Category Archives: History

A Re-Emerging Scam: A Review of The Jews of Nigeria Part 3

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ReEmerging

In the last part of this article, I began the process of evaluating the claims made by Jeff Lieberman and the Igbo Jews in “The Jews of Nigeria” film. This segment was originally meant to touch on seven areas, but I have decided to present on just four areas this time, and then conclude with three for the final part. The four areas that will be evaluated will be Linguistics, Christianity & Igbo Tradition, Family & Village Traditions, and Artifacts.

1. LINGUISTICS

One of the Igbo Jewish teachers in the film attempts to use pseudo-linguistics to show a similarity between Igbo and Hebrew. He makes a number of statements that range from comical to downright insulting to the intelligence of viewers.

“I believe that the word Igbo or Ibo is a corruption of Ibri or Ivri” – Eben Cohen

“There are alot of Igbo words that sound quite similar to that of Hebrew. Igbo is getting from the word Ivrim.” – Eben Cohen

Mr. Eben Cohen is so desperate to establish a connection between Igbo and Hebrew that he even shamefully makes the claim that the word Igbo is nothing but a corruption of a Hebrew word. Besides showing his massive inferiority complex, he also neglects the fact that the “gb” in Igbo (pronounced EE-g-bow) is considered one letter, as it is in other West African languages. Furthermore, its very well known that the word Igbo is found in other languages in Nigeria:

“Among the Yoruba – speaking people of the Kwa language to which the Igbo belongs, the expression ‘igbo” was very popular. He points to the Yoruba tradition which says that ‘the indigenous people whom their cultural hero, Oduduwa and his followers met at Ife were the Igbo.’ Furthermore, ‘we find among the Yoruba, place names like Oke-Igbo and Ijebu-Igbo…while ‘igbo” the bird, reflects the forest environment…While the linguistic authority, J.H Greensberg has placed the homeland of the Bantu speaking peoples in south-eastern Nigeria, J.A Ademakinwa, an Ife historian concludes that it was possible the Igbo retained the name of the original population of Eastern Nigeria”

SOURCE: “The Igbo and Their Niger Delta Neighbors” By Nnai J. O. Ijeaku (page 16-17)

Cohen’s silly pseudo-linguistic examples continue:

“Kol in Hebrew means voice, ool in Igbo means voice” – Eben Cohen

Actual Igbo words for voice: Olu or Onu

SOURCE: “Igbo English Dictionary” by Michael J.C Echeruo

“Ketan: Hebrew for little or small, nkenta in Igbo” – Eben Cohen

Actual definition of Nkenta – allotment or share

Igbo words for small: nta, obere, ogbede, mpe mpe

SOURCE: “Igbo English Dictionary” by Michael J.C Echeruo

“If these people are not descendants of Israel, how come their languages rhymes with that of Israel?” – Eben Cohen

Perhaps in Eben’s demented world, Igbo language resembles Hebrew. Of course, this would mean that native Igbo speakers would be able to understand Hebrew, the same way that speakers of pidgin English can understand British English or Haitian Kreyol speakers can generally understand French. Igbos cannot understand Hebrew whatsoever because its totally unrelated to it:

“The Igbo language (also known, less commonly as Ibo) is an African language, spoken in several African countries including Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Congo among others.

It belongs to the ‘Benue-Congo’ family of languages, which is a subgroup of the major ‘Niger-Congo’ family of languages. It is similar to Yoruba and Chinese in the sense that it is a tonal language. Like many African languages, the Igbo language has to its credit a number of dialects, distinguished by accent or orthography but almost universally mutually intelligible.”

SOURCE: “Development of Igbo Language E-Learning System” by Olufemi Moses Oyelami. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE October 2008 ISSN 1302-6488 Volume: 9 Number: 4 Article 2

Eben goes to make a pretty revealing statement later in the film:

“Initially there was no vast knowledge of Hebrew here, even though they have the Hebrew alphabet” – Eben Cohen

Despite the fact Igbos today have a vast knowledge of multiple dialects and even there is even evidence of Igbo scripts that predate the Latin one (Nsibidi & Uli for example), Eben Cohen wants us to believe that their real original language was Hebrew…which there is no vast knowledge of whatsoever in Igboland today. In fact, they would have to learn their true “original” language from foreign sources. Does that make any type of sense?

Court Record written in Nsibidi script

Court Record written in Nsibidi script

“We look forward to the day we will be perfect. By having our conversations fully, hours of conversations all in Hebrew. That is the day we will term ourselves perfect people.” – Eben Cohen

Well obviously being able to have full conversations in Igbo isn’t good enough for people like Eben Cohen. He wants to be able to converse fully in the totally foreign Hebrew language in order for him to be “perfect.” Its no different than a person saying the same thing about being fluent in the English language making them  a better person, and is also more proof of the massive inferiority complex of Eben Cohen and the other Igbo Jews.

2. CHRISTIANITY & IGBO TRADITION

One of the oddest arguments that Lieberman makes in this film is that the introduction of Christianity into Igboland made its people totally forget their traditions and their origins. In the early part of the documentary, Lieberman tries to make the case that Igbo traditions somehow were lost due to colonization:

“In a land confused by outside forces, those traditions began to bear a different name”- Jeff Lieberman

Fortunately for Igbo people, Lieberman is mistaken. The Igbo customs have are known as Omenala or Odinani. Which means “it rests upon the Earth.” Christianity and Odinani have been practiced side by side for almost 100 years, although they have influenced one another. In fact, the idea that colonization would make people totally forget their origins and traditions is quite insulting to Igbo people’s intelligence. Yet another example of Lieberman’s patronizing attitude. This passage, which tells of the impact that Christianity had in the Igbo town of Nsukka is mirrored in many places of Igboland:

“When describing this belief system, I have adopted the present tense, since British colonialism and Christianity did not destroy or completely replace Nsukka religion. If anything, Christianity and traditional religion coexisted, often peacefully and conflict arose only when one religion tried to suppress the other.”

