Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Prayer

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We honor and greet Our Chi (God within us)
We honor and greet Chineke (Creative aspect of God)
We honor and greet Ani (Earth Mother)
We honor and greet Igwe (Sky Father)
We honor all the Alusi who stand around to guide and guard us
We honor the Alusi of the four points, Eke, Orie, Afo, Nkwo

African-children-on-their-knees-praying

We pray they never abandon us or get weary of us
We pray we are always able to access them
We honor and greet our sacred ancestors
We call upon the ones who lived and died for our freedoms
We pray their memories will not be forgotten
We pray they forgive us for forgetting them a lot of the time
We pray they remain with us for the healing of our homes,
communities, and the planet


We greet the elemental life in the four elements of fire, air,
water and earth
We offer thanks for their efforts in healing the planet
We pray we can learn to work with them in healing our planet
In conclusion
We pray for all humanity, all plant life, all animal life and in fact
all matter to awaken
We pray for heaven and earth to meet and dance in perfect
harmony
Now and forever more
Ise!

Nwaonishe Ezenwanyi from Conversations with the African Gods

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“Conversations with the African Gods” Review

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Conversations with the African Gods

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of reviewing another book written by an Igbo author who goes by the name Nwaonishe Ezenwanyi, entitled Conversations with the African Gods. Many of you might be familiar with the similarly titled “Conversations with God” series, written by Neale Donald Walsch, in which he has a number of conversations with “God.” To say that this book is the African version of that would be an understatement. Conversations with the African Gods is a journey for anyone who reads it, on humanity’s past, present, and future, from an African point of view. For far too long, perspectives, philosophies, and religions have been placed into a  false dichotomy of being either Eastern or Western, with Africa being excluded.  This book challenges that false dualism and brings forth commentary on world events from African gods and ancestors.

False Dichotomy

The author begins by describing her personal journey.  Like many of us born during the African Dark Ages, she was raised as a Christian (specifically Catholic), but was still extremely curious about the other religious and spiritual traditions in the world. Her journey took her to exploring Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, amongst others. Eventually, after doing a lot of seeking and searching, her journey didn’t lead to her finding the “right” tradition, but to the tradition “finding” her. In fact, she  ended up  listening to the voices that had been calling her all along. She claimed her birthright and began practicing the spiritual science of her ancestors, Odinani.

Her spiritual awakening has also lead to her becoming aware of and developing different abilities such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc.  One of the most interesting gifts that she learned was how to invoke spirits.  The one that she was able to invoke the most was Onishe, who happened to be her “head deity”, or the one most in control of her life.  For that reason, she goes by the name Nwaonishe, which means a child of Onishe. She also happens to be the spirit that makes the most commentary. She opens up the dialogue by stating:

“I am a prophetess, a chosen one, selected apart by god/dess to speak the words of god/dess. I am manifestation of god/dess as I surrender each moment to my essential nature. I am speaker of life and death. Avenger for the just, the pure, the clean. There is only one Onishe and she is here and now, in you, and in many. I am the word. Atu. Word that forms everything. Logos. Mami Wata, Supreme Water, Essence liquid, Nut of Khemet. I am the word of Nut, the goddess of creation.”

Statue associated with Onishe in Asaba

While Onishe is the Igbo Alusi (spiritual force) that speaks the most, others also make their voices heard including Eke, Ikenga, Amadioha, Ani, and Anyanwu. Two other African Gods who are typically associated with Ancient Egypt also make substantial contributions: Ausar (Osiris) and Auset (Isis).

Ausar and Auset: Real Love

Contrary to popular belief, while  the gods of Ancient KMT (Egypt), especially Ausar and Auset, might have been popularized by that particular nation, they are actually much, much older than it and can be found all around the continent under different names and titles. This will be elaborated on in future posts.

These African Gods, as well as other ones including the popular ones made popular by Hinduism, Kali and Krishna (who both have names that mean “the Black One” ), as well Tehuti (Thoth) and Heru (Horus),  make commentary on a wide range of issues, including the ancient “Golden Age” civilizations of Atlantis and Lemuria, climate change, 2012, colonization, slavery, civil rights as well as the possible “Golden Age” to come. The discourse on how Africa (and Nigeria in particular) should structure their economies and governments to actually work for the benefit of the people (for once) is very enlightening, but is sure to shock a few people (Ikenga’s comments in particular).

Kali is not one to mess with

Commentary is made on the lives of difference ancestors as well, with some of them even commenting on where they are currently in the spiritual realm. Some of these ancestors include Fela Kuti, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Olaudah Equiano, and others.  I found Fela’s mother, Funmilayo’s statements in reference to the Fela play to be pretty funny.

