“Everyone in the tribe was an artist. They were born into art, and they were born of art. Art concieved them; art gave birth to them; art nourished them; art helped them grow, sustained their lives, and guided them to the mighty mysteries and to illumination. Art aged them, art devoured them, art made them old. They grew old in art, and they died of art. They were buried in art. And in art they were remembered and immortalized by its continual practice and renewal in the great rituals and initations of the tribe”

Igbo Ukwu Burial

“Art was their god and their devil; their destruction and regeneration. All things came from art and fed back into it, as far as the tribe was concerned. Art was their religion, science, temptation, seduction, recreation. Art was their hell and heaven. Every cataclysm or disaster, every crisis, came out of art or was absorbed into it. Plagues were seen as a failure of their art in some way, a failure to listen, to see, to dream, to interpret, to prophesy, to envision, to be silent at the oracles. Famines were seen as a curse from the god of art, in the tribes failure to create, to anticipate, to adapt, to work, to change, to move onto fruitful places, to be free. Diseases, illnesses, bad fortune, abominations, were all perceived as failures of art, for not being humble enough at the secret shrines of creativity, which creates balance and harmony in the universe.”

Igbo Masquerade

“Their great good fortunes, the beauty of their children, cornucopias, wonderful harvests, fruitful seasons of productivity, happiness and festivities in the tribe were seen as success in the communal practice of their art. For them, all doors between heaven and earth, between the ancestors and the present, between spirits and the living, between past and future, between nature and human beings, between dream and living, between man and woman, were open, and no bad things festered because they were unable to emerge, be seen, be freed, released, overcome, transcended.”

Igbo Mbari Shrine

Igbo Mbari Shrine

“Their laws were laws of art, the obvious ones and the obscure ones, the known laws and the unkwown, the familiar laws and the arcane laws, the exoteric and the esoteric, the public laws and the secret ones, the superficial and the deep. Harmony, balance; disharmony, too was one of the laws, in the right place, in the right way; and imbalance was a secret law that played its part. Chaos was a deep law, applied judiciously. Order was its obvious counterpart. Asymmetry was a great law, if used with a sense of greater balance.”

“The tribe’s central tenet, unspoken, was that art was the bridge to the creator, and thus to all things, all mysteries on earth or in heaven. Art was their prayer, and their confession, their meditation and their rest, their work and their play, their illness, and their cure….Agriculture, warfare, athletic were all aspects of art, to the tribe. Farms and farming methods were based on firm artistic principles. Warfare was conducted on the greatest artistic principle of maximum effectiveness from minimum effort.”

The Art of War

“Another great tenet of ther tribe was that all men and all women were artists, in one way or another, but did not know it. To be alive was to be a creator, or a co-creator. At least you helped create a destiny. Therefore, with all being artists, humanity was considered to be the greatest work of art that is being created. One way or another, all are contributing to the greatest vision that ever will be, the vision of all above and below, in life and in death, on earth and in heaven.” – from Starbook by Ben Okri

34 responses »

    • I read your comment on re-emerging Igbo jews and i find it very distasteful and arrogant. Yes are our traditions which you obviously donot know are many and very similar or same as the jews. You only mentioned circumcision.Yes i made sure my son was circumcized on the eigth day. our marraige rites, purification practices, ede-aro festival, food rites, government by the elders and many more i can name are same as as practiced by Jews. I am actually of the notion that the Jews came from us the Igbos since we are a very ancient people, older than the beginning of the Jews. The old Igbo historians were trained under the british so i donot know how much of their work is clouded by colonial mentality or the need to state something different than the british.

      It was the same joke made about Zimbaweans who claimed to be jews and practising same prayers until some archeologists and national geographic i think investigated their oral history and proved that not only are they Jews but are of the priestly tribe. Daw! That was in the face of the whole world. And they were the darkest of dark color. So instead of making outlandish remarks , we need archeologist who can go and do new digs , nothing has been done in Igboland since 1920’s. We need more study, more research by young historians who have not been tainted by colonial education to provide a fresh look into our traditions. We need to find out more about our past because we are a unique people, resilient inspite of all odds, I actually have not seen any people fully endowed with the same strength, doggedness and intellect as the the Igbo man and nation. However the sameness of traditions with the Hebrew cannot be denied.

      Also you have no right to tell someone who they can or cannot claim for their ancestry. If an Igbo claims to be a Jew , its his right to claim what he wants or feels. Recent ancestary genetic studies has shown that those claiming to be caucasians or white are actually blacks, more black than white. Then those who want and claim African are actually 95% white. So a person is who they say they are and you cannot take that away from them. You can do new research to increase the knowledge in the topic. How would you like for someone to say that you that is convinced that you are Igbo, that you are not. After all the fact that your parents were born in Igbo land,does not mean that their own parents may not have come from hausa land or Papua New guinea. After all, you were not there when your parents were born or your grand parents were born , so can you actually prove you are Igbo other than hear say , that your father’s family has always lived in a certain part of Igbo land. Do you have any other proof?

      And people claim who they want to be be based on several reasons and circumstances of the time.Some Jews in America in the 1930’s claimed tobe Irish and changed their names to O’brien in order to get union jobs like carpentary and my friend worked for a millionaire who did that due to the esigency of the times. It also works the other way round. In the Nigerian Biafra war the Igbo or Igboid had to admit to themselves who they are and run or be killed even though they were born and raised in the North of Nigeria and had never been to Igbo land. They spoke hausa and dressed hausa but they cannot deny themselves when what kills Igbos came by, they quickly realised that phenotypically they are Igbo and cannot wait and risk being found out, it will be a sure death for them. At the same time Igbos who have distant association with another culture by farming away from home but not in the heavy area of the porgrom, found it more convenient to claim to be of Rivers state as in the case of Ikwerre Igbos. So who you are depends on how you see yourself and the circumstances at the time. I bet that if you get captured by terrorist you will quickly flash your American passport and claim to be African American, after all the African American came from us Africans and 40 to 70% of them are actually of the Igbo stock( based on several reseach and genetic studies confirming now). So since you know Nigeria can not be ever trusted to come to your aid, you have distance yourself from them and claim your adopted country who you know will always come to the aid of the American.And there is nothing wrong with that.

      So donot make fun of and totally toss out the claims of jewish ancestary by some Igbos, you don’t know them and the Igbo you claim you cannot prove.

      I know you might say I donot know what you were saying. I may not since I am trained a physician and now study history as a hobby, as a need to prepare the next generation for what they will and may face and because I want to know. And the more you read you find out human beings have not changed, the ancient civilizations are still here today because we came from them carrying the marks of our forefathers. And the rivalry wars are still on , as each group struggles to survive and carry on their genes to the next generation.

      Chinyere Odeluga, MD

      • Do you by any chance have a daughter? If so, did you also get her circumcised? I hope you aware that it was a traditional rite and oddly enough, its nowhere to be found in the Mosaic law. Neither are most of our traditional practices. Have you ever sat down and actually researched them or are you simply repeating what you’ve heard? Furtheremore, do you know anything about Judaism besides whwt you’ve read in the Old Testament? If you were to compare what our people used to do to the traditions of thr Israelites, you would find alot more differences then similarities. I suggest you study more history rather than regurgitating misinformation

      • “Then those who want and claim African are actually 95% white.”

        ^^^You cannot be serious, o! This is complete and utter false filth. Abeg, do not post such wahala in order to miseducate.


        THESE AND OTHER SLAVES HAD YAH IN THEIR NAMES, ALSO WERE PICKEDUP IN THE SAME AREA. PROOF!! DETAILS ON SITE SHOWS,, HEBO OR EBOOS-SHORT FOR HEBREWS. ORIENTALS ONLY CLAIM JEWISH RIGHTS DUE TO THE OUTCAST NEGROs in ASIAN AS WELL AS OTHER PARTS OF ASIA SUCH AS, Philippines, Thailand, and other Indigenous COUNTRIES as NEGROS WERE breeded to a low number and casted to the back of society WHILE LIGHTER SKIN WERE MORE EXCEPTED, ask your self why is it that negros are in every country behind the seens, hidden from cameras?






        Height [in]



        Voyage ID

        Ship name




        Go to African-Origins Record

        489 Nyahmoley 27 65.0 Man Eboo, Hebo 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown GO
        504 Enyah 21 62.0 Man Calabar 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown GO
        632 Inyah 38 67.0 Man Calabar 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown GO
        653 Yaho 26 69.0 Man Eboo, Hebo 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown GO
        813 Ahkeyah 16 52.0 Woman Eboo, Hebo 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown GO
        896 Hanyah 23 68.0 Man Eboo, Hebo 2328 Donna Eugenia 1821 Bonny Freetown GO
        1004 Henyah 26 63.0 Man Eboo, Hebo 2910 Constante 1821 Freetown GO
        1063 Beneyah 19 55.0 Woman Calabar 2910 Constante 1821 Freetown GO
        1419 Honyah 10 56.0 Girl Eboo, Hebo 2325 NS de Caridad 1821 Bonny Freetown GO
        1429 Enyah 10 43.0 Girl Eboo, Hebo 2325 NS de Caridad 1821 Bonny Freetown GO
        1781 Tayaho 28 62.0 Woman Tola 2898 Conde de Villa Flor 1822 Bissau Freetown GO
        2434 Cooyah 24 62.0 Male 2917 Estrella 1822 Badagry Freetown GO
        5020 Hygayah 14 61.0 Girl 2946 Avizo 1824 Badagry Freetown GO
        5106 Bunyah 22 68.0 Man 2947 Bella Eliza 1824 Lagos Freetown GO
        5378 Kardayah 11 56.0 Girl 2947 Bella Eliza 1824 Lagos Freetown GO
        5566 Yaryah 25 62.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown GO
        5570 Barbanyah 26 64.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown GO
        5577 Yahfee 26 63.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown GO
        5585 Dahyah 29 64.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown GO
        5608 Bandayah 27 63.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown GO

        Profile: Nyahmoley

        Profile Details All On Board (425)

        In 1820 an international court located in Freetown, Sierra Leone liberated Nyahmoley a male of 27 years. He was on board the slaving vessel Anna Maria, which departed from the port of Bonny before being intercepted and taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone.


        As it appears in registers [
        Africans may have been listed with different names or names with different spellings in more than one register. Variants are listed to the right.




        Possible modern counterpart Nnayamaole

        Geographical Profile

        Language group;;;;; Igbo

        Physical Profile

        Age 27
        Gender Male

        Voyage Details

        Voyage ID 2323
        Ship name (year) Anna Maria (1820)
        Embarkation Port Bonny
        Disembarkation Port Freetown, Sierra Leone

        Help us trace their origins

      • This reply is to Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga based on the comment on circumcision and the so called Mosaic Law. First. Chukwu Okike Abiama is the Almighty creator of heaven and Earth and did not write any book. The book if you researched it was a Negro way of life plagiarized and the reason they have only the male cricumcision is the only one they could copy or plagiarize. The Negroes had everything they had in the book excluding human sacrifices and they simply plagiarized it and added a lot of lies. The Printing Press was invented circa 1440 so how did they have the book before printing was invented? We are working to get our people to realize that the book is a big fraud from the slave masters. As to the circumcision, that the Europeans claim female cricumcision is bad does not make it so, because they have also brought in sexual promiscuity, homosexuality and even celibacy which the Negro way of life and the book they brought both condemned. Please go and conduct a research on how they brought the book and the lies they brought with them.

  1. I heavily agree with Therese. Okri have only once gain, reminded us of the honest and original vision that must have been intended for man. Once you’ve been there, there’s nothing else like being there.

  2. Indeed art supercedes,its the expression of creation,woven by the dexterous fingers of kindred spirits,united in an ever present realism of life replicating itself in infinite forms! Its the tradition of heaven,revealed on earth.. The marvelous granduer of the african heritage! Indeed it lives in our hearts…art.. Our darling song to nature,who gave to us without bounds! To whose heart we are closest! Under those winding trees of Nimo- great land of ancient warriors,past those rising hills of Enugu,through the colourful rivers of Imo, art speaks, in that ageless voice..

  3. It is not what people call you that matters. It is what you answer to that determines who you are. It is not when you wake up that determines you are alive. It is that you wake up. These are Igbo proverbs designed to remind us that life is about moving the molecules in the direction you want to and when you want to . The rise and fall of the Igbo people is in our hands. I see the molecules fiercely moving, rekindled by the energy of the our people no longer satisfied with being defined and spoken for. The morning had to come. Its morning time … and the light is pleasantly blinding. Loving it!

  4. Corrected post. It is not what people call you that matters. It is what you answer to that determines who you are. It is not when you wake up that determines you are alive. It is that you wake up. These are Igbo proverbs designed to remind us that life is about moving the molecules in the direction you want to and when you want to . The rise and fall of the Igbo people is in our hands. I see the molecules fiercely moving, rekindled by the energy of our people no longer satisfied with being defined and spoken for. The morning had to come. Its morning time … and the light is pleasantly blinding. Loving it!

  5. Ecellent information on Igbo culture and traditions. I really love it and please keep up the good work. This type of info is needed in this day and time. We have to show our people that we had a culture and a spiritual system before the coming of the white man tht was far superior than the 3 western religions and further mre, our culture, customs and traditions is much older than that of the white man.

  6. I just started reading Starbook……it is so amazing. It’s the closest thing to food for the soul that I’ve ever experienced. I love this post. Thank you.

  7. After stumbling on this website and going through it, my eyes became filled with tears.
    We do not know how much we have in our culture.
    We need to go back to our roots.
    What a peeople!
    I love Igbo so much
    Igbo kwenu!

  8. I never believed un anything else but art. Now I know why. I believe myself real in African descent. I now have read the words my fathers should have told me.
    Oshu. Haweh. Eva.

  9. Hi, I’m an African American and I was told through divination that I have paternal connections to the Igbo. Do you have an e-mail where I can contact you?

    I love what you’re doing. Please do keep up the good work.

    Thanks in advance!

  10. Thank you so much for your writings and research. I have been coming back and forth to this blog as I try and get a bit deeper into Odinani, keep up with my omenala(!) and it is always such a huge relief to find that you are still writing, still making videos when so many others have stopped or moved onto other projects.

    I just really love this so much. Thank you! Jisi eke!

  11. Just wanted to hint that the Igbo ukwu burial is actually an error. That burial culture actually belong to the NRI clan precisely of a neighbouring to Igbo ukwu. ORA-ERI. Research on it.

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