Format: Microsoft Word Chapters: 1-5
Pages: 100 Attributes: COMPREHENSIVE RESEARCH
1.1 Background of the study
question of the reality of human freedom and human destiny as both drawing from
Chukwu or Chineke (God or God the creator) who is also called Ezechitoke - ‘the provident king that
apportions lots’ - which is one of the names with which God is addressed in
Igbo Obollo dialect, is one of the most fundamental questions of philosophy and
a central question in both metaphysics and existentialism. Man is a creature of
Chineke; freedom and destiny are Chukwu’s products not man. It is
generally believed and accepted that all things derive their existence from
God, and so by an original plan proceed from Him and also strive back towards
Him. However, unlike other creatures, human beings have reason and they
exercise religion. Man knows Chukwu
as his origin and goal; his beginning and end and he is fully aware of his inseparable
relationship with Him who has released him (man) into the universe. But as a
rational being, freedom is man’s highest inalienable quality and right. Man
deliberates and takes decision as to what affects his life on earth.
The Igbo people address their Creator and Sustainer by various names as given below in a tabular form with their interpretation/s:
Chi-ukwu / Chukwu
Great God, (Big Chi which implies the existence of small chi/s)
Chi Okike / Chineke
God who creates or the creating God
Sustainer of the universe (not just the earth)
Anya n’elekota uwa
Onye ji ike nile
All powerful/omnipotent God
All presence / omnipresence God
The known that is not fully known God
Onye Afoma / Obioma
A Benevolent Being
One who says and it happens
One who does what he says
EZE nwe uwa
King who owns the universe
Chukwu, for the Igbo not only creates and orders the functionality of things in the world; He also endows man, fixes man’s longevity on earth and sets how, where and when man’s destiny manifests itself. It is taken for granted that no power can stop what God has ordained from coming to pass hence, their view about uche Chi and oge Chi (the will of God and God’s time). The Igbo firmly believes that Uche Chi ga-eme n’ oge Chi - the will of God happens at the time of God. They also have a saying that: ‘anaghi eji aka etinye anwu n’ uju’ (one does not use hand to drag a bee into the bee hives) this means that fortunes are preordained not acquired and since they are preordained, they manifest themselves are the appointed time. Hence, another saying that Ukwa ruo oge ya O daa – Ukwa is a seed plant that drops to the ground when it ripens. Armed with this obscured knowledge of God, man in his survival attempts is akin to wait for Uche Chi and Oge-Chi (Will of God and God’s Time) and the final analysis as to what happens to him is O bu ka Chi si choo ya – ‘that is how God wanted it,’ irrespective of whether what happened was good or bad.
Man from this point of view seems to be free of whatever happens to him but our daily experience says otherwise. Man does not simply stay and watch things happen he rather makes things happen in his society. Man is aware of his life and constantly strives to realize it and to better his world. Although man is not the starting point of life or the beginning of a meaning-filled life; he is, however, fully aware of his involvement and participation in life. Man’s desire is limitless and in his insatiability nature and cravings for happiness, man sometimes tries to make God act in his own time but the Igbo say onyebuta-Chi ya-uzo-o-gbagbuo-onwe-ya-n’ oso - meaning that one who runs faster than one’s chi meets one’s doom. In other words, true happiness of man is located with God - the King who owns the world - EZE nwe uwa.