Olaudah Equiano

Another added bonus to the book is the use not only of the Nsibidi symbols associated with the different Alusi, but also practical rituals that one can do to commune with the Ndichie (ancestors) and Alusi, as well as attract abundance in one’s life.  I totally recommend this book to all  people of African decent, but it can speak to anyone  interested in advancing on their spiritual path. To order the book, click here.

SPECIAL BONUS:

To hear an interview with the author, on Igbo Kwenu Radio, click here.

 

“Akata Witch” Review

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“Akata Witch” by Nnedi Okarafor

Imagine if Harry Potter were a she instead of a he? What if he was Nigerian instead of British? What if he were learning at Leopard Knocks instead of at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Enter Sunny, Nnedi Okorafor’s latest anti-Disney heroine. I say that she’s anti-Disney because unlike most Disney films, the main females in her stories serve not as damsels that need to be saved, but as the ones that do the saving. Furthermore, they have physical features that are typically considered to be undesirable by society, such as the protagonist Onyesonwu being biracial in her most previous work Who Fears Death, and Sunny being an albino in this one.

Same Script, Different Cast

Before we get into the contents of the book, let’s start with the name of the book first. What is an Akata? When I was growing up, I was taught that it was a slang (and somewhat derogatory term) that Nigerians used for African Americans. That was until I was referred to as one by a native born Nigerian. I then began to see that it could also be a term used to describe any black person born and raised in America. Like me, the protagonist Sunny was born and raised in the United States. At the age of nine, her family decides to move back to Nigeria. Like any girl, she feels out of place and spends the next couple of years trying to find her place,  when she finds out that her place is nothing like she imagined it to be. She discovers that she is a “Leopard person”, a person that is born with mystical abilities and she is has to undergo intense training to learn how to utilize her powers while still living amongst the “Lamb people”, or regular folks. One of the best things I loved about this book was the name dropping by the characters themselves of the books that had a large role in influencing this novel, including In the Shadow of the Bush by P. Amaury Talbot, Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton, and The Witches by Roald Dalhl.

“The Witches” by Roald Dahl

Different locations were also named, the significance of which will go unnoticed to the general population. One such location is referred to as being the African American “Leopard person” headquarters. This place is referred to as the Gullah Islands off the coast of South Carolina. This area is usually overshadowed by New Orleans, even though it has had a much larger impact on African American history, and mainstream American history. It also has retained more African culture and tradition (including the folk magic) than any other region in North America, but thats a discussion for another day.

The most creative literary element used by the author is the technique of having a “book within a book” (another very popular example being the  Necronomicon). As Sunny begins to learn and master her abilities, she reads from a book entitled Fast Agents for Free Agents by Isong Abong Effiong Isong.  The wonderful part is that the reader gets to also read from this short book. So instead of doing a typical review of  Akata Witch, I will actually do a review of the book within the book, and explain some of the terms used:

What is a Leopard Person?

“A leopard person goes by many names around the world. The term “Leopard person” is a West African coinage, derived from the Efik term “ekpe”, “leopard.” All people of mystical true ability are Leopard people. And as humankind has evolved, so have Leopard folk around the world organized…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

One of the real life “Leopard people” that the writer is referring to are the Ekpe society of southeastern Nigeria. This society, which was started by the Ekik people, spread through to the rest of the Ibibio, Oron, Igbo and Ekoi peoples.

Ekpe Society members during a procession in Arochukwu

The Ekpe Society was introduced to Igboland by the people of Arochukwu. In fact, their lodge is in my home village of Atani. In Igboland, the Ekpe Society usually went by the name Okonko.

Ekpe Lodge in Atani Village, Arochukwu

They were the premiere secret society in Southeastern Igboland, and the highest grades held alot of the secrets of the mystical arts, including the magical Nsibidi script.  An entire topic will be dedicated to discussing the Ekpe society and its legacy in the near future.

What is a Free Agent

“A free agent is one who isn’t privileged with even one pure Leopard spiritline from the survivors of the Great Attempt. She or he is a random of nature, a result of mixed up and confused spiritual genetics. Free agents are the hardest to understand, predict or explain. Learning will not come easy to you. you are a Leopard person only by the will of the Supreme Creator and as we all know, She isn’t very concerned with Her own creations.

After your initiation, make sure that someone is there to help you, for you will not be able to help yourself, so new the world will be to you and so fragile your ego. You’re likely an infant. You will be dumbfounded and disorientated. What’s most important is…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

Initiation, which simply means “beginning”, plays a huge role in Igbo culture, as well as with other cultures all over Africa. Traditionally, both men and women would receive multiple initiations at different points in their life.  A very good metaphor is employed by Okorafor when one of the character states: “Imagine that you are a computer that came with programs and applications already installed. In order to use them, they have to be activated; you have to , in a sense, wake it up. That’s what initiation is.”