SOURCE: “Igo Mma Ogo: The Adoro Goddess, Her Wives, and Challengers—Influences on the Reconstruction of Alor-Uno, Northern Igboland, 1890-1994” by Nwando Achebe. Journal of Women’s History, Volume 14, Number 4, Winter 2003, pp. 83-105

Lieberman continues with this ironic statement:

“Like much of Africa, Nigeria suffers from a complicated sense of identity, due to the impact of outside forces. Nigeria’s fate came at the hands of the British, who began arriving in the middle of the 1600s. “ – Jeff Lieberman

Its pretty interesting that Lieberman can note that outside forces have complicated the sense of identity of many Nigerians, but doesn’t seem to include himself as contributing to this confusion. With people like him trying to reintroduce the failed Oriental hypothesis, would Judaism now count as an outside force? Furthermore, he incorrectly states that the British began arriving in the 1600s, when it really the Portuguese. Did Lieberman even attempt to fact check before putting out this film?

“The British administration was eventually established, and what followed were schools and churches. The Igbo initially rejected the churches, but attended the schools, thinking that they would eventually outsmart their oppressors. Before they realized that the schools and the churches were the same, more than half the Igbo were already converted.” — Jeff Lieberman

Funny enough, not one of those pictures shown in the film portrayed Igbo people during the colonial era. One can click here to see actual pictures of Igbo people during the colonial era. Secondly, the reason that many were converted was because the schools catered to children, who were far easier to indoctrinate than adults.

Igbo Men over 100 years ago

Continuing:

“Missionaries boosted their efforts in the 1980s, this time lead by the American Pentecostals.” – Jeff Lieberman

Coincidentally, it was soon after, that the Igbo-Jew fable began to re-emerge as well as shown in part 1. Next Lieberman attempts to paint a simple picture of Nigeria’s religious landscape either out of ignorance or deception:

“In this fervently religious nation, where’s there’s not an atheist or agnostic in sight, the country’s 130 million divide roughly equally amongst Muslims and Christians.” – Jeff Lieberman

Why does Jeff Lieberman continually ignore the traditional religions which are still heavily practice to this day? According to the CIA World Factbook, 10% of Nigerians adhere to their traditional religious practice. However, this number only accounts for peoples primary religious affiliation. If one were to add the number of people in Nigeria who still adhere to the traditional practices as their secondary religion, the number would jump up substantially to over 50%. The Nigerian Constitution even recognizes traditional religious rulers and customs. But that doesn’t stop Jeff Lieberman from continuing to spread his propaganda to uninformed audiences:

“While the link between the Igbo & Judaism are obvious to many Igbo, those practicing Judaism are small in number. Rough estimates figure that its less than 3000 that have embraced the faith. While the vast majority of Igbo remain active Christians.” – Jeff Lieberman

“As one of the three largest groups of Nigeria, the Igbo number approximately 25 million, and as the movement towards Judaism continues to grow, it has the potential to create a Jewish community of enormous size.” – Jeff Lieberman

Once again, Lieberman makes more misleading statements that are easily debunked by the facts on the ground . As pointed out in Part 1, the Oriental hypothesis of Igbo origin was discounted nearly 100 years ago. It was obvious to both the Europeans that introduced it as well as the native Igbos that the racist theory was based on little to no evidence.

The miniscule amount of people that practice Judaism in Igboland despite the “obvious links” should be a red flag to anyone who subscribes to this dead theory, as discussed by Rabbi Gorrin at one of the Re-Emerging Film talkback sessions:


Even more concerning should be the fact that there are alot more practitioners of the Igbo traditional religion than there are Igbo practitioners of Judaism. According to the CIA factbook, Nigeria’s Igbo population is roughly 30 million people. If the same percentage of them practiced their traditional religion as their primary religion, as is the national average, that would put the number of traditional practitioners at 3 million, more than 10X the amount of Igbos practicing Judaism in any capacity. Even if only 5% of Igbos practiced the traditional religion as their primary religion, that would still put the number at 1.5 million practitioners, most of whom live in rural areas. This is further buttressed by the number of traditional priests, priestesses and native doctors that still are able to obtain clients. If there was a movement of Igbos away from Christianity, it would be back to their native religion, and not to equally foreign religion of Judaism.

3. FAMILY & VILLAGE TRADITIONS

As Samuel and others begin to tell their stories, alot of holes start to pop up which cast doubt on the Igbo-Jewish idea:

“He (Samuel) studies whatever materials he can lay his hands on, and is amazed by how Jewish traditions mirror that of the Igbo. Samuel’s search has lead him home” – Jeff Lieberman

But how can this be? If Samuel actually studied whatever materials he could lay his hands on, he would have been aware that multiple Igbo historians have debunked the Oriental hypothesis, as demonstrated in part 1. And an analysis on both traditions will show that most of the claims of similarity are either overstated or downright fabricated, as demonstrated in part 2. Continuing:

“My father is an enlightened man. I still say it, that he was the first person to tell me about Judaism. But my mother was deceived by her friends, that I had joined an occultic society…my father tried to convince her that Judaism is a pure religion, but she wouldn’t listen ” – Samuel

Samuel’s father obviously isn’t a Christian. But he doesn’t practice Judaism either. Clearly, the mother also doesn’t, but if Judaism was really their ancestral tradition, why would the mother and her friends confuse it with an occult society? Especially since most of them have no problem no problem with masquerade societies:

When I went to Arochukwu to join the Ekpe traditional men’s society, I wasn’t condemned by members of my family. In fact, many people praised me for keeping the tradition alive, and my experience isn’t unique, and apparently Samuel’s isn’t either, but for a very different reason:

“Samuel’s experience is not uncommon. Those returning to Judaism face opposition from all sides” – Jeff Lieberman

Could this have anything to do with the fact that the traditional religion of the Igbos is still being practiced today? Igbo Christians recognize and respect many of the traditional practices and beliefs. But what the Igbo Jews are practicing is something completely alien to people in Nigeria, hence why there is alot of opposition to it. The experiences of Miriam add further evidence to this point:

“I’ve not really gone into my village so deeply because since I got married, when I did my wedding, when they saw people with kippahs, when they saw when we did our Ketubah marriage, when we break the glass, they were so scared, they were even crying, they said that my husband has initiated me in a cult” – Miriam

This may in fact be one of the most damning statements in the entire video. Lets look at this rationally: Its a fact that the traditional religion and practices are strongest in the village. Even to this day, people go to the village to do their traditional wedding before they do their Christian one. Even I have seen a video of my parents traditional wedding in the village.

