Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Re-Emerging Scam: A Review of The Jews of Nigeria Part 2

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In the last part of this article, I gave an overview on the history of the failed “Oriental Hypothesis” that has re-emerged in this modern day immigration scam. The filmmaker, Jeff Lieberman deceived people into thinking that Igbo people have been in the dark for all these years about where they come from. In fact, he goes so far as to state early in the film that:

“It is only recently with the arrival of the internet that things began to change. Young Igbo like Samuel began researching their roots and comparing Igbo traditions with Hebrew traditions.” – Jeff Lieberman

This of course ignores the various debates that took place in the early 1900s, and the fact that “by 1940 then, the Oriental hypothesis was to all intents and purposes dead as a serious explanation of Igbo culture history.”

SOURCE: “The Culture History of the Igbo Speaking Peoples of Nigeria” by Adiele Afigbo,West African Culture Dynamics: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives, page 309

But what I intend on doing in this part is to take a look at each of the claims that are made in the film and test the veracity. The results of my research have been posted below, as well as the title of each source used. Furthermore, many of the books and articles have been uploaded to this site for everyone to be able to see them for themselves. It has taken me a few years to build up my collection of Igbo related documents and books,  and it took me a few months in order to be able to put this all together. I would urge those who are truly interested in learning Igbo history and culture to take the time to read the sources and come to their own conclusions. The topics that will be evaluated will be the following: Traditions of Origin, Eri, Migration Routes, Circumcision, Kosher Diet Customs, Sabbath & Other Holy Days and Concept & Names of God.

1. TRADITIONS OF ORIGIN

According to the “Igbo Jews” most Igbos are aware of their “Jewish origin”. Samuel even goes so far as to say that he’s “always known that Igbos are Jews.” However, just a few second later he says the following:

“I can’t imagine myself practicing Judaism without going to the Internet cause I go there to study.” – Samuel

How in fact could this be the case? If he was truly interested the traditional religion of the Igbo people, then why didn’t he consider going to the Igbo traditional priests who have a wealth of knowledge of those traditions? They aren’t hard to find. In fact, you can even find them given interviews and press releases for local Nigerian newspapers.

Traditional Priest of Umueri

Traditional Priest of Umueri

What about the local universities, which have published an abundance of academically sound research papers?  What about his own parents? Certainly that’s the primary source of the vast majority of people to learn about their ancestral traditions right? Why does he have to resort to going to random internet links to find out about his own origins?

“Samuel is looking towards Israel as the birthplace of his ancestors. Its a notion he and so many other young Igbo first heard growing up in Nigeria, an oral history passed down through generations of the Igbo people” – Jeff Lieberman

Exactly what oral history is Lieberman speaking of?  Of which communities and how many generations? Lets compare this statement to some pronounced scholarship on this issue:

“In the Igbo area, three different types of traditions of origins can be distinguished. The first claims that the community concerned migrated from an important kingdom outside the Igbo area, such as Benin or Igala. The second claims that the community migrated from a place within the Igbo area, while the last type typically claims that the community migrated from nowhere. Scholars have used these traditions of origin in two different ways: either to come to conclusions as to where the Igbo as a group came from, or to decide on the relative importance of the different groups within the Igbo area”

SOURCE: “Who are the Igbo? – Searching for Origins” by Dmitri van den Bersselaar, page 40

Does this have any truth at all? Lets take a look at sample of some of the major clans and areas of Igboland:

Aboh – Migrants from Benin Empire
SOURCE:  “Views on the Origins, Structure and Hierarchy of Some Niger Delta Mud Sculpture Styles of Southern Nigeria” by  Ese Odokuma (Department of Fine / Applied Arts, Faculty of Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, P.M.B 1 Nigeria)

Agbor – Migrants from Benin Empire
SOURCE:  “Views on the Origins, Structure and Hierarchy of Some Niger Delta Mud Sculpture Styles of Southern Nigeria” by  Ese Odokuma (Department of Fine / Applied Arts, Faculty of Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, P.M.B 1 Nigeria)

Abiriba – Migrants from other parts of Igboland & Enna (Efikland)
SOURCE: Nigerian History, Politics, And Affairs: The Collected Essays Of Adiele Afigbo  By Adiele Eberechukwu Afigbo & Toyin Falola, page 132

Afikpo (Ehugbo) – Migrants from Egu & Nkalu Igbo groups
SOURCE: “Origin of Afikpo (Ehugbo)” By Gabriel Mbey

