Category Archives: Parables

Amadioha Strikes Again

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Amadioha Nsibidi Symbol

Amadioha Nsibidi Symbol

“And now we will begin seating the guests at the high table”, the emcee of the Nigerian function bellowed in the microphone as a song by Osita Osadebe blared in the background.

“Please clap for Dr. Augustus MD and Ngozi PharmD.”

Ngozi and her husband stood up and took their seats at the “high table”, which seemed to be mandatory at nearly any Nigerian function happening in America. She thought having a high table at a non-wedding event was a pretty asinine thing to do, but regardless, her husband loved the vanity of paying to sit in what most Nigerians would consider the VIP section, in front of the “lesser people”.

From the outside looking in, one would think that Ngozi had it all. A marriage to a man at the top of the social ladder in the Nigerian-American community; who just recently had been given a chieftaincy title in his village in Enugu state; a successful career as a pharmacist; three healthy, beautiful children all on the honor roll. But beyond the weekend galas, fancy designer clothing, and expensive cars lay a secret that was slowly killing her.

She went through great lengths to conceal her secret, in more ways than one. The makeup she spent alot of time on in the morning; the designer long sleeved shirts and pants. Ngozi was a masterful actress. When she was young, she had mastered the art of putting on whatever face she needed to put on in order to get what she wanted. Since she got married, she had been suffering, but smiling.

But even if she did have the courage to tell other people her secret, who would believe her? She was married to Prophet Dr. Augustus M.D, the second most powerful pastor to the local ministry of “Miracles & Healing.” The man known to his nephews and nieces to be the most generous uncle they had? Who would believe that this same man whose hands that gave so much to so many people would be capable of using those same hands to harm her?

For most of the marriage, she had convinced herself that it was her fault. Surely, there must have been something that she had done to cause him to change from being the charming, dashing medical student who had swept her off her feet to becoming the man who would smack her for putting too much pepper in his soup. In the good old days, he used to brag about how he bullied some of the younger medical students during his residency, but he always treated her like a queen. She never imagined that he would eventually start bullying her?

The first time he slapped her, it caught her off guard. She shrugged it off and figured that he was just under stress from examinations. But the slaps became frequent, and then they turned to punches, then all out beatings. She saw a different side of him, as well of herself. She learned that color correcting concealer was very good for covering black eyes. For a busted lip, coral lipstick worked wonders. And any other physical injury could easy be explained by her playing racquetball.

Ngozi didn’t know who to turn to. Her parents had passed away not long before the beatings began. As a pastor’s wife, the gossiping “market women” that attended their church were out of the question, and her siblings mooched off her husband too much and would probably beat her themselves if she did anything to get in the way of access to the money of their “rich” #1 in law. The only family members she felt she could turn to were the ones in spirit. Like a large portion of Igbos, She grew up Catholic, she had been raised to pray “to” Saints in her time of need. She figured that if she could pray to dead European who lived good lives, she could surely pray to dead Africans who did the same. She called out the names of her deceased relatives, both the ones she knew personally and the ones she didn’t know. As she called their names out in Igbo, tears were streaming down her cheeks mixing with the bruises. She wept, and wailed, and cried to them for support, for guidance, for protection. And then something very strange happened; Ngozi heard a reply to her prayers.

For her entire life, Ngozi had been extremely prayerful. She recited the Lord’s Prayer everyday, and in her youth, the entire Rosary on a regular basis. She still prayed to the Saints and to Mother Mary. But never had she actually heard any of them reply back. She paused. Maybe it was just her mind playing tricks on her. Then she heard the voice again reply.

“N-go.”

There was only person who called her that. She recognized the voice and felt the presence of her late uncle Mazi Kalu Okoro Kalu, who had recently passed last year. Despite her Christian upbringing, Uncle Kalu was the uncle she was closest to, even though he was a dedicated eze (priest) of Amadioha, the God of Thunder and Lightning. Despite the warnings of her parents, and the rest of her uncles and aunts against her “heathen, wayward” uncle, she always considered Uncle Kalu her favorite. They were so close that he even said that they must have been siblings in a past life. She was the most devastated when he joined the rest of the ancestors after a long battle with cancer. But here he was speaking to her as though he were right there.

“I have seen what your husband has done to you. I’m sorry that I couldn’t protect you. But I will send you a spirit of truth and justice that will. The Amadioha priesthood has been in our family for generations, ever since its inception at Ozuzu. While others may call upon the spirit to fight on their behalf, our relationship with it goes far deeper. We are the only ones that have the capacity for the spirit to possess our bodies and not kill us in the process. The power of Amadioha runs strong in our family. Your father had that gift but ran away from it. I have it and I embraced it. And now you have it, and I shall teach you how to develop your gifts. Once you learn how to control this energy, no man will ever harm you again.”

