Author Archives: Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga

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

Standard

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

A Re-Emerging Scam: A Review of The Jews of Nigeria Part 1

Standard

This year, a documentary came out, entitled: “Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria”, which claims that Igbo people are one of the “Lost Tribes of Israel.” Its a very interesting and entertaining documentary. However, its one that is very much misnamed. What the documentary should be called is “Re-Emerging: The Failed Oriental Hypothesis.” What the filmmaker, Jeff L. Lieberman forgot to inform the audience of was that the propaganda he is trying to push has been debunked for nearly 100 years. Before we even get to review the film, let’s first go through history so we can figure out how this documentary came to be:

The first person to posit any relationship between Igbos and Jews was Oladuah Equianio. In his autobiography he states:

“Such is the imperfect sketch my memory has furnished me with of the manners and customs of a people among whom I first drew my breath. And here I cannot forbear suggesting what has long struck me very forcibly, namely, the strong analogy which even by this sketch, imperfect as it is, appears to prevail in the manners and customs of my countrymen and those of the Jews, before they  reached the Land of Promise, and particularly the patriarchs while they were yet in that pastoral state which is described in Genesis–an analogy, which alone would induce me to think that the one people had sprung from the other.”

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano Or Gustavus Vassa, The African (Chapter 1)

This statement compares the two groups, but doesn’t actually say which one he believe came from the other. In recent years, evidence has emerged that Equianio (whose legal name was Gustavus Vassa) was actually born and raised in South Carolina, and only wrote about Igboland from the stories he heard others who were born there tell. Furthermore, one can argue that even if he were born in Igboland as he claimed, Vassa admits that not only is his memory very imperfect (having  been removed from his people at such a young age), but that he is now looking at it from a Christian point of view, which would biased him to arguing for a Biblical connection to his people.

Professor Adele Afigbo, one of the prominent Igbo historians writes about other people who speculated on Igbo origins in the Middle Eastern area:

“(George) Basden (1912) pointing to certain constructions found in the Igbo language and what he considered the deep religious feeling of the people, propagated the view that Igbo culture probably evolved under the impact of the Levitical Code.

Impressed by what he considered the superior intelligence of the Aro Igbo and by their religious systems and rituals, (Sir Herbert Richmond ) Palmer contended that they carried Hamitic blood in their veins and that it was under their leadership that the “higher” aspects of Igbo culture had evolved.

Similarly, impressed by Igbo sun-worship and by the feature of dual organization in their social structure, (M.D.W) Jeffreys held that that the Igbo at some stage in the past had come under Egyptian influence,  the carriers of this influence probably being the Nri of Akwa in northern Igboland.

The pseudo-scientific racial theories prominent in the colonial period made their impact on the Igbo in two ways. In the first place, colonialism was a severe humiliation for the Igbo. It also gave them Western education, which made them capable of accepting the myths about the cultural similarities between them and the peoples of the Near East. To show that they had not always been as “despicable” as the colonialists found them, they started laying claim to an Eastern origin on the basis of such cultural similarities.

In the same manner, the application of the Oriental hypothesis to Igbo cultural history by colonial officials had a propagandistic side to it. These men refused to concede that the Igbo cultural traits which they traced to the East could indicate that the Igbo came from there. To do so would, in the intellectual climate of the time, have been to assign this despised colonial people a higher place on the world tree of culture than the colonial masters would have found convenient. Instead, the colonial theorists claimed that these traits showed that he Igbo had once been under Egyptian or Jewish cultural dominance. Implicit in this claim was the idea, not hitherto emphasize by anyone, that British colonialism was not a radical departure from the past, but in some sense a continuation of the cultural education of the Igbo which had been started long ago by the Egyptians. In this regard it is revealing that the Oriental hypothesis was imported as an explanation of Igbo history in the 1920s,  when the colonial government was experiencing great difficulty in the administration of the Igbo. It was in this situation that it came to be argued first that Igboland had once been under Egyptian influence, second that the spread of Egyptian culture in Igboland was the work of a small elite, who after interbreeding with the people, became the Nri and Aro of today, and third that if the British really wanted to rule the Igbo “indirectly”, then they had to do so through the Nri and the Aro (Afigbo 1965)

By the late 1930s, the Oriental hypothesis had been argued out ad nauseam and abandoned, since no amount of research, not even (Herbert Frank) Matthew’s at Arochukwu and Jeffrey’s at Awka could uncover solid historical or anthropological evidence in its support. C.K Meek, the government anthropologist who had coordinate the research into this and related issues in Igboland, closed the debate as far as the government was concerned when he warned that: “no purpose would be served by engaging in speculations about ancient cultural contacts, such as that the prevalence of sun-worship, of forms of mummification, and of dual organization points to some distance connection with Ancient Egypt. As far back as we can see within historic times, the bulk of the Igbo peoples appear to have lived an isolated existence.”

By 1940 then, the Oriental hypothesis was to all intents and purposes dead as a serious explanation of Igbo culture history.”

“The Culture History of the Igbo Speaking Peoples of Nigeria” by Adiele Afigbo, West African Culture Dynamics: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives pages 307 to 309

This dead in the water theory was resurrected for a brief period of time during the Nigerian-Biafran War, when the Biafran Republic received support in the form of arms from Israel, among other nations. Apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia also supported Biafra, but nobody uses that as proof as any ancestral connection that Igbos have to any of those white settler regimes.

Over the years, other Igbo historical heavy weights through the years have also weighed in:

“It may well be that the proponents of this oriental hypothesis base their argument on circumstantial evidence. Non-Igbos who believe in this theory drew their conclusion on the strength of some similarities between Igbo sharp practices in trade and moneymaking ventures with that of the Jews. Still other people who buy this theory do so because the Igboman’s resentments in Nigeria resemble those of the Jews. The wide dispersion of the Igbo just like the Jews is also one of the reasons advanced to support this thesis. Today, however, the concept of the oriental or eastern origins is in danger. The idea has been impugned vehemently and is fast losing its credulity. The tradition is considered to be more of a fable than reality. No wonder the theory has been opposed and even rejected by some indigenous writers. Afigbo has written of its proponents as victims of the ‘oriental mirage’ and warned that the oriental extraction should not be taken seriously. Similarly (Professor. Elizabeth) Isichei has dismissed the theory as a ‘mistaken stereotype.’ To (M.A) Onwuejeogwu, the argument is ‘unscientific and only fulfills man’s quests for its origin without coming close to the answer.’ Because of the caliber of these critics, the first Hermetic hypothesis of the Igbo origins as obsolete and untenable. This is because it has neither established convincingly the circumstances surrounding the original home of the Igbo nor trace chronologically how the Igbo came to live whre they are today. But put more succinctly, contemporary studies on Igbo origin are contending that earliest Igbo first emerged in Nigeria and not from the near or far East.”