Arochukwu clan (responsible for over 100 settlements in Nigeria) – Migrants from the Igbo heartland, Cross Rivers area, Ekoiland and natives from Ibibioland
SOURCE: The Slave Trade and Culture in the Bight of Biafra: An African Society in the Atlantic World by G. Ugo Nwokeji, pages 26-27

Anioma clan- Migrants from Nri, Ogboli, & Nteje groups of Igbo, and Benin Kingdom
SOURCE: “Anioma” by Emeka Esogbue

Adazi-Nnukwu – Did not come from anywhere, and sprang from the earth
SOURCE: Traditional Igbo Beliefs & Practices by Professor IK N Ogbukagu

Asaba – Migrants from Awka group of Igboland, Igalaland & Benin Kingdom
SOURCE: “The Traditional Government and Institutions of Asaba” – Asaba National Association,USA

Egbuoma – Migrants from Umuehi & Umu-uzu villages in Igboland
SOURCE: The Paragon of Civilization by Sylvanus A Enworom, page 33

Ekpeye (Akpaohia) clan – Migrants from Benin Empire & other parts of Igboland
SOURCE: “Ekpeye History”– Usama Ekpeye USA, Inc

Ika clan – Migrants from Benin Empire, Ishan & other parts of Igboland
SOURCE: “The Ika People” by Onyeche Ifeanyi Joseph, PhD

Mbaise clan – Created by God in their current land (Orie-Ukwu Oboama na Umunama to be exact)
SOURCE:  African Christianity Rises Volume One: A Critical Study of the Catholicism by David Asonye Ihenacho, page 8

Neni – Settlers from Umudioka in Igboland
SOURCE: “The Politics of Igbo Origin & Culture” by Dr. Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe

Nnewi – Migrants from Orlu in Igboland
SOURCE:  Structure Plan for Nnewi & Satellite Towns by UN-HABITAT, page 19

Ngwa – The Igbo village of Umunoha (near Owerri) in Igboland
SOURCE: Palm Oil and Protest: An Economic History of the Ngwa Region, South-Eastern by Susan M. Martin, page 18

Ogba – Migrants from Benin Empire
SOURCE: “Ali Ogba History” – UmuOgba-USA

Oka (Awka) – They grew out of the soil
SOURCE:  Who are the Oka people by Nevbechi Emma Anazovba, P.h.D, page 15

Orlu clan – No traditions of coming from any other place
SOURCE:  The Igbo of Southeast Nigeria by Victor C Uchendu

Okigwe clan – No traditions of coming from any other place
SOURCE:  The Igbo of Southeast Nigeria by Victor C Uchendu

Oguta – Migrants from Benin Empire
SOURCE:  “Oguta Traditions” – Oguta National Association, USA

Onicha (Onitsha) – Migrants from Benin Empire
SOURCE:  “Views on the Origins, Structure and Hierarchy of Some Niger Delta Mud Sculpture Styles of Southern Nigeria” by  Ese Odokuma (Department of Fine / Applied Arts, Faculty of Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, P.M.B 1 Nigeria)

Owerri – Migrants from Umuori Village, Uratta in Igboland
SOURCE:  “History of Owerri”  from the Palace ( Ibari) of Eze Owere His Majesty Pharm. (Dr) Emmanuel Emenvonu Niemanze Ozuruigbo of Owerri

Ukwuani – Oguta village in Igboland
SOURCE:  Studies in Ibo Political Systems: Chieftaincy and Politics in Four Niger States by Ikenna Nzimiro, page 237

Uratta – No history of coming from anywhere else
SOURCE: “Historical Promenade on Uratta” by Professor Felix K. Ekechi

Umueri (Aguleri, Nri, Enugwu-Ukwu, Enugwu-Umeh, Nawfia, Nnokwa, Oraerim, etc) clan – Igalaland
SOURCE: The History of Aguleri by M.C.M, Idigo, page 5

Alaigbo

Its clear from this sample of some of the major areas in Igboland that all of these communities claim descent from:
A. Other parts of Igboland
B. Neighboring ethnic groups & kingdoms
C. The earth itself

So exactly what are the communities that have “oral traditions” of Israelite ancestry? And if so, how old are these “oral traditions”?