Ngozi listened diligently to the words of her uncle. She took notes on all of the materials that she would have to gather to build the shrine.

Bamboo poles: Check
White cloth: Check
Raffia: Check

She dedicated a secluded area in the forest behind her backyard to construct it and set up a long bamboo pole that was being held up by two forked sticks. On the bamboo pole, hung the white cloth, as well as medicinal grass and charms she had made. The process was actually more enjoyable than she imagined it would be and really brought out her artistic side. That is, until it came time to sanctify the shrine using the best way possible…via blood sacrifice.

She hadn’t actually seen any animal killed since she was a young girl growing up in the village in Nigeria, and the thought of actually killing a chicken nowadays made her quite squeamish. Plus, she did not want to break any of her nails. Nonetheless, it was the final step in activating the shrine so she did what she needed to do.

There had been no rain in the weather forecast that week, but not too long after the shrine was consecrated, a thunderstorm rocked the town on a scale that hadn’t been seen in generations. It was so torrential that nearly everyone in her area lost power. There were rumblings that it would take days to restore it all. Luckily, all the members of Ngozi’s family made it home safe and sound. And despite the fact that they lived in a country with 24 hours of constant electricity, the Nigerian habit of having a generator handy is one that they never lost.

That night, she had a vivid dream like no other she experienced before in her life. It felt at the same time, both strange and familiar. Dark blue clouds enveloped her and she almost felt as though she was standing on top of them. Around her were flashes of lightning and incredibly strong winds blowing, yet in the midst of all of these things she was still and at peace. Then she heard it, a thunderous voice that filled the heavens:

“Our daughter. Welcome home.”

A flash of lightning bold illuminated the sky and Ngozi could see that she was surrounded by various celestial spirits, including many of her deceased family members. Despite the fact that their faces were obscured by masks, both small and pale as well as large and dark, she still somehow recognized them. The voice continued:

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

Ekpo Ancestral Mask - Atani, Arochukwu

Ekpo Ancestral Mask – Atani, Arochukwu

Without even saying it, she knew she was standing face to face with Amadioha, who said to her:

“My daughter show me your hands.”

Ngozi obeyed the command. Jolts of lightning akin to static shocks on steroids leaped onto her fingers. The boisterous voice told her:

“You have come to me with clean hands. I shall walk with you as I walked with your ancestors.”

Amadioha then uttered to her his secret, ineffable name in the form of a chant and told her to only sing it in matters of life and death. The sky lit up once more and Ngozi found herself back in bed She felt different upon waking than she did when she went to bed. Her hands in particular, were much much warmer than usual.

Over the next couple of weeks, things seemed surreal for Ngozi. The first week, she gained the ability to tell whether a person was being dishonest or not. She would be able to pick up the inflections in their voice, the change in pitch, and even hear their heartbeat speeding up. At the job, she deduced that a number of the customers had fake prescriptions and also that the real reason that one of her coworkers was working the last shift was so they could steal pills to resell them on the street.

On week two, things that were once hidden began to be brought to light. She found jewelry, socks, business cards and other things she thought she would never see again. She also found drug paraphernalia that her middle child had gone through great lengths to keep hidden from her.

The changes on week three were the most dramatic. She began to see oddities on the faces & bodies of various people. After a couple of days, especially spending time with people she knew very well, she began to understand what they meant. People who constantly stole appeared to have red colored hands, as though they had been dipped in bright red dye. Extremely envious people would appear to have enormous dark blue eys. Pathological liars had abnormally long Pinnochio-like noses. Treacherous people would have both sides of their face look radically different.

Ngozi began to become a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of treacherous people that surrounded her on a day to day basis. It was already bad enough at work dealing with inconsiderate customers, but church became an even bigger circus than it was before. Despite their ostentatious displays, she saw all of them for what they were.

At the same time that her abilities were growing, her already strained relationship with her husband was getting worse. It was almost as though he could sense that she was getting more powerful, and it was making him tense. His barking became more ferocious and his threats became more intense. Things that would have earned her a slap got her a solid punch to the ribs. The same darkness that she saw in others she saw on him. His inward appearance was so distorted, it didn’t even look real.