Igbo boy being healed by a Dibia

Igbo boy being healed by a Dibia

What is chittim?

“Chittim is the currency of the Leopard people. Chittim are always made of metal (copper, bronze, silver, and gold) and always shaped like curved rods. The most valuable are the large copper ones, which are about the size of a dove’s egg. Least valuable are chittim made of gold. When chittim fall, they never do harm. So one can stand in a rain of chittim, and never get hit. There is only way to earn chittim; by gaining knowledge and wisdom. The smarter you become, the better you process knowledge into wisdom, the more chittim will fall and thus the richer you will be…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

The real life chittim that the author refers to are commonly known as manillas.  The most popular African name for manillas, Okpoho, comes from the Igbo language. They were used as currency (as well as worn as jewelry) all over West Africa, but particularly in southeastern Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea.

Okpohos

What are the Masquerades?

“Up to now you’ve known masquerades to be mere symbolic manifestations of the ancestors or spirits. Men and boys dress up in elaborate cloth and raffia costumes and dance, jeer, or joke depending on who they are manifesting. Up to now, you’ve believed masquerades to be nothing more than myth, folklore and tradition. Now that you are a Leopard person, know that your world has just become more real. Creatures are real. Ghosts, witches, demons, shape-shifters, and masquerades, all real. Masquerades are always dangerous. They can kill, steal your soul, take your mind, take your past, rewrite your future, bring the end of the world, even. As a free agent you will have nothing to do with the real thing, otherwise you face certain death. If you are smart you leave true masquerades up to those who know what to do with juju…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

The above statements say it all. Masquerades in Igboland are known as mmanwu. Here are some pictures of some of them. Some of them are people in costumes, but the older pictures might be real ones. We will never know for sure:

Agbogho Mmuo (Maiden Spirits)

Masquerade at Igbo Farm Village

Masquerade at Igbo Farm Village

Ijele Masquerade

Ijele Masquerade

The Ijele masquerade originated in Anambra state is known as the “King of all masquerades.” In ancient times, it had 45 masquerades perform on top of it, which are now represented by 45 figures. It was also used to scare away some of the early missionaries in Igboland. Masquerades made their way into the Diaspora, and can still be seen in modified forms in the Carribean Carnival celebrations:

Carnival Masquerade in Brooklyn, NY

Carnival Masquerade in Brooklyn, NY

Carnival Masquerade in Brooklyn, NY

Chapter 4: Your Abilities

“How to discover your ability: Its doubtful that you have the intelligence to figure out something so important. But here is something to think about: one’s ability lies with those things that mark him or her. They can be talents, like an affinity towards gardening or being able to play the guitar well. Often they are things that Lambs make fun of, imperfections. They can be physical, psychological, behavioral. And I do not mean things that are a result of your actions like being fat because you eat too much and sit and play video games all day…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

I really felt this was the most important chapter in the book. I truly feel that if more people did what they were naturally gifted at instead of trying to conform to the standards imposed on them by society, the world would be a drastically better place. By following these instructions, one could unlock their latent abilities, as Sunny and her cohorts were able to do. Who knows, you might even discover yourself to be a Leopard person 😉

Conclusion

“…So there you have it. All you need to know to get started. As I have repeated incessantly throughout this book, there is no direction you can turn that does not face you toward certain death. The best thing to do is be who you’ve been, don’t move, stay where you are, drop all ambition as a Leopard person. Relax. Don’t strive too high. Learn but do not use. And only learn the basics. It is best to remain in your protective shell. Ambition is not your friend. Be glad the Leopard world has been opened to you, but remain a mere spectator. And for the hundredth time, I repeat: “KEEP YOUR SECRET LIFE FROM YOUR LAMB RELATIONS AND ACQUAINTANCES. not only are there dire consequences for breaching secrecy, but you risk upsetting a very delicate, crucial hard earned balance. Now go well, free agent. Be well. And again I saw: Welcome…from Fast Facts for Free Agents

This book is an essential read for Leopard people who know that they are free agents,  free agents that think they are Lamb people, or for Lamb people who want to get a glimpse into the mystical and secret world of Leopard people. As of now, I cannot find any copies of Fast Facts for Free Agents, so the best way to get a glimpse of it would be by purchasing a copy of Akata Witch. It has an excellent story too 😀

Be sure to be on the lookout for an interview with the author  on Igbo Kwenu Radio in the near future.