Considerable cultural interaction goes on between Muslims, Christians and others in Nigeria. This interaction follows a process either of fusion or fission. Numberless examples could be cited both of borrowing or appropriation (fusion) and of affirmation of one's separate identity (fission), but the question that arises is who borrows what from whom and for what motives, and why is some borrowing resisted. The question does not admit of one simple answer. An inter-religious, inter-cultural framework for interpretation is needed, but the models provided in textbooks on the sociology of religion are often restricted to Western Christian experience and do not provide a framework for situating the composition of religions and religious trends which exist in Nigeria.

This article will first propose some models that can accommodate the variety of the Nigerian religious scene, and then examine the dynamics of religious adapting and self-assertion in Nigeria.

Sociologists like to base models of different religious groups not on theological orthodoxy or heterodoxy, which is not their sphere of judgement, but on the different ways religions relate to the world. (1) A religion-world relationship calls for a simple definition of each. I take religion as any system relating man to ultimate values, whether God or something else, and embodying a creed, code, cult and communion. (2) The "world" can mean either physical nature, or the human structures and processes of society, which the religions either Identify with, combat or try to change. I now propose two diagrams, based on the relationship of religion to the world in each of these senses:

Religious attitudes to the physical world of nature (Diagram A)

[A transcendent reality]
1. Monotheistic religions
Absolute: God.
Man under God
& over nature
2. Acosmic religions
Absolute: a unified spiritual counterpart
to the illusory world
of sensory nature
[Natural reality under man] [Man under natural reality]

3. Secular-humanistic religions
Absolute: Man,
who is over nature
4. Cosmic religions
Absolute: Spiritual forces of nature,
over man
[A self-sufficient world of nature]

The first diagram (A) (3) shows the fundamental orientations distinguishing different religions according to two polarities of opposition, namely their different concepts of what is absolute in the world of reality and how man relates to this reality. Each of the four basic orientations shown on the diagram has its own ethical orientation, as will be explained, and can be subdivided into the actual religions that we know. These actual religions, it should be pointed out, sometimes include elements outside their predominant orientation.

1) Monotheistic religions

For these religions the absolute is a God who is distinct from nature and who freely created the world. Man is subject to God in an ethics of responsibility, usually in terms of"a covenant or contractual alliance. Representatives, besides rationalistic theism, are:

a) Islam, marked by submission to God as Master.

b ) Judaism, marked by God's choice; he is also known as Shepherd, Father and Husband.

c) Christianity, sharing the above characteristics and specified by the Incarnation, not only of the Son of God, but also by God's giving us adoptive sonship and communion with him in the Spirit.

2) Acosmic religions

For acosmic (that is, non-cosmic) religions the absolute is an indefinite, infinite spiritual reality. Nature is non-truth and illusion. Man must purify his vision by quieting his desires through an ethics of detachment. Man's goal is to be dissolved in the absolute, where he loses his individuality. Representatives are:

a) Buddhism.

b) Hinduism in some forms; other forms tend to monotheism or cosmic religions. This is the only major religious tradition virtually absent in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

3) Secular-humanistic religions

For these the absolute is man, who is part of a self-contained universe. Nature is not purposeful, but is shaped by man who is its master, according to an ethics of freedom. There are two representatives, both of them important for Nigeria: a) Marxism, marked by a 'freedom of realization" (to be what we should be), which is achieved by revolution. b) Western secularism, marked by "freedom from coercion" and demanding change by evolution. (4)

Some would object to calling either of these systems religions, because they are atheistic or because they are economic systems. Yet they do refer man to an ultimate value, his own development in the world, and the inclusion of economics is common to any total religion, such as Islam. Note that these religions are sometimes mixed with monotheism, so that we sometimes hear of "Christian Marxists'.

4) Cosmic religions

The absolute in these religions is physical reality or nature, but not in a materialistic sense. Nature includes an inner purpose and order which is not to be tampered with, and is ruled by indwelling spirits. Sometimes (in Africa, usually) a transcendent God is in' the background, whence an overlapping with monotheistic religions. Man is subject to nature and its ruling powers'by an ethics of reverence, which concretely is often brute fear. Representatives are:

a) African traditional religions, where a transcendent God is known, but spirits are predominant.
b) Asian traditional religions, such as Shintoism, Taoism, Confucianism. c) Hinduism in part, and other less known religions in the world.