The Igbo believe that man is a composed being of body and soul, physical and spiritual, and determinism and free-will such that his life and existence rest upon two fundamental principles that give vent to his composition. On the one hand, the Igbo believe that Chukwu - God creates, gives and owns life - Chi na-eke ndu, Chi- na-enye ndu, and Chi nwe ndu; and since Chi is both the creator, the giver and the rightful owner of life, man only receives his akalaka (destiny stamped on his palm) from Chukwu and this akalaka admits no addition or subtraction and of no modification whatsoever. Hence, the Igbo say ‘ihe Chi dere na O dego ya,’ - what God has written is written. On the other hand, the Igbo hold tenaciously to yet another principle that says ‘onye kwe, chi ya ekwe,’ - if a man says yes; his chi also says yes. It connotes choice and responsibility and involves man in his quest for a meaning-filled life and happy existence as underscored by Igbo wisdom saying that aka aja-aja n’ ebute onu manumanu, aruo na-anwu - e rie na ndo, and ike keta o rie – all meaning that ‘work precedes eating and enjoyment’. In other words, there is need for a kind of an agreement and co-operation between a man’s ‘chi’- (God/Chukwu’s representative in man) and ‘himself’ representing man’s free-will power towards the pragmatic translation and interpretation of his destiny. Human life is a complex nature that is punctuated with irony of fate, such that one’s wishes and legitimate aspirations do not depend solely on one for realization. The realizations of these aspirations depend on unpredictable variables which one has no absolute control of; and Chinua Achebe captures this reality vividly in his novels: Things Fall Apart; No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God using Ogbuefi Okonkwo, Michael Obiajulu Okonkwo and Ezeulu respectively.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Igbo two principles of life: ‘ihe Chi dere na O dego ya’ and ‘onye kwe, chi ya ekwe’ put differently, destiny and freedom of man, present us with a paradox. They try to say that there is force acting upon man and of which man has no control of in his life; yet man is not excused or exonerated as to how his life turns out to be in his worldly existence. This paradox has over the years engaged and divided philosophers into different schools of thoughts as can be found in the idealism, naturalism and compatibility theories in Western philosophical traditions. However, the argument for the Igbo is not whether man is free or not; or whether he is determined or not or whether determinism and free-will are compatible or not; but to what extent or degree is man free to participate and contribute to the shaping of his life and his society. It is to find out the degree of man’s freedom and the co-operation therein that this work sets out to investigate.
1.3 Thesis Statement
This study advances the thesis that destiny and freedom co-exist and work together as complements towards the realization of the human person in Igbo society.
1.4 Purpose of the Study
This study looks critically at the paradox of determinism and free-will in the Igbo notions of human destiny and the dynamisms of human freedom using Achebe’s novels: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God.
1.5 Scope of the Study
This work is limited to the study of the Igbo Philosophy of Freedom and Human Destiny using Chinua Achebe’s novels: Things Fall Apart; No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God. Hence, it will be extensive in examining both concepts with relevant materials which affect human freedom and destiny in Igbo society. It shall also make allusions to literatures considered relevant to the understanding and achievement of this aim.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study exposes to critical minded Igbo persons, the negative implications of consenting entirely either to human freedom or human destiny to the detriment of each other:
i. It tries to unravel this paradox that are inherent in the Igbo world-view and presents them as complements rather than contraries; and
ii. It contributes as a research reference to the general students on Igbo studies.
The qualitative research design was used for this study. Data were collected and collated from books, journals, and articles. Data from these sources were analyzed by the use of expository, analytical and evaluative methods. Expository method was used to highlight the Igbo belief system, their conception of life and their overall philosophy of life. Analytical method was used not only to explain some Igbo words employed in the study but also to highlight the inconsistencies inherent in the statements held as true in Igbo metaphysics, while evaluative method was used to consider the relationship between freedom and destiny in the life and existence of the human person in his society.
1.8 Explication of Terms: Destiny and Freedom
The term destiny is defined in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English as “the things that will happen to someone in future, especially those that cannot be changed or controlled.”1 In other words, it is a fixed order of things; invisible necessity; fate; an irresistible power or agency conceived of as determining the future, whether in general or of an individual. For Aristotle, “destiny is the end to which all other ends tend; and that is happiness. This end is perfect or final and self-sufficient or complete in itself.”2 Kwame Gyekye submits that destiny or fate (Nkrabea) generally in the Akan conception is the “message borne by a person’s soul that determines the general outline of a person’s life in the world. This is concretized in the basic attributes of a person.”3 It is that which determines the uniqueness and individuality of a person. Thus, “it is your destiny…that makes you, you and my destiny that makes me, me.”4 From a face-value, other definitions other than Aristotle’s tend to free man from the physical determination of his destiny but a cross examination reveals otherwise. As Aristotle says, the end to which all other ends tend must of necessity involve active participation of man towards the final end. Destiny, therefore, is a given as well as a task of the future for an individual to work out.
On the other hand, freedom is defined as “the right to do what you want without being controlled or restricted by anyone.”5 In a broad sense, freedom means absence of coercion, bond, ties or restraint, which is absolute freedom. But man does not have absolute freedom; hence we talk of freedom in two perspectives: “freedom from” physical restrictions and “freedom for” positive actions which necessitate the existence of legal law. T. Kadankavil points out that “the purpose of law is not to impose undue hardship or needless restrictions on people, as the anarchists would have it, but to protect and promote true liberty.”6 Freedom from is, therefore, the ground for freedom for. The only reason why it is good for a person to be free from various restraining factors is that by their removal, he/she may be free for the kind of life he/she is meant to live for the attainment of the ultimate goal of his/her life.
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