Augustus had once been a good man, with flaws, like all of us. A man with dreams of becoming a medical professional and serving his community both in America and back home in Nigeria. But after many years of hard work, he started to care more about what he could gain than what he could give. When they moved to America, he had trouble getting re-certified to practice medicine, and spent alot of his free time in church. Augustus too had been raised Catholic, but after attending a revival, he not only received the calling to convert to a Pentecostal church, but felt as though he had been called by Jesus Christ himself to start his own ministry.

He made up for his inability to practice medicine in America by spearheading yearly medical missions to their home state of Enugu in Nigeria, where he could still practice medicine without much drama. But as time passed, the frequency of these missions decreased. It got to a point where Augustus would only set up the medical missions to embezzle funds and trade treatment for sex.

At the church, he set up a weekly “healing list” whereby people could add the names of people that needed healing from various ailments, and convinced them that they would have to give elaborate offerings for the healing to actually commence. Augustus did this with full medical knowledge of how to actually either alleviate or downright put an end to their suffering. Regardless, he had now convinced himself that he indeed did the anointing by the Holy Spirit and deserved to be compensated handsomely for it. And when the conditions worsened (as they usually did without medical attention), Augustus would simply insist that it was because they had not been giving enough.

For years, Ngozi had been blinded by the prestige that came along with being a wife of one of the pastors. She did not allow herself to see the abuse and corruption in her mist..until now. As her eyes opened to what was in front of her, things that were hidden also began to appear. She discovered that Augustus had been planning to blackmail the head pastor into resigning, so that he could take his position. On top of that, Augustus had impregnated a few of the ladies that came to see him for counseling, and had used the “healing list” fund to pay for their abortions. After discovering the paperwork he had sloppily disposed of, she decided that enough was enough, and she was going to confront him face to face.

Ngozi had arranged for the kids to spend this week away at her brother’s house, to avoid them witnessing the showdown. She pushed open the door to his home office and tossed the manila folder that contained the smoking gun on top of his desk while he was leading a prayer line. In the middle of leading a “return to sender” prayer, Augustus excused himself, and placed his telephone down as he yelled at her:

“Woman can’t you see that I am busy? What on earth is this? “

He opened the folder and saw the abortion paperwork he thought he had thrown away. Augustus tossed the folder on the ground and sat silently.

“I am finished! This is it. I’m leaving you and taking the kids with me”, Ngozi said with a conviction she didn’t even think she had in her.

“You’re not going anywhere.” Augustus said in a cool, relaxed manner. “You will die before you leave me.”

Ngozi froze. She didn’t know what to say or do next.

Augustus got up and walked towards her.

“Do you hear me?”, his voice grew louder. “You will DIE before I let you go.”

As Augustus’ voice became louder, Ngozi heard the sound of a beating drum in the background also getting louder. He lurched at her and put his hands around her neck. Ngozi began to see her life flash before her eyes, and felt that if she didn’t do something quickly, she’d become the next person killed by their spouse. She remembered her dream, and whispered the secret name that had been given to her. She sang it very quietly. Suddenly the entire sky erupted in lightning. And she felt a presence in her body like nothing she had ever experienced in her life.

Uli symbol for Amadioha

Uli symbol for Amadioha

Augustus throw Ngozi against the wall and started pummeling her. With each strike, Augustus looked more and more like the monster he really was. He raised his fist to strike a knockout blow, and as it came down, it was met with something that neither of them expected….her palm. Ngozi caught his fist and squeezed it as she picked herself off the floor. The look on Augustus face was pain mixed with total shock. Could this really happening? Ngozi looked him in the eye and said one word:

“No.”

But it was not just Ngozi that was behind those words, but also the God of Thunder and Lightning that her possessed her body. Augustus immediately tried to swing with his free hand was met with a kick that sent him flying across the room. This wasn’t possible!

“Ngozi! What is wrong with you? Are you possessed?” he shouted.

“Yes. But the only unclean spirit in this room is yours,” she replied.

Chills ran down Augustus spine as he heard his wife’s voice blended with a thunderous booming one. He got himself up and pointed his finger at her.

“SATAN I REBUKE THEE! As an anointed man of God, I command thee to depart!” He proclaimed.

Through Ngozi, Amadioha spoke: “I am called many names. Igwe. Ezenu. Ubochi. Kamalu. Amadioha. However, Satan isn’t one of them. But whatever name you know me by, just know this: To those who are innocent, I am their defender and avenger. And to the guilty, I am judge, jury and executioner.”