Religious attitudes to the world of social structures (Diagram B)

[Avoid direct involvement]
2. Withdraw 3. Change it by invoking a superior power:
a) spirits
b) God
c) impersonal forces
[World corrupt & irreformable][World good]
1. Identify with it
[World disordered
but basically good and reformable]
4. Change only individual men
by conversion
Change the world:
-5. as God's predestined instrument
-as a free agent:
6. transforming society from within
7. acting on society from a group apart
8.assimilating world's achievements & cooperating
[Act directly on it]

The second diagram (B) shows different trends within a religious tradition and is applicable, more or less, to any of the traditions distinguished in Diagram A.

Ernst Troeltsch ' considered the polarity of identifying or compromising with the world and rejecting the world as the basic problem in the relationship between Christianity and society. He saw this polarity, with the additional current of mysticism, as the basis for the distinction of religious movements, whether they remain in a parent body or break away. (5) B. R. Wilson advances a more developed differentiation of seven kinds of sects, still based on their response to the world. (6) J. Fernandez has a model of African sects in a framework of opposition axes like the above, but the foundation of his division is reaction of the sects to colonial influence, an accidental consideration which does not give adequate attention to the internal dynamics of the sects. (7) The model presented above incorporates Wilson's seven categories and adds two more, together with a framework of polarity axes. In the explanation below I go beyond Wilson's Christian sects to show their Islamic and A.T.R. counterparts.

A caution should first be made that all sects or religious movements are constantly undergoing some degree of mutation. New sects tend to be radically distinct, but time brings about a catholicization, an incorporation of complementary aspects of the same religious tradition. I will point out sects and movements to illustrate each type, but will let the reader make his own qualifications to the categorizations.

1) The simplest model is that of a religion which has conquered society and become the established religion. This was the case of established Churches of the medieval East and West which at times enveloped the state. Its counterpart is an Islamic state with the Shari`a as its sole law. Such were some of the pre-colonial states in the North of Nigeria; these areas of the country still laregly retain their established Islamic character. African Traditional Religion was similarly identified with state institutions in Benin and other African societies.

2) Withdrawal from the world is typical of Wilson's lntroversionist sects, such as the Amish and some Christian mystical movements. In Nigerian Christianity the Ayetoro Community on the Lagoon in Ondo State represents this trend. (8) Catholic contemplative orders are characterized by withdrawal from society, except that they aim to change the world by their prayer and are open to visitors for occasional retreats. Islamic counterparts are the practice of khulwa (retreat) by some Sufis and the Shî`ites' avoidance of social action during their quiescent phases. Any complete or permanent withdrawal from the world, however, is disapproved by Muslims generally. Yet the Bamidele and Lanose movements in Yorubaland, by rejecting Western education and other modern things and by veiling their women's faces, constitute a kind of withdrawing counterculture.

3) The superior power invoked to change the world or one's own life is:

a) the spirits of the traditional religion, who serve to solve men's problems, but have other functions as well.

b) God, in which case we have Wilson's thaumaturgical sects, the Pentecostal or Aladura churches, which are very important in Nigeria, and the charismatic movement within older churches, particularly the Catholic Church. Under the same category come Catholic devotions, shrine cults, medals, holy water etc. These have been an attractive feature of Catholicism in Nigeria because of their resemblance to practices of the traditional religion. Islam has similar "sacramentals" such as amulets, Zamzam water from Mecca, the wash water of Qur'anic slates dispensed by Muslim clerics for protection or healing, and the tasbîh [rosary] carried for reciting God's praises and sometimes for protection. In Nigeria members of the Sufi orders, such as the Tijaniyya, are the vanguard of this popular religion. They are opposed by Muslims of type 4, below. Muslims of any type, however, are not much given to the practice of healing prayer or the expectation of special divine intervention, unless for rain.

c) impersonal forces. Here we have Wilson's manipulationist sects, such as Rosicrucians, Christian Scientists, Unitarians and Scientologists, who do not invoke a transcendent God to solve their problems, but depend on a gnostic tapping of secret impersonal powers in the universe. Rosicrucianism is strong in Nigeria, along with similar mail-order Indian movements which peddle charms and esoteric literature. Many Nigerian imitations of these movements mix Christian, Indian and Nigerian traditional elements, all promising a magical way to success. Think only of the House of Light on the old Lagos road near Ibadan.