Migration and the Economy: Igbo Migrants and the Nigerian Economy 1900 to 1975 By Mathias Chinonyere Mgbeafulu, page 8

More:

“Some elders still claim that the Igbo are the original inhabitants of their present place of abode. Some late theories of Hebrew link are yet to be confirmed with authentic ethnographic data.
A Handbook of African Religion and Culture by Professor Udobata R Onunwa, Page xxi

More:

“Some Igbo writers have since then followed him (Dr. George Basden) and written in the same vein  saying that the Igbos are of Jewish origin. Some of the undisputed similarities in some Jewish practice and those of the Igbos are stated in support of their claims. One has to observe however that some of the examples given appear too far-fetched…This account of the origin of the Igbo is immediately knocked out out by archaeological evidence that Igbos have been in their present settlement from well over 3000 B.C.”

Igbo People: Their Origin and Culture Area by Dibia John Umeh (Traditional Priest), Pages 32-33

So by 2012, when this documentary was made, the Oriental hypothesis, that Igbo culture and/or people is derived from Israel or Egypt had been abandoned by the very people that promoted it in the first place (Basden, Jeffreys, Palmer, Matthews, Meek etc) had been dismissed by serious indigenous  and non-indigenous academics (Afigbo, Isichei,  Onwuejeogwu, Mgbeafulu, Onunwa)  and had never been taken seriously by traditional priests (Umeh) in the first place. You will not find arguments for the Oriental hypothesis in any recent academic journal, any recent dissertation or thesis, or any books written by traditional Igbo priests or practitioners. So how in the world did this movie actually get made?

There are two sources for the re-emergence of this failed hypothesis. As the film rightly pointed out, the Pentacostal Christian movement began to spread like wildfire in Nigeria in the 1970s and 80s. Unlike its predecessors, the Pentecostal churches did not put an emphasis on education for either its clergy or its congregation. Compared to the highly educated Anglican and Catholic Priests, Pentecostal ministers could literally be anyone off the street who received a “calling.” Furthermore, the Pentecostal churches did not open up schools at the same rate or at the same caliber as the Anglican and Catholics did, and also appealed to many of the unemployed, hopeless masses.

The mid-1980s also saw Nigeria’s once strong economy start to decline due to a poor decisions from the military leadership, as well as Structural Adjustment Programs by the World Bank. By the 1990s, Nigeria’s economic situation was extremely bleak. Many people looked for ways to escape. In 1993, an Igbo migrant worker in Israel named Chima Onyeulo went to the Interior Ministry to claim Israeli citizenship as a “returning” Jew. Onyeulo claimed that although most Igbos were now Christians, they were once Israelites, and on that basis, he should be allowed the “right of return” afforded to Jewish people. Furthermore, he insisted that Igbo was simply a corruption of the word “Hebrew.” His application was rejected.

African Refugees from the Sudan in Israel

His failure did not deter others from also trying to trying to be recognized as a Jew and escape out of Nigeria. In 1999, after one Igbo man traveled to Israel, he came back and told the rest of his Pentecostal church that they were from Israel , and convinced them embrace Judaism. Members of that church became practicing Messianic Judaism, which is nothing but Christianity that also keeps some of the Old Testament law. Messianic Judaism constitutes the overwhelming majority of self purported Igbo Jews today. That same year, the Association of Jewish Faith in Nigeria was founded.

Is it a coincidence that the Oriental Hypothesis began to re-emerge when Nigeria’s economic and political situation worsened? Does anyone else find it interesting that there is almost no record of any of these Igbo Jewish groups before the 1990s? Why did it take for them to get internet access before learning that they were Jews? Why were no practitioners of Odinani, Igbo traditional priests or Dibias interviewed in the film? Why were the academics in Igboland not interviewed either? How it is that in 2012, Jeff Lieberman has been able to find evidence for this supposed Hebrew lineage that Basden, Jeffreys, Palmer, Meek and Matthews  could not find nearly 100 years ago before people had embraced Christianity as much as they do now? Isn’t it pretty clear what is going on here?

The Igbo Jews are trying to escape Nigeria by any means. They want Israel to airlift them out of Nigeria as they did to the Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) in the 1991 during Operation Solomon. They have even gone so far as to fabricate physical evidence and create traditions out of thin air that never existed in Igboland. While other Nigerians have used “green card marriages” or fake visas as a way to illegally immigrate out of the nation, these people have decided to pursue the religious route, and imitate foreign Ashkenazi traditions like donning the yarmulke caps, which is a tradition from Poland. They have even gone so far as to wave the flag as Israel as much as possible, despite the fact that the state of Israel as a secular nation and Judaism are not synonymous, and there are many Jews that do not identify with that state. Other commentators on various websites have pointed out the scam as well:

“Fraudsters! If I was an African living in squalor I would also claim to be Jewish to get a free ticket to Israel. The more we indulge these so called ‘Jews’ the more they will continue appearing”

“If Nigeria was a British colony, why couldn’t they find out about Judaism prior to the internet? The same Christian missionaries who converted many Nigerians to Christianity could have given them access to knowledge of Judaism. Were there no Jews in Nigeria during the British era? Wouldn’t the Christians have used the Old Testament which talks about the Jews?”

“The men are all circumcised as babies 8 days old??? I’m sure NOT. This is just a scam to get into Israel.”

“The Igbo people are not from Isreal. They do not have anything in common that one would even guess that they are from Isreal. Igbo people do not have any culture that relates to that of the Isrealis. The Ibos are Roman Catholics. The Igbo people should plan how to better their lives and that of their communities, and stop thinking negatives.”

This comment hit the nail right on the head:

“Well, looking at the situation i Nigeria where there is no social security, no light, no water, no good roads, no affordable health care system coupled with bad governance, one cannot but seek affiliation with another good country that may be willing to accept him. If Nigeria were to be a good country where the welfare of its citizen is well attended to, the Igbos would have denied that they are Jews even if Israel request for them.

This documentary reminds me of another one that came out this year. Anyone remember Kony 2012??

Once the Ugandans got wind of it, they were able to help end Invisible Children’s party and expose them for the fraud they were perpetuating on people. Perhaps Jeff L. Lieberman knows this, and is choosing to avoid showing this film to Nigerian audiences as shown from the screening schedule on the website.

In conclusion, the only thing that has been re-emerging, is a racist scam that perpetuates the notion that African people are only intelligent enough to create their own traditions. This failed hypothesis, which says that Igbos in particular, could not have derived their culture by themselves, and must have been influenced by Jews or some other foreign group is being used as a means of escape from a failing state by some very desperate people. In the second part of the review, we will point out every single false or half-true statement in this documentary, and start the process of finally killing the debunked Oriental hypothesis once and for all. Please spread the word and don’t allow others get caught up in this latest Nigerian scam.

The Okonko Traditional Men’s Society

Standard

By Lazarus A Emenogu

“Okonko-Ekpe” by D. L. K. Nnachy

Today we speak of the white man’s government as if we had no government in the past. The Okonko was an ancient society which served as a traditional system of government before the advent of the white man. The Okonko enforced the verdicts of the Amala (village assembly). In the past, if the Okonko music was played near the house of anybody, anxiety was created as to the reason for the beating of the drum. And if a palm leaf was left behind the man’s house, it meant that the person was to appear before the Okonko court of appeal. As at present, there was then no age limit for whoever wanted to be a member of the society. But then, only men of proven character and without any shameful past were accepted into the Okonko society. When we people talk of a better government today, we laugh because any thief can be in government because he has the money.

