Original Research

Alcohol abuse in African traditional religion: Education and enlightenment as panacea for integration and development

Emeka C. Ekeke, Elizabeth O. John
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 1 | a8304 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i1.8304 | © 2023 Emeka C. Ekeke, Elizabeth O. John | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 November 2022 | Published: 17 May 2023

About the author(s)

Emeka C. Ekeke, Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria; and, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Elizabeth O. John, Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria; and, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Alcoholism is endemic in Nigeria’s traditional religion and society. This abuse is especially common at New Yam festivals, Ekpe, Ekpo and Nmanwu masquerades festivals, burial rituals, birth, marriage and naming ceremonies. Some claim that this is driven by specific beliefs and activities in African culture, such as beliefs in ancestors, libation, hospitality and entertaining guests and strangers and the desire to maintain the cultural traditions of the ancestors. Alcohol abuse has generated major health and social issues for abusers, their families and society, plunging families, towns and tribes into crises and conflicts that bring economic and political retrogression. This research studied how the African traditional religion encourages alcohol misuse and how to decrease it for national development. This study was on Nigeria’s South-South region. The study uses qualitative and ethnographic research methodologies, including key informants, in-depth and focus group interviews and the reward deficiency syndrome as a theoretical framework. Although African Traditional Religion (ATR) supports alcohol usage, greed, a lack of self-control, peer pressure, indiscipline and lack of moral upbringing led to alcohol misuse, which harms the person, family, community and country as a whole. Education and enlightenment are a remedy to free alcoholics and utilise them for national integration and development.

Contribution: Some say Africans drink a lot because their religious heritage promotes drinking, leading to abuse. However, peer pressure, selfishness, a lack of self-control, bad parenting and not religion push persons with reward deficiency syndrome into alcoholism, according to this research.


Keywords

African traditional religion and culture; religion and alcoholism; drug abuse and religion; religion and national development education and drug abuse; alcohol and enlightenment.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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