4) The aim of changing Individuals rather than social institutions is characteristic of Wilson's conversionist sects, for whom the Church is essentially a herald, in the terminology of Avery Dulles. (9) It applies to evangelical sects or movements generally and gives primacy of place to Scripture interpreted literally. In Nigeria it is represented by the Christian Union and the ECWA Church. The latter, however, because of its long establishment, has undergone some catholicizing mutation. Besides these there are many free-lance evangelists who hold frequent revival meetings in cities where Islam is not dominant. An Islamic parallel can be found in Saudi Arabian Wahhabism, which emphasises literacy and understanding of the meaning of the Qur'an and is opposed to any magical use of the Qur'an or Sufic esoterism. In Nigeria the Wahhabi-inspired Izâlat al-Bid`a movement has been battling with the Sufic orders in the North for several years, necessitating government intervention to keep the peace. Also conversionist are many activities of the Jamaratu Nasril Islam and the Muslim Students Society; these copy the methods of the evangelicals, such as revivals, vacation camps, distribution of tracts and the use of sound trucks.

5) The belief that one's sect is God's specially chosen instrument to remake the world is represented by Wilson's revolutionary sects; these pacifistly distance themselves from the present social order and await a divine messianic intervention to overthrow it. Such are the Johovah Witnesses, who reject the present order and await the Messianic kingdom; in the meantime they engage in conversionist activity. An Islamic form is Mahdism, which recurred many times In the 19th and 20th century Nigeria. The Mahdi is a divinely guided leader expected just before the end of time, according to tradition and popular belief. At the beginning of the 19th century the Sokoto empire builder, `Uthmân dan Fodiye denied that he was the much expected Mahdi, but did not object to the title mujaddid, the reformer expected at the beginning of each Islamic century. (10) As a movement, Mahdism resembles Kharijism of Umayyad times for its violence. At the end of the 19th century Râbih ibn Fadlallâh created an empire for himself in Borno, operating as the deputy of the Sudanese Mahdi. He was defeated by the French in 1898, but his followers settled In Marwa, In northern Cameroun. From this group came Maitatsine, who inspired riots in Kano (1980), Maiduguri (1982) and Yola (1984). Another Islamic revolutionary movement is Shî`ism in its awakened form, when the imâm or his representative is manifest. (11) In Iran Khomeini is acclaimed as an imâm, but he explains that he is an imâm only in a general sense. (12)

6) Others believe they have a religious duty to transform society by getting fully involved in it and acting as a leaven. Such are Wilson's reformist sects, which originally may have been revolutionary but underwent some modification and sophistication. Modern Presbyterians typify this tendency, although as part of a broader perspective. In Nigeria it is also found in the Christian Council's Institute of Church and Society and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, both having ties with international organizations. More active is CAN [Christian Association of Nigeria], which includes virtually all denominations for the purpose of lobbying with the government for Christian interests.

A peaceful reform of Islamic society was a major thrust of the reform movement of Jamaladdin al-Afghânî (1839-97) and his followers. Since the 1970s the world-wide movement to restore Shari'ra in full to Muslim societies is reformist in its methods but its aim is more typical of type 1 above, because it does not want to remain a prophetic or critical voice within society but to take over society. The Nigerian Jama'atu Nasril Islam. and the Muslim Students Society were very active in the drive to institute Shariga in the 1979 Constitution.

