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Accepted Paper:

Benin Olokun worship and modernity  
Ndubuisi Ezeluomba (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the transforming religious landscape of Benin City. Despite the influence brought by modernity in the psyche of many African people, the practice of deity veneration continues, attested to by Olokun worship among the Benin people of Southern Nigeria.

Paper long abstract:

The immediate consequence of the end of the cold war in the late 1980s meant that many African states continue to grapple with severe and sometime extreme economic, as well as social and religious problems. Many religious and cultural values that once had immense significance, as well as other aspects of

social and political life have been subjected to various forms of transformations brought by modernity. These social transformations find momentum in the urban and rural landscapes of modern Benin City, the

capital of Edo state of Nigeria where traditional religious practices seem to be thriving despite the influence of charismatic Pentecostal churches that dots the landscape. Similarly, the

rural/urban dynamics of Benin presents interesting spectacles to viewing these religious as well as social cultural problems, such as those of other African societies. Despite these problems,

individuals continue to thrive, supported in large measures by their conscious ideas about patronizing traditional religious outfits for "magico-spiritual" solutions to their problems. This paper analyze the

veneration of Olokun, the most important deity in the religious pantheon of the Edo people, against the backdrop of the changing relationships between indigenous religion and the dynamics of modernity. I will survey the last few decades that have seen the proliferation of Pentecostal churches in the landscape to address the impact, if any, of modernity on the worship of Olokun.

Panel P23
Africa's new frontiers: fresh, trending and innovative
  Session 1 Friday 19 July, 2019, -