Honoring your Ancestors


By Wise

“The Ndiichie (esteemed ancestor spirits) also held a high place in traditional Igbo society. Elders have always been revered in Igbo society, and even more so after they passed onto Be Mmuo (the land of the spirits). The Ndiichie would often be consulted to offer advice to their descendants and appeal to the Alusi on their behalf. Ndi Igbo have never worshiped their ancestors only venerated them, which is no different then what Catholics do to their saints or what every country does to its national heroes. Respect and honor for the Ndiichie was shown in one way by pouring of libations while chanting incantations. Ndi Igbo believed in the concept of reincarnation and felt that the Ndiichie often reincarnated back on Earth. In fact, all Mmadu (human beings) were believed to reincarnate seven or eight times, and that depending on your karma, one either ascends or descends into another spiritual plane” – Onyemobi

Obu Figures

Obu Figures

Ancestral veneration is a very ancient and common practice all over the world. The Igbo people have understood the importance of honoring the Ndichie (Venerated ancestors)  in order for the civilization to survive and progress from times immemorial. One of the reasons Igbos and Africans in general are in a state of damnation is because we have forgotten how to honor our ancestors.

Figure in an ancestral shrine

Figure in an ancestral shrine

Instead of developing our own culture as a people, we see Western culture as superior to our own and trap ourselves in an inferiority complex. Yes despite hardcore resistance against the Atlantic slave trade, British colonialism, and the Nigerian genocide against our people we ended up losing. Yes our Civilizations collapsed. Yes Nigeria continues to discriminate and oppress Igbo people. We have suffered a lot and nobody shall ever down play that. However, until we remember to honor our ancestors, we will continue on the path of self destruction our enemies have planted for us.

Uxurhe Ancestral Staffs

Uxurhe Ancestral Staffs

The Igbo people are one of the most ancient groups in the world. Like most African groups and civilizations in ancient times had advanced human consciousness, culture, knowledge, creativity, leadership, philosophy, science, and etc. True civilizations respect, honor, and live in accordance to Nature. We once understood the oneness of the Source/Creator (Chineke) with Creation and our relationship with Nature (Ani).

Ani in Mbari House

We honored and respected Ani. That is why we had rich societies and collective democratic leadership that lived by justice, order, peace, unity, and balance. Our ancestors built many ancient civilizations such as the Ugwelle (6000 BCE), Afikpo (3000 BCE), Nsukka (3000 BCE), UmuEri/UmuNri dynasties (500 BCE), Igbo Ukwu (900 CE), and etc. We developed sophisticated architecture such as the Nsude pyramids in Agbaja, Mbari structures, and etc. Igbos developed writing scripts such as Uli, Aniocha writing systems, Nsidibi, Ikwu, and many more. The level of knowledge and scientific (especially metaphysics) discoveries and practices done by the Igbo Civilizations is most likely beyond our imagination. We have a long history of achievements.

Igbo Ukwu Burial

In order for us Igbo people to really rebuild and progress, we must honor our ancestors. We shall not live exactly how our ancestors lived but revive the institutions they built that are applicable today and improve on it. How can you know what today and tomorrow will be if you don’t yesterday was? How can you know who you are if you don’t know who brought you here? The ancestors brought us here and as a mixture of all of them into one, we must know who they were to know who we are. We may say we are children of the ultimate source of all creation and life (Chineke). But through who are we children of Chineke? Who did Chineke give power to bring us into this world and gave life? The answer is our ancestors. Therefore, we must honor and respect them. To honor the ancestors is to honor ourselves and the ultimate ancestor/source of us all Chineke.  Chi (God) Bless

Land of the Rising Sun


12 responses »

  1. Pingback: From Odinani: The Sacred Science of Igbo People ~ ‘Honoring Your Ancestors’ « A Genetic Migration Story of a Nigerian Igbo

  2. Beautiful my brotha. Keep putting out this info abou our traditional practices & customs. We have to continue trying to break the shakles of mental slavery that was placed on our people by our enemies. Good job my brother.

  3. Well written, informative. You are absolutely right that we have forgotten to how to honor our ancestors. Even the ancestors that endured the slave trade, jim crow etc require veneration as well. Part of the reason why as a people we seem to lack direction and vision is because of the disconnect we have with the past. Keep up the work!

  4. Yes, Jesus is an ancestor. We all need a rethink vis a vis who we are and where we are at, with regard to these modern religions and our ancient/native traditions. Some time ago in 2009, Prof Catherine Acholonu gave an interview to the Nigerian Compass Newspaper insisting that the millions of Igbo people who died in the Nigerian civil war are yet to be remembered and honoured. The country honours the ‘unknown soldier’ every year and all around the East, no one remembers to honour the millions who died in the war. She said that the Igbo people in power are cheating themselves and the collective consciousness of the tribe if they continue to disregard the fact that those whose lives were cut short either in the battle field, in the refugee camps, by malnutrition or disease are crying out to be remembered by the living. She said they need our prayers to move on and that without this, they will continue to hunt our future as wandering spirits with no place among the living or the dead. Is this perhaps one of the reasons that Nigerians in general and Ndi Igbo in particular are still groping in the dark despite great potentials?

  5. Udee,
    what is the significance of the Land of The Rising Sun photo for the Igbo? I feel connected to Chineke in working with Renewable Energy and Environmental Programs. r/ JOe

  6. Ya my dear well done, this made me feel as if something has been missing among the igbo’s for a very long time, hope that you keep putting out these images for those who have not seeing it before, good work. keep it on. Chninanu

  7. Still so relevant especially during sensitive times like now in Nigeria, there’s a lot of reflection we need to do as a people, we need to look backwards with our current wisdom and adapt good practices done then, this in its our own way would honour our ancestors.

  8. Western tradition has over-taken our mind, head and heart. Foreign has eaten deeper into us.

    Now they deal with us as they desire in the name of westernization and Christianity. Nigerians use the opportunity to enrich themselves in the name of church.

    They make us believe we are worshipping idol but brought whiteman idol to us so we threw away our ancestral worship and even feed our heads with foreign lifestyle such as white wedding, which Nigerians now concentrate on while playing down on traditional marriage.

    They took all our ancestral materials, destroyed all obu in the name of bringing jesus that we don’t know.

    Even all the ancestral honours that make a land progress and yield better farming harvest are all abandoned.

    I don’t see any good coming from the white that once captured their fellow humans, sold and bought them as slaves except a neo-colonialism.

    I belie e in one and only supreme God (Chineke) and my ancestral angels assigned to my bloodline, which they told us are idols. I pray to God and honour all my ancestors. No need for any pastor to pray for me.

    There is urgent need for a turn around in this land. Christianity is now scam and money-hu gry religious body who also preach against love for money.

    This article is very expository. I will beg that I copy, modify positively in your direction and share.

    Please reach me, I need to connect with people of like minds like you

    God bless you

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