I was watching a video on Igbo Heritage TV today in which the host was talking about the concept of “ Kwụba aka gị ọtọ!”
In the same video he said, “I wete OBI gị, i wete anị.”
These two phrase said so close together started to make me think about the link between the heart and courage/fear. People are the most confident when they believe they are right/righteous. When you have a guilty conscious, you begin to fear. You begin to tu egwu or tu ujo. I like the word “egwu,” because it reminds me of dancing, music or playing. Isn’t that what the heart does when it is afraid. It starts to beat in an unusal way.
I believe this is why people use the phrase “Take heart,” when you lack courage or feel sad. Your heart is VERY closely tied to your emotions. It is very primal. Your brain can be seen as divided into two major sections. The primal reptilian brain that causes your reflexes and emotions, and the cerebral cortex which controls higher level reasoning.
Your brain can be deceived. In fact, you can think your way out of the truth.
BUT your heart is a little more powerful. That is why lie detectors check your heart rate. Even if you tell a lie, and you can even change your face to mask your guilt, your heart will betray you. Unless you are a psychopath who practices lying out of habit or for fun, it is hard to deceive a lie detector.
Igbo uses the word OBI to describe different things:
Ntachi Obi ==> Endurance
Nkasi Obi ==> Comfort
MkpuruObi ==> Soul
Tukwasi Obi ==> Trust
Looking at these words and the context of the part that precedes “Obi” will help you decode how Igbo sees the heart (obi) and the role it plays in relation to these concepts.
(I first posted the following essay on facebook on September 20, 2018)
Makes you think. Igbos are quite similar to the Greeks. According to the Stoic theory in Ancient Greece, there are eight parts of the soul, the ‘commanding faculty’ [hêgemonikon] or mind, the five senses, voice and (certain aspects of) reproduction. The mind, which is located at the HEART, is a center that controls the other soul-parts as well as the body, and that receives and processes information supplied by the subordinate parts.
So, Igbos similarly see the heart as being the nucleus or control center that directs the soul. Today, popular culture puts a lot of emphasis on the brain and its “fruit”. But we know from science that the brain actually predominantly creates and responds to perception. But what we call soul is a thing more mysterious. It understands and responds to things outside of our knowledge of understanding. Many think it lives on after we (and our brain) die, and carries with it data about who we truly are.