Jeff Lieberman then goes on to make a very revealing statement. He states the following:

“What simplified the ease of transitioning into this Judaism was that it was somewhat familiar to Samuel. Prayers were made in the name of Jesus. And many of the evangelical elements of Christianity were blended into Judaism, making it palatable to once-Christians. But yet this mixture of Judaism and Christianity made it theoretically completely contradictory. Despite that, the Messianic or Sabbatarian movement remains quite popular in Nigeria, seemingly attracting large fund and large amounts of people. It was a wrong turn for Samuel, and many once Christians, but one quite common on the Nigerian road to Judaism.” –  Jeff Lieberman

Later in the film, one of the Igbo Jews also reveals the path that they took:

“Six years ago we started from Messianic, before we grow up to practicing Judaism.” Elder Habbakuk

If people in Nigeria decide to convert to Judaism, the only thing they would be returning to would be the roots of CHRISTIANITY, not of their native religions, which are still being practiced to this day. This is further demonstrated by the statement of one of the neighbors of Habbakuk who says:

“I used to be very scared of him, because of the religion. I don’t know the kind of religion, my first time of seeing such religion” – Johnleo Raymond

Every Nigerian knows exactly how their native religion looks like (even enough to put them in Nollywood films), so why would this woman claim that this was the first time of her seeing “such a religion” like this unless of course it was foreign?

2. ERI

One of the most “convincing” pieces of “evidence” that the Igbo Jews have to offer for their Israelite origin is that they are descended from a man named Eri, who happens to share the same name as one of the sons of the Biblical Gad. They give all types of details about this man named Eri:

“According to the history, Eri is the forefather, the ancestor that we had. He came with his brothers down to the East and established his first home.” – Igbo Jewish man

“In exploring a Jewish connection, many Igbo also point out that a figure named Eri is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. To determine if the Igbo ancestor could be the same Eri of Biblical times, we can gain a few facts from the Old Testament.  Jacob had 12 sons, the 7th son was named Gad. Gad himself had 7 sons,  the fifth by the name of Eri .  Eri is only mentioned in one other place in the Bible, in Numbers, reveleaving that Eri had himself multiplied, and Gad and his descendants now numbered over 40,000. Jacob and his 12 sons, and his vast number of descendants became the 12 tribes of Israel. 10 of these tribes, including that of Gad,  made home in Samaria, today the northern part of present day Israel. In the year 722 B.C, the tribes were attacked by Assyria, and quickly conquered. Sent into exile, they scattered throughout the land. And it is here that we lose track of the 10 lost tribes Including Gad, Eri and their families. Could Eri and his descendants have ended up in Western Africa? In Nigeria, the belief is yes. And there are many theories on just how they got there.” – Jeff Lieberman

When you visit Aguleri, Nri, there’s many evidence to show that is where they first, our ancestors migrated to” – Igbo Jewish man

The palace of Eri, has stayed over a thousand plus.” – Yermiyahu

Its a small house they built for a man. That’s what they mean – Aguleri.”

There’s burial ground of Eri, in Aguleri.” – Yermiyahu

Maybe the person that came is the descendant of Eri. It could be Eri, it could be the descendant of Eri. But all I know is that the lineage of Eri came down to Nigeria” – Igbo Jewish man

Does the Biblical Eri have any relationship whatsoever to the one spoken of here? Lets see:

a. They are separated by thousands of years

The Biblical Eri would have lived nearly 3000 years ago, while the Nigerian one lived a few hundred years ago (which is even admitted by one of the Igbo Jews)

b. They are separated by thousands of miles

The distance between modern day Nigeria & modern day Israel is over 4000 kilometers (2500 miles)

Isreal-Nigeria

c. The pronunciations of their names are completely different

The pronunciation of the Nigerian Eri is “Air-EE”

The pronunciation of the Hebrew Eri is “Air-Eye”

SOURCE: BIBLICAL PRONUNCIATION GUIDE compiled by Lana Beyer, Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Austin, TX

d. The stories about them are completely different

“The Umundri tradition is that they come from the ruling stock of the Igala and are thus connected with the Atah of Idah”

SOURCE: Jeffreys, MDW, The Divine Umunri King: Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul., 1935), pp. 346-354

“The Aguleri people originated from Igara (sic) and migrated to their present abode about three or four centuries ago. The leader Eri, a warrior, took his people on a war expedition, and after long travel and many fights, established his camp at Eri-aka, near odanduli stream, a place which lies between Ifite and Igbezunu Aguleri. Eri, with his soldiers, went out regularly from his settlement to Urada, Nnadi and other surrounding towns on war raids and captured many of the inhabitants. These were the Ibo-speaking people and by mixing with them and inter-marriage, the immigrants adopted the language.”

