The Non Ancestral Spirit & Gwandara Traditional Beliefs System

In the Gwandara lineage, the non-ancestral spirit in their beliefs system may be classified as spirits associated with the control of natural phenomena such as the earth, thunder or water spirits concerned with vital functions such as human reproduction, crop fertility and guardian spirits.


These spirits may be associated with individuals or with group. Of course, the total range outlined will rarely be found within one society, because the predominant interests and concerns of people are reflected in the number and type of spirits they worship. For example, the belief in spirits of thunder and lighting is found in forest areas in southern part of Nigeria but for the Gwandara people whom most of them are cultural in nature believe in a number of spirits concerned with plant fertility such as Okpoku and so on. The authority of the non-ancestral spirits is based on the principle of imminent justice (Ottenberg S., 1960). That is spirits response to the action of man is automatic and based on qualities in the deities. There is no doubt as to right and wrong, and the spirits, unlike the occasional reneged ancestors who may mistreat his descendants, are not subject to human caprice.


In ancient Gwandara settlements, way to good life, both material and non-material is aided by spirits that help the people cope with in dependability of nature and of a man (Evans-Prichard, 1937, Leichardt 1961). Conversely, spirits like the ancestors, work to preserve the social order by punishing wrong doers, causing them misfortune, illness and death. As there are different types and functions of spirits, there is also a variation in inter-relations between deities in ancient Gwandara Religious System.

The ancient Gwandara religious beliefs and practices from what is called Gwandara Cultural Heritage before the coming of Islam and Christianity to Gwandara land, they have deeply involved in traditional religion, they have the concept of the spiritual and super – natural beings which include a supreme being, “Obagiji”, their lesser deities are commonly called “Bako or Ogan’go Potochi”. There are also the belief in magic, the belief in non-spiritual force, magic, is an important part of religion in ancient Gwandara societies. Magic may be used to promote good or evil. Medicines often herbal in nature, are used both types. Charms and amulets are employed, in Gwandara and most of African societies toward off injury and evil. Spells may be uttered as part of magical procedures to activate the super natural processes thought to be inherent in the magician’s paraphernalia. Magic be used to manipulate people, as in the case or love portion or harmful medicines. It may be used to control spirits e.g. a Gwandara mother may obtain a talisman from a diviner to protect her sick child from the wrath of the ancestors. Furthermore, in Gwandara traditional societies, a common practice based on magical techniques is society, which bear resemblance to witchcraft and has often been confused with it.


The people of Gwandara had a concept of one God, a supreme being whom was and is believed to be omnipotent, unique creator, lord of all. The Gwandara people as earlier stated, they called Obagiji as God. To them Obagiji is the sustainer of the universe and all knowing which simply means that they believe on eternal great supreme deity who is called God in English and Allah in Islam. The supreme God is completely absolutely real to the in the ancient Gwandara people. It is this proving reality of His existence that brought the name of the supreme deity as Obagiji because no name is usually given to a non-existence enmity. However, its part of the monotheistic concept of the Supreme Being, there is presence of other deities in the Gwandara people’s worship. Therefore, their monotheism could be classified as having belief in the Supreme Being but to the persistency of the worship or other deities at the same time.

The Gwandara people use divinities and lesser deities as intermediary between man and God, which constitute the second class in the hierarchy of super human spiritual being which have created by the Supreme Being. God determined their vocation and functions for they are servants. They are invincible and are always represented by material object such as tress, stories, snakes and so no in which they reside and manifest their presence.


Reference: HRH, Dr. Sani Mohammed Bako III | Edited & Posted by: Musa Muhammed-Mustapha.

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