Published On: Sun, Dec 3rd, 2023

The Worship Of Ancestral Spirits (Erivwin) In Urhobo Land


LAGOS DECEMBER 3RD (URHOBOTODAY)-The above topic is not only common or limited to the Urhobo people, but to other ethnic or tribal groups in Nigeria and across the African continent. 

Ancestral spirits which is called ‘Erivwin’ in Urhobo parlance is a major item or area of worship in the African traditional religion (ATR). No doubt, before the introduction of Christianity to many parts of Africa by the British missionaries, the Africans as black people were those that strongly believed in the worship and service of different mystical and spiritual beings like ancestral spirits, deities, water spirits, spiritual husbands and wives etc. 

Importantly, the service and worship of ancestral spirits is naturally common amongst the Urhobo people. It’s a traditional belief that is centred on the eternity of the soul of man as eternal being. 

The Urhobos believe that, the soul of man doesn’t die, but continue to live amongst his people at all times through the philosophical processes of reincarnation or second birth. According to this traditional belief, man is actually made up of two parts: the body and the soul. The body which is the physical part can die at any time while the soul which is the spiritual part do not die. Once the body dies, the soul can’t be seen again with our physical eyes because at that time, the dead person in question has now fully turned to be a spiritual being and will continue to live in the spiritual world. He can only be seen by physical beings that are spiritually gifted with spiritual knowledge.

These ancestral spirits in most cases are represented by totems and images as point of physical contact during worship and service. These totems and images are placed or kept in ancestral halls built for such purpose in most communities in Urhobo land.

Again, the service to these ancestral spirits is done in the form of veneration by offering a special Urhobo traditional gin called “Ogogoro” and two Urhobo delicacies called “Oghwo” and “Ukodo” to them from time to time or during special occasions in the family before presentation of prayers on needs or desires of family members or celebrants.

In actual truth, ancestral spirits in the African perspective are forebears or progenitors in families and communities. They were celebrated heroes in each families. In order to maintain and protect their legacies from extinction, they must be remembered by their children in such mystic services as the veneration of their living souls. Of important note, the veneration service to these ancestral spirits in such divine or special occasions in Urhobo land is naturally vested on the most elderly man, which must be in this case a paternal son of every extended family.



KDA Cultural Heritage Fact File.

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