7) The tendency to form a community apart and hope to attract or influence the social structure from this vantage position is characteristic of Wilson's ut opian sects, such as the Shakers and certain Christian socialists, which take the Apostolic Christian communities as a model. Active Catholic religious orders illustrate this trend by their practice of community life and running of Church institutions, but their activities often go outside the Church as in type 6, above. Another example of this trend is the movement towards "basic Christian communities". (13)

In Islam we have the jamâ`a movements, especially in 17th and 18th century West Africa, which were micro-Islamic states surviving in a territory where the late medieval Islamic order had collapsed. These later developed into jihâd movements, taking on the revolutionary character of type 5 above. Since the 1920s Muslim societies among the Yoruba have played a similar communalizing role, although their internal sharing and cohesion may not have been so comprehensive. such are the Ahmadiyya (in spite of their heterodoxy), Jama`at Islamiyya, Anwar ul-Islam (former Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam), Ansar ud-Din, Nuwair ud-Din, and the Muslim Association of Nigeria. These have had the aim of vitalizing the Muslim community and putting it into the mainstream of Nigerian life.

8) The most liberal form of any religious traditions is that which sees positive good in the world which does not come from religion and which religion should borrow or appropriate for its own betterment and enrichment. This tendency (not listed by Wilson) is illustrated by liberal Protestantism of the 19th and 20th centuries and more recently bin the Catholic Church. It is expressed in the Vatican II document on the Church in the Modern World and is explained amply in Avery Dulles' fifth model of the Church, that of a servant. (14) Such a trend recognizes the distinct achievements that men can make, no matter what their religion or partial depravity, and is willing to cooperate with them. God is somehow with them, at least in the basic goodness of human reason, which can be source of truth, even about God and religious values to a limited extent, apart from any special revelation. Such a tendency has its roots in the Apostolic Fathers, such as St. Justin Martyr's concept of the which he concedes the Greek philosophers had but was fulfilled only in Christ.

Some evangelicals repudiate any suggestion that moral or religious truth or goodness can be found outside Christianity or even their own type of Christianity. In Nigeria denominational jealousy makes this a practical attitude even of some more liberal denominations. Nearly all Christian groups, however, recognize secular human achievements and are willing, even zealous, to appropriate these for spreading the Good News.

Muslim propaganda movements are similarly willing to make use of technical and organizational achievements of a secular society in order to win converts. The secularizing modernists of the 20th century were more wholesale in their adoption of anything Western and modern; these seldom took time to look for an Islamic justification for what they were doing. The polarity between modernist and conservative attitudes can be illustrated by the Hanbalist (conservative) statement of `Abdallâh dan Fodiye that "anything which the Companions of the Prophet did not do should not be followed by God-fearing Muslims," (15) and the statement of Muzammil as-Siddiqi that "anything good is Islamic and may be adopted from whatever source." (16) Muslims, however, to my knowledge, have nowhere gone so far as to recognize in human reason or secular science the ability to say anything about ethics or religious values, except for the scholastic proofs for the existence of God and the credibility of the Prophet.

Identity roots in Nigeria

The religious orientations of the two diagrams just explained each give a person a certain identity in society. As such, they are part of a complex pattern of other social identities, and share both their stability and dynamic flux. This section looks at the factors that lend stability to social identities, including religious.

The most basic and traditional identity for most people is their home village or clan, then the tribal grouping which has some historical unity, such as the Egbas among the Yoruba, and finally the wider tribe or language group, which has not had nay unity in living memory. Such were the Yoruba when the British first met them. These loyalties are strong even for a person who was born in a city far away and never saw his ancestral village. Long ago the villages or tribal groupings were organized to form autonomous political units. The traditional religion enjoyed an established position in these states and was the mainstay of justice and of the ruler's authority. The combination of tribal, political and religious elements constituted a complete system which commanded the total loyalty of its members. The impact of Islam, colonial rule and Christianity destroyed the position of traditional religion and at the same time the political system with which it was intertwined. What survived this destruction is only sufficient to give the people a partial identity, leaving them open to other associations and loyalties as well.

Outside economic advantage has always been the strongest motive for spontaneous weakening of home loyalties and attachment to a wider system which provides such advantage. In Nigeria long-distance trading, early associated with Islam, was the first outside challenge to local social fabric and religion. With colonialism came opportunities for participation in civil service, technology and new forms of business, for which the magic key is Western education. any of these jobs, professions or business involvements gives Nigerians a new identity dimension. Another strong sense of identity emerges from the bonds among classmates of the same school. Cutting across these identities of belonging to a group are self-achieved "status" identities such as wealth, chieftaincies and academic titles.