Okonko Masqueraders

Whenever there was a stalemate it any Okonko decision, the Okonko society would consult other recognized Okonko societies in other areas for mediation. Non-members of the Okonko society were known as “Okpo” and they were forbidden to go near or greet Okonko members when they were in the full session. To be recognized as a full member of the Okonko society, one must go through the Ida iyi ceremony which is as follows:

The rite is performed as midnight, when the atmosphere is charged. The man that is to be initiated is surrounded by the old members and a palm frond (omu) is placed between his lips to enforce silence. The members taunt and harass him. The priests now reveal about seven secrets to him, which he is not to reveal to any person. I shall not tell you these secrets either, since you an “Okpo.”

Okonko from Ibeku

The new member is paraded round the village, after which he comes back to the Okonko base. Later they move towards the stream or river. As they near it, the new member is exposed to the Ida iyi ceremony thereafter, the new initiated remains for about 14 days in hiding before he comes out. Non-members are warned not to come near the roads leading to all the streams or rivers in the area. Marketplaces are blocked with palm leaves. Before the Ida iyi ceremony, the novice is expected to offer a goat, seven eggs, four bottles of homemade gin, a white cock, ten large yams and one alligator pepper. These things, including a he-goat and a caly pot, are to be presented on the following Orie market day.

Young boy and masquerade at Okonko Festival in Ihitte/Uboma

The chief priest prepares yam in a hot pepper soup (mmiri oku ji) which every Okonko member partakes. During this Ida iyi ceremony, women are not supposed to see the members of the society. The traditional belief is that any woman who sees a member of the society will surely die, unless she brings a ram and alligator pepper -this is to facilitate her reincarnation- and stays one month in hiding. The Okonko society is highly respected, and during the Ida iyi ceremony which lasts for seven days, members from far and wide dressed in different Okonko attires attend. Even compared with the white man’s rule then, Okonko as an instrument of government has no rival. The most important objective of every government is to enjoy the loyalty of the governed, and this the Okonko enjoyed before the white man brought his own government. Okonko has three stages of initiation which are as follows: Akang, Mboko and Ekpe. Once you go through the three initiations, you become an Ezumezu. Once you become an Ezumezu, at this stage, one is very competant to discuss the affiars of this great ancient society.

Ebi Masquerade at Okonko Festival in Ihitte/Uboma

Amadioha Strikes

Standard

Neo-Nsibidi Symbol for Amadioha

“Congratulations! you are now homeowners”

The couple sitting at the desk hugged each other as Tobenna spoke to them. He had just closed on another mortgage, and he was having the best month all year.

“Thank you so much Mr. Onwuhara!” the wife said, “We couldn’t have done this without you.”

“It was my pleasure”, he replied, with a grin on his face.

“God bless you my brother!” the husband said as he and his wife left the office.

Tobenna Onwuhara was one of the rising stars at Bank of USA. Business was booming, and they were practically giving mortgages away. Whether people were really qualified or not was not their main concern. They made far more off selling the mortgage backed securities on the secondary market. As he was starting to prepare for his next appointment, he heard a knock at the door. One of the clerks came then into his office.

“One of your previous clients is here to see you” she said.

“Tell her to come in”, Tobenna replied.

In walked a light skin woman holding the hand of a young child.

Tobenna rose up and exclaimed “My sister! How you dey?” while reaching out his right hand for her to shake.

The woman gave him a mean look and asked him “So now all of a sudden I’m your sister?”

He paused and remembered why the woman was angry.

“Mrs. Kalu,  I’m so sorry that I couldn’t help you keep your house. You know I did all I could…”

Mechionu (Shut up)!!! You are a liar!” Mrs. Kalu continued, ” The only reason I’m here now is because you stopped picking up my calls and returning my emails.”

Tobenna attempted to say something but was cut off again before he could utter any more words.

“Ever since the untimely death of my husband, you knew full well how hard it’s been for me and my son. You assured me that everything was going to be ok when I fell a little behind on my payments, and that you would do everything you could to help me explore my options. But I can see that it was all a lie. You probably made more money by the bank seizing my house than by letting me keep it. I can’t prove it yet, but I know what your bank did against me was fraudulent.”

How’d she guess? Tobenna thought to himself. He replied:

“Well unfortunately madam, there’s not much I can do for you now. Again, I’m very sorry”, Tobenna said to her, “Now if you don’t mind, I have an appointment that’s about to walk in the door any second now…”

The woman looked at him, raised two fingers in his directions and shouted: “Onwuhara! Amadioha magbukwa gi! (Onwuhara! Amadioha will punish you!”)

Tobenna started to laugh at her. “Old woman. Where do you think we are? In the village? Those things don’t work over here.”

She gave him another piercing stare, grabbed the hand of her son and briskly walked out the door. Although Tobenna had laughed at her when she had cursed him, there was something about her statement that had sent chills down his spine. Growing up in Nigeria, he had been told stories of how Amadioha had terrorized wrong doers in the days before the coming of the white man, but had all but disappeared in modern days. On occasions, one would still hear accounts of a white ram with flaming red eyes appearing before some calamity was unleashed on someone accused of wrongdoing, but those were simply stories right? Anyways, he figured, he was in America now, and as they say, juju no cross wata.

A few weeks had passed and Tobenna had completely forgotten about the entire account. He was sitting home on a very Thursday night getting some work done on his computer when all of a sudden it began to rain. That’s funny, Tobenna thought to himself, he didn’t remember seeing rain in the forecast.

He recalled that he had left his car windows down and immediately rushed out to wind them up. As soon as he got outside, the rains became a lot heavier, and thunder and lightning followed. Tobenna wound up his windows and rushed inside…now dripping wet.

All of a sudden, the sky was totally lit up by a flash of lightning and the power in Tobenna’s house was out. He cursed as he tried to remember where he had placed his flashlight. He found his flashlight on top of the fridge, and began to walk to the basement, where the fuse box was. As he walked to the staircase, he peered out of a window and noticed that his was actually the only house on the block that had actually lost power.

He went down the stairs and turned the power back on. Walking up the stairs, he started to smell smoke and immediately ran to the direction it was coming from. He entered his home office and observed that the lightning had not only destroyed his surge protector but also had totally fried his laptop, which had valuable files that he had been working on for the last several weeks. Tobenna shouted some four letter words as he tried boot up the machine in vain.

But before he knew it, thunder filled the air and plunged him in darkness again. Frustrated, Tobenna went down the stairs to turn the fuse box and discovered that the power was not coming back either.

Today was not his day, Tobenna thought to himself and made his way to his bedroom. He threw himself on the bed and closed his eyes. As he lay in bed calculating how long it would take to catch back up with the weeks of work he had lost, he began to hear a thumping sound downstairs.

His fiancee was still away on a business trip, and his mistress wasn’t supposed to come over until tomorrow. Fearing the worst, Tobenna grabbed the gun he had stored under the bed, and loaded it with ammunition.  He didn’t think anyone would actually try to commit a robbery during a thunderstorm, but crazier things had happened.

