears to have been trapped in the grace of western modifications for it. It is like there is an invisible hand teleguiding the contents and the spirit of African philosophy. These colloquia is set to burst all such manipulations as under and to launch African philosophy into prominence

Thus, in this work attempt is made to examine the phenomenon of reincarnation in line with the African worldview and notion of reality.


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