“Is this how you talk to a man who has taken care of you and all of your useless siblings for all of these years? Have you suddenly forgotten the type of life you lived before I rescued you? You should be bowing at my feet everyday you ungrateful witch!” he yelled in response.

“You were blessed with those hands to give healing. Instead you used them to cause pain and take from others,” The God of Thunder & Lightning replied calmly.

Augustus became indignant.

“Don’t you know who I am? I am anointed! A holy man of God! The soon to be head Prophet of his ministry. Bow before me you unclean spirit!” He yelled as he charged towards her.

Immediately Ngozi’s body levitated out of the way and Augustus ran head first into the wall.

“And because you abused your gifts, your punishment must be more severe,” Amadioha bellowed out.

Ngozi, still possessed by Amadioha, picked him up and tossed him all the way through the wall, and stepped through the hole she had made. Shaken, Augustus got up and picking up a bar that was laying in the hallway, charged at her. Ngozi rewarded him with a kick in the stomach, and a 1-2 punch to the face that send him flying to the other end.

“I am the punishment of God,” Amadioha spoke, “If you had not committed abominations, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

Ngozi walked over to him laying on the hallway and picked him up by his hands. The God of Thunder & Lightning spoke through her once more: “You are not worthy of these gifts. These unclean hands will never harm anyone again.”

As Ngozi was holding him, her hands began getting so hot that they began to burn Augustus’s fingers. She looked him in his eyes and told him, “And soon the world will see you for what you really are.” Ngozi let go and immediately collapsed. She was transported back to the realm of the God of Thunder and Lightning. Her ancestors, dressed in elaborate masks, were again present. The voice from the Heavens said to her: “Our daughter. Well done. You may go in peace.”

And with that, she woke up to a policewoman shining a light in her eyes.

“She’s awakened,” she yelled out to the rest of the officers.

“What happened?” Ngozi asked.

The policewoman replied: “Apparently your husband had forgotten to put the phone on mute while he attempted to pummel you. The people on the prayer line heard what he said and when the the phone line cut off, a member of your church called 911.”

“Where is he?”, Ngozi inquired.

The policewoman pointed to the bottom of the stairs. Augustus was still breathing, but seem partially paralyzed.

“I guess he slipped and took a tumble,” the policewoman responded. “From the looks of him, he won’t be a danger to anyone any longer.”

Ngozi smiled, and for the first time in a long time, no longer suffered.

Amadioha

Amadioha Strikes

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Neo-Nsibidi Symbol for Amadioha

“Congratulations! you are now homeowners”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tell her to come in”, Tobenna replied.

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

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

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

He paused and remembered why the woman was angry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Amadioha!”

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

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

“I get around”Amadioha replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tobenna was confused. “What do you mean?”

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

Tobenna screamed: “Over my dead body!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You mean..”

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

“Well can I at least talk to him? “

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

“Which is?”

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

There was silence on the phone.

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

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.

A Conversation with Chi (God)

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by Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga

Everything was all good just a week ago. There are some people who say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well it took seven days for Chidi’s life to come crashing into pieces. You see, from the surface, Chidi seemed to have it all; a high paying job at an investment firm, a beautiful wife, kids in college. However, things started to fall apart last Wednesday. That’s when he came home to see that his wife had packed up her things and left a note explaining that she was calling it quits after 24 years of marriage. Chidi had no idea why she wanted a divorce. He had done his best to give her the type of lifestyle that most Nigerian women had desired. After 19 of his calls going straight to voicemail, and 18 of those 19 calls actually ending up with him leaving a message, he decided to give her space while he called his family members and in-laws asking what he should do. Just as he was still in the midst of making sense of his imminent divorce, the second blow came to him two days later when during his annual doctor check up, he was diagnosed with cancer. As a person with no ailments, who attended the gym religiously, Chidi was one of those people who felt that things like cancer could never happen to a person like him. But cancer, being a disease, is no respecter of persons and could strike anyone at any time. The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred Tuesday when he found out that he would be let go by his job despite his 15+ years of service to them.

Each of these three situations were tough to handle on their own, and them happening at the same time was pure torture. Upon facing this immense level of stress in such a short time, Chidi did what most people do when put in similar situations: he turned to drugs and alcohol. After a few days sitting in his room, drowning his sorrows with hard liquor and barbiturates, he decided that life was no longer living anymore; Chidi would commit suicide. Chidi had known alot of people who had nearly died from taking certain over the counter drugs in combination with one another. He figured that if he took those same drugs at a higher dose, he would be sure to kill himself but still make it look accidental. Although it was the 21st Century, suicide was still considered very taboo and cowardly amongst his group, the Igbo people of Southeastern Nigeria, and if he died of drug overdose, he would still retain some type of dignity. And perhaps his family members could sue the drug companies for negligence. Maybe it would work, maybe it would not. The most important thing was for him to be able to off himself in a peaceful way since he definitely was too cowardly to do things like jumping from a bridge or shooting himself.

