Faculty: Arts
Department: Department Of Philosophy


Emedo, C. C;
Oguejiofor, J.O;


Death is a universal phenomenon common to all temporal beings. Man is born into life, grows, dies and extinct. This brings about the questions of the meaning and origin of life and death and why human death is the most authentic amongst the death of all the beings in existence. The quest to solve these issues causes controversy amongst people hence different opinions and beliefs erupt. The theme of this research is taken from the traditional Igbo background. It delves deeply into Igbo traditional world view to investigate their conceptual understanding of death and its effects on man as a being in the Igbo world. The research adopts the hermeneutic method to analyse the fundamental elements of Igbo cultural symbols and belief system that are related to death and its interpretation within the Igbo context. Through this, the research observes that: the Igbo concept of death is different from that of the other peoples of the world. Death in the language of the Igbo is called Ọnwụ. Unlike the Western conception of death as the total annihilation of human life, the Igbo believe there is life after death possibly with the ancestors in the spiritual realm. Death to the Igbo is not death as such; it is simply a transition, a change of life for a new life. In contradistinction to the Western vertical conception of death which calls for self perfection to inherit heaven, that of the Igbo is horizontal. This connotes communal relationship in which man perfects himself and others to attain ancestral status. The goal of life of every Igbo is to attain ancestral status. This calls that one must accomplish the required conditions of moral upright life, marriage procreation and receipt of rite of passage from one’s children. Igbo world view recognizes natural and unnatural death and each has its own implication on man as a being in the world. The natural type grants man the possibility of attaining ancestral status while it’s opposite makes man a victim of bad death and a loser of the said status. All manner of death in the Igbo world view is an effect of a particular supernatural cause. Whenever an Igbo dies, what one will hear is “they have killed”. This wrecks havoc and causes accusations and counter accusations amongst people. It generates tensions and violence in the family; it breaks family unity, causes conflict and underdevelopment. Having exposed the Igbo conceptual understanding of death and its implications on man as a social being, the research observes discrimination and ill-treatments in the set conditions for attaining the goal of life. In conclusion, the research debunks the Igbo concept of unnatural death and its effect on man. It argues that the set conditions of marriage, procreation and rite of passage from one’s children be set aside to use moral upright life as a yard stick for evaluating human qualification for attaining ancestral status.