Because none of the above mentioned identities are total, the way is open and even compelling for identity and community on a religious level, because it is natural for people to form associations on the basis of what is most meaningful and of value in their lives. Without such association they feel isolated and deprived. To the extent that religion is authentically integrated in a person's life and is not a compartmentalized super-structure, it gives meaning to all human associations and identities.

Each of the social identities mentioned above predisposes a person more or less to a certain religious tradition (Diagram A) or to a particular trend within that tradition (Diagram B). For instance, in traditional village society the African Traditional Religion is likely to be strongest. Islam or Christianity have come usually in company with an upheaval of traditional village social structure. Even so, the strength of village social ties still sometimes demands of its Christian members, even if they live far away, participation or at least cooperation in traditional rituals, especially those connected with funerals.

Long-distance trade networks have been tied with Islam for centuries in West Africa because Islam provided a supra-tribal identity and community suitable or even necessary for such activity, together with a framework of the supernatural that was broader than that of the village. (17) Only in recent times have other religious identities been possible in certain economic spheres, such as transport.

All economic spheres dependent on education have been associated with Christianity, because the Churches were pioneers of education and other areas of social progress. Increasingly, however, Western secular humanism is challenging the position of both Christianity and Islam by driving out in practice the idea of a transcendent God and replacing it with the free pursuit of the goods of this life, unhampered by religious restrictions. Marxists also are trying to rally the dispossessed to overthrow the increasingly stratified economic and social order so as to have an illusory equal share in an illusory national cake. Both the Western and the Eastern brans of secular humanism challenge loyalty to a Christian or Muslim community.

A final identity complicating all the previous ones is that of political parties, which combine and manipulate any of the aforesaid identities for the purpose of securing political power.

Identity fluctuation in Nigeria

Identities fluctuate by assimilating new or outside values. This process may or may not involve religious change or transformation. First let us look at examples of where it does not. One of these is the adoption of modern technological conveniences and communication methods, as noted above even in the case of very conservative religious movements.

Another example is the influence of language. Arabic Islamic vocabulary has pervaded Hausa and Yoruba, so that many Christian concepts in the Bible and worship are expressed in Arabic terminology. Christians sometimes even use explicitly Islamic phrases such as the shahâda to express surprise or frustration. On the other hand, English Biblical expressions have become part of the common vocabulary of all who use English. You can hear Muslims saying things like "widow's mite", "prodigal son", "pharisaical" etc. It is interesting also to hear certain characteristically Anglo-Protestant terms like "righteousness", "travelling-mercies" etc. on the lips of Catholics. In most cases these phrases are used indifferently and are devoid of their symbolic value as expressions of a particular faith.

Again, the annual hajj is a colossal event each year. Before the austerity and 1984 limitation to 20,000, over 100,000 people would go. Christians, especially Catholics, were not slow in imitating this event by promoting annual pilgrimages to Rome, Jerusalem and Lourdes. They demanded, and partly received, similar governmental assistance in facilitating this pilgrimage. Although Christianity has a tradition of pilgrimage, this is clearly a case of appropriating something the Muslims have and changing its sign value, much the same as the Muslim appropriation of Christian marriage rituals. A borrowing takes place, but the symbolism is carefully changed to avoid any semblance of assimilation; One's own religious identity is thereby affirmed.

Secondly, a religion can appropriate some secular values only at the price of a certain amount of inner transformation. This means a development of theology or at least a maturing of people's attitudes, resulting in a new self-definition or identity. This is the case of the Muslim community which for a long time resisted Western education, whether Christian or government sponsored, but in recent years has massively and vigorously pursued it. The products of this education may be no less Muslims, but certainly have a different outlook from the minority of their co-religionists who continue to shield themselves from modern influences.

