Category Archives: History

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

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“Conversations with the African Gods” Review

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Conversations with the African Gods

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of reviewing another book written by an Igbo author who goes by the name Nwaonishe Ezenwanyi, entitled Conversations with the African Gods. Many of you might be familiar with the similarly titled “Conversations with God” series, written by Neale Donald Walsch, in which he has a number of conversations with “God.” To say that this book is the African version of that would be an understatement. Conversations with the African Gods is a journey for anyone who reads it, on humanity’s past, present, and future, from an African point of view. For far too long, perspectives, philosophies, and religions have been placed into a  false dichotomy of being either Eastern or Western, with Africa being excluded.  This book challenges that false dualism and brings forth commentary on world events from African gods and ancestors.

False Dichotomy

The author begins by describing her personal journey.  Like many of us born during the African Dark Ages, she was raised as a Christian (specifically Catholic), but was still extremely curious about the other religious and spiritual traditions in the world. Her journey took her to exploring Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, amongst others. Eventually, after doing a lot of seeking and searching, her journey didn’t lead to her finding the “right” tradition, but to the tradition “finding” her. In fact, she  ended up  listening to the voices that had been calling her all along. She claimed her birthright and began practicing the spiritual science of her ancestors, Odinani.

Her spiritual awakening has also lead to her becoming aware of and developing different abilities such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc.  One of the most interesting gifts that she learned was how to invoke spirits.  The one that she was able to invoke the most was Onishe, who happened to be her “head deity”, or the one most in control of her life.  For that reason, she goes by the name Nwaonishe, which means a child of Onishe. She also happens to be the spirit that makes the most commentary. She opens up the dialogue by stating:

“I am a prophetess, a chosen one, selected apart by god/dess to speak the words of god/dess. I am manifestation of god/dess as I surrender each moment to my essential nature. I am speaker of life and death. Avenger for the just, the pure, the clean. There is only one Onishe and she is here and now, in you, and in many. I am the word. Atu. Word that forms everything. Logos. Mami Wata, Supreme Water, Essence liquid, Nut of Khemet. I am the word of Nut, the goddess of creation.”

Statue associated with Onishe in Asaba

While Onishe is the Igbo Alusi (spiritual force) that speaks the most, others also make their voices heard including Eke, Ikenga, Amadioha, Ani, and Anyanwu. Two other African Gods who are typically associated with Ancient Egypt also make substantial contributions: Ausar (Osiris) and Auset (Isis).

Ausar and Auset: Real Love

Contrary to popular belief, while  the gods of Ancient KMT (Egypt), especially Ausar and Auset, might have been popularized by that particular nation, they are actually much, much older than it and can be found all around the continent under different names and titles. This will be elaborated on in future posts.

These African Gods, as well as other ones including the popular ones made popular by Hinduism, Kali and Krishna (who both have names that mean “the Black One” ), as well Tehuti (Thoth) and Heru (Horus),  make commentary on a wide range of issues, including the ancient “Golden Age” civilizations of Atlantis and Lemuria, climate change, 2012, colonization, slavery, civil rights as well as the possible “Golden Age” to come. The discourse on how Africa (and Nigeria in particular) should structure their economies and governments to actually work for the benefit of the people (for once) is very enlightening, but is sure to shock a few people (Ikenga’s comments in particular).

Kali is not one to mess with

Commentary is made on the lives of difference ancestors as well, with some of them even commenting on where they are currently in the spiritual realm. Some of these ancestors include Fela Kuti, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Olaudah Equiano, and others.  I found Fela’s mother, Funmilayo’s statements in reference to the Fela play to be pretty funny.

Olaudah Equiano

Another added bonus to the book is the use not only of the Nsibidi symbols associated with the different Alusi, but also practical rituals that one can do to commune with the Ndichie (ancestors) and Alusi, as well as attract abundance in one’s life.  I totally recommend this book to all  people of African decent, but it can speak to anyone  interested in advancing on their spiritual path. To order the book, click here.

SPECIAL BONUS:

To hear an interview with the author, on Igbo Kwenu Radio, click here.

 

“Akata Witch” Review

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“Akata Witch” by Nnedi Okarafor

Imagine if Harry Potter were a she instead of a he? What if he was Nigerian instead of British? What if he were learning at Leopard Knocks instead of at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Enter Sunny, Nnedi Okorafor’s latest anti-Disney heroine. I say that she’s anti-Disney because unlike most Disney films, the main females in her stories serve not as damsels that need to be saved, but as the ones that do the saving. Furthermore, they have physical features that are typically considered to be undesirable by society, such as the protagonist Onyesonwu being biracial in her most previous work Who Fears Death, and Sunny being an albino in this one.

