Have you ever wondered why mankind was created? How the earth was formed? What about how death entered into the world? Or why people have different skin tones? Ndi Igbo (Igbo people) give answers to all these questions and more in “African Spirituality: An Anthology of Igbo Religious Myths”, a compilation of Igbo myths from all over Igboland, collected and interpreted by Professor Udobata R Onunwa.
While the modern day stories written by Igbo authors have been some of the most prominent from the African continent since the colonial period until today, much of the precolonial mythology of the Igbo has largely been overlooked. In order to remedy this situation, Professor Onunwa visited several villages in Alaigbo (Igboland), collecting oral mythologies and preserving them for current and future generations. He lists the source of the myths, as well as the variations from numerous villages and even provides commentary on most of them.
Among the myths recollected in this anthology include the “Origin of marriage”, “No distinction in death”, “Origin of dancing and music”, “Men and warfare” (my personal favorite of the bunch), and “Chukwu and the Mamiwota.” Stories that explain the local Igbo landscape are also included such as “Mbaa River leaves Mbara-Owere for Ugiri”, “Enmity between Ogbuide River and Urashi River” and “Ami-Agba leaves Ogwugwu Valley.”
This collection is by no means comprehensive and only scratches the surface of what the Igbo have to offer in regards to mythology. However, it is a vital part of the collection of anyone interested in learning about the culture of Igbo people, and definitely will inspire others to collect the older myths of generations past and create newer ones for generations to come.