As he headed down the stairs, Tobenna had his back against the wall, and shouted “Whose there?” No response. He kept going down the stairs, inching closer to where the sound was emanating from. “I’m armed!” He shouted as he tried his best to sound tough, but this was the first time he had ever even pulled out the gun since he purchased it and he never anticipated that he might actually have to use it.

By the time Tobnenna got to the bottom of the stairs, his heartbeat was so intense that he could barely differentiate between it and the sounds. Holding the gun firmly with both hands, he turned the corner and was confronted with a red light in a sea of darkness. The source of the sound was revealed to be…his stereo.

Relieved, he started to laugh as he walked closer to the stereo and heard the sounds of intense drumming coming from them. Tobenna recognized the album, Sun Ra Live at Montreux, track 6, his favorite one from that CD. He hadn’t listened to that album in years! As he walked closer, the drumming not only got louder, but more intensified. His amusement turned to more confusion as it dawned on him that the stereo was on despite everything else being turned off.

He hit the power button to no avail. Was he going mad? He started hitting the button harder, and then finally reached behind and unplugged the machine. To his amazement, it was still on! And now the drumming was even more intense than earlier on. When he tried to turn the volume down, it actually got louder. In fact, it was so loud, it was starting to hurt his ears. All of a sudden, he heard a deep thunderous voice speaking over the track that said to him:

“Perhaps you’re wondering if this is a nightmare and if you will wake up soon. But I want to let you know that only one of those answers is yes.”

Tobenna froze in his tracks. He actually would have preferred dealing with robbers than whatever was happening now. Holding his gun up, he turned around and shouted:

“I don’t know who or what you are or how you’re doing this, but in the name of Jesus, I banish you from this place!”

To his amazement, the music stopped. Tobenna was relieved and surprised that it actually worked. All of a sudden the voice thundered:

What do you think this is, a Nollywood movie?”

Immediately he rushed for the front door and was shocked…quite literally as soon as his hand touched the knob.

“You think you can escape so easily?”, the voice said.

“Who are you?”, Tobenna screamed as he was still cringing from the jolt that he received.

“To those who are innocent, I am their defender and avenger.  And to the guilty, I am judge, jury and executioner.”

Tobenna’s stomach dropped as he figured out whose voice he was hearing.

“Amadioha!”

As Tobenna spoke that ominous name, there was a flash of lightning outside. Could this really be Amadioha? The god of thunder and lightning that he had heard so many stories about in his youth?

“But this can’t be! You only exist in the village! And its only old people that speak about you!”  Tobenna shouted. To any bystander, it would have appeared as though he had gone mad.

“I get around”Amadioha replied.

“Oh really? Where have you been as the born agains destroyed your shrines and as all the politicians have been chopping our money?”

“Why should I care? Your ancestors used to revere me, but as soon as the oyibo man came with his tricks and gadgets, they began to forget about me. So I forgot about you too. While you have been praying to your imported  gods to no avail,  I have been silently transforming into something brand new. Any recent stories you’ve heard have only been my shadow, my previous forms. Today, your entire lives depend on electricity…which I have mastery over. I no longer have any need for those old shrines. My presence can be felt in any electrical device on this planet. I am actually more powerful and deadly than I have ever been”

Amadioha began laughing. Tobenna had enough. Without thinking of how much it would cost to replace it, he lunged towards his stereo set and threw it to the ground. As he kicked his sub woofers, the laughter began to fade away. He was relieved.

Suddenly Tobenna’s flat screen  plasma  television came on. On the screen was the image of a white ram with bulging red eyes…in high definition.

Tobenna screamed: “What did I do to deserve this?”

In surround sound, the white ram answered: “You wronged one of my daughters. And now you will pay the price.”

Tobenna immediately recalled what he had done to Mrs. Kalu.

“Ok look. I’m sorry for what I did to her. I promise that I will call her first thing tomorrow and see what I can do to find good accommodations for her and her son.”

The ram did not look amused. “No need to worry. I’ve already found a new place for her” , he said.

Tobenna was confused. “What do you mean?”

The ram replied “Yours. Its not like you’re gonna need it after I’m done with you.”

Tobenna screamed: “Over my dead body!”

The ram smiled and said “Be careful what you wish for.”

Tobenna attempted to fire his gun at the screen, but for some reason, it wouldn’t fire. He suddenly felt a jolt of electricity in the hand that he was holding the gun, and dropped it to the ground. Frustrated, he picked it up and threw it at the screen, shattering it in many pieces. Immediately, he ran back upstairs and went to seek refuge in his bathroom.

As soon as he got inside, he locked the door. There were no electronic devices plugged in here, and he felt this was perhaps the safest place that he could be in the entire house. This whole ordeal was extremely traumatic, and he needed to clear his head and figure out his next move.  He removed his clothing and hopped into his shower.

“Thank god for my gas water heating.” Tobenna thought to himself as the warm water poured on him. What was he going to do? Calling the police was out of the question, and anyone else he called  would recommend that he be placed in an asylum. The only solution would be an escape.

As he has been pondering, the water temperature had begun to rise, without Tobenna turning the knob. It suddenly became so hot that it started to burn his skin. He reached to turn down the heat, but the water only continued to getting hotter. In his attempt to shut the water off, he nearly slipped and fell in the tub. Luckily, he jumped out of the shower before it became scalding. Tobenna realized that if he wanted to stay alive, he would have to leave his house.

He immediately got dressed and began to survey how he would escape. Tobenna had always seen on T.V  how people would climb out of a window using knotted bed sheet, maybe it would work for him. He began to knot his bed sheets together, and then tied it at the base of his bed. He opened his window and threw the line out. Despite the pouring rain outside, he felt this was a safer alternative than trying to deal with Amadioha.

Tobenna stepped down on the roof area, and began to lower himself down the line. About a quarter way down, the line broke and he tumbled the rest of the way down. The wet grass broke his fall, but he felt that it also broke his tail bone. Stumbling up, he limped to his SUV and got inside. Safe at last….

He didn’t know where he was gonna drive to…all he knew was that he had to get as far away from his house as possible. He turned on the radio to calm his nerves as he entered the highway. “The next song is by special request, and is dedicated to Tobe Onwuhara”, the DJ announced.

Tobenna wondered who had dedicated the song to him. “Turn out the lights” by Teddy Pendergrass began to play. It must have been his mistress, Sheila.  He could pay her a surprise visit until he would figure out his next move.

To his amazement, his headlights went out and he was thrown into pitch blackness. Tobenna began to hear the same drumming he had heard in his house, accompanied by a deep voice laughing. The last thing he remembered was Amadioha saying “I have the power to give life and to take life, and for you I will do both”, before he veered off the road and slammed into a large tree…

…The ambulance  arrived and luckily, the paramedics were able to remove his body from the wreckage. “He’s still breathing!”, shouted one of the female EMTs. They loaded Tobenna’s body in the back, and began to speed towards the hospital. He was hooked up to a machine that monitored his heart rate. After a few minutes, it began to get weaker, before suddenly flat lining.

The male EMT brought out the defibrillator machine, and shouted “clear” before applying it to Tobenna’s chest. After the 3rd time, his heart beat returned….

