Igbo Traders as a Missionary Tool in South Western Nigeria
Igbo traders as a missionary tool to south western Nigeria is the core issue of this research work. Some scholars have attributed good performance of trade in a geographical area to missionary activities that have taken place in that area. This study was carried out to identify and explain the religious and developmental impact of trade as a missionary tool to the southwest region of Nigeria for religion and development. Important towns like Lagos and Ibadan where given greater attention of study to discover the presence and impact of Igbos in the southwest. The findings of this study shows that Igbo traders, in the course of moving from one part of the country to another to trade for livelihood, carry along with them their cultural and religious belief centered on Christian principles, and in the process contribute to the physical development of their host community. It clearly show hence, that Igbo traders should be encouraged to still see themselves as missionaries, thereby impacting on the commerce of the society at large. This in turn affects positively the progress of our society. Some recommendation and suggestions were put forward which if properly implemented, will serve as remedy to trade barriers Igbos encounter in these places and beyond for a a peaceful coexistence with their southwestern
Trade involves the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another in exchange for other goods or services or for money. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade by barter witnessed the direct exchange of goods and services. Barter is trading of things without the use of money. One side of the barter started to involve precious metals, which gained symbolic as well as practical importance. Modern traders generally negotiate through a medium of exchange, such as money. As a result, buying can be separated from selling or earning. The invention of money and later credit, paper money and non-physical money, greatly simplified and promoted trade. Trade between two traders is called bilateral trade, while trade between more than two traders is called multilateral trade.
Trade is the only institution that creates economic value. A University provides intellectual capital but does not make things. Trade takes the ideas and commercializes them. It relies on array of values from other institutions but the only one that adds value into the system. Trade plays a key role by creating products and services.
1.1 THE IGBOS OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA
Igbo also called Ibo by non-indigenes, people living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria who speak Igbo, a language of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The Igbo may be grouped into the following main cultural divisions: northern (Onitsha), southern (Owerri), western (Ika), eastern (Cross River), and northeastern (Abakaliki). Before European colonization, the Igbo were not united as a single people but lived in autonomous local communities. By the mid-20th century, however, a sense of ethnic identity was strongly developed, and the Igbo-dominated Eastern region of Nigeria tried to unilaterally secede from Nigeria in 1967 as the independent nation of Biafra. By the turn of the 21st century the Igbo numbered some 20 million.
Most Igbo traditionally have been subsistence farmers, their staples being yams, cassava, and taro. The other crops they grow include corn (maize), melons, okra, pumpkins, and beans. Among those still engaged in agriculture, men are chiefly responsible for yam cultivation, women for other crops. Land is owned communally by kinship groups and is made available to individuals for farming and building. Some livestock, important as a source of prestige and for use in sacrifices, is kept. The principal exports are palm oil and palm kernels. Trading, local crafts, and wage labour also are important in the Igbo economy, and a high literacy rate has helped many Igbo to become civil servants and business entrepreneurs in the decades after Nigeria gained independence. It is notable that Igbo women engage in trade and are influential in local politics.
Except for the northeastern groups, the Igbo live in rainforest country. Most Igbo occupy villages of dispersed compounds, but in some areas villages are compact. The compound is typically a cluster of huts, each of which constitutes a separate household. Traditionally the village was usually occupied by a patrilineage.
1.2 TRADE IN IGBOLAND
Trade in Igboland exists due to the specialization and division of labour in which most people concentrate on a small aspect of production, trading for other products. Trade exists between regions because different regions may have a comparative advantage in a production of some tradable commodity or because different regions’ size may encourage mass production. As such trade at market prices between locations can benefit both locations. Igbo traders are usually found in ethnic group of Southern Nigeria, indigenous to the West of the lower Niger River, with very significant population in Africa. In rural Nigeria, Igbo people work mostly as craftsmen, farmers and traders. Before the colonial rule, the Igbo were a political fragmented group. There were variations in culture such as in styles, attire and religious practices. Various subgroups were organized by clan, lineage, village affiliation and dialect. The Igbo people developed a strong sense of identity. Certain conflicts with other Nigerian ethnicities led to Igbo densely populated Southern Western Nigeria seceding to create the independent stale of Biafra. (Azubuike 2007).
The Niger Coast was an area of contact between Igbo traders and European traders from 1434-1807. The Portuguese were the first traders, then the Dutch and finally the British. Prior to European contact, Igbo trade routes stretched as far as Mecca, Medina and Jeddah on the continent. At this stage, there was an emphasis on trade rather than empire building; in this case the trade in 1807 brought about a new trading era, concentrating on industry (palm products, timber, elephant tusks and spices). At this point the British began to combine aggressive trading with aggressive imperialism. They saw the hinterland as productive and refused to be confined to the coast. (Okeke 2006). Igbo traders also trade for goods in department store, boutique or kiosk, online in small or individual lots for direct consumption or sold as merchandise to retailers, and/or industrial, commercial, institutional or other professional business users’ and related subordinated services. The past half century has been marked by an unprecedented expansion of international trade. One concern about trade is link to transportation services. It involves countries specializing in the exporting goods in which they have comparative advantage.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The study tries to portray the challenges in which Igbo traders are experiencing in the churches they arc worshipping in the South West of Nigeria. Focusing on Igbo traders as missionary tools, it has been observed that Igbos stand as financial pillars and highest donors in their various churches. This Igbo traders has been contributing their resources, such as building churches with their money, offering their labour services, helping in propagating churches, handling church projects. In return, these contributions offered by an Igbo to the South West of Nigeria have given them certain platform for good position, employment which has further empowered them to make more impactful contributions to the church and overall development of southwest.
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of the study is to explore the concept and role of Igbo traders in missionary expansion of the churches in the South West Nigeria, and to determine the missionary impacts of Igbo trader in church growth and expansion in South West Nigeria
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research work will set Igbo traders as the salt, strength and pillars of the churches in the south west of Nigeria. It will also encourage a proper value and placement of the Igbo traders in the mission of the church as pillars of Christianity in the South West of Nigeria, owning to their contributions in the church growth and development.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY/LIMITATIONS
This study tries to explore the growth and expansion of Christianity within Lagos State of Nigeria; and other South West of Nigeria from 1993 to 1999.
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Information and data for this study were gathered from both secondary and primary-source. The secondary data were collected from textbooks, articles, journals, bulletin, reports and internet. The primary data were sourced through questionnaires and interviews with Igbo traders, within the scope of the study.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Igbo: These are people from South West Nigeria (Webster Online Dictionary)
Trader: According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, defines a
trader as someone who buys and sells goods and services.
Missionary: someone who has been sent to a foreign country to teach people about Christianity and persuade them to become Christians.
Tool: something as a piece of equipment or skill that is useful that is useful for doing your job.
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