Tag Archives: Igbo History

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

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ReEmerging

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

1. LINGUISTICS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cohen’s silly pseudo-linguistic examples continue:

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

Actual Igbo words for voice: Olu or Onu

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

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

Actual definition of Nkenta – allotment or share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Court Record written in Nsibidi script

Court Record written in Nsibidi script

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

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

2. CHRISTIANITY & IGBO TRADITION

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

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

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

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

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

Lieberman continues with this ironic statement:

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

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

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

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

Igbo Men over 100 years ago

Continuing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

3. FAMILY & VILLAGE TRADITIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do they resemble the Jewish rites in any way?

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

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

4. ARTIFACTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fraud

SOURCES CITED:

  1. “The Igbo and Their Niger Delta Neighbors” By Nnai J. O. Ijeaku (page 16-17)
  2. “Igbo English Dictionary” by Michael J.C Echeruo
  3. “Development of Igbo Language E-Learning System” by Olufemi Moses Oyelami. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE October 2008 ISSN 1302-6488 Volume: 9 Number: 4 Article 2
  4. “Igo Mma Ogo: The Adoro Goddess, Her Wives, and Challengers—Influences on the Reconstruction of Alor-Uno, Northern Igboland, 1890-1994” by Nwando Achebe. Journal of Women’s History, Volume 14, Number 4, Winter 2003, pp. 83-105
  5. West African Journal of Archaeology, Volumes 12-13, page 56
  6. “The Culture History of the Igbo Speaking Peoples of Nigeria” by Adiele Afigbo, West African Culture Dynamics: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives pages 307 to 309
  7. “Migration and the Economy: Igbo Migrants and the Nigerian Economy 1900 to 1975” By Mathias Chinonyere Mgbeafulu, Page 10
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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.

Introduction to Odinani

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by Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga

Who are the Igbo people

Ndi Igbo (the Igbo people) are a West African ethnic group who trace their homeland to an area of what is  now known as southeastern Nigeria. They are known for their rich, vibrant culture and history, and they have been the subject of many world renowned works of both fiction and non-fiction including Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Ifi Amadium’s Male Daughters and Female Sons as well as The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.

There have been Ndi Igbo occupying their present location for over 8000 years, and they have left behind such artifacts as the Igbo Ukwu scuptures, which are the earliest of their kind found in West Africa, as well as the Nsude pyramids which resemble some of the step pyramids of ancient Egypt and Sudan. For a large portion of its history, Alaigbo (Igboland) did not have a central authority, and within it existed many states including the medieval Nri kingdom and the more recent Onitsha and Arochukwu kingdoms, although the Arochukwu confederacy did have a considerable influence over Alaigbo for a few hundred years.

Nsude pyramids

The Maafa (Transatlantic Slave Trade) removed hundreds of thousands of Igbos from Alaigbo, placing them in significant concentrations in colonies that would eventually become the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Cuba, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, as well as the United States. These Ndi Igbo did not come empty handed, but carried with them their Omenala (customs and traditions), their Odinani (spiritual sciences), and their unbreakable wills. Their descendants helped play  key roles in such slave uprisings as the Nat Turner Rebellion as well as the Haitian Revolution.

The Maafa was the beginning of the colonization process of Alaigbo by the British, which they resisted through numerous battles such as the Anglo-Aro Wars, the Ekumeku rebellions, the Aba Women’s riots and culminating in the Biafran War. It was not until 1970 that Alaigbo was under the total control of  the (neo)colonial state of Nigeria. As a result of slavery and colonization, the lifestyles and practices of the majority of Ndi Igbo and their descendants has dramatically changed.

What are Omenala & Odinani?

Historians like to perpetuate the idea that Africans who ended up in the so called New World lost their African culture, which stems from the fact that most Diaspora Africans do not speak the exact same languages of their ancestors, eat the exact same foods, or practice the exact same spiritual systems. However, just because something is not exactly what it was previously does not mean it is has become “lost.” Customs and traditions, like everything else, can go through transformations and adaptations, especially when they are carried to a new environment and people undergo new experiences.

There are also many voluntary African immigrants that now live in North America. These people do not live the same way that they did in Africa, and their children do not have all of the same practices and ways of thinking that they have. The food eaten is often different, the clothing worn is different, and the language might not be passed from one generation to the next. However, you can still analyze them and make a conclusion about where they came from without too many problems. If so much can be changed in just one generation from a voluntary immigration, how much would be transformed from many generations after an involuntary one?

"Other African Americans"

Even when historians admit that some African cultural practices were retained, they will systematically ignore (either directly or indirectly) the Omenala of the Ndi Igbo, especially as it pertains to their descendants in the United States. Historians will admit that Ndi Igbo did come to the “New World” but seldom ever speak on the practices that are derived from them. Rather, they attempt to paint the majority of the Diaspora as being either Yoruba or Akan.

The reality is that the majority of the Diaspora was not Yoruba or Akan, and the Ndi Igbo comprised a significant portion of it. Secondly, the practices of a people in the Diaspora are not always a signifier of who they trace their ancestry from. There are many Africans of Igbo descent in the Diaspora that practice the Yoruba religions because of the fact that the strong central organization of that particular system, as well as the ones of the Bakongo and Fon/Ewe, made them more apt  to flourish in the Diaspora.