SOURCE: The History of Aguleri by M.C.M, Idigo, page 5 (Published in 1955)

“According to the tradition of the Nri themselves, a man of Igala stock from Idah called Eri, son of Achado, a native doctor and hunter, came down the Omambala River in search of the River at a place later called Aguleri (Aguleri Igbo), and begat a number of children, to whom he passed on the secrets of his arts. His eldest son, who succeeded to the paraphernalia of his trade, was called Nriifikwuanim.”

SOURCE: The Awka People by Amanke Okafor,  page 53

Its pretty safe to say that these two people have NO RELATIONSHIP WHATSOEVER, and linking is another fraudulent attempt to fabricate an Israelite lineage.

3. MIGRATION ROUTES

One of the most entertaining segments of the film was where some of the Igbo Jews attempted to explain how their ancestors ended up in Nigeria:

“I know from birth I’m a Jew, only I know that my forefathers missed the way. They missed the way by coming down to Nigeria and decided to behave like Nigerians. We are not Nigerians, I am sure of that” – Igbo Jewish woman from Nnewi

“The 10 lost tribes of Israel are scattered all over the world. And they believe some of them will be in Africa, Western Africa.” – Samuel

“Well Israel is not far away from Nigeria…very close to Nigeria. They enter Ethiopia, enter Cameroon, and Cameroon with our place.”

“Through Asia, and now they migrated to….through Sudan to Africa.”

“I don’t want to sound racist. If I saw Abraham is Black, then I’ll be saying his white descendants are not his descendants. And if I say he’s White, then I may be saying he cannot have Black descendants. So I think it has to do with environmental factors.” – Samuel

“When the Jerusalem was destroyed, and we were  dispersed,  we set-up…stayed in Egypt. then Ethiopia, and the travel continued until we find ourselves scattered all over the place.”

“It was a mixed bag of Israelites, that migrated down here. They moved..majority..moved from North Africa, Morocco, passed through Mali, Northern Nigeria, entire length of Nigeria, then Igboland. In not very very ancient times, the traffic between Africa south of the Sahara, and north of the Sahara was quite immense. The Sahara desert was not a barrier. There was serious traffic. We are seeing evidence that Jewish people participated in the foundations of some of the empires that existed in Sub-saharan Africa. We have Judar Pasha. I don’t think anyone but a Jew could have answered the name Judar Pasha. He lead Morocco’s armies against the Songhai Empire. So its more likely for Jews to be participating in the traffic, in the trade” – Remy Ilona

Not only can they not get a coherent story together (coming through different routes as well as time periods hundreds of years apart), but its pretty clear that they are making up the stories as they go along. And not good stories either. To explain the dramatic difference in phenotype between Middle Easterners & Sub-saharan Africans, Samuel insinuates that their skin must have gotten darker as they moved closer to the equator (which sounds pretty racist by the way). The woman from Nnewi claims that she’s not from Nigeria and that her forefathers got lost and miraculously ended up in Nigeria. For some odd reason, her Nnewi ancestors forgot to mention that in their oral history when they stated they came from Orlu in Igboland. She goes on to claim that “Israel is not very far away away from Nigeria”, despite it being over 4000 kilometers (2500 miles) apart, and separated by the largest desert, most inhabitable in the world. The same desert that was able to keep the Roman, Ottoman, & Macedonian empires from penetrating further than North Africa was not really much of a barrier at all, according to Remy Ilona. He also makes the claim that Judar Pasha must have been Jewish because of his name, despite the fact that he was a Spaniard who was born a Catholic but then converted to Islam.

But the most damning question is that if Igbo people are descendants of Jews who migrated from Israel, why don’t they have any type of relationship with any of the other groups in Africa that claim the same thing such as the Lemba of Zimbabwe, Beta Israel of Ethiopia, or Yibir of Somalia? Why is that that until now, they had never heard of such groups although its pretty clear that if their narratives were true, that they would have either been part of them at some time or at least encountered them? And if they did come from the Sephardic populations in Northern Africa, why is there record of such a migration on either end? Furthermore, why don’t any of their surrounding neighbors have any stories of wandering Hebrews or Jews passing through their land? The only people in Nigeria that share some of the migration routes that the Igbo Jews are claiming would be the Fulani people, who have populations in West, Central, North and East Africa.