Same Script, Different Cast

Before we get into the contents of the book, let’s start with the name of the book first. What is an Akata? When I was growing up, I was taught that it was a slang (and somewhat derogatory term) that Nigerians used for African Americans. That was until I was referred to as one by a native born Nigerian. I then began to see that it could also be a term used to describe any black person born and raised in America. Like me, the protagonist Sunny was born and raised in the United States. At the age of nine, her family decides to move back to Nigeria. Like any girl, she feels out of place and spends the next couple of years trying to find her place,  when she finds out that her place is nothing like she imagined it to be. She discovers that she is a “Leopard person”, a person that is born with mystical abilities and she is has to undergo intense training to learn how to utilize her powers while still living amongst the “Lamb people”, or regular folks. One of the best things I loved about this book was the name dropping by the characters themselves of the books that had a large role in influencing this novel, including In the Shadow of the Bush by P. Amaury Talbot, Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton, and The Witches by Roald Dalhl.

“The Witches” by Roald Dahl

Different locations were also named, the significance of which will go unnoticed to the general population. One such location is referred to as being the African American “Leopard person” headquarters. This place is referred to as the Gullah Islands off the coast of South Carolina. This area is usually overshadowed by New Orleans, even though it has had a much larger impact on African American history, and mainstream American history. It also has retained more African culture and tradition (including the folk magic) than any other region in North America, but thats a discussion for another day.

The most creative literary element used by the author is the technique of having a “book within a book” (another very popular example being the  Necronomicon). As Sunny begins to learn and master her abilities, she reads from a book entitled Fast Agents for Free Agents by Isong Abong Effiong Isong.  The wonderful part is that the reader gets to also read from this short book. So instead of doing a typical review of  Akata Witch, I will actually do a review of the book within the book, and explain some of the terms used:

What is a Leopard Person?

“A leopard person goes by many names around the world. The term “Leopard person” is a West African coinage, derived from the Efik term “ekpe”, “leopard.” All people of mystical true ability are Leopard people. And as humankind has evolved, so have Leopard folk around the world organized…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

One of the real life “Leopard people” that the writer is referring to are the Ekpe society of southeastern Nigeria. This society, which was started by the Ekik people, spread through to the rest of the Ibibio, Oron, Igbo and Ekoi peoples.

Ekpe Society members during a procession in Arochukwu

The Ekpe Society was introduced to Igboland by the people of Arochukwu. In fact, their lodge is in my home village of Atani. In Igboland, the Ekpe Society usually went by the name Okonko.

Ekpe Lodge in Atani Village, Arochukwu

They were the premiere secret society in Southeastern Igboland, and the highest grades held alot of the secrets of the mystical arts, including the magical Nsibidi script.  An entire topic will be dedicated to discussing the Ekpe society and its legacy in the near future.

What is a Free Agent

“A free agent is one who isn’t privileged with even one pure Leopard spiritline from the survivors of the Great Attempt. She or he is a random of nature, a result of mixed up and confused spiritual genetics. Free agents are the hardest to understand, predict or explain. Learning will not come easy to you. you are a Leopard person only by the will of the Supreme Creator and as we all know, She isn’t very concerned with Her own creations.

After your initiation, make sure that someone is there to help you, for you will not be able to help yourself, so new the world will be to you and so fragile your ego. You’re likely an infant. You will be dumbfounded and disorientated. What’s most important is…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

Initiation, which simply means “beginning”, plays a huge role in Igbo culture, as well as with other cultures all over Africa. Traditionally, both men and women would receive multiple initiations at different points in their life.  A very good metaphor is employed by Okorafor when one of the character states: “Imagine that you are a computer that came with programs and applications already installed. In order to use them, they have to be activated; you have to , in a sense, wake it up. That’s what initiation is.”

Igbo boy being healed by a Dibia

Igbo boy being healed by a Dibia

What is chittim?

“Chittim is the currency of the Leopard people. Chittim are always made of metal (copper, bronze, silver, and gold) and always shaped like curved rods. The most valuable are the large copper ones, which are about the size of a dove’s egg. Least valuable are chittim made of gold. When chittim fall, they never do harm. So one can stand in a rain of chittim, and never get hit. There is only way to earn chittim; by gaining knowledge and wisdom. The smarter you become, the better you process knowledge into wisdom, the more chittim will fall and thus the richer you will be…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

The real life chittim that the author refers to are commonly known as manillas.  The most popular African name for manillas, Okpoho, comes from the Igbo language. They were used as currency (as well as worn as jewelry) all over West Africa, but particularly in southeastern Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea.