Likewise, there are people of Igbo descent in Africa that practice the Roman religion called Catholicism or the British religion called Anglicanism, but neither of these groups of Igbos are from Rome or Britain. Furthermore, the idea that the traditional religions are dead in Alaigbo or in the rest of Africa is more misleading propaganda that people fail to double check on. If the traditional religions are really dead then why do all the African “traditional healers”, “medicine men”, diviners and priests still have so much clientele, even in predominately Christian or Islamic nations? As embellishing as Nollywood (the Nigerian film industry) can be at times in its portrayal of Nigerian life, this is one thing that they are not exaggerating. The fact is that regardless of what imported tradition an Igbo (or any other African) may practice, when it begins to fail them, they will go back to the Omenala of their forefathers and foremothers that provided results.

The Re-Awakening of Omenala & Odinani


Today, with the advent of DNA testing that allows people to trace their ancestry, more and more Africans in the Diaspora are uncovering their Igbo genetic heritage, and seeking to learn more about the Omenala of their Egwugwu (ancestors). However, a careful analysis will reveal that they don’t have to visit Alaigbo to discover them, as they are literally right in front of their faces in the traditions and habits that they already know and cherish.
Likewise, Nollywood is helping to spark a renaissance in interest in the Omenala of Ndi Igbo within Africa, by producing alot of films that take place in pre-colonial Alaigbo. These movies often feature Igbo language, traditional attire, make-up, and other things pertinent to Omenala. Authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) are helping to build the Igbo renaissance in the literary field by picking up the torch originally carried by people like Chinua Achebe.

Forest Whitaker & Danny Glover reclaim their Igbo heritage

This blog was motivated in part by  the developing Igbo Renaissance, and the growing need to reclaim the Omenala of the Igbo both in the Diaspora and the Motherland.  However, simply reclaiming and reviving Omenala is a drop in the bucket. The most vital thing is to reawaken the Odinani. Whereas Omenala can be paraphrased as “what you do”, the Odinani is “why you do it.” This fundamental relationship is the key to not only reviving old traditions and practices, but creating new and better ones that can raise the state of our people wherever they may be.

The vast majority of the people in the world today have beliefs, practices and traditions that they uphold but lack understanding about. Consider yourself as an example. Why do you feel the way you feel about certain things? Why do you believe what you believe? Who defined your values? Who is the one that designed your lifestyle? Have you ever thought about these things?

Likewise, when it comes to conditions  in society or in the world as a whole, people often don’t think about the root causes of things; why things are the way that they are. They simply just accept definitions given to them by their religious leaders, social scientists or politicians. What we call religions today are not much more than the deification of a culture of a people. People can’t tell the difference between their cultural practices and the principles that caused them to come into existance.

Odinani was the means through which the Ndi Igbo sought to understand their natural environment. In pre-colonial times, their worldview was limited to their village and their surrounding villages, so their definition of Odinani would have been “laws of the land.” However, with the dramatic expansion of the Igbo worldview that came with colonization by the Europeans, a more appropriate translation of Odinani would be the laws of the Earth, or the laws of Nature. We know this today as science.

Observation

According to Webster’s Dictionary, science is defined as “a systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” By this definition, Ndi Igbo, much like other African people, were scientists in the true sense of the word. They were master observers, able to pick up the minutest of details as well as things right in plain view that often go overlooked by most people. Ndi Igbo were also practical people who adopted traditions after they had been tested and found to produce results that could be reproduced. They did not have time for theories that had not been demonstrated or for blind faith in anything. However, there were two major differences between their view of science and the Western view. Those are, the fact that they did not separate the spiritual from the physical, and that they were also intelligent enough to never claim to have discovered anything.

Ndi Igbo knew what scientists are now finding out: that all matter in the universe is energy, that vibrates at certain frequencies. What we call the physical world is matter that is vibrating at a lower frequency. When the frequency increases, things can become inpercievable to us, even though they are still there. An example of this would be radio and television waves.  Matter at a  higher vibration is what the ancients called spirit. The understanding of the science of spirit is what we would call metaphysics, which is defined as “the theoretical or first principles of a particular discipline.” In other words, metaphysics is the first cause of everything in the physical.

Although Ndi Igbo, as well as other African people have produced their own Leonardo DaVinci’s, Issac  Newtons, Albert Einsteins, etc, these African people did not take credit for finding out about things that have always existed, as Europeans have a very nasty habit of doing. The very notion that an individual “discovers” anything in nature, be it a place (especially one that is already inhabited), a thing, or a concept, implies that no other people that lived before knew it, or that that individual has some type  of “ownership” over it. Ndi Igbo, like other Africans, acknowledged that they did not discover anything, they simply became aware of something that had already been there. Every other year, a new “discovery” by the Europeans renders their old “discoveries” null and void, which goes to show that they are not “discovering” anything at all, but simply uncovering a “bigger piece of the pie.” In regards to Odinani, one good way to describe it would be as a process of becoming aware, of ones self, and of reality.

In conclusion, I would like to say that if Omenala were a play, Odinani would be the script. If Omenala were a software program, Odinani would be the source code. If Omenala would be the actions one takes in response to the changing seasons, then Odinani would be the cyclical  nature of the seasons themselves. The customs, traditions, and rituals that you have will change depending on season or environment, but the laws of nature themselves remain the same. And as you read the articles written by different authors, and view the different symbols and works of art that are posted and deciphered, you should be aware that nothing that is being shared should be considered true unless you can research it, observe it, and prove it true to yourself. Yagazie (May we prosper).