…”Well the good news is that your son is speaking again Mrs. O”, Tobenna’s lawyer was doing his best to console his mother over the phone. “And since you left, his recovery has been progressing too, although the large black mark on his forehead doesn’t seem to be healing at all. Yesterday, we did have a close call though. His ex-fiancée and another woman, his former mistress I would assume, attempted to throw hot grits on him before one of the security guards who was an avid Al Green fan, stopped them before they entered the room.”

“And the bad?” Tobenna’s mother asked the lawyer.

The lawyer sighed before saying: “Well, for one, the bank is gonna settle the lawsuit against them for all of the illegal foreclosures they had done. In doing so, they are also throwing your son and all of the other employees that played major roles in the fraud under the bus, and seizing the property they acquired through bank financing.”

“You mean..”

“Yes, he is losing his house. And ironically, one of his former clients says she is gonna purchase it with the settlement money she’s gonna receive.”

“Well can I at least talk to him? “

“Well yes, you can, but there’s a minor dilemma…”

“Which is?”

“Well since he regained full consciousness, he hasn’t been acting sane. He twitches sporadically, and when he speaks, all he’s been doing is raving like a madman, and repeating a strange word over and over again. Madam who is or what is an Amadioha?”

There was silence on the phone.

“To those who are innocent, I am their defender and avenger. And to the guilty, I am judge, jury and executioner.” – Amadioha

Fortune of Chi

Standard

by Uche Ogbuji

Note: Chi is the traditional Igbo concept of the god of each person, of each individual

When those two fighters met at the horizon
Half pregnant with the yellow sun, which rose
And fell at once in Schrödinger decree,
They spun so much imperfection of soul
And circumstance into their tumbled dice
That its sum could be none other than me,
Quantum twin unleashed from the black hole’s edge–
I am perfected fortune of my Chi.

Some randomized permutation of genes
Spelled these very left and right brain cortices–
Spotlight nerves on sheer possibility;
Some Mendel melody conjured these eyes,
These muscles, grafted these veins under this skin;
I am too many pin-point faults to be
By design yet I crown my own life’s fitness:
I am perfected fortune of my Chi.

But that same line some call the thread of fates
To which I fit my mind and body’s curve
In its degrees is certainly not free;
Somewhere along its future lies a point
Where my close arrival is luck of the draw
Passed onward in a rightful symmetry;
I am the series that evolves to that embrace:
I am perfected fortune of my Chi.

Uche Ogbuji was born in Calabar, Nigeria, and has lived, among other places, in Egypt, England and the U.S., where he now makes a home near Boulder Colorado with his wife and four children. He’s a computer engineer and entrepreneur whose abiding passion is poetry. His poems have appeared in sundry journals, and he is poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Poem first appeared at Soundzine.

Event: The New Moon Ceremonies, Healing Ritual Powers of Intentions

Standard

These retreats will cover: Forgiveness, clarity, manifestation, fertility and so on.

The theme for June is:  “Manifesting your desire through manifesting the grace in you!”

Step one: The seven wisdom movement
Step two: Defining our ultimate desire in order to manifest it by the next full moon
Step three: Sowing our desire with faith and trusting in its manifestation

In many ancient cultures the phases of the moon are celebrated and honored. The new moon is recognized as a sign of new beginnings while the full moon is a sign of completion.
We will conclude the evening gathering around the sacred light, witnessing an African Spirit mask come to life. The presentation will make African masks and art from Oscar’s collection come alive in a powerful learning experience. The Spirit mask will bless and help each participant release whatever holds him or her back from manifesting their intentions. It is our dream that these intentions will be realized by the next full moon.

An experience of a lifetime!

Sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences and the Office of Multicultural Affairs

Date: Friday, June 15, 2012

Time: 6:30pm-9:30pm

Location: Meta Center, New York City

Cost: $75

To register contact Ebele at 347-855-1325 or via paypal at eby17@yahoo.com

Chief Oscar Mokeme comes from a long Igbo royal lineage of healers, Umu-Dibia,  from Nigeria with over 35 years of experience. He was awarded Traditional Healer Master by The Maine Arts Commission.

Abu Ndu: The Songs of Life

Standard

by Ogonna Agu

Selected from The Book of Dawn & Invocations

Ndu bu ahia
Ndi ahia ebiliela ije,
Ha everela fam fam onu ututu guba ukpa ha onu
Ihe a na-anuzi bu nzookpa ndi mmuo;
Onyeodu ana-eje, ya na chi ya –
Onyeodu ana-eje, ya na onyinjo ya
Onye puta n’ututu o buru ogbe anwu ya n’ubu ya
Onye puta ula ututu o si kpakpando bia bere ya n’ihu

Life is a marketplace
Traders have all set out for the great journey,
They have started counting the luck in their baskets
in the little dawn of light
The noise we hear is the footprints of spirits;
Each one goes, each with his chi –
Each one goes, each with his shadow;
Each one awakens in the morning
carrying a beam of sunlight on his shoulder –
Each one awakens, each awakens
telling the stars to come and perch on his brow

Uzo okpa ndi ahia ejula m nti
Ndi ije esila na mmuo puta mmadu
Ufu okpa ndi ahia dizi ka nke nedi-agha
Onu ahia adila ka ihu ogu
Ndi ga-ebe ana-eje n’ogbo udele
Ndi ga-anuri agbahari n’ogbo egwu

The countless feet of traders marching to distant markets have filled my ears
Traders have arrived in the land of the living from the land of spirits
The footprints of traders now look like that of men of battle
The market now looks like a battlefront – those that will cry have started facing the square where vultures hold their conferences
Those that will rejoice run around the festival ground

Ndu bu ahia –
Onye zuchaa, o buru ibu ahia ya laa;
O lakwuru uchichi, o lakwuru itiri mmuo

Anyanwu awaala n’owuwa
Anyanwu esorala chi ofufo hogolie elu ugwu ka
mna-elejere anyanwu ka m na-ahu Chi kere uwa,
Chukwu ewerela ugofu ya dika ihe were huo m aka n’isi
Mu bu mmadu esila n’uchichi puta ihe n’onu ama ndu ebe ahia na-azu

Life is a marketplace
Whoever finishes buying, carries his goods and goes home;
He goes to meet the night, he goes to meet the darkness of death

The sun has ascended in the east,
The sun has ascended over the hills without the morning ligh
As I look towards the sun, so I see the great deity, creator of all the universe,
Chukwu has stroked my head with the rays of his light –
I one, I have emerged from night into light
At the frontage of life where traders buy and sell

Olu okike ebuka
Anyanwu iwa n’igwe na olu okike aburu
Ubosi anyanwu wara n’igwe
ka Chukwu kezuru uwa niile
Etuakwu ka owuwa anyanwu na okike ihe ya siri buru ofu

The work of Creation is too great;
The rising of the sun in the sky
and the work of creation has become one –
The day the sun shone in the sky
is the day Chukwu created all over the world.
This is how the ascension of the sun in the sky
became one with the act of creation.