4. CIRCUMCISION

Probably the argument that is used the most as “proof” of a Jewish origin of Igbo people is the fact that they circumcise their infant males:

“People who generally mention that Igbo people came from Israel talk about circumcision on the 8th day, which is universal among the Igbos” – Igbo Jewish man

Unfortunately, what they forgot to mention is the fact that circumcision on the 8th day is NOT universal in Igboland. There are places like Afikpo where it could be done as late as the teenage years. But when it was done in Igboland, the delay was typically 1-8 days after birth. The delay of both the circumcision and naming of the child in Igbo culture was done mainly because of the high infant mortality rate in the days before colonialism, and that practice was shared amongst many African groups.  There is no covenant whatsoever mentioned when the rite is done, and the foreskin is not even preserved, as it often is in the Jewish rite. Furthermore, the burial of the umbilical cord (Ili Alo) actually has far more significance than circumcision and actually does represent a covenant, between the child and Ala (the Earth deity), as well as the ancestors. Furthermore, they also intentionally leave out that both MALE & FEMALE circumcision was a part of the traditional society until recently, which is certainly not apart of the Levitical code.

SOURCE: “Infancy Rites among the Igbo of Nigeria” by Christian Onyenaucheya Uchegbue (Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, University of Calabar, Nigeria)

Unfortunately, female circumcision is one aspect of the tradition that’s still being practiced to this day, with figures estimating that nearly half of women reportedly still undergoing it.

SOURCE: “Female genital cutting in southern urban and peri-urban Nigeria: self-reported validity, social determinants and secular decline” by R. C. Snow, T. E. Slanger, F. E. Okonofua, F. Oronsaye and J. Wacker.  Tropical Medicine and International Health volume 7 no 1 pp 91±100 january 2002

Last but not least, the two methods of circumcision are extremely different. Especially since in the Orthodox Jewish circumcision tradition, the mohel (the Jewish priest doing the circumcision rite) performs what is known as metzitzah b’peh, or oral suction, where they takes a mouthful of wine and then his mouth around the base of the boy’s penis and uses suction to clean the wound. This is ritual is not done anywhere in Igboland. A rabbi explains this practice in this video:

This practice has recently been the center of some controversy in New York Ciy.

5. KOSHER DIET CUSTOMS

Another claim that is made amongst the Igbo Jews is that they share the same dietary customs as those prescribed in the Levitical code:

“As a child, my father taught us, we do not eat these fishes without scales, how did he know that? We don’t eat pigs, how did he know that?” – Igbo Jewish woman

The following is a list of the foods that Igbos traditionally have eaten that are specifically banned in the book of Leviticus:

“Unpure” animals that Igbos eat:
Snail (ejuna), Lizard (Ngwele), Bush pig (Ezi ofia/ohia), Crayfish (Isha/usha), Crab (Igbeni, nshiko), Beetle (ebe), Rabbit (ewi)

The following is a list  he foods that Igbos traditionally have eaten that are NOT specifically banned in the book of Leviticus, but would have been, because of their characteristics:

Unnamed “unpure” animals that Igbos eat:
Squirrel (Osa/Osia, Uze, Ukpepe), Dog (Nkita), Hyena (Edi), Snake (Agwo), Porcupine (Ebinitu)

SOURCE: “Igbo Traditional Food System: Documentation, Uses and Research Needs”, Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14

As one can see, the traditional Igbo clearly diet violates the Kashrut, which is the Jewish dietary law. Ironically, Samuel actually confirms this when he states the following:

“Grasscutters. They are a kind of rodent. They are like rats, but they are larger, and they live in the wild. So its a very popular meat in Africa, especially in the Igboland. We call it Nchi. And it is believed that when you have a guest, and you give him grasscutter, you’ve really honored your guest. But its not Kosher, so I stopped eating it. We still eat our African food but we make it Kosher” – Samuel

Greater Cane Rat, a traditional Igbo delicacy

Greater Cane Rat, a traditional Igbo delicacy

The fact that Samuel admits that they have to make their traditional food “kosher” means that the whole concept is one that is not native to their culture. The same woman who lied about the kosherness of Igbo foods tried to make an argument for ritual slaughter being the same way as done in Judaism:

“Even the way we kill our animals, which is killed in a kosher way” – Igbo Jewish woman

“Ritual cleansing – using of birds, animal sacrifice, they slaughter” – Igbo Jewish woman

However, this is negated by the fact that (a) the animals that are killed aren’t “kosher” and (b) ritual cleansing is a worldwide phenomenon.