Another area of change, both for Muslims and Christians, is marriage customs. Traditional customs are strong, and both Islam and Christianity have had a difficult time imposing their norms. Islam at least had the advantage of allowing a limited polygamy, and in this was followed by the African Church and the Celestial Church of Christ. In the cities, however, monogamy has become more common for everyone, because of both economic limitations and the influence of Western ideas about women. Polygamy, nevertheless, is popular among the wealthy, who style themselves after the chiefs of old. Marriage ceremonies are also affected. In rural areas exposed to Islam Islamic customs have taken root among non-Muslim peoples, such as the Maguzawa. (18) In the cities, particularly among the Yoruba, mosque weddings closely patterned after Christian ritual are now fashionable. Christian weddings themselves have much of the secular or customary European, such as a white dress and veil, giving away the bride, toasts, cake cutting etc. The same could be said of the extravagant excesses of burial customs common among Christians, such as gilded boxes, keeping the body on ice for long periods before burial and obituary splurges, which the Muslims have partially resisted thus far.

We have pointed out that some conservative Christian and Muslim sects resist any adaptation which may involve a development or change of religious attitudes. They retreat instead into a ghetto existence, attempting to insulate themselves from influences of the society about them. They are sometimes successful, but their success is not an indication of strength, but of inability to understand and interrelate religious and secular values. In the long run they can find themselves losing members.

Thirdly, some customs can be appropriated only at the expense of one's religious identity, and any such borrowing comes from weakness or lack of integration of one's identity. A person can honestly adhere to one religion, but may not have assimilated its values thoroughly and therefore can borrow contrary values, often by bowing to the force of conformism. This means a partial assimilation to another value system or religion, and if the process continues with logical consistency it leads to the abandonment of one religion and acceptance of another. In this context we should be aware of Humphry Fisher's distinction between "adhesion" and "conversion", the former (= "joining") being compatible with a "mixing" stage of religion when elements from different religions are combined to suit the taste or needs of the person, but do not sit well together from the standpoint of either religion. Conversion, on the other hand, matches the "reformed" state of a religion when the total logic of the religious system is accepted. (19) We can also agree with Robin Horton that social broadening is usually indispensable for a move from a cosmic traditional religion to a more monotheistic form of the same or to Islam or Christianity, (20) but such social change is only a dispositive cause, and we must reckon with the power of religion itself as a value system engaging the total and sometimes fanatical loyalty of a person in community with his co-religionists.

An example of compromising adaptation is the acceptance of eating and drinking restrictions. In Muslim areas of the North non-Muslims easily absorb a sense of shame about eating pig, dog or monkey and drinking alcohol, and do so furtively, unless a club, hotel or home atmosphere gives drinking some respectability. In the same areas Christians sometimes think they must fast in Ramadân, or in Lent follow the Islamic rules for fasting. Shame at appearing different even affects their toilet habits. Only the boldest will say, "Stand up and piss like a Christian."

Medicine is the biggest area of crossing religious lines. Both Islam and Catholicism, as seen above, had something to compete with African traditional religious medicine. The other Churches were at a disadvantage until the Aladura movement arose, since it took a long time for "English medicine" to be generally accepted, and even now it is not commonly thought to be the answer to more serious health problems. Borrowing in the sphere of religious medicine is a three-way affair. Followers of Traditional religions turn to both Christians and Muslims; Christians turn to both Traditional priests and Muslim clerics for treatment, and Muslims take from the other two. This kind of borrowing necessarily involves a compromise with one's existing religion and a partial adherence to the other by an act of faith in its power. A complete adherence to the other religion will normally ensue if the healing is dramatic and social factors permit.

Lastly, some borrowing can begin as a compromise, because it is the adoption of the identity symbols of another religion, but end by neutralizing the sign value of these symbols. The wearing of a flat white cap formerly was the distinguishing mark of a Muslim in Yorubaland, but so many Christians now wear it that its sign value is lost. In the North the Maguzawa call the Muslims 'yan riga, but they wear the riga and even the turban whenever they want to appear in their finest. This is a partial identification with an Islamic order, but the now wholesale adoption of Hausa dress by Northern Christians has practically evacuated it of Islamic significance, at least in the Northern states. The Yoruba agbada, of Northern Islamic inspiration, (21) is so common that most Yoruba deny that it is anything but traditional Yoruba dress. Within Christian tradition we may note how Catholic choirs borrow choir robe styles from the Anglicans, and some Anglican and other clergymen borrow Catholic vestment styles. Very few people protest these trends.