Despite not being in the right frame of mind, Chidi was meticulous in preparing his cocktail of death, calculating how much of each drug it would take to ensure his relatively painless death. He said a short prayer and raised the cocktail of death to his lips, preparing to take it with some alcohol. Just as he was ready to pop the pills in his mouth, he heard a voice say “Are you sure this is what you want to do?”

Chidi paused. Perhaps it was a figment of his imagination or a product of his drunkenness. He raised the death cocktail to his mouth and once again heard the voice, but even louder this time. Chidi was confused. He hadn’t been taking any hallucinogens, so he was confused why he was hearing voices. The voice appeared to be coming from the mirror. Perhaps it was someone deciding to play a trick on him.  He put the pills and the alcohol down, rushed over to the mirror and shouted angrily, “Who are you?”

The voice replied, “You should know who I AM my child.” Chidi was confused. Both his parents were dead. Suddenly it dawned upon him who it was that was speaking to him.

He put both hands on his head and yelled out, “Chinake nna! I can’t believe this is happening to me!”

The voice replied, “What were you expecting…a burning bush or something?”

Chidi’s bewilderment immediately turned to rage as he yelled out, “Where were you when I was going through all of my suffering?”

The voice replied to him, “I’ve been here all along, where have you been?”

Chidi responded by asking: “What do you mean where have I been?”

In return the voice asked ,“All the many years that things were going great for you, when your life was full of blessings, where was your appreciation? Where were your songs of praises? Where were your prayers of gratitude?”

Chidi paused and looked at the mirror. It had been a couple of years since he last made thanked God for all the blessings in his life. “But I pay my tithes faithfully! And yet you allowed me to lose my job!” he responded.

The voice replied, “First of all, do you really think that I NEED something like money or anything for that matter? When you give, you give to one another, not to me, and there are plenty of better things that you can give , such as your time and talents in service to your fellow man and women, in other to show appreciation for your blessings. Secondly, when you were giving money, you were doing it solely because you felt that doing so would bring you more money, like an investment with a guaranteed return. It was the same type of thing that you did for your job, and there was no sense of gratitude in it whatsoever! Now on the issue on your job, everyday you would say to your Self  how much you hated it, but how you just loved the money that it brought to you. In all honesty, I was doing you a favor. You losing your job was designed to give you an opportunity to re-evaluate your life and find your calling. Do you really think that you or anyone else was put on earth to work 40+ hours a week for 40+ years, retire and then die soon afterwards?”

Chidi was flabbergasted. He had indeed hated his job. He hated the commute. He hated his coworkers and his superiors. He hated the unscrupulous practices that went on there everyday. But he loved the money and status that it brought to him. As he looked deeper in the mirror, he remembered how he had a passion for agriculture when he had been younger, but how his mother had laughed at him and asked him if he wanted to be a menial yam farmer like his great-grandfather had been. She had told him to follow the money and get rid of those silly notions that had crept in his head.

Chidi then asked “Well what about my marriage? Why did my wife Amarachi leave me? I did alot for her!”

The voice replied: “When was the last time you told her that you loved her? When was the last time you showed that you appreciated her? When is the last time that you spent time with her? Sure you brought home enough money to keep the entire household comfortable, but what about her contributions? She has a career too you know!  And she after a long days work, she wants attention and affection from the man she married! Where you thinking of her all those late nights you spent at the office? I hope you know that she was thinking of you!”

Chidi was dumbfounded. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had worked hard and given her so much…

The voice interrupted his thinking by saying: “Why can’t you admit to your selfishness? Why is all about what YOU brought to the table? This woman sacrificed so much for you. She suffered for many years and brought you four children. And yet you neglected her for the sake of your career. How long will you keep lying to your Self? I don’t have to remind you of the numerous issues that you have in your marriage, but I will say that you have have avoided addressing them by hiding behind your career!”

Chidi continued looking in the  mirror and remembered the numerous times he would come up with work related excuses to avoid having to deal with the difficult issues with his wife. He recalled how she had told him that he had stopped doing the things that had made the marriage so magical in the first couple of years and how she barely even knew who he was anymore. He realized that he had indeed sacrificed his relationship for career advancement and now had lost both. He began to cry.