Eke bu nwoke mbu, o sila n’igwe ridalu ala –
Nwoke mbu bu ukpa bia ahia n’ubosi eke ka o bu
Oye esila n’igwe ridaluo ala –
Nwoke bu ukpa bia ahia n’ubosi oye ka o bu;
Afo esila n’igwe ridaluo ala –
Nwoke bu ukpa bia ahia n’ubosi afo;
Nkwo esila n’igwe ridaluo ala –
Nwoke bu ukpa bia ahia n’ubosi nkwo ka bu

Eke is the fist man, he descended from the sky down to the earth
The first man that entered the market with his long basket
Oye has descended into the work from the sky –
The man that came into the market on Oye day carrying a long basket
Afor has descended into the world from the sky
The man that entered the market on Afor day carrying a long basket
Nkwo descended into the world from the sky on Nkwo day
The man that c+ame into the market from the sky
On Nkwo day is he, carrying his long basket

Anya mu bu mmadu e kere-eke esorola anyanwu kebe
Anya olupio m m ji elejere ihe di na mmuo-
Ahazuola m uwa nille;
Ahula’m ihe di n’anwuru di na mbara igw na-erughari n’oteaka
Ahula’m ihe di na nha-nha mmiri na-ezo n’igwe-
Ahula’m ka mmiri na-ehu ehu si esi na mkpume agbaputa
Ahula’m ka ihe e kere n’otu ngwugwu siri buru mmirir n’aloghachi n’ikuku
Ahula’m ka umu anu-ohia na-awughari n’okeagu –
Ahula’m ka azu bi na mmiri si ebi n’otu oke obodo
Ahula’m ka umu anunu na-efeghari na mbara igwe

Man like me, my eyes have begun to emit the light of the sun –
A tiny opening through which I behold that which is in the land of the spirits
I have seen all that is in this universe;
I have seen all that is gathering in the clouds in the distant sky
I have seen what is in the rain falling from the place above,
I have seen water break from the rocks as spring in the valleys
I have seen something wrapped in cocoyam leaves, returning with water in the wind
I have seen little animals running around in the great forests;
I have seen little fishes swimming in the waters, as if they belong to one large city
And I have seen little birds flying about in the sky

Chukwu bu nwoke mbu,
Nwoke mbu bi n’elu na uwa awa;
Chukwu bu nwaanyi mbu, nwaanyi mbu si na mmuo puta mmadu
Ya bu nwoke mbu burukwa nwaanyi mbu jezuru uwa niile

Chuwku is the first man,
The first man living in the sky when the earth appeared;
Chukwu is the first woman, the first woman who appeared from the land of the spirits to the land of the living
He is the first man and the first woman to walk round the whole world.

Eke bu otu nwoke na otu nwaanyi niime ndi mbu
Oye bu otu nowke na otu nwaanyi niime ndi mbu
Afo bu otu nowke na otu nwaanyi niime ndi mbu
Nkwo bu otu nowke na otu nwaanyi niime ndi mbu
Ha mmadu ino mbu si be chukwu muta oku so na ndi nwaanyi mbu
Ha biawara buru ukpa ahia ha bata n’Igbo na mgbe gboo
n’ututu nta
Ha ndi mbu nu uzo zuo ahaia n’ebe mmuo na mmadu na ezuko
ubosi ino na abali ano

Eke is one man and one woman among the first people
Oye is one man and one woman among the first people
Afor is one man and one woman among the first people
Nkwo is one man and one woman among the first people
These first four who brough fire from the abode of Chukwu are among the first women
They came carrying their long baskets to the land of the Igbo in very ancient ties
in the little dawns of light
These first men and women first traded their wares
in the meeting ground of spirits and men
In four days and four markets

Ma mu onwe’m abu’m mmadu gboo-
Otu akuku’m bu ihe, otu akuku anysi
Otu akuku’m bu nwoke, otu akuku’m nyaanyi
Mmadu gboo si n’uchichi puta chi
Mmadu gboo si na ihe muta oku;
Ka o di na mbu ka o di taata were ga-adigide
Mu si n’odu hara onu were puta were bido ije
Site na mu bu uzuzu ka a hazuru uwa niile
Site na abu mma-ndi ka a huru Osebuluwa
Chukwu-Okike

Abu’m otu onye na-eje ije ndudugandu
Mu si na ogbu toro ogbu were eje,
Mu bu Ogochukwu nwa Uzonwa
Ada Ezennaerika n’Oka-etiti
Mu Ogonna nnwa nna’m Anaagudo Agu
nnwa Agu Olukoo o gbue
Mu bu Ogochukwu, nwoke Isi udughuudu

And I one, I am an ancient man
One side of me is light, one side of me is night
One side of me is man, one side of me woman
An ancient man who emerged from darkness into light
An ancient man who drew fire from light
As it was in the beginning so it is now and so will it continue to be
I am he who emerged from the sound of a trumpet and started off on a journey
From the dust of the earth I am made, and from the dust of which I am made
the whole universe is seen
From the song of the beauty of life behold the great and might Spirit Osebuluuwa
Chukwu-Okike

I am one man who is continuually undergoing the journey of the generations
I Ogochukwu, child of my mother Uzonnwa
Daughter of Ezeaerika at Oka-etiti
I Ogochukwu, child of my father Aagudo, child of Olukoo O gbue
I Ogochukwu, man with the bushy hair

Echi di ime, one ma ihe o ga-amu?
Uwa di ka nwaanyi di ime bu ite n’isi
O nwgh onye ma mgbe ime ga-awado ya
O nweghikwanu one ma mgbe o ga-amu nyabu nnwa

Tomorrow is pregnant, no one knows what she will bring froth
The world is like a pregnant woman carrying her pot of water
No one knows when her labor wil begin
No one knows also when she will deliver that child

Echi di ime,
Ite ogwu ya riri nta na imo-
O bu onwa buru ma kpakpando
O bu ochichiri na ihe anyaanwu
O bu anwuru na-apu oku
O bu mmiri juputara uwa niile

Tomorrow is pregnant,
Its pot of medicine has taken in everything and all things
It has take the moon and the stars
It has taken the sun and the darkness,
It has taken rain-clouds carrying firebrands
It has taken water which fills all over the world

Nwaanyi mmuo ana-eje, na-asu ude nwaanyi di ime-
O bu uwa ya niile n’okuku ite ogwu ya,
Etua ka o siri buru na nwaanyi di ime bu ibu,
Nwaany mmuo na ibu ya ana-eme
Echi di ime, o nwegh onye ma ihe o ga-amu
Echi di ime, o nwegh oney ma mgbe o ga-exeda ibu

The spirit woman keeps going, heaving
like a pregnant woman
She is carrying all her world
Inside her medicine pot

Nwaanyi ime na ite gi awuru
Ndu akpoola igugu n’uzo ama gi, i were nye n’akwu
Nnwa a muru ohuru asaala chi
O narala oke chi ya were puta ihe
I muola ozuzu eke muo ozuzu oye
Anaanuw awagidela gi na oma ihu,
Anuri ejula gi obi

Behold, pregnant woman, your pot has broken
Life has flowered before your gate,
You have given to the nest what belongs to her
The newly born child has awakened
from darkness into the light of a new world
She has received her share of divine light
and so has come into the light of being
You have borne both male and female children
The sun has shone on you straight on the brow,
Your heart is filled with joy.