If what Miriam had done was actually a traditional wedding, why would people in the village be scared of it? One can see the various traditional rites of Igbo marriage that are still practiced to this day right on Youtube.


Do they resemble the Jewish rites in any way?

“I’m still living in isolation in my family. I’m like an outcast among them.” – Igbo Jewish man

One open secret amongst many Nigerians is that there is usually at least one member of the family that openly practices the traditional religion As long at as that person isn’t engaging in taboo behavior, there is no reason for them to be isolated from their family. The people in my family that openly practice the traditional religion are not only respected, but are also consulted when spiritual issues arise.

4. ARTIFACTS

The lack of physical evidence that the Igbo Jews have casts more doubt on their story. However, the little physical evidence that they do present is not only misleading, its actually fraudulent.

“And even when they came down here, they constructed a monument at Aguleri called Obu-Gad.” – Igbo Jewish man

If Jeff Lieberman had done his homework, he would have found out that the name of the place was actually Obu Uga (or Obuga for short), and has only been called Obu-Gad in recent years, when the people of Aguleri realized that they could use this re-emerging scam to promote their town, even going so far as to create this hoax.

Alleged Hebrew text written by Eri. Somebody forgot to inform the scam artists that cowries are a fairly recent import to West Africa

Alleged Hebrew text written by Eri. Somebody forgot to inform the scam artists that cowries are a fairly recent import to West Africa

“In Aguleri the elders told Jeffreys in 1930 that: ‘…there are trenches (ekpe) that encircle Obuga and those trenches were told by our father were dug by the Igala in the old days as protection against the Igbo. In this trench people took refuge when an attack began. Afterwards the Igala went away …’ (Jeffreys 1930, 689)”

SOURCE: West African Journal of Archaeology, Volumes 12-13, page 56

Revisiting this quote from part 1, it makes you wonder why even the supporters of the Oriental hypothesis like Jeffreys weren’t informed of this so called Obu-Gad, especially since it would have added credence to their theory:

“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.”

SOURCE: “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

When Rabbi Gorrin visits Nigeria, the people there have never seen a Torah in their lives:

“Then taking out a Torah scroll and unwrapping it and have them walk inside and see a Torah for the first time…” – Rabbi Howard Gorrin

But these same people had no doubt seen Ofo sticks, Mbari shrines, Ikenga figurines and other traditional artifacts:

“Excavations at Ugwuele, Nsukka and Afikpo show evidences of long habitation as early as 6000 B.C. However by 9th century A.D, it seemed most clearly that Igbo had settled firmly in Igboland”

SOURCE: “Migration and the Economy: Igbo Migrants and the Nigerian Economy 1900 to 1975” By Mathias Chinonyere Mgbeafulu, Page 10

So let’s get this straight. Igbos have artifacts in Igbo Ukwu that go back up to 8000 years. This is before anyone named Abraham, Isaac or Jacob would have existed. But the Igbo Jews want us to believe that they migrated from Israel but didn’t bring a single copy of ANY of the Jewish scriptures with them? Or even an artifact? Well Chukwu Dalu (Thank God) that Igbo ancestors left a multitude of artifacts for us to enjoy:

In summary, the Igbo Jews resort to using pseudo-linguistics in a failed attempt to link Igbo language with Hebrew, totally misrepresent the impact that Christianity has had on the Igbo traditional religion, demonstrate that Judaism is a foreign tradition as evidenced by the reactions of their family and village members, and last but not least, present fraudulent artifacts as evidence. In the fourth and final part, the following claims will be covered: Igbos & The State of Israel, “Expert” Opinions & DNA Testing.

Fraud

SOURCES CITED:

  1. “The Igbo and Their Niger Delta Neighbors” By Nnai J. O. Ijeaku (page 16-17)
  2. “Igbo English Dictionary” by Michael J.C Echeruo
  3. “Development of Igbo Language E-Learning System” by Olufemi Moses Oyelami. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE October 2008 ISSN 1302-6488 Volume: 9 Number: 4 Article 2
  4. “Igo Mma Ogo: The Adoro Goddess, Her Wives, and Challengers—Influences on the Reconstruction of Alor-Uno, Northern Igboland, 1890-1994” by Nwando Achebe. Journal of Women’s History, Volume 14, Number 4, Winter 2003, pp. 83-105
  5. West African Journal of Archaeology, Volumes 12-13, page 56
  6. “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
  7. “Migration and the Economy: Igbo Migrants and the Nigerian Economy 1900 to 1975” By Mathias Chinonyere Mgbeafulu, Page 10
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The Old Woman of Immense Wisdom: On the Mystical Science Behind the Afa Akpụkpala Oracular System

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By Nze Chukwuka Omenigbo Nwafor

“For man, everything he needed, he needs and or he shall need has been provided. With leaves and the like we can perform any action which modern science (western) cannot anticipate of even in the next ten thousand years or more”—Nwankwo Nnabuchi (In Defence of Igbo Belief System, 1987)

Mythical Origin of Akpụkpala as described in “After God is Dibia Vol 1” page 86

Áfá/Ává/Áhá (pronounced differently from the Āfà for “name”) is an Igbo term that denotes all oracular, divinatory, predictive and clairvoyance practices; only seconded by the much more conversant practice of Amuma or Ibu Amuma – Prophecy. Among the virtually listless variety of divination systems found in Igbo culture, which run well into their hundreds, the primordial Akpụkpala system of divination has surfaced as the most sophisticated, versatile, accurate, enduring and encompassing system thereof; employed successfully since time immemorial in determining and addressing all phenomena.