“Well Chi,” he said with tears flowing down his cheeks, “what did I do to deserve getting prostrate cancer?”

The voice replied: “Its very unfortunate that this type of cancer disproportionally affects men of African descent in America far more than of any other group. There are a number of reasons why you, and other men of African descent have developed this cancer, but that’s something that I would rather you to discover for yourself. Nonetheless, be encouraged that you possess all the tools and resources to heal yourself and to help other similar men to do the same. The same applies to all of the other issues that have befallen you. Always remember that…”

With that last statement, the voice faded away. To where? Only Chi knows. But Chidi was left staring at nobody but himself in the mirror. He really didn’t know whether the entire episode had been real, or merely a figment of his imagination. But at this point, it really did not matter. It had dawned upon him that he had no one to blame for himself for his recent pitfalls. They say you never know what you have until its gone. He had a job that he hated, but was even more upset when he lost it. He had a wife that loved him, but who he had neglected and now she wanted to leave him. He had health that he had taken for granted, and now it had failed him. He decided that from this day forth, he was going to show appreciation for everything that he had, and was going to take responsibility for his actions and reactions. He wiped the tears from his eyes and said words of thanks in his native language. He arose a new man, with a new lease on life. He would do everything in his power to get his life on the right track. He would make amends with his wife and make sure that she always felt appreciated. He would look at how and why he developed this illness, and most importantly, what he could do to heal himself. And last but not least, he would begin a new career in something that dealt with agriculture, because feeding people was an excellent way for him to feed his soul. Chidi planned on doing all of these things, but first, he wanted to call his good friend Onyemobi and tell him everything that had just happened to him.

Know Thy Self and Know God – Ancient Egyptian Proverb

The Transmission of Odinani & Omenala in Pre-Colonial and Modern Society (Part 2)

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by Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga

Ifuru (mythology)

Ndi Igbo (Igbo people), like other ancient people around the world, created mythology to answer basic questions about how the world was created, where their people came from, and why things are the way they are in the world. However, unlike many unenlightened people today, they were not naive enough to take these stories literally, and understood them to be symbolic.

The following myth deals with the origin of Afa (divination). Although the Yoruba system of Ifa is the most popular, it did NOT originate with them and appears all over West Africa. The Fon people call it Fa.  The Urhobos call it Epha. To the Ewe, its also called Afa.

Divination Apparatus

The excerpt is from page 86 of  John Umeh’s After God is Dibia Volume 1:

“The Igbos have a very interesting history of the origin of Afa Ugili/Akpukpala. There was a very brilliant Igbo lady who made accurate prophecies and inspired utterances and accurately read the minds of God, spirits, ancestors, men and women, stars, planets and all that exists and saw clear and accurate visions of what was, what is, and what will be. Additionally, she heard, with the help of her mystical third ear, what was, what is, and what will be.

She was consulted on all problems which she solved with precision and complete satisfaction. She lived to a very ripe old age, serving humanity and God with her clear vision and uncanny audition. When she finally died, humanity was thrown into a great wailing, chaos and confusion.

A delegation was therefore sent to Chukwu (God) with a request that He kindly send a replacement or make it possible for all to have the vision and audition of the dead wise old lady sage. God consoled the delegates and sent back, through them, His merciful words of consolation to humanity.

He instructed them on how to bury the old, dead divination sage with a promise that an Ugili, sacred tree, will sprout and grow from her head and that its fruits, when they ripe and fall, should have their shells broken into two and arranged four on each of four strings, which when cast and interpreted will tell with accuracy, what was, what is, and what will be.The delegates left home for the human world with the good news, divine words of consolation and instruction on the new divination system that would replace the uncanny vision and audition of the lady sage of divination. God’s instructions were obeyed to the last letter. The result was as promised”

Ugili Tree

Unlike other mythologies where women usually are blamed for the downfall of the human race, a woman is seen as being the source of this sacred divination system, and women played very important roles in pre-colonial Igbo society as dibia afa (diviners) and priestesses.

Ukabuilu (parables)

Parables are alot like mythology, but mostly deal with moral lessons rather than answering questions of origins. The following is a parable from the Oraifite community of Igboland. More can be found at this link.

“Many years ago there was a Calabar hunter called Effiong, who lived in the bush, killed plenty of animals, and made much money. Every one in the country knew him, and one of his best friends was a man called Okun, who lived near him.

