|← John10:22-30||The Oxford History of Islam →|
Time as a factor erodes cultures while at the same time replacing with others among the communities around the world. The Lugbara Community, currently living in the West Nile region in Uganda has experienced changes in their religion as a culture due to various reasons. Like any other community, exposure through education, technology, inter-marriages and other social aspects with time has changed the beliefs of Lugbara community. Culture is an art that involves the beliefs and customs of a group’s way of life and their social organization. Religion involves common beliefs of a group, thus, falls under culture. Religion is a set of beliefs and practices basing a family resemblance to another set and with sharp boundaries between them (Pyle 1984: 270). Therefore, religion results from ways of doing things as a group.tis is the major reason as to why many scholars perceive it as ‘custom’ or ‘usage.’
This research sought to investigate the how time factor has influenced the beliefs and practices based on family resemblance among the Lugbara community of Uganda. The study composed of time and culture as factors under investigation, and narrowing down to culture – religion of the Lugbara as a tool of analysis. Having one community as the item of study, this research used ‘vertical’ model of comparison as learned in class. Time and religion changes are the two variables in Lugbara community that are compared at different periods in the lifetime of the community, to find the influence of the former on religion, and the thereafter functionality to the community.
Traditionally, Lugbara community practiced farming by rearing some livestock and poultry. They were organized into leaderships of chiefdoms, unlike other ethnic groups in Uganda. They did not have armies for security; instead, they incorporated any bodied men into security provision to their families. The mythology of the Lugbara has it that they were originally animists. They speak a language derived form their community name, ‘Lugbara’ language. In 19th century, Islamic foreigners into Lugbara community introduced the term ‘Dini’ for religion, but used only among Christians and Muslims. The word came into arise in the community together with the word ‘Mungu’ for God. Those who were against the introduced words in the religion later introduced their own word ‘Ori’ for traditional religion
However, the introduced terms Dini and Mungu are in use to date, while the traditional Ori faded away with time. Currently, the community occupies districts like Nyadri, Yumbe and Koboko of Uganda, and settled subsistence farmers. Such aspects about the Lugbara community are changing with time and, thus the purpose of my research. My research found out that there exists significant influence of time on the religion of the Lugbara community, and hence the changes in most of the functionalities.
In finding out the significance of the influence of time on religion of the Lugbara community, my study approach comprised of a number of secondary data sources. This supplemented the expensive – time and money consuming primary data sources. Time and money costs and budget for field visit (in Uganda) were in extreme upper expenditures that could not be easily met. Therefore, I have used written materials – journals, books, newspapers and other different publications for data collection to carry out my study. I found this method suitable for the study because of the realization that there exist reviews on religion of the Lugbara community.
Earlier research on religion of the Lugbara community gave me the tracing mark for finding data for my research. Studies of researchers like anthropologist Middleton (1960), where he used a functionality approach, contributed much to my data sources. His (Middleton) research on the religion of the Lugbara community, gave many other researchers the consideration of study on the same theme. One of the subsequent researchers is Albert Titus with his “Religion among the Lugbara: The Triadic Source of its Meaning.” Therefore, my study is exclusive of the participants’ part of the research methodology.
This not being an experimental study, I have used many research designs to come up with results that I felt are realistic, significant and as precise as possible. My research has used description design is analyzing the already published data and findings. Explanation design, on the other hand, is employed to ensure understanding of the descriptive findings. In addition, historical design – a focus on the previous writings and reviews in the investigation of the religion of the Lugbara illustrates the findings. The three research designs helped me to go through the study easily to find truths about my thesis statement.
Procedure and Measures
My study employed qualitative data type on findings to investigate the influence of time on the religion of the Lugbara community of Uganda. A focus on the community’s perspective of religion guided me in the study. Considering that religion is a culture, its practice in the Lugbara community has had many other functionality influences over time. The measure of time against changes in the religion of the Lugbara community is the major outstanding equation in this study.
However, I recognized other external variables that influence both the independent and dependent variables in this research. Factors like education, technology, inter-marriages and other social parameters influence religion in Lugbara community, either directly or indirectly. The influence is in a two-way system in such that, religion also influences the mentioned parameters. Therefore, procedures in my study involved findings about Lugbara community through reading on previous research work, publications and reviews, and using the findings in making analysis on time against religion. I used findings about religion in the community in their early days, and matched them with activities and their perceptions during those days. The findings in the contemporary setting of the community and their corresponding matches in activities are the bases for my research analysis.
In early 1874, the Lugbara community lived on chiefdom leaderships with animism in religion. During this time, the majority were walking naked, with only elderly people having grass skirts. This gave them a name ‘The Naked People.” They reared livestock and poultry especially the guinea fowl hunted and practiced fishing. Unlike other ethnic groups that had kingships that provided security to the community, Lugbara community was chiefdom based with the bodied young men automatically owning the responsibility of security against other ethnicity attacks.