Rightly so, various questions have been raised by both dedicated scholars and keen enthusiasts of Igbo culture around the world as to the underlying mystery behind the prominently ancient Afa Akpụkpala divination system. Many have attempted to explain and even compare it with the far more recent binary computing system of Western epistemological tradition; an approach that is highly flawed in itself but somewhat aids in lifting the heavy veil of mystery in which the Akpụkpala divination system has been much shrouded in. Indeed, as concerns the profound mystical science undergirding the Akpụkpala divination practice, Prof. Onwuejeogwu (1997) and Prof J. A. Umeh (1999) has in their respective ways, invested great efforts in bringing some of the primary mysteries undergirding the Akpụkpala oracle to academic light. Umeh for instance elucidated that, “this form of divination has its own language which the Igbo people believe to be not only the oldest Igbo language but also indeed the oldest language in the whole world” (Umeh 1999). Quoting Nwankwo Nnabuchi, he maintained that,

“The language of Ikpakpala [Akpụkpala] was based on the original Igbo language which was later modified in the time Amuta [Uga Chi] to accommodate the known innovations. Subsequent to that, there were other modification which gave rise to the loss of a higher percentage of the original concept. This development notwithstanding, its language is still the oldest language in Igbo history. Some people call it the language of Dibias. It is correct because it is the Dibias who still retain some of the earlier culture, practices and religious rites….the study of Ikpukpala shall to an extent reveal a lot about the origins of Igbos (Umeh 1999: 84; emphasis mine).”

divination

Akpụkpala oracle

However, as one would agree, at the time of the penning of Umeh and Onwuejeogwu’s individual monumental works, the likes of Ron Eglash (2005) and Gabriel Oyibo (2002) whose much welcome research revelations are gradually revolutionizing the world of contemporary mathematics and physics were yet to significantly emerge. And even now that they’re here, one still recognizes how incredibly difficult a task it is to initiate a full-fledged scientific exegesis on the Akpụkpala oracle, talk more of fully accomplishing such a project.

Agreeably, perseverance in the face of mounting obstacles is a must, if such colossal tasks are to be accomplished by Africans in this day and time. However, frankly speaking, asides all the ritualized ethics of “discreet practice” embedded in Igbo sacred traditions which even Prof. J. A. Umeh himself confessedly had to override to write his book, asides all that, attempts of elucidating the under-girding mystical principles animating the Akpụkpala oracle naturally embodies a herculean task for anybody since contemporary science is yet to develop any meaningful and somewhat analogous scientific cum epistemic system that can mirror the great mysteries of the Akpụkpala oracle.

Infact, as it appears, the algebraically contrived binary computing system and more recently, quantum computing system is as far as the Western mind can attempt of this feat. But one should be aware that the binary encoding threshold system (Akwu na Obi) as confessedly extracted from the ancient Akpụkpala system by Western seekers merely embodies one of the preliminary, Akashic gateways that an Afa adept (Dibia Afa) has to “pass through” (Ịkwu Afa – literally, jumping into Afa/shifting into the Afa mode of consciousness) before arriving the 5th dimension from where the herculean task of Afa-seeking (Igba Afa) actually takes off and well-extends into an infinity of dimensions or universes.

As such, considering the highly sophisticated methodologies, ritualized speech and mystical knowledge that under-girds the utilization, sustenance and successful application of the Afa Akpụkpala oracle, it becomes highly apparent that the binary computing system as “formulated” by Westerners is but a helpless recourse to mathematical theorization in an attempt to engage a phenomenon that clearly transcends this four dimensional plane of existence (ahịa n’anọ, ụbọchị n’anọ i.e. 4 market holdings = space and 4 diurnal cycles = time). Indeed, what these early Western seekers of African sacred knowledge concocted up as the “binary computing system” is honestly atrocious and pale in comparison to the profound essence embodied in the Akpụkpala oracle.

Binary code

Binary code

As such, one can rightly assert that, any attempts by African scholars and researchers to utilize such tentative, Western-concocted “information systems” to explain the profound principles and procedures of the great Akpụkpala oracle will merely amount to an innovative boost for the Western epistemological tradition and nothing else; since these are actually plagiarized systems in essence. It is the author’s candid suggestion, that such interested scholars and researchers should engage these original, African mystical systems of knowing from their indigenously conceived and understood perspectives. Secondly, the problem with attempting to utilize even the recently concocted “quantum computing system” in explaining Akpụkpala oracle (QCS was imperfectly plagiarized almost word-for-word from the Dogon “fox-sand-seed-fingerprint” divination system – again the mystical number “4” is key here) lies in the narrowness of its cosmological scope.

Let us not forget that the Western epistemological tradition whose global hegemony continues to stifle other richer, epistemological traditions from enlightening humanity is still in denial of Ala Mmụọ (the other inter-existing worlds/universes/dimensions). Besides, as with BCS, any careful analysis of QCS (Quantum Computing System) will readily reveal that it is simply the result of Western seekers, once again, extrapolating about 10-15% of the embedded principles found in the mystical “fox-seed-sand-fingerprint” divination system of the generous Dogon people and transforming the same into a mere, quantum-mathematical “information system”. Whereas the original Dogon system is actually post-quantum oriented! And even at that, QCS is virtually still in its theorization stage!