But Effiong was very extravagant, and spent much money in eating and drinking with every one, until at last he became quite poor, so he had to go out hunting again; but now his good luck seemed to have deserted him, for although he worked hard, and hunted day and night, he could not succeed in killing anything.

One day, as he was very hungry, he went to his friend Okun and borrowed two hundred rods from him, and told him to come to his house on a certain day to get his money, and he told him to bring his gun, loaded, with him.

Now, some time before this Effiong had made friends with a leopard and a bush cat, whom he had met in the forest whilst on one of his hunting expeditions; and he had also made friends with a goat and a cock at a farm where he had stayed for the night.

But though Effiong had borrowed the money from Okun, he could not think how he was to repay it on the day he had promised.

At last, however, he thought of a plan, and on the next day he went to his friend the leopard, and asked him to lend him two hundred rods, promising to return the amount to him on the same day as he had promised to pay Okun; and he also told the leopard, that if he were absent when he came for his money, he could kill anything he saw in the house and eat it.

The leopard was then to wait until the hunter arrived, when he would pay him the money; and to this the leopard agreed. The hunter then went to his friend the goat, and borrowed two hundred rods from him in the same way.

Effiong also went to his friends the bush cat and the cock, and borrowed two hundred rods from each of them on the same conditions, and told each one of them that if he were absent when they arrived, they could kill and eat anything they found about the place.

When the appointed day arrived the hunter spread some corn on the ground, and then went away and left the house deserted. Very early in the morning, soon after he had begun to crow, the cock remembered what the hunter had told him, and walked over to the hunter’s house, but found no one there. On looking round, however, he saw some corn on the, ground, and, being hungry, he commenced to eat.

About this time the bush cat also arrived, and not finding the hunter at home, he, too, looked about, and very soon he espied the cock, who was busy picking up the grains of corn. So the bush cat went up very softly behind and pounced on the cock and killed him at once, and began to eat him.

By this time the goat had come for his money; but not finding his friend, he walked about until he came upon the bush cat, who was so intent upon his meal off the cock, that he did not notice the goat approaching; and the goat, being in rather a bad temper at not getting his money, at once charged at the bush cat and knocked him over, butting him with his horns.

This the bush cat did not like at all, so, as he was not big enough to fight the goat, he picked up the remains of the cock and ran off with it to the bush, and so lost his money, as he did not await the arrival of the hunter.

The goat was thus left master of the situation and started bleating, and this noise attracted the attention of the leopard, who was on his way to receive payment from the hunter. As he got nearer the smell of goat became very strong, and being hungry, for he had not eaten anything for some time, he approached the goat very carefully.

Not seeing any one about he stalked the goat and got nearer and nearer, until he was within springing distance.

The goat, in the meantime, was grazing quietly, quite unsuspicious of any danger, as he was in his friend the hunter’s compound. Now and then he would say Ba!! But most of the time he was busy eating the young grass, and picking up the leaves which had fallen from a tree of which he was very fond.

Suddenly the leopard sprang at the goat, and with one crunch at the neck brought him down. The goat was dead almost at once, and the leopard started on his meal.
It was now about eight o’clock in the morning, and Okun, the hunter’s friend, having had his early morning meal, went out with his gun to receive payment of the two hundred rods he had lent to the hunter.

When he got close to the house he heard a crunching sound, and, being a hunter himself, he approached very cautiously, and looking over the fence saw the leopard only a few yards off busily engaged eating the goat. He took careful aim at the leopard and fired, whereupon the leopard rolled over dead.

The death of the leopard meant that four of the hunter’s creditors were now disposed of, as the bush cat had killed the cock, the goat had driven the bush cat away (who thus forfeited his claim), and in his turn the goat had been killed by the leopard, who had just been slain by Okun.

This meant a saving of eight hundred rods to Effiong; but he was not content with this, and directly he heard the report of the gun he ran out from where he had been hiding all the time, and found the leopard lying dead with Okun standing over it.

Then in very strong language Effiong began to upbraid his friend, and asked him why he had killed his old friend the leopard, that nothing would satisfy him but that he should report the whole matter to the king, who would no doubt deal with him as he thought fit.

When Effiong said this Okun was frightened, and begged him not to say anything more about the matter, as the king would be angry; but the hunter was obdurate, and refused to listen to him; and at last Okun said, “If you will allow the whole thing to drop and will say no more about it, I will make you a present of the two hundred rods you borrowed from me.”

This was just what Effiong wanted, but still he did not give in at once; eventually, however, he agreed, and told Okun he might go, and that he would bury the body of his friend the leopard.

