godianism (Religious Movement)

Godianism is a neo-African traditional movement with its Head Office in Nigeria. It was originally known as the National Church, and later the National Church of Nigeria and Cameroons. Godianism propagates African Traditional Religion as a world religion and promotes an intellectual awakening of African cultural values. The movement is active in organizing a pan-African revival of traditional religion and culture and has formed a continental organiza-tion to unite all traditional religions in Africa called the Organization of Traditional Religions of Africa (OTRA). It is also known for its promotion of world peace. The leader of Godianism is Chief K.O.K.Onyioha (19232003).

Godianism traces its roots to the National Church, later known as the National Church of Nigeria and Cameroons. The church begun when mainline churches in Enugu and Yaba refused to hold a memorial service for twenty-two colliery miners who were shot by the colonial police in Enugu, Nigeria in 1949 while on strike as part of the nationalist struggle for independence. On 3 January 1950, the labour movement organized the service in an open field singing patriotic and traditional war songs and addressing their prayers to the God of Africa. They declared that the colonial church was not interested in the affairs of Africans and launched the National Church as the religious wing of the popular political party the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC), led by the veteran African politician, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. Initially, the church developed a liturgy that largely used traditional resources fused with the nationalist aspirations of the times. The African nationalist leaders were hailed as African Prophets and Messiahs in its liturgy.

In 1962 the Church changed its name to GODIANISM and appointed Chief K.O.K.Onyioha as its first high priest. The emphasis of the movement also shifted from political nationalism to the promotion of African traditional religion without losing sight of its goals of pan-Africanism and its advocacy for African culture.

Godianism propagates African Traditional Religion and also promotes an intellectual interpretation of African cultural values which includes the compilation of the oral scriptures of African peoples in a written form, and seeks to provide a harmonizing philosophy that would reform and perpetuate the liturgical variations in traditional religion. The movement in 1993 built a Godian Academy, which is situated at Ukwa Ukwu in Nkporo, Abia in Nigeria to facilitate learning and research and the showcasing of the spirituality of Africans. It thus promotes the publication of literary material such as the Godianism Series of Papers published after a conference in 1997. The movement has also developed its own Aquarian calendar using an African system of Igbo month names.

Godianism actively organizes a panAfrican revival of traditional religion and culture through active participation in festivals such as Festac in Nigeria and Panafest in Ghana. It was instrumental in the formation of the Council of Religions in Nigeria and sponsored the building of shrines in that country. As we have seen, it also formed a continental organization to unite all traditional religions in Africa called the Organization of Traditional Religions of Africa (OTRA). In 1982 for instance, chief Anyioha negotiated with Osofo Okomfo Damuah of Ghana’s Afrikania Mission and the latter agreed to join in the Godian mission. Godianism also links up through various projects with the African Diaspora.

The leader of the movement, Chief Onyioha travels widely in Africa, Europe, and North America promoting the ideals of the movement at educational institutions and international conferences. In the international arena Chief Onyioha works for world peace through the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP). He addressed the special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on World Disarmament in 1978, and the World Conference of Leaders of World Major Religions in Tokyo, Japan on the theme ‘Principles of Peace and Disarmament’ in 1981.

Though it begun as an African revivalist movement seeking to give identity, respectability and unity to the black race, Godianism has universalized its message by stressing love and harmony as the essence of true spirituality. It teaches that other religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity are liturgical variations and cultural expressions of the same spiritual truth. The movement sees itself in relation to other religions as a harmonizing power, which aims to bring about unity among all religions conceptual unity of all religions.

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