In 19th century, the Lugbara community changed to traditional religion where they worshipped some specified ancestral spirits and shrines. Later on, Islam (foreigners) from the Kenyan coast, introduced the term ’Dini’ for religion, into the community. The term came with the introduction of Christianity and Muslim in the community. The majority of the community used the term to refer to imported religion. They characterized the term with God, teaching and organization. This was because those who adopted the term went into being catholic, protestant or Muslim. The description of the term as ‘organization’ was due to the organization of the adopted into administrative gatherings with leadership at various levels using calendar events. Those who remained in the traditional religion were termed as ‘non-dini’ meaning ‘things of Satan.’
The introduction of the new religion in the community raise concerns among the traditional in the community who introduced the term “Adro” for God. They went ahead to put themselves into groups where only traditional religious expertise, out of long-term experience, observations and listening (the elders) were allowed to teach and talk. The young ones were regarded unthinkable persons. Those in the traditional religion called themselves ‘Ori’ to signify their respect for ancestral spirits whom they performed special ceremonies and rituals. However, ‘Ori’ was from behavior perspective rather than belief perspective.
Later on, the traditional religion started loosing fame to the protestants and Muslim. Their name for God “Adro’ faded away gradually in replacement of ‘Mungu.’ Their ‘Ori’ religion also gave in for ‘Dini’ where changes came with young people getting into teachings and leadership. ‘Dini was taken to represent s not only the adopted Muslim and Christians, but also the ‘non-dini.’
The gradual shift of ‘Dini’ from exclusive to an inclusive meaning indicated not only an influence of the term ‘religion’ but also a reappraisal of traditional cultures, or a general widening of religion understanding and tolerance. The passage form specific exclusiveness to general inclusiveness reflected the formation and the growth of the new identity (Albert, 2001; 32).
It was after this stage that religion in Lugbara community grew steadily. There was rapid growth of religion hand in hand with formal education. Schools and churches were erected together for learning as well as worshiping centers. The changing political, economic and educational systems s updated the religion in the community day in day out.
The growth in religion among Lugbara has seen it to today’s changed perceptions and a different kind of religion from the one that existed in early 19th century. According to Albert, the term ‘Dini’ is no longer considered foreign because of its long-term use and adoption into the community. The economic activities have long changed with current subsistence farming I growing cassava which is their traditional food, millet, sorghum, and maize. They are also keeping animals like goats, cattle and chicken. The research by Albert shows a current 75% of the population of Lugbara community being Christians. This conforms to Gaebelein’s (1974:330) research findings on the religion of the Lugbara community.
The findings describe changes that have taken place in the religion of the Lugbara with time as a tool. In 1874, the Lugbara were animists with cassava only the famous foods they hunted and practiced fishing while walked naked their leadership was under chiefdoms. This shows the primitive level of religion and the corresponding primitive lifestyles.
During the traditional religion periods, Lugbara community had no education and speech could only be made from long-serving elders in the religion. There was disregard for ‘Dini’ as introduced by the Islam and Christianity. The traditionalists in the community were against the adoption the religion as traditionalists believed that ‘Dini’ meant Christianity and Islam. The traditional religion commitment was based on behavior perspective instead of belief.
The current religion among the Lugbara is different from the long-erased religion. This is both in beliefs and custom. This is signified by different economic, educational and political changes. Time as the factor under study, has influenced changes in the religion of the Lugbaras. The young educated men and women are now speaking to people about religion in the current context. The Lugbara accepted the ‘Dini’ with majority (75%) joining Christianity. Educational systems and economic changes have seen the Lugbara community changed, in terms of religion.
The results in this research are based on time as a prime factor against the changes that took place in the Lugbara religion since 18th century the results depict the true framework of the changes in the Lugbara community with reliable referenced s citations in support of this conclusion.
The changes in the religion occurred over time reveal the answer to my research question. Recognition of other independent variables that affect the changes has been discussed. Political and economic changes influenced the changes that affected the religion of the Lugbara over time. Religion is seen to influence most activities of the Lugbara in the long-run, and this agrees with the findings of Bastide (1968; 99) that religion provides a mythical model on culture so that the people’s behavior belonging to the same community do things in the same ways, build house same ways, till soils same ways, have political organizations same ways, among other activities. This clearly illustrates the vertical comparison model on how religion of the Lugbara is seen in the early 18th century compared to the current situation.
The findings herein are coinciding with the thesis statement in this research that there is a significant influence of time on religion of the Lugbara community of Uganda.