Prolegomena to the Study of the Idoma Concept of God

Robert G. Armstrong
African Notes, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1966

The author has not made a deep or adequate study of the religion of the Idoma, who have a conception of a high god which is similar to those held by a great many other African groups. But, as the outlines of Idoma thinking are by now clear enough to make it useful to consider it in a larger, West African context, the author presents ethnographic and linguistic data which seem to be rather 'harder' facts than those on which earlier writers have based their speculations. There is no ritual or ceremonial whatever associated with the high god in Idoma, and so the method of 'participant observation' produces meagre results in this respect. These results are presented in this article.

The interviews in depth and at length with elders who have thought deeply about God have not yet been collected by the author It is only now, in fact, that knowledge of the Idoma language has progressed to the point that such materials can be properly handled. The author therefore proceeds ethnographically and lexicographically, presenting relevant obiter dicta of elders and the somewhat more organised statements of young informants.