6. SABBATH & OTHER HOLY DAYS

A common trait amongst all Jewish communities worldwide is the observation of a day of rest on the 7th day of the week. One of the Igbo jews makes an extremely misleading statement in the film:

“In Igboland we have resting days” – Igbo Jewish woman

What she is saying is in fact true. Igboland still does have resting days. The only problem is that there was no such thing as a Shabat (Sabbath) in Omenala. In fact, Igbos didn’t even have a 7 day week, they had a 4 day week (comprised of Eke, Orie, Afor, and Nkwo respectively). The “sacred day” not only differed by town, but also was particular to the deity in which a person was dedicated to. For example, devotees of Amadioha or Anyanwu would perform certain rituals on Afor day. Devotees of Owumiri spirits like Ogbuide or Urashi would perform their rituals on Orie day.  Titled men and women also had their respective days of rest and meditation.

SOURCE: “Worship in Ibo Traditional Religion” by Edmund Ilogu (Numen, Vol. 20)

Another interesting statement is made by Jeff Lieberman:

“Whether its Shabat or Jewish holidays like Sukkot and Passover, each is greeted by Igbo gathering together from all corners” – Jeff Lieberman

What’s ironic about Lieberman’s statement is the fact that when goes and analyzes festivals and holidays in Igboland, you will not find any that trace their origin to Israel or relate to any historical events of the Jewish people. Celebration of Jewish holidays such as Hanukkah, Purim, Sukkrot, Shavuot, or Pesach are completely foreign to Igbo culture. Stories about the Exodus from Egypt, Destruction of the Temple, exiles to Persia, Babylon, etc are completely absent from Igbo mythology and folklore.

The vast majority of traditional Igbo festivals are related to agricultural cycles, culminating in the largest of all, the New Yam Festival. As stated in Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Igbo Traditional Agriculture:

“Traditional festivals in Igboland are mostly linked to stages in the farming operations and activities. They therefore serve as the farmer’s calendar of events both within the farm and off the farm. They mark the period of procurement of planting materials and farm implements, the time to tend the crops, the time to harvest and store farm produce, and the time to relax and celebrate any success achieved during the farming year. The sequence of events that take place in the farming system is aligned with the different festivals that take place during the year. The traditional Igbo society does not have any names of months, rather it is the festivals and the times they are held that guide them in their farming operations.”

SOURCE: Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Igbo Traditional Agriculture by Francis O C Nwonwu page 301

Examples of some of these festivals include the Festival of the New Year (Ikpuko), the Festival of the Grasshopper(Agugu ukpana), the New Yam Festival (Ufioioku, Iri ji, Ikeji), the Asala Festival, the Palm wine tappers Festival (Agbu Nkwu), etc. Agricultural deities are thanked during all of the aforementioned festivals. Other festivals that are dedicated to traditional Igbo deities include the Olisa, Agwu, Ekwensu, Ani & Ikenga festivals.  Festivals dedicated to women include the Ogbe Festival. Other festivals include the Ufala festival, the Alo festival for Ozo titleholders, & the Alulo Mmuo festival.

SOURCE: Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Igbo Traditional Agriculture by Francis O C Nwonwu Chapter 12

An integral part of nearly all of these festivals is the presence of masquerades. Mmanwu, as they are called in Igboland are performed by secret societies and represent ancestral spirits as well as deities. During the festivals, they provide entertainment as well as protection to those in attendance. This central part of Igbo culture is not found anywhere in Judaism or Jewish society.

7. CONCEPT & NAMES OF GOD

Several attempts in the film are made to equate the concepts of the Supreme Being in Judaism with the one in the Igbo tradition.

In the beginning of the film, Samuel states: “My parents are not Christians, neither are they Muslims. Like my father, I know he only believes that there is God, and when he wakes up, he prays to God and that is all. I’ve never seen my parents go to church.” But what is really telling is what he does not say. Samuel never once goes and states the name that his father used for God. Was it Hashem? Was it Jehovah? Or was it Chukwu, Chineke or Obasi, which are some of the traditional names of God in Igbo listed below:

42 Igbo names & epithets for the Supreme Being:

Chukwu – The Great Chi (Edeh, pg 133)
Aka – The Origin, the Antiquity and the First One (Umeh, pg 129)
Okasi-Akasi – The Highest Highest (Edeh, pg 121)
Okike Chi – Sharer that shares Chi (Umeh, pg 129)
Obasi – (Onunwa, pg 27)
Ife-Anyi – For whom nothing is impossible (Edeh, pg 122)
Okike Uwa – Creator of the World (Umeh, pg 129)
Onwa n’etiri oha – The moon that shines for all (Udoye, pg 39)
Awuwa walu ife – Cutter that cuts things (Umeh, pg 130)
Eze-Igwe – King of Heaven (Edeh, pg 121)
Na Okike kelu ife – Creator that creates things (Umeh, pg 130)
Okaike – Most Powerful (Edeh, pg 122)
Anyanwu na Agbala – The Sun & the Mighty Spirit that holds the world in place (Agu, pg 23)
Ofu – The First of all that exists (Umeh, pg 130)
Chineke – (Edeh, pg 33)
Onye no n’elu, ogodo ya n-akp n’ala – One who dwells above and his wrapper stretches to every part of the world (Onunwa, pg 27)
Odenigbo – Whose fame resounds everywhere (Edeh, pg 122)
Ezechitaoke – King of the spirits & creation (Onunwa, pg  45)
Omacha – (Edeh, pg 33)
Anya Ukwu Na-Ele Uwa – The big eye that sees the entire world (Onunwa, pg 27)
Chidiokike – (Edeh, pg 33)
Eze-ogholigho-anya – King of knowledge who knows all (Edeh, pg 122)
Anyanwu – Eye of Light (Edeh, pg 125)
Obibie Okwachi – Great destroyer & repairer (Onunwa, pg 27)
Eke-ji-mma – Creator who holds goodness (Edeh, pg 122)
Ikpo Nkpume – The impregnable rock (Onunwa, pg 27)
Ike-ife – Bringing into being, originating or causing without pre-existent material (Edeh, pg 122)
Onye-Okike – Being who creates (Edeh, pg 121)
Ife – The Light (Umeh, pg 135)
Omelu-k’okwulu – Who keeps to his words (Edeh, pg 122)
Nna Ife Nta – The Father of the Small Light (Umeh, pg 135)
Otu Aka Oru Mba – One who points from one spot and it stretches to any part of the universe (Onunwa, pg 26)
Obasi Di’Elu – God that Lives in the Sky (Umeh, 133)
Igwe ka Ala – Heaven above the earth (Udoye, pg 39)
Chukwu Abiama – God the Revealer of Wisdom (Umeh, pg 135)
Olisa (Edeh, pg 33)
Olisa Ebili Uwa – God the mystic tide of the Universe (Umeh, pg 133)
Osebuluwa – Lord who carries the world (Edeh, pg 122)
Agbala ji igwe – The pillar holding up the sky (Udoye, pg 39)
Eke ekelu Igwe na Ana – The Creator who created heaven and earth  (Udoye, 37)
Amassi Amassi – Known but never fully known (Edeh, pg 122)
Onozu-ebe-nine – Present everywhere (Edeh, pg 122)

Why are there no names or titles that resemble any of the Jewish names or titles for God?

SOURCES:

Resolving the Prevailing Conflicts Between Christianity and African (Igbo) Traditional Religion Through Inculturation by Edwin Anaegboka Udoye

After God is Dibia Vol. 1 by John Umeh

Towards an Igbo Metaphysics by Father Emmanuel Edeh

A Handbook of African Religion & Culture by Professor Udobata Onunwa

The Book of Dawn & Invocations by Ogonna Agu

Besides comparing the names and titles, we must also consider the nature of God in both traditions.

“The Igbo people, by nature and tradition, they believe in the worship of one God” – Pinchas

Is this the whole truth? Lets hear from a famous practitioner of the Igbo traditional spirituality:

“Broadly speaking, there are two related concepts of God: Chineke, and Chi.

The first idea is the Supreme Being, God, the Creator, the universal God. He is the same for all persons and races and nations. He has no angels or holy messengers because he needs none. He can do everything. He created the whole cosmos alone and without fatigue. He is not human and does not possess an animal nature that would need food and drink; our sacrifices are symbolic. No one has ever seen him physically and no artist dare portray Him in wood, bronze, or painting. He is a spirit and communicates to man not in body but in spirit.

We believe that man is different from lower animals only in one primary sense: God left in every man a portion of his breath. When this element leaves the edifice called man, the residue is a mere matter. From this belief we derive our idea of personal gods, called Chi in Ibo (Igbo) language. There are as many Chi as there are personalities. No one Chi is like another, because no two persons are identical. A rich man’s Chi is rich and a poor man’s Chi is poor. A man’s Chi is masculine while a woman’s Chi is feminine. A man’s Chi is equal to that man. This personal god does not leave its master until death. It is a personal guard to which God entrusted every human being.

It is a common saying that a man is as great as his Chi. Thus in art, the personal god of a baby is represented as a baby. This god is visible through the individual persons. Hence it is not an invisible being, although it cannot be separated from the person without causing death to the individual. This is the concept of Igbo spirituality which has been most seriously misunderstood and misrepresented both by foreigners and some Igbo who are trying to interpret its relation to the social order.”

SOURCE: My Africa By Maazi Mbonu Ojike (1946) pages 182-183

From the account of a man who was a practitioner of the Igbo traditional spiritual system, the Igbo concept of God does not have angels, prophets or the need to receive offerings or sacrifices. Furthermore, Chukwu never needed to have holy books, never had a chosen people and never declared any particular land to be a holy land. The Igbo concept of God as being simultaneously an internal, personal force, as well as a collective one is virtually identical to the concepts of Atman and Brahman in Hinduism.

“The Igbo man has one Supreme God called Chukwu, who deserves worship alone” – Remy Ilona

Did the traditional Igbo people actually practice monotheism? Perhaps, we should confer with one of its respected traditional priests for some insights:

“Is the Igbo a polytheist? Yes, and he is closer the truth about God than the sneering, ignorant monotheist. We saw above that God is both one and many, just like the Army. The Army is a Unit with functional subdivisions. The same holds true for God. It is one Spirit, one Unit whose functional parts are Gods or Spirits. The functional parts of the Army are hierarchized. The same is true of the Gods. It is meaningless to assert that I applied to the Army for help to put out a fire in my house. The correct statement is that I applied to the Fire Brigade of the Army for help to put out a fire in my house. It is the Fire Brigade of the Army, not the whole Army, which handles fire-fighting. Similarly, we apply for help to a God in charge of a particular function, say, procreation (Akwalï Ömümü). To pray to a God makes sense, but it is foolishness and ignorance to pray to God. To worship or venerate God is inefficacious, but to worship or venerate a God yields immediate results. Our ancestors knew this and that is why they were ö-göö o-lee. Their prayers to a given God always yielded the desired result.

We repeat: Before the advent of Christianity in our midst, the Igbo mindset was that God is both one and many, just like the Army. The Christian mind-warping strategy was to assert that there is only One God, the Christian God, which is the God of all Gods. Man’s salvation lay in venerating and worshipping this Christian super-God. But the sober truth is that the Christian God is just one among the many Gods. The attempt to reject the Gods and cling to some super-God unsettles the mind because that mindset goes against all our observations. Can the world in front of our eyes be the creation of one super-God? No! Nature confirms the reality of Gods or fashioning powers, but not the reality of one super-God.”

SOURCE: Odinani: The Igbo Religion by Ezeana (Priest of the Earth Deity) Emmanuel Kaanaenechukwu Anizoba, page 35-36

We can see clearly from this statement that the traditional Igbo worldview would not be classified as Monotheism in any sense of the word. It would be far closer to Polytheism, and more specifically, Pantheism, which is defined as the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing immanent abstract God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. The Igbo concept of God doesn’t have much in common with the Jewish one.

In summary, Jeff Lieberman & the Igbo Jews have yet to name any villages or clans that have oral traditions of origin from Israel, have yet to show any relationship between the Eri of the Bible and the person who was the founder of the Umueri clan, and cannot demonstrate a coherent or realistic migration route from Israel to their current location. Furthermore, it becomes clear with proper analysis that there is no link whatsoever between Igbos and Jews when it comes to circumcision rites, dietary customs, holy days, and concept and names of God. Its becoming more and more clear that Jeff Lieberman & the Igbo Jews are attempting to scam people, especially the Jewish communities in America & Israel by fabricating history and facts that don’t exist. In part three, I will cover the following claims:  Linguistics, Christianity & Igbo Tradition, Family & Village Traditions, Artifacts, Igbos & The State of Israel, “Expert” Opinions & DNA Testing.

Fraud

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