Okpohos

What are the Masquerades?

“Up to now you’ve known masquerades to be mere symbolic manifestations of the ancestors or spirits. Men and boys dress up in elaborate cloth and raffia costumes and dance, jeer, or joke depending on who they are manifesting. Up to now, you’ve believed masquerades to be nothing more than myth, folklore and tradition. Now that you are a Leopard person, know that your world has just become more real. Creatures are real. Ghosts, witches, demons, shape-shifters, and masquerades, all real. Masquerades are always dangerous. They can kill, steal your soul, take your mind, take your past, rewrite your future, bring the end of the world, even. As a free agent you will have nothing to do with the real thing, otherwise you face certain death. If you are smart you leave true masquerades up to those who know what to do with juju…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

The above statements say it all. Masquerades in Igboland are known as mmanwu. Here are some pictures of some of them. Some of them are people in costumes, but the older pictures might be real ones. We will never know for sure:

Agbogho Mmuo (Maiden Spirits)

Masquerade at Igbo Farm Village

Masquerade at Igbo Farm Village

Ijele Masquerade

Ijele Masquerade

The Ijele masquerade originated in Anambra state is known as the “King of all masquerades.” In ancient times, it had 45 masquerades perform on top of it, which are now represented by 45 figures. It was also used to scare away some of the early missionaries in Igboland. Masquerades made their way into the Diaspora, and can still be seen in modified forms in the Carribean Carnival celebrations:

Carnival Masquerade in Brooklyn, NY

Carnival Masquerade in Brooklyn, NY

Carnival Masquerade in Brooklyn, NY

Chapter 4: Your Abilities

“How to discover your ability: Its doubtful that you have the intelligence to figure out something so important. But here is something to think about: one’s ability lies with those things that mark him or her. They can be talents, like an affinity towards gardening or being able to play the guitar well. Often they are things that Lambs make fun of, imperfections. They can be physical, psychological, behavioral. And I do not mean things that are a result of your actions like being fat because you eat too much and sit and play video games all day…from Fast Agents for Free Agents

I really felt this was the most important chapter in the book. I truly feel that if more people did what they were naturally gifted at instead of trying to conform to the standards imposed on them by society, the world would be a drastically better place. By following these instructions, one could unlock their latent abilities, as Sunny and her cohorts were able to do. Who knows, you might even discover yourself to be a Leopard person 😉

Conclusion

“…So there you have it. All you need to know to get started. As I have repeated incessantly throughout this book, there is no direction you can turn that does not face you toward certain death. The best thing to do is be who you’ve been, don’t move, stay where you are, drop all ambition as a Leopard person. Relax. Don’t strive too high. Learn but do not use. And only learn the basics. It is best to remain in your protective shell. Ambition is not your friend. Be glad the Leopard world has been opened to you, but remain a mere spectator. And for the hundredth time, I repeat: “KEEP YOUR SECRET LIFE FROM YOUR LAMB RELATIONS AND ACQUAINTANCES. not only are there dire consequences for breaching secrecy, but you risk upsetting a very delicate, crucial hard earned balance. Now go well, free agent. Be well. And again I saw: Welcome…from Fast Facts for Free Agents

This book is an essential read for Leopard people who know that they are free agents,  free agents that think they are Lamb people, or for Lamb people who want to get a glimpse into the mystical and secret world of Leopard people. As of now, I cannot find any copies of Fast Facts for Free Agents, so the best way to get a glimpse of it would be by purchasing a copy of Akata Witch. It has an excellent story too 😀

Be sure to be on the lookout for an interview with the author  on Igbo Kwenu Radio in the near future.

Honoring your Ancestors

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By Wise

“The Ndiichie (esteemed ancestor spirits) also held a high place in traditional Igbo society. Elders have always been revered in Igbo society, and even more so after they passed onto Be Mmuo (the land of the spirits). The Ndiichie would often be consulted to offer advice to their descendants and appeal to the Alusi on their behalf. Ndi Igbo have never worshiped their ancestors only venerated them, which is no different then what Catholics do to their saints or what every country does to its national heroes. Respect and honor for the Ndiichie was shown in one way by pouring of libations while chanting incantations. Ndi Igbo believed in the concept of reincarnation and felt that the Ndiichie often reincarnated back on Earth. In fact, all Mmadu (human beings) were believed to reincarnate seven or eight times, and that depending on your karma, one either ascends or descends into another spiritual plane” – Onyemobi

Obu Figures

Obu Figures

Ancestral veneration is a very ancient and common practice all over the world. The Igbo people have understood the importance of honoring the Ndichie (Venerated ancestors)  in order for the civilization to survive and progress from times immemorial. One of the reasons Igbos and Africans in general are in a state of damnation is because we have forgotten how to honor our ancestors.