Selection from page 90 of After God is Dibia Vol 1

A selection of Akpụkpala combinations from page 90 of “After God is Dibia Vol 2” by John Umeh

Quite simply, the point being made here is that the original parent, mystical systems of these concocted forms of “information systems” clearly transcends the “quantifiable” or empirical mode of consciousness which the Western epistemic tradition appears to be trapped in. Infact, as attested by Umeh on this issue, “in a situation where one has to select one meaning out of 823,543 meanings per each Afa seed words the task clearly defies quantification or description” (Umeh 1999). Thus, as the likes of Umeh, Oyibo, Eglash, Afigbo etc. have respectively pointed out, African epistemological systems are mystical in principle and as such are post-empirical, pot-literate and post analytic in nature.

Their profound solution systems, operative bearings, determinative and harmonizing capabilities encompasses but ultimately transcends the empirical scientific system of today’s world. This truth in itself, embodies an insurmountable proof that humanity has known far more advanced civilizations in the past. One is only left in wonder as to how Africans allowed and continue to allow themselves to be convinced by anyone to abandon such a profoundly advanced resource and constitutive element of their super civilization.

Hence, after considering such deep-seated epistemic and academic flaws encountered in candid attempts of elucidating the undergirding mysteries of the Afa Akpụkpala oracle, one is left no choice but to recourse to the original Igbo epistemological system for reference (as Indian scholars still do today). And likewise, since most of the hardcore sacred knowledge embedded in Igbo culture are seldom couched in demotic Igbo, one also has no choice but to recourse to the ritualized oracular tongue of Afa (a sonically distinct, highfrequency meta-language essential for oracular programming, slightly distinct from the original Afa mother-tongue itself known as Ofu Ora) for any precise and articulate presentation of this mystical, Igbo divination system.

"After God is Dibia Vol 2" by John Umeh

“After God is Dibia Vol 2” by John Umeh

Speaking to this, Umeh has specified that “Afa is a mystery tongue of the Dibia, unknown to all save those admitted to the requisite Afa Mysteries that require the Afa language…It is the very language which the Igbos believe the Gods, Goddesses and other Spirits speak” (Umeh 1999). Infact, he went ahead and defined the Akpụkpala oracle as “a mystic super-computer of limitless capacity as well as limitless retrieval abilities” (Umeh 1999). Further still, he specified that, It is the most scientific of all divination methods as afar as the state of scientific knowledge stands in the world today, and so, those who are obsessed with having scientific explanation even for metaphysical complexities, issues and realities which our present day sciences have not yet developed fully into understanding, can more easily learn and appreciate his form of divination (Umeh 1999: 84).

In conclusion, it should be noted that since one can thus far demonstrate a sense of what the Afa Akpụkpala oracle conceptually and operatively entails, in both the mystical and modern scientific sense, the cogent question for Igbo thinkers, scientists, policy makers, scholars, researchers et. al. is as thus: how will this profound system of inquiry,  learning and harmonization once again advance the Igbo civilization of this day and time? Indeed, the oracle itself is as ever vibrant, competent and productive as always, as aptly captured in one of its mystical appellations as “agadi nwanyi osi asili” literally, “the ever gossiping [informing] old woman”.

The problem is when will the Igbo mind fully awaken to its matchless, God-given genius abilities and take up their Akpụkpala seeds and divine another wondrous civilization into reality as they were highly renowned of in the past. Indeed, whether they will realize this soon enough, or later on with much disappointment and whether they will ever be able to undress their acquired western “intellectual costumes of the mind” and humbly approach the wise, mystical oracular systems of their ancestors for guidance, profound knowledge, wisdom and understanding is entirely up to them.

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References_____________________________________________________________
1. Umeh, J. A. 1999. After God Is Dibia, Vol. II. London: Karnak House
2. Afigbo, A. E. 2001. Time and Its Measurement in Igbo Culture. Nigerian Heritage: Journal of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments. 10, 2001, pages 11-21.
3. Onwuejeogwu, M. A. 1997. Afa Symbolism & Phenomenology in Nri Kingdom and Hegemony. Nigeria: Ethiope Publishing Corporation
4. Eglash, Ron. 2005. African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press
5. Oyibo, G. A. 2002. Grand Unified Theorem: Representation of the Unified Theory or The Theory of Everything. New York: Nova Science Pub. Inc.
6. Griaule, M. and Dieterlen, G. 1986. The Pale Fox. Continuum Foundation.
7. Nielsen, Michael A. and Chuang, Isaac L. 2010. Quantum Computation and Quantum Information: 10th Anniversary Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
8. Nnabuchi, Nwankwo. 1987. In Defence of Igbo Belief System: A Dialectical Approach. Nigeria: Life Paths Print. Press
9. Chimakonam, Jonathan O. 2012. Introducing African Science: Systematic and Philosophical Approach (Studies in African Philosophy, Science, Logic and Mathematics). Indiana: AuthorHouse

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

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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.

Chukwu Bu Ulidereuwa: Odinala, Igbo Antiquity and the Esoteric Roots of Human Expressions

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by Nze Izo Omenigbo

“Anyanwu rie asaa kwuru,

Ala ejiri Edeuli kwado ya” 

If the Sun consumes seven and survives,

The Earth will back it with Uli expressions”

—Igbo Mystical Axiom

Igbo Uli

The Expression of the Sacred in Igbo Culture

The nature of expression (divine/sacred, mundane, mystical, occult and aesthetic) in Igbo culture is captured in many well-known Igbo proverbs. The following three examples are very key in this particular sense, “Onye n’akwa nka na adu ihu: the artist/craft-adept often appears to wear a frown in the process of their work”, “Edeala mara mma bu umeala onye dere ya: the beauty of Edeala sacred expression lies in the calmness of its scribe” and “Ube nkiti nwa nnunu bere n’ohia bu izu mmuo gbaara Dibia: the most simple expression of a bird is wisdom to the Dibia—coming from the spirit world”.