Directly Okun had gone, instead of burying the body Effiong dragged it inside the house and skinned it very carefully. The skin he put out to dry in the sun, and covered it with wood ash, and the body he ate.

When the skin was well cured the hunter took it to a distant market, where he sold it for much money. And now, whenever a bush cat sees a cock he always kills it, and does so by right, as he takes the cock in part payment of the two hundred rods which the hunter never paid him.

MORAL: Never lend money to people (who cannot pay it back), because if they cannot pay they will try to kill you or get rid of you in some way, either by poison or by setting bad Ju Ju’s for you.”

Ute ikpe ekpere (prayers)

Prayer has always been a central part of Igbo life. It served as a direct link to ala mmuo (the spirit land). The following is an excerpt from pages 199-200 of Traditional Igbo Beliefs and Practices by  IK Ogbukagu. A morning prayer  of this nature was done every day by the head of each household while offering oji (kola nut) to the different divinities.

A kpopu uzo, a kpopu onu
The dawning of a new day marks the beginning of a routine struggling for the means of human and other beings existence

Ubosi kpatalu nu nya likalie
The day that fetches more benefits than others deserves to have more of those items of benefit

Uchu adi agba mma ekwu
The pen kinfe routinely deployed for splitting of kolanuts because of the nature of its assignment is always assured of early morning breakfast

O bu n’igwe , O bu n’ana, chedo anyi
God who lives in heaven and on earth, please protect our interest

Omebia, Odokwaa
God you destroy and regenerate lives

O sibe, O dika a ma elisi
God bestows gifts as though these benevolence would remain endless

E lisie, o dika a ma eweta ozo
He allows or rescinds these gifts as he considers appropriate or expedient

Taa oji a n’otu ka anyi taa ya n’ibe n’ibe
Almighty God, take this kolanut in whole, while we take it in cotyledons

Oru mmuo na nnu mmo bianu taa oji
All classes of spirit/elementals, especially the good ones, please have your own share of this nut

Ichie ukwu na ichi nta
Titled and non-titled ancestors to join us in this exercise

Ndi mvu na ndi egede
The primordial and other ancestors of the spirit world also to join

A nalu nwata ife o ji ama mma mma ya aluru
When a child is deprived of what he loves he subsequently is made miserable

Ana, ndi afulu anya na ndi afuro anya, nke na enwero okpa ibe ya kwota ya n’azu
This land, indigines dead and alive; among the dead;the deformed and the crippled helped by others also are invited to join

Unu ekwena ka oji dalue ana, ma o bu ka nwa-ngwele gbaa aji
(Almighty God) do not allow this kolanut to drop from my hand or subject us to any misfortune today

Ofo nn m nyiba m alo, e welu m aka abo bulu ya
I will at all costs endeavor to protect all the heritages handed over to me by my father

Mmuo na anoro ya, mmadu ebulu oche ya
If an oracle vacates its seat, a human being takes over

Izuzugbe nzugbe, anunu gbe
All (spirits/ancestors) are enjoined to rally and then fully participate in these early morning prayers

O sii nwata, jide nkakwu, ya ga-ekunye mmili o ga-eji kwo aka
Anyone who makes a child commit a crime will have to bear the consequence of his action

Oso chuka nwata, o gbanaa ikwu nne ya
A child who has a serious disagreement with his fraternal household may op to move over and settle with his maternal relatives

Nee ubosi taata dozie ya ka o di ka ibe ya
God bless today as you did with other days

Ndi ilo ezuana anyi n’uzo
We earnestly pray we do not fall prey to the evil plans of our enemies

O bialu egbu anyi gbue onwe ya
Wicked plans designed to harm the innocent are to have boomerang effect

Ile oma ka ejuna ji agan’ogwu
We achieve much progress by being good, kind and gentile

Ife any ga-eli bia, nke ga eli anyi abiana
We pray for the good things of life and abhor evil tendencies

Izu gbajulugwo o kaalu nti
Secrets and malevolent plants at some point in time, may be revealed

Ututu tutauta ife
May today be blessed with blessed with lots of good luck

Onye welu ututu tutuba otutujue akpa
If you start early enough to toil, you will achieve a lot by the end of the day”

As you can see, Igbo prayers were a combination of affirmations, praises, proverbs, and requests. There were not wish lists or the marathon sessions of begging that are prominent in some traditions today. Most importantly, Igbo prayer was almost always never done empty handed, and placed a good deal of responsibility on the part of the person doing the prayer to follow it up with the right actions and deeds that would lead to its fulfillment.