Ihe Chukwu ekezuola uwa niile
O werela ugofu ya chunaga anyaasi
Chi-ta amutala agu-ukwu na agu nta
O mutala ohimiri na mmirianyim
O mutala ilulo na oke osisi
O mutala anu-ohia na anu-ulo
O mutala anunu na-efe efe
O mutala elu na ala
O mutakwuola mmuo na mmadu

The light of Chukwu has shone in all the world
So that with his rays, he has chased away the darkness of night
This day has given birth to mighty forests and savannahs
It has given birth to mighty seas and oceans
It has given birth to green herbs and wooded lands
It has given birth to beasts of the forests and the creatures of home
It has given birth to the birds that fly
It has given birth to the sky and the earth
It has given birth to both spirits and humanity

Taata bu nkwo
Mmuo na mmadu ana-aga
Ndi bu odu, ma ndi bu oji
Mumuibiriachi, na ndi chiri ekwe,
Umuagbogho ndi ji jalijali oso
agbajekwulu Nkwo okwu

This Nkwo day
Spirits and men keep moving about
Those carrying ivory horns, and those carrying their sacred iron spears
Local women and those who have taken the ekwe title
Young maidens who with light and swift feet
Run to meet their beloved Nkwo

Nkwo oma ana-aga, nkwo oma ana-aga n’ilo
Ma mmuo ma mmadu, ha ana-akpaghari
Ma ndi na-ere ukpa, ma ndi na-ere mmanya ngwo
Ana-ha akpaghari
Bu ndi bu ukpa ahia ha
Ebe ha kwadogoro na taata bu nkwo
Na ahia ga-azu n’odu ndi ukwu

Beautiful Nkwo walks the streets, beautiful Nkwo walks along the streets
with men and spirits, they mill around
Those selling ukpa, and those selling upwine
They mill around carrying their long baskets
Since they are prepared that on this very Nkwo day
The fair will be at the stalls of the mighty

Ahia ewee buru otu ebe nnukwute mmuta
Ebe a na-eyie mma fuo ya onu;
Onye e yielu mma o na-ebe,
Onye o baara o kpowa so kekeke
Uwa ewere gwu m ike
Uwa ewere buru so otu oke mmuta
N’ahia nkwo
Ebe anyi jere iketakwa oke Chi ruru anyi
N’ubosi ahu ahia zuru n’ahia udele

The market then became one great place of knowledge
The market then become one very great place of learning
Here where hands cut deep into skins and blow cool air over them
Whoever is cut starts to cry
Whoever it profits starts to be crisp with laughter and I just became tired with the world
The world just became one great place of learning
At Nkwo marketplace
Where we went to get our shares of Chi
On that very day when a fair took place
At the market of vultures

Anyi ewere lawa,
lagide lagide lagide ije ebi-ebi
Lajekwute otu oke uchichi na oke oshimiri
Isi ewere buo anyi ka enyi
ka anyaasi dawasara anyi
Ka anyi siri diga
Ndi gba duu
Ma ndi ihu gbansim
Ma ndi ihu oma
Ma ndi oke ozu ha
Anyi niile n’ije any di iche iche
n’otu oke ozra ahu bu ndu
N’ije dnu a any na-eje

And we began going
Going and going and going on an everlasting journey
Came and met one great darkness and a mighty sea
And my head swelled like that of an elephant
As night befell us
As we went our different ways
As different as our Chi spirits
Those that were silent
And those who were quiet and indifferent
And those with the good face
And the really wealthy ones
All of us in our different journeys
In this great wilderness of life
In this journey of life which we are undertaking

Ula ka anyi niile na-alazi
M laruo ulo ka m zituo ibu m bu n’ukpa ahia m;
Ugolooma esorola chi na ubosi alaa
anyi sokwu chi na ubosi alaa
Anyaanwu adakpuola n’oshimiri
Ogonna nwoke isi udughuudu esorokwuola anyaanwu la ura
N’ogbu toro ogbu

Departing, departing, that s what we are now doing
On getting home I will lay down my long basket with which I went to the market
The eagle has gone with the light of day
As we also depart wit hthe day and the night;
The sun has fallen into the sea
Ogonna, man with the bushy haiir
has also accompanied the sun
into the depth of depths

R.I.P Ogonna Anaagudo-Agu

“We Came Out to Play”

Standard

by Ify Omalicha Agwu

The stars did not come
We began to chant and clap
The praises of the crescent
That the moon would not shut her eyes
At us waiting below the sky

The wind came whistling by
Laughing at our waiting.

If we ask Ogoo
Why the night is strutting by
in the dark
He’ll say the moon and stars
Are gone to the spirit land
To bring us a fortune
on Eke market day.

Now, we wait.

We know not many hidden ways
Lest we find you out
But you must come lighten this sky
That has grown dark with loneliness.


Come listen to our songs
Woven in our web of tales
Telling of births and life
Of yesterdays that never return
Of yesterdays that cling to now
Of todays that lie half-lived without tomorrow
And of many nights of tomorrow
When like Ogoo
We’ll know the ways of the wind and rain
Telling our children to clap and sing
While they wait for you to come to play.

R.I.P Ify Omalicha Agwu

Connecting to Your Ancestry

Standard

One of the things that all humans have  in common is that none of us came into this reality all by ourselves. We had people that came before us that literally opened up the doors for us, who we owe our very existence to. The most recent of these would be our parents. For this reason, and many others, reverence for ones parents is a principle that is in virtually every culture on the planet. This reverence also extends to ones grandparents, great-grandparents, and so forth. Due to the impacts of colonization and the transatlantic slave trade, many people of African descent have stopped showing this reverence, and therefore have become disconnected from their roots. This has resulted in a stagnation of culture, broken family structures and very poor self esteem in many people.

It now appears to be a renewed interest in connecting to ones ancestry, and figuring out where one has been. Websites like Ancestry.com have helped a number of people, as well as methods such as DNA testing. To encourage people to help connect to their roots, I have decided to share my experiences, observations, and insights I have received from my own ancestors (both the living and “non-living” ones).

The first thing I would recommend is for people to shift their perception of their ancestry. Many people today like to use terms such as “lineage.” The problem with the term “lineage” is that it generally only counts the males ancestors of ones father as being important. This is patriarchal, linear thinking! The fact is, you get the same amount of chromosomes from your father as you do from your mother. When you look at your ancestors in their totality, what you get looks less like a line and more like a pyramid. And guess who is at the apex? YOU!

Standing at the apex

If you go back just one generation, you have two ancestors. Go back two, and that number becomes six. Skip to ten generations and now you can have up to 2046 ancestors . Mind boggling isn’t it?  You are a combination of millions of years of evolution. You contain traits from every one of your ancestors, starting from the first divine seed that humanity sprang from (Ifenta, which means “small light” was the name of the first human in Igbo cosmogony).

One should not fall into the trap of elevating your ancestors above ones self. Some people use the term “ancestor worship” to describe what a lot of Africans do to those that came beforehand. While I feel that back in the day, it was a misnomer, from my observations, today many people of African descent do tend to put to put their ancestors on a pedistool that they are unable to reach. Rather than elevating them to a high place, think of them as people in a relay race who have passed their torch to you. Your job is to run faster than they did. As long as you are caught up in worshipping them, you can never outdo them.

Passing the baton

With that being said, I would say that the first thing one should do if they wish to connect with their ancestry is to begin with your relatives that are in the flesh. This is a step that TOO many people neglect to do. It troubles me to see folks who yell and scream about their “ancient” ancestors but haven’t made sincere attempts to have a good relationship with their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or other living relatives.  The very first time I connected with my “non-living” paternal grandfather, it was a powerful experience. While in meditation, I began to focus on his image and name intensely. In making the connection, he told me very clearly that if I really wished to be able to connect with him on a deeper level, that I would have to connect better with my father, who I have often had a rocky relationship with. But it makes sense doesn’t it? Your parents are the bridge to your grandparents, and if you have a blockage in that relationship, it will extend to any deeper ones. The point that I’m trying to make is that one should do things in the right order.  It would be crazy to try to climb Mount Everest before conquering a small hill, just like it would be crazy to try to connect with some “ancient” ancestors if you don’t even have a good relationship with your recent ones.

I am blessed to still have both of my parents, and I have one grandparent left (on my mothers side). I met my maternal grandfather before he passed, and also my paternal grandmother when I was a baby. If you have any living grandparents, or great-aunts or uncles, you are a lucky person indeed. They are a living gateway to your “non living” ancestors, and you should took full advantage of their presence in the physical. Talk to them as much as you can, and if possible record the conversations using either audio or video. These conversations will prove to be invaluable in the future, both for yourself as well as your descendants, especially after they have made their transition. Don’t hesitate to also record conversations with other relatives including aunts and uncles, as well as your parents.

"Ana Muo" (Land of the Spirits) by Uche Okeke

A very important step that I would implore everyone to do is to take it upon themselves to create a family tree. This one single action can open up doors in ways that many people could not even imagine. By creating a family tree, you put together a puzzle that shows “your ingredients”, start to retrace the footsteps of your ancestors, and you gain the support of elders in your family and appreciation of the younger generations. Plus it will help you to connect to your ancestors more if you know their names,  what they looked like, where they were born, what they did for a living, how they lived, etc. Take note:  African definitions of family differ from the Western definitions as they includes as many people as possible from a particular bloodline, i.e extended family. That means aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone in between. However, you can go as deep as you see fit.

Creating your family tree will quite literally be like trying to solve a grand mystery. In fact, to do it well, you will have to interview numerous family members of different ages, most likely visit various cities, states or countries, look into public records, etc. It will not be an easy process, but along the way, you will build key relationships, get valuable information, perhaps get hold of  key family artifacts and relics, and maybe even uncover some priceless secrets! One thing for sure, you and your family will not be the same after you start this process.

If you are a person that has a limited knowledge of their ancestry due to the Maafa (African Holocaust),  you might want to go and take a DNA test. These tests can trace your maternal lineage as well as your paternal lineage even down to a specific ethnic group in Africa. I personally would recommend African Ancestry as they are a black owned company and a number of my good friends have gotten excellent results from them.

Creating a family tree will turn you into Sherlock Holmes

As you continue on your ancestral odyssey, once crucial thing I would recommend you to start building would be an ancestral shrine. Although the word “shrine” has negative connotations due to Judeo-Christian propaganda, one definition of a shrine is simply “A site hallowed by association with a revered person or object or with an important event.” Another word for this would be a memorial. Here are some examples of some popular shrines:

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Stonewall Jackson Shrine

Shrine of the Black Madonna

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

All the time and energy you spent on putting together your family tree will enhance the ancestral shrine that you construct. Keep in mind however, that there is no “right way” to build an ancestral shrine. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that whatever is done on the African continent is more “correct” than what you can come up with. Let your spirit guide you, and you won’t be mislead. I recall a lecture I attended a few years ago from an organization who had a program of helping teach Africans in the Diaspora how to construct ancestral shrines. The women giving the lecture said that when they had an event with some older Black American women from the south, the presenters actually ending up learning more from the older Black women!

I’ve seen simple shrines and I’ve seen complex shrines. Use your imagination! Utilize pictures, personal possessions, candles, historical memorabilia, etc. to create your ancestral shrine. If you want, you can also include an alter where you can place water, plants, seeds, as well as articles of food or alcohol from time to time. Traditional Igbo ancestral altars typically contained sacred objects such as an Ofo stick (passed down from generation to generation) and an Ikenga. Kola nuts were broken at it every morning accompanied by a prayer for good favor.  Below is an example of one:

Igbo Ancestral Shrine

Here are some examples of ancestral shrines and altars from different cultures:

Urhobo Ancestral Shrine

Edo (Benin) Ancestral Shrine & Altar

A Korean jesa altar for ancestors

Mexican Day of the Dead Outdoor Altar

A Vietnamese altar for ancestors

Haitian Voodoo Ancestral Altar

I foresee a future where ancestral alters will resemble the hologram of  his father Jor-El that Superman keeps in his Fortress of Solitude, as seen in many of the Superman films. Its one project that I’m personally working on making a reality.

As you continue your journey, you will start to become aware of your ancestors speaking to you through signs, symbols, dreams, as well as through other people. In time, you will learn the language that they speak, and be able to communicate more effectively with them. If at any time you feel isolated or in need of guidance, become very still and remember that your ancestors live in you, and they will always be there to support you. Your body is a living shrine to them and your positive actions are better than any type of sacrifice you could offer them or libation you could pour. Yagazie (May we prosper) !

Dim Ojukwu: First Amongst Equals

Standard

by Augustine C. Ohanwe

A huge gaping gap
Is left unfilled
And its implications so vast
And beyond the grasp of an ordinary man.

Dim Ojukwu weeps
As he glides along the eternal lane.
Yes, he weeps, for we are a mere flotsam
Inside a boat in a capricious sea of existence.

Yes he weeps
’cause our boat needs a rudder
And a compass
To direct it to the harbour to berthe

Is it not true
That when the iroko tree falls,
Dwarfs tighten their girdles
To climb over it.

But after death
Dim Ojukwu proved to be huger than life.
And our today’s leaders
Have lots to learn from him.

He did not come
To line up his pockets but to serve.
His vision was to transform
And to challenge the status quo

His action, born in response
To events manufactured by history
And he rendered his vision in the present tense
As to bring the future near to his people.

Call him a rebel,
And he would respond
That he had a cause,
A cause to meet the needs of his people.

His mind created metaphors,
Symbols, slogans and examples.
Yes, whatever his shortcomings,
His people did admire him till death.

And clouds yeilded up their lightenings
To be imprisoned in his political rod.
In darkest hour of our history,
He proved his meetles.

Rest in Peace

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

(November 4, 1933– November 26, 2011)

Ezeigbo (King of the Igbo)

Ikemba (Strength of the people) of Nnewi

Dikedioramma (Beloved hero of the masses)