In all three axioms, it can be observed that a certain trait appears to be deep rooted in the traditional Igbo mind, and this is the act of often equating mundane observations with spiritual/phenomenal origins/qualities. To the contemporary mind, of course, this will seem ridiculous. However, in many provable ways, this pattern of understanding has been recognized as a major intellectual catalyst in some of the world’s earliest artistic/scribal traditions and societies.

In pre-modern times—contrary to conventional notions—there were at least four existing Igbo scripts, these were Edeala, Uli, Ukara and Nsibiri/Nsibidi. There is no known single origin of the scribal tradition in Igbo culture and most of the available accounts are heavily couched in myths as is the tradition; the better part of which are reserved for the highest initiates. However, some of these mythic narrations (given their heavy roles in the enculturation process of the general society) were often modified by the priests and passed on to the community griots—who later narrated these stories to the young/old of the society.

Court Record written in Nsibidi script

Also, significant of mention is the existence of many other cult symbol scripts, many of which are yet to be written down or even conventionally known. In a nut shell, it’s a well-accepted fact (at least within honest academic circles) that the scribal tradition has its roots in Africa. Yet often than not, there have also been adverse arguments as to whether such preserved/discovered inscriptions are of direct/literal or symbolic orientations; in other words, if they qualify as “writings” as we understand them today. Needless to say, this approach of judgment is highly biased; since strictly speaking, most ancient societies understood human expression—and expression generally—to be symbolic in its primary nature.

Resolvedly, most of the less esoteric cult teachings of the time were expressed through highly complex symbol systems—from which originated some of the mundane writing traditions of the modern world. Therefore any attempt to understand the communicative modes of ancient societies without an initial, dedicated understanding of their worldview—as concisely shown here—is erroneous by default. In the course of this discourse, insights will be drawn from two of such mythic narrations. As well, few snippets will be equally utilized from one of the aforementioned esoteric myths.

 

The Principle of the “First Word” in Igbo Cosmology

The archetypal Igbo society held that words were so potent that one must ensure to count their “teeth with their tongue” before or after any question. It is an advice for one to find out something for oneself, especially when one is indulging in self deceit and is seeking for answers from some other person instead of self-reflection. Usually the person advicing will say “i choro ka m gwa gi ya; were ire gi guo eze gi onu–Do you expect me to tell it to you? Count your teeth with your tongue.” However, in dealing with written expressions, the potency inevitably doubles, since the idea being communicated will now (supposedly) outlive its author. There is also the mystical tradition of “the first word” i.e. okwu izizi. In many ways, this ancient principle encapsulates—in totality—the Igbo cosmic orientation of life in relation to the Divine. The mystery of the first word is well illuminated in the classical Igbo tale about the journey that was undertaken by the Dog (Nkita) and the Tortoise (Mbekwu Nwa Aniga).

Dog and Tortoise

In this tale, it is held that the Dog and the Tortoise were both sent by humans to deliver two important messages to Chukwu; from which will be determined whether human beings will live to achieve immortality or die at a certain age. To the Dog was given the message of immortality, while the Tortoise was given the message of impermanence. As they both set out for Chukwu’s house, the Dog—priding itself with its ability of swiftness—was said to have stopped several times along the way to sleep, scout for bones or even a mating partner, while the persevering Tortoise continued on its path, undistracted. In the end, the classic endurance of the Tortoise led it to Chukwu’s house, long before the Dog—who was outraced during its many short breaks to sleep or explore the road sides.

Hence, Mbekwu Nwa Aniga (the Tortoise) delivered its message of “Death for the Humans” and thus was the mystery of death introduced into human life. Of course, the Dog did arrive later on—totally convinced that it was the first to reach Chukwu’s house, only to be told that “Chukwu and the Spirit World” does not accept second “Words”. Hence originated the Igbo mystical phrase “okwu izizi erugo be Chukwu: the first word has reached God’s house”.

From this particular tale, a great deal of Igbo cosmological principles dealing with expressions—can be illuminated.  Firstly, there is the duality of life as represented by the two choice animals. The principle of duality remains a core aspect of Igbo life and spiritual practices till this very day. And then there is the principle of pre-duality or unified existence. In other words, creation: although dual in nature proceeds from a unified point of One. Hence, the Dog was told that Chukwu and the Spirit World do not accept the second “Word”. The second word here symbolizes physical creation, realized in the sacred number Two.

Also, there is the principle of Uncontrolled Motion/Chaos and Controlled Motion/Order. Both principles were symbolized in the specific choice of animals used in the narration; where the Dog’s undisciplined swiftness stood for chaotic motion and the disciplined fortitude of the Tortoise stood for ordered motion. Both principles were further made potent in their meanings by the messages that both animals were meant to deliver. In the case of the Dog (embodied chaos) the message was immortality (unending spiritual enlightenment), while for the Tortoise (embodied order) the message was impermanence (interrupted spiritual enlightenment).

Chaos Star

The Spiritual and Aesthetic Potency of Human Expressions

As the Dog was late to reach Chukwu’s house, it then resulted that human life (as a mortal opportunity for spiritual learning) will be eternally teased with the mystical potency of Ndu Ebi-Ebi (Everlasting Life/Immortality). Just as the delivered message of the Tortoise meant that human beings (indeed all creations) will be forever bound to the physical responsibility of observing/maintaining Divine order.

This dual expression most likely gave rise to such classical Igbo thoughts as “okirikiri k’eji ari ukwu ose: the pepper tree is only climbed by means of cautious encirclement” and “nwayo-nwayo k’eji aracha ofe di oku: a hot soup can only be consumed gently”. Furthermore, the Dog symbolism is equally characteristic of the archetypal Ego (the precarious pride that originated with the Dog’s knowledge of its swift abilities). While the Tortoise in this sense, symbolizes the Super Ego (the self-regulating aspect of us that strives for perfection and orderliness). Although, this last feature is essentially interpretational, the instructional nature of the original tale however supports its validity.

In a sense then, it can be observed that the Igbo worldview fundamentally perceives human expressions/expressions generally as a holistic exercise. Indeed, the greater implication of this conviction is that no expression of creation/life is devoid of meaning and no human expression is devoid of sense; regardless of how “senseless” that expression might seem. This notion is well established by another ancient Igbo principle (stemming from another mythic account) which holds that Chukwu created the world using two words, Ọm and Om.

“Om” written in Devanāgari

These two Divine expressions, according to ancient Igbo mystics, became “The Two Sacred Words” i.e. Okwu abuo Chukwu ji were ke uwa”. Again, the basic notion here is duality—but specifically this time; duality dealing with the two Igbo mystical principles of Akwu na Obi (Stillness and Motion). It is remarkable to note that these two principles unified, remains one of the most utilized and infinitely explored of all Igbo mystery teachings. The “Two Sacred Words” as explored in another Igbo mystery cult is also held as the “Two Primordial Sounds”. In this respect, it expresses one of the most esoterically studied of all Divine expressions i.e. sound. In Igbo mystery circles, the naturally produced human-sound (phonetically molded continuously from birth, eventually condensed into a specific lingual form as the child matures) is held to be a mystery of its own. Hence, the ancients explored it in a separate, dedicated cult where its latent creative powers were synthesized for use in invocations, spiritual chants and several forms of oracular practices.

It can therefore be noted that the mystical/occult potencies of human expressions (in a very broad and in-depth sense) have always occupied a place of great significance in Igbo mystery traditions as well as, Igbo culture proper. In this sense, ancient Igbo mystics, after much in-depth observations, were able to ascertain that our voiced expressions do not merely stem from some innate human tendencies to communicate archetypal emotions, as is conventionally held today. But rather, every word we utter and each syllabic expression thereof is actually a released potency. The same goes for aesthetic/artistic expressions; as all forms of human articulations are essentially generated from one point of activity in the mind and charged forth with spiritual potency—at the point of release, whether consciously meant or otherwise.

It is for this great reason that another ancient Igbo axiom maintains that “okwu Igbo/uke bu n’ilu n’ilu: the Igbo language/cult communication is expressed through aphorisms”. Suffice it to say that the ancients well-considered the potency of their expressions/language (indeed the Igbo language in this case) apparently too heavy for any mere direct conveyance of ideas; given the possibility of unanticipated manifestations resulting from careless utterances. Hence, their language/voiced expressions had to be communicated by means of proverbs and indirect insinuations, colored once in a while by plain riddles and chants. Remarkably, this pattern of communication is still observed by the Afa, Mmonwu, Ekpe and Agwu cults (some other Igbo cults inclusive) till today.

It is also interesting to note that even the non-human naming tradition also followed this principle in the past. So that animals, trees, mountains, rivers and other forms of creation were not merely named through direct articulations of their perceivable essences. Rather, it was through a metaphorical intellection of their place in the greater scale of life that their names were articulated. For instance, the Chameleon (in Igbo culture) didn’t get its name from its immediate perceivable characteristic of rapid coloration. Instead, its name “Ogwumagana” literally translates as “If it sinks, I shall not step”. Hence, the name metaphorically denotes the ancient belief among the Igbo that the Chameleon was created at a time when the Earth was still wet. Thus it literally had to enquire from Ala (The Earth Goddess) before making each step, lest it sinks.

Also interesting is the fact that the Chameleon is sacred to Ogwugwu, an Igbo fertility Goddess. The name “Ogwugwu” also denotes a hole or the act of digging. Remarkably, conventional science has been able to determine that matter is basically a hole dug by sub-atomic propellants in space (ether). Therefore, the obvious connection between the Chameleon and this Goddess—as was long established by ancient Igbo mystics—not only preceded modern scientific thought, but unlike the latter, was more clearly expressed and aptly symbolized; so much so that even a youngster could grasp the concept. This tradition, so obeyed, extended even into the designation/articulation of numerical principles, planetary bodies and highly abstract undertakings such as astronomical calibrations.

Furthermore, the aesthetic principle of expression in Igbo culture is also embodied in the aforementioned Uli body-painting/inscribing tradition. The Edeuli or Uli, for short, is a sacred, linear-oriented body-inscribing aesthetic employed by women in pre-contemporary Igbo society. It’s highly attractive and intricately executed expressions were regarded deeply by women and young girls—even beyond the Igbo cultural area. Among other things, it is also a key feature of the Ala (Earth Goddess) cult.

Uli mystical writing (from “Afterr God is Dibia”)

Conclusively, as the name of this discuss states, “Chukwu bu Ulidereuwa: God embodies the Divine Script through which all creation was expressed”. In other words, the expressive nature of Chukwu as the primal aesthetist, as the most accomplished author that will ever be, as the first and original artist of all creative forms that ever was, is and will ever exist—is here underscored. From the ongoing, it is not only made clear that the tradition of expression in Igbo culture is apparently complex in both scope and depth, but also, the inexhaustible nature of indigenous knowledge preserved in Igbo culture is equally made evident here.

Nkele Egede: In Praise of the First Ones

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Nkele Egede

(Igbo Translation)

Lekwe anyanwu biara uwa,

Ihe ebi-ebi ka o Jiri choo ya mma.

Mmadu Jizi maka nke-a hu ya na-anya.

Aja-Ala, Nne mbu buru anyi n’afo izizi,

Anyi echeta gi.

Igwe na mmiri,

Ndi mbu lere anyi omugwo,

Ndi mbu biara abia na ogodo uwa.

Anyi echeta unu.

Ikuku na Okpoko, ndi mbu fere efe,

Ndi obu-akika-na-enwu-oku n’isi,

Ndi mbu lara agu n’asaa na mmiri n’asaa,

Were nu nke ru-ru unu.

Debe nu Chim na Chi uwam.

Uwam biara, lekwem.

 
 

In Praise of the First Ones

 (English Translation)

Now behold the Magnificent Sun,

The One who came forth and blessed the world with eternal light.

Oh—how endless our adoration.

Behold too, the motherly Earth,

From whose primal womb we’ve all emerged and continue to emerge,

How endless our appreciation.

Behold now, the very ancient Sky and primal Waters.

The most graceful ones who first suckled and guided us,

The manifest ones who first embraced the visible world.

How endless our adoration.

Behold the sacred Spirit that is Breath and its chosen bird, Okpoko.

Behold both earliest of all adventurers; inventors of the art of flight.

Behold them, the non-flammable head-bearers of Light—

Primal navigators of the Seven Wilderness and Seven Seas.

Oh—ancient ones of renown, how endless my appreciation.

Guide now, my Chi and the Chi of my Destiny.

Great manifested world, bear me well.

—Nze Omenigbo Izo

(Excerpted from “The Transfiguration of Izo and Other Mystical Feats: Poems”)


Dim Ojukwu: First Amongst Equals

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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)

The Corruption of Igbo Sacred Sciences

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by Wise

Many people think that modern day Igbo sacred sciences (Odinani) is a good overall representation of the very ancient metaphysical systems. They are very incorrect. In fact, the decline of the divine Kingdom of Nri and the rise of the European controlled Atlantic slave trade corrupted Igbo civilization. British colonialism and the Nigerian Civil War practically destroyed what was left of Igbo civilization. What is left of Odinani is only a very faded shadow of how it used to be.

Anyanwu (Eye of Light) : The Igbo divinity that dwells in the sun

Although Odinani is one of the oldest science systems in the world, we will just briefly discuss the last one thousand years. Nri Kingdom (in present day Anambra State) was a major power in present day Eastern and Midwestern Nigeria from 1000 A.D. to 1600 AD.  Unlike most kingdoms, Nri did not gain their influence nor maintain it through military force. Nri’s influence came from metaphysical power. Their culture, tradition, and philosophy was centered on peace, harmony, knowledge, wisdom, justice, and oneness with Creation (Chi, Aja Ana, Anyanwu, Igwe, and etc) and the Creator (Chineke). Eze Nri (Divine king of Nri) was the traditional Igbo pope and he and his mediators (real Nze and Ozo men) spread peace and civility throughout the land and found many settlements abroad. The Nri are responsible for the Igbo Ukwu sites, Four market days, Ozo/Nze title systems, Igu alu, and etc. Unfortunately, between 1400-1700 Nri declined due to internal disputes, the slave trade (which was illegal in Nri), and the rise of rival states.

One of the many famous Igbo Ukwu bronze castings

In the late 17nth and early 18nth century, the Aro Confederacy (their capital Arochukwu is in present day Abia State) was formed and quickly became a major economic power in present day Eastern Nigeria. The Aro people were expert long distant traders that developed and controlled a complex trading network in the region. The Aros were also known as priests and agents for their famous Ibini Ukpabi (Drum of the high God) oracle that was located in Arochukwu.  After Aro conquest, Ibini Ukpabi was also used as an oracle to settle disputes serious disputes and problems. The oracle quickly became popular for its effectiveness, accuracy, and its useful divinations. Ibini Ukpabi became the main oracle in the region and beyond for many years until the early stages of British colonialism in the 20th century. However, shortly after Aro expansion, the Europeans increased their slave trade interests on the Bight of Biafra. This brought chaos.

Ibini Ukpabi Oracle

Igboland and adjacent areas was very violent and chaotic in the 18th century as the result of the Atlantic slave trade. Some oracles in Igboland such as Ibini Ukpabi unfortunately became commercialized. Although many agents and priests of the oracle continued to do honest and fair work, others used the opportunity to sell innocent people as slaves. The Slave trade also introduced the outrageous Osu caste system in Igboland. Initially, Osus were very sacred and respected assistants to high priests. However, as a result of the slave trade, wars in Igboland increased and many people (including runaway slaves) sought refuge in shrines and become an Osu. In some cases, criminals also decided to be an Osu rather than becoming enslaved. Suddenly, being an Osu became a taboo.

Shrine priest (sitting) and Osu (standing)

British colonialism and Christianity tried to destroy what was left of Odinani. After the 1901-1902 Anglo-Aro War, British troops attempted to destroy the Ibini Ukpabi shrine. The British even called the Nri people, a group that has always stood for justice and peace, evil. Initially, Christian missionaries referred to Odinani as totally evil and tried to force the population to convert. Although Igbo people embraced Western education, they heavily resisted colonialism and the British efforts to destroy their tradition. While the British condemned our culture, they did absolutely nothing to help it. Many Igbo people (Osus were among the first) did convert to Christianity but there was still respect for the many good aspects of Odinani and Igbo culture overall. A strong traditionalist population was still among the Igbo before Nigerian “Independence” (1960) and the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). After the brutal Civil War, more missionaries came to a war torn Igboland in the 1970s and began the evangelical movement. This movement has been very devastating to Odinani and Igbo culture in general. Some foolish and overzealous Christian youth have looted and destroyed shrines and priceless artifacts. And what have they gained? Absolutely nothing! Instead of creating jobs, developing Igboland, and becoming self sufficient some misguided youths have decided to take the place of the European missionaries and destroy their own Igbo culture.

Igbo children during Biafran War

Igboland in modern times is lawless and very violent. We have been losing wars for our freedom and now have lost our minds because we are fighting a war against ourselves. The land is very underdeveloped and polluted. Many Igbo people at home and abroad have completely turned their back on our ancestors and put a much higher value on Western culture. Many Igbo children have close to no knowledge of their own people. IGBO PEOPLE THIS IS A EMERGENCY. PLEASE LISTEN! Unless we get back to who we are and revive/improve on the productive aspects of our sacred science system or “spirituality”, get rid of outrageous aspects of our tradition like the Osu caste system, stop putting useless foreign institutions over our own WE WILL CONTINUE TO BE IN DEEP TROUBLE!

Chi (God) Bless