Western suits or the simply shirt and trousers originally had no Christian significance, but were viewed as such by Nigerians generally who equated Europe and Christendom. Yet even now, when such dress is understood as part of secular European culture, it seems alien to some Muslims. I have heard Muslim teachers in Sokoto warned to wear a cap and tagwa "to show their Islam". Nevertheless Western and Nigerian styles with no Christian or Islamic symbolism are inexorably becoming the common property of all.

Names are another religious identity tag, or at least they one time were so in Nigeria. But today one frequently comes across people like "Pastor Muhammad" or "Sister Hasan", and sometimes a Muslim with a Christian name. Recently there has been a trend towards indigenous names, particularly among Christians. This movement has a two-fold origin. On the one hand, Christian theologians have come to emphasize the goodness of indigenous culture and its compatibility with Christianity. Nothing positive in a culture, as indigenous names with religious significance certainly are, should be displaced. On the other hand, there has been an unholy alliance of secular humanists and Muslims to attack Christianity as an enemy of indigenous culture. This was evident especially in the 1976 FESTAC. The result of the dropping of traditional Christian names has been, therefore, of ambiguous significance. Muslims, for their part, argue that their Islamic names have been in Nigeria for centuries and are therefore indigenous. They also generally have very little respect for indigenous culture which is not inspired by Islam; so very few have dropped their Islamic names.


The last section could be extended indefinitely. I have presented only a few cases ass a start to illustrate the interpretative theory presented in the first part. More discussion of cases would further refine the theoretical part.


1. Cf. B.R. Wilson, "A typology of sects," in Roland Robertson, Sociology of religion (Penguin, 1969), pp. 361-83.

2. Cf. Joseph Schuyler, "Reason and the faith of Christians", in Lenten Lectures 1980 (Ibadan), p. 15.

3. The germ of this diagram is adopted from my former teacher Fr. Benedict Ashley, O.P.

4. For a thorough discussion of the various types of freedom see Mortimore Adler, The idea of freedom (N.Y., 1958).

5. Cf. T. O'Dea, The sociology of religion (N.J., 1966), pp. 66-71.

6. B.R. Wilson, "A typology of sects," in Robertson, op. cit., pp. 361-83.

7. J.W. Fernandez, "African religious movements", in Robertson, op. cit., pp. 361-83.

8. See similarly S.R. Barrett, "All things in common: the Holy Apostles of Western Nigeria (1947 onwards)", in E. Isichei (ed.), Varieties of Christian experience in Nigeria (London, 1982), pp. 149-162.

9. A. Dulles, Models of the Church (N.Y., 1978), ch. 5.

10. Cf. Murray Last, The Sokoto Caliphate (London, 1967), lxxxi-ii etc.

11. Cf. W.M. Watt, The formative period of Islamic thought (Edinburgh, 1973), p. 48.

12. Cf. Imam Khomeini, Islam and revolution (Berkeley, 1981), pp. 59 ff.

13. Cf. Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi (1975), n. 58.

14. Dulles, op. cit., ch. 6.

15. Quoted by Sani Zahradeen in New Nigerian, 24 Nov. 1980, p. 5.

16. Oral explanation at Hartford seminar, October 1980.

17. Cf. Robin Horton, "African conversion", Africa, 41 (1971), pp. 85-108, and "On the rationality of conversion", Africa, 45 (1975), pp. 219-35, 373-99.

18. Cf. Joseph Kenny, "Adaptation for Christian marriage among the Maguzawa," Neue Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft, 24:2 (1968), p. 136.

19. Cf. Humphry Fisher, "Conversion reconsidered: some historical aspects of religious conversion in Black Africa," Africa, 43 (1974), p. 33.

20. Cf. Horton, ibid.

21. See the arguments of Mahdi Adamu, The Hausa factor in West African history (Zaria, 1978), pp. 124 ff.