IMPACT OF CHRISTIANITY ON THE CULTURAL VALUES OF ESAN PEOPLE
The role of religion particularly the Christian religion in the development process of a society has continued to be a subject of study. Some people think that religion contribute positively to the well-being of the society, while others think it has negative effects. In Esanland, some people that are knowledgeable in the culture of Esan see religion as “Opium of the people”, this simply means that the Christian religion has negative influence on the development and cultural values of Esan people. This study aim at the impact of Christianity and western culture on the cultural values of Esan people. Particular attention was given to Eguare and Emaudo-Ekpoma, both in Esan West Local Government Area. It also shows that the traditional Esan society was a well ordered society, with a viable social structure, social institutions and cultural values before the advent of Christian religion and western culture. Historical-analytic method was adopted for the study. Two Hundred respondents were randomly selected within the Local Government Area for the study. Data for the study were collated through the use of self-developed questionnaires. The study also adopted the theoretical framework of Prudential Personalist Ethics theory of Benedict Ashley who was a 20th Century American theologian and philosopher. The result of the study showed that the impact of Christianity and western culture on the Esan people were both positive and negative. It is recommended that the Christian witnesses and missionaries should establish relationships of respect and love with those men (to whom they witness), they should acknowledge themselves as members of the group in which they live, and through the various undertakings and affairs of human life, they should share in their social and cultural life. The study concluded, that long before the advent of Christianity into Esan land, the traditional society has already been structured to reflect socio-cultural status. There were such socio institutions that serve the purposes of Integration and sustenance. Such institutions also promoted the well-being of the society.