In this publication
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
AGREEMENT BY ISRAELI GOVERNMENT AND NNRI / EVIDENCES & IGBO RELIGIOUS CONCEPT OF ORIGIN
On July 13, 1996 Radio Nigeria Enugu National Station aired a programme known as Nkaohamalu. Nkaohamalu, an audience participation programme in lgbo played host to Ogbuefi Madubueze Enemmou. On that particular day the topic for discussion was, the “what is the origin of lgbo?” Ifeanyichukwu Nwosu, the programme coordinator confirmed that Ogbuefi Enemmou was sent by Nnri Community to answer the above question – about lgbo origin. The following is a paraphrase of some of what Ogbuefi said during that broadcast.
We have a tradition in our place, Nnri, about a man called Eri who fell down from heaven. He was later known and addressed by the title “Igwe” (descended from heaven). We have also a written (Bible) record that Eri lived during the period of the fifth Pharaoh. In the process of time Eri, a contemporary of Moses migrated with some people across the Nile into Sudan. They proceeded southward until they came and settled at the meeting place of Anambra and Niger rivers’ the present Nnri environment. They later assimilated the little strange group they met there.
About two years ago Israeli government sent delegates to our place, Nnri, to confirm the historical relationship between lgbo and Hebrew people. We took these Israeli officials round historical