In Igbo mythology, the Ogbanje are spirits that cause a child to die, and reincarnate just to die again. The Ogbanje is a mischief maker in the spirit world that sneaks into the world of the living through the womb of a woman. But there is more to the Ogbanje than what is popularly known, as many are walking among us today.
“The Ndiichie (esteemed ancestor spirits) also held a high place in traditional Igbo society. Elders have always been revered in Igbo society, and even more so after they passed onto Be Mmuo (the land of the spirits). The Ndiichie would often be consulted to offer advice to their descendants and appeal to the Alusi on their behalf. Ndi Igbo have never worshiped their ancestors only venerated them, which is no different then what Catholics do to their saints or what every country does to its national heroes. Respect and honor for the Ndiichie was shown in one way by pouring of libations while chanting incantations. Ndi Igbo believed in the concept of reincarnation and felt that the Ndiichie often reincarnated back on Earth. In fact, all Mmadu (human beings) were believed to reincarnate seven or eight times, and that depending on your karma, one either ascends or descends into another spiritual plane” – Onyemobi
Ancestral veneration is a very ancient and common practice all over the world. The Igbo people have understood the importance of honoring the Ndichie (Venerated ancestors) in order for the civilization to survive and progress from times immemorial. One of the reasons Igbos and Africans in general are in a state of damnation is because we have forgotten how to honor our ancestors.
Instead of developing our own culture as a people, we see Western culture as superior to our own and trap ourselves in an inferiority complex. Yes despite hardcore resistance against the Atlantic slave trade, British colonialism, and the Nigerian genocide against our people we ended up losing. Yes our Civilizations collapsed. Yes Nigeria continues to discriminate and oppress Igbo people. We have suffered a lot and nobody shall ever down play that. However, until we remember to honor our ancestors, we will continue on the path of self destruction our enemies have planted for us.
The Igbo people are one of the most ancient groups in the world. Like most African groups and civilizations in ancient times had advanced human consciousness, culture, knowledge, creativity, leadership, philosophy, science, and etc. True civilizations respect, honor, and live in accordance to Nature. We once understood the oneness of the Source/Creator (Chineke) with Creation and our relationship with Nature (Ani).
We honored and respected Ani. That is why we had rich societies and collective democratic leadership that lived by justice, order, peace, unity, and balance. Our ancestors built many ancient civilizations such as the Ugwelle (6000 BCE), Afikpo (3000 BCE), Nsukka (3000 BCE), UmuEri/UmuNri dynasties (500 BCE), Igbo Ukwu (900 CE), and etc. We developed sophisticated architecture such as the Nsude pyramids in Agbaja, Mbari structures, and etc. Igbos developed writing scripts such as Uli, Aniocha writing systems, Nsidibi, Ikwu, and many more. The level of knowledge and scientific (especially metaphysics) discoveries and practices done by the Igbo Civilizations is most likely beyond our imagination. We have a long history of achievements.
In order for us Igbo people to really rebuild and progress, we must honor our ancestors. We shall not live exactly how our ancestors lived but revive the institutions they built that are applicable today and improve on it. How can you know what today and tomorrow will be if you don’t yesterday was? How can you know who you are if you don’t know who brought you here? The ancestors brought us here and as a mixture of all of them into one, we must know who they were to know who we are. We may say we are children of the ultimate source of all creation and life (Chineke). But through who are we children of Chineke? Who did Chineke give power to bring us into this world and gave life? The answer is our ancestors. Therefore, we must honor and respect them. To honor the ancestors is to honor ourselves and the ultimate ancestor/source of us all Chineke. Chi (God) Bless