Figure in an ancestral shrine

Figure in an ancestral shrine

Instead of developing our own culture as a people, we see Western culture as superior to our own and trap ourselves in an inferiority complex. Yes despite hardcore resistance against the Atlantic slave trade, British colonialism, and the Nigerian genocide against our people we ended up losing. Yes our Civilizations collapsed. Yes Nigeria continues to discriminate and oppress Igbo people. We have suffered a lot and nobody shall ever down play that. However, until we remember to honor our ancestors, we will continue on the path of self destruction our enemies have planted for us.

Uxurhe Ancestral Staffs

Uxurhe Ancestral Staffs

The Igbo people are one of the most ancient groups in the world. Like most African groups and civilizations in ancient times had advanced human consciousness, culture, knowledge, creativity, leadership, philosophy, science, and etc. True civilizations respect, honor, and live in accordance to Nature. We once understood the oneness of the Source/Creator (Chineke) with Creation and our relationship with Nature (Ani).

Ani in Mbari House

We honored and respected Ani. That is why we had rich societies and collective democratic leadership that lived by justice, order, peace, unity, and balance. Our ancestors built many ancient civilizations such as the Ugwelle (6000 BCE), Afikpo (3000 BCE), Nsukka (3000 BCE), UmuEri/UmuNri dynasties (500 BCE), Igbo Ukwu (900 CE), and etc. We developed sophisticated architecture such as the Nsude pyramids in Agbaja, Mbari structures, and etc. Igbos developed writing scripts such as Uli, Aniocha writing systems, Nsidibi, Ikwu, and many more. The level of knowledge and scientific (especially metaphysics) discoveries and practices done by the Igbo Civilizations is most likely beyond our imagination. We have a long history of achievements.

Igbo Ukwu Burial

In order for us Igbo people to really rebuild and progress, we must honor our ancestors. We shall not live exactly how our ancestors lived but revive the institutions they built that are applicable today and improve on it. How can you know what today and tomorrow will be if you don’t yesterday was? How can you know who you are if you don’t know who brought you here? The ancestors brought us here and as a mixture of all of them into one, we must know who they were to know who we are. We may say we are children of the ultimate source of all creation and life (Chineke). But through who are we children of Chineke? Who did Chineke give power to bring us into this world and gave life? The answer is our ancestors. Therefore, we must honor and respect them. To honor the ancestors is to honor ourselves and the ultimate ancestor/source of us all Chineke.  Chi (God) Bless

Land of the Rising Sun

Finding God in Nature

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Finding God in Nature

“To understand the nature of God, look for God in nature” – Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga

Every week, billions of people all around the world attend religious ceremonies in their respective buildings.  Muslims go to their mosques, Christians go to their churches, Jews to their synagogues, Hindus to their Mandirs, and so on and so on.

National Mosque of Nigeria

Believers of these different faiths gather for prayer and worship, fellowship with fellow believers, and to get a chance to hear text that they consider to be the “Word of God”.  These sites are considered to be sacred places. They often are seen as the literal house of the God or gods which they are dedicated to.

Hindu Temple in New Delhi

Hindu Temple in New Delhi

Within these structures, elaborate murals, shrines, scultpures are put up to represent different gods, angels, and saints. Followers of these faiths will often go to these places to speak to these representations in hopes of getting them to intercede in their lives.

Statue of St. Peter

Within these “Houses of God”, people will hear stories about the divine revelations and experiences of their prophets, saints, and holy men and women. But the most ironic thing about these stories is that most of the people described in them did not have their spiritual awakenings, revelations or experiences in a temple or building of any kind. In fact, most of them had their spiritual experiences in nature. Don’t believe me? Consider the following examples:

Moses

Moses experiences God through a burning bush

Moses experiences God through a burning bush

Considered to be the most important prophet in Judaism, Moses had his first experience when he heard a voice speaking to him through a bush that was on fire, yet was not burning.  His second divine revelation from God came to him on a mountaintop.

Moses receives the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai

Gautama Buddha

Buddha under Bodhi tree

After trying different paths to find an end to human suffering, Siddhārtha Gautama decided to meditate under a Bodhi tree. After 49 days of non stop meditation, he reached Enlightenment, and became a Buddha, which means an “Awakened One.” Those that follow his teachings today call themselves Buddhists.

Jesus Christ

The man known as Jesus Christ is said to have begun his ministry when the spirit of God descended upon him during a baptism ritual performed by John the Baptist at the river Jordan. He then spent the next forty days and forty nights fasting and praying, not in a temple, not in a synagogue, but in the wilderness.

Jesus in the wilderness

According to the scriptures, he remained in the wilderness throughout his ministry,  and  did the vast majority of his preaching in nature, including the famous sermon on the mount.

Sermon on the Mount

Prophet Muhammad

“When Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] was nearly forty, he had been wont to pass long hours in retirement meditating and speculating over all aspects of creation around him. This meditative temperament helped to widen the mental gap between him and his compatriots. He used to provide himself with Sawiq (barley porridge) and water and then directly head for the hills and ravines in the neighbourhood of Makkah. One of these in particular was his favourite resort — a cave named Hira’, in the Mount An-Nour. It was only two miles from Makkah, a small cave 4 yards long and 1.75 yard wide. He would always go there and invite wayfarers to share him his modest provision. He used to devote most of his time, and Ramadan in particular, to worship and meditation on the universe around him.” [Rahmat Al-lil’alameen 1/47; Ibn Hisham 1/235,236; Fi Zilal Al-Qur’an 29/166]

Cave in Hira where the Prophet Muhammad received the Koran

“When he was forty, the age of complete perfection at which Prophets were always ordered to disclose their Message, signs of his Prophethood started to appear and twinkle on the horizons of life; they were the true visions he used to experience for six months. The period of Prophethood was 23 years; so the period of these six months of true visions constituted an integral part of the forty-six parts of Prophethood. In Ramadan, in his third year of solitude in the cave of Hira’, Allâh’s Will desired His mercy to flow on earth and Muhammad [pbuh] was honoured with Prophethood, and the light of Revelation burst upon him with some verses of the Noble Qur’ân.” [Fath Al-Bari 1/27]

So here you have the founders of four of the major religions in the world receiving divine revelation in nature, and yet today, their followers are literally stick themselves inside in large boxes of sticks, stones, glass and metal.  Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

Its not only religious people that have become delusional, its also people who proclaim to be scientists as well. Ancient scientists used to learn about nature by actually being a part of it. Sitting around watching the heavenly bodies in the sky, and seeing how different things interacted in nature. Nowadays, they are stuck behind computer screens or locked away in laboratories. The interesting thing is that most of their “theories” and “laws” stem from people like Sir Issac Newton, who “discovered” gravity after an apple fell on his head while he was sitting under a tree. I guess you can call him the Buddha of Physics.

Ndi Igbo (Igbo people), much like other African peoples, did not limit God to  a physical structure or even one piece of land. They recognized the Divine in all of nature.  I recall hearing a story about how when some of the European missionaries came to Alaigbo (Igboland), they had requested some land to build “God’s house”, to the amusement of the Igbo elders that they had spoken to. These same Europeans who claimed that their God was omnipresent truly did not believe it, for if they had, they would not have condemned the Igbo traditions which truly placed God in everything.

Contrary to popular belief, Igbos DID NOT worship or pray to “idols” or wooden sculptures. The idea of Africans worshiping or praying to an object that they created is downright insulting. The ironic thing is that the people who perpetuate this myth spend a good amount of time doing the same thing that they have historically condemned others for:

Offerings to a Statue of Mother Mary

Instead of worship, Igbos entered into communion with Spirit. Divine experiences were not limited to special prophets or holy men or saints, but could be  had by everyone. The vast majority of  places for public communion in traditional Igbo Omenala (custom and tradition) were either at trees or groves of trees. These trees were representations of divine forces, but were not the divine forces themselves.  The following are some examples:

Agwu deity represented by Ogilishi tree

Ngwu deity represented by Ngwu tree

Both examples taken from Ngü Arö Öka The Öka Lunar Calendar, 2010 -2021 by Nevbechi Emma Anizoba.

The pouring of libation at the shrine of Onye ama-ama in Amaeke

Sacred Grove of Ihu Nne Chukwu at Obiene

The use of trees as connections to the spirit world is illustrated beautifully in the “Tree of Souls” in the film, Avatar, where the Na’vi would go there in order to commune with the spirit of their planet, Eywa.

Tree of Souls in Avatar

This use of trees as places of communion with Spirit carried onto the Diaspora. Ayiti (Haiti) was one place where alot of Igbos ended up during the Maafa (African Hellacaust). Here we see a picture of Haitian Vodouisants (Practioners of Voodoo) having a ceremony at a sacred Mapou tree:

Voodoo Ritual at Mapou Tree

Two hundred years ago, their ancestors gathered together in a sacred grove in the Bwa Kayiman woods and declared that they would no longer be enslaved by the white people or their god.

Voodoo Ritual at Bwa Kayiman Woods

Even in North America, the significance of trees as sacred communal places has not dissappeared from the lives of Africans in America. Below are some pictures of the special trees of some of the black fraternities and sororities:

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. Tree

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Tree

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Tree

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Tree

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Tree

What’s significant about the black fraternities and sororities in America is that they also trace part of their lineage to the Ekpe society of southeastern Nigeria, but that is a conversation for another day.

Besides trees, caves also were used as sacred places. Two of the great oracles of Alaigbo (Igboland) were found in caves, including the Ibini Ukpabi oracle of Arochukwu (also known as the Long Juju) as well as the Agbala oracle of Awka. Below is a picture of a shrine in the Ibini Ukpabi cave:

Ibini Ukpabi Oracle

Of all, the most famous public places of African communion with Spirit have always been bodies of water. Rivers, lakes and streams have always been viewed as extremely sacred all over the continent, as evident by the number and popularity of water divinities (Yemaya, Oshun, Auset, Het-Heru, Nommo, Mami Wata, etc).

Those who visited these sacred waters would go for spiritual cleansing, purification, and healing, to become one with Spirit, for initiations and for a variety of other reasons. Water is perhaps the easiest medium to go into a state of trance , in order to connect with Spirit as well as ancestors.  If you want to learn how to connect with Ezenwanyi, the Divine Igbo mother water goddess, click here. Below is a picture of a Voodoo bathing ritual in Haiti:

Voodoo Bathing Ritual

I hope you have enjoyed all this information that has been presented to you. If you want to get a deeper understanding of the concepts mentioned above, the most effective way for you to do that would be to simply go outside. Whether you go a park, or a stream or even your backyard, you will gain a far deeper insight into what God is from simply getting back to Nature and being still then you would from reading any book or blog. Yagazie (May we prosper).

Back in Time: Igbo Farm Village in America

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by Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the official dedication of the Igbo farm village at the Frontier Cultural Museum in Staunton, Virginia. This museum is the first of its kind, and it includes live recreations of the living conditions of some of the various immigrants who helped in the creation of America. These exhibits include English, Irish, German as well as West African, with a special emphasis on Igbo.

By all accounts, the Igbo represented a large number of Africans transported to the Americas, especially to the state of Virginia. At one point in time, Ndi Igbo (Igbo people) constituted 70% of the enslaved Africans in the state (source). If you are an African American with family ties to Virgina (including West Virginia), its almost guaranteed that you have some Igbo ancestry. In fact, according to Dr. Douglass Chambers, 60% of ALL African Americans probably have at least one Igbo ancestor (source). Below are some of the pictures that I took from the dedication weekend. In the future, there will be ALOT more posts about Igbo culture in the Americas, as well as photos from the village as it evolves.


Revisiting Igbo Ukwu: A Lost Ancient Civilization

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Knowledge of history and the context in which things happened is essential in order to have a more balanced view of the world. One important site to the history of Ndi Igbo (Igbo people) is Igbo Ukwu (literally, the Great Igbo), where a number of original artifacts were found beginning in 1938.

“Igbo Ukwu is an archaeological site in Igboland, in Anambra State to be exact. These artifacts are dated to approximately 900 AD, but they may be much older(in fact I’m sure of it), and indicative of a lost ancient civilization in Igboland.

Strangely there isn’t much known about these artifacts beyond what you will find in standard Google searches. What you will generally find are brief descriptions of what was uncovered at Igbo Ukwu with some picures. Mind you there are hundreds of pieces, and you will not find them all online. Also, sadly, many of the Igbo Uwku artifiacts, our artifiacts, because these are indeed ours, are locked away in the British Museum.

Igbo Ukwu artifact

These pieces, which I believe to be indigenous productions, are vital in helping to reconstruct some of the ancient history of not only Igbos, but of the human existence within ancient Africa.”

To read more about Igbo Ukwu, visit this blog that deals with Igbo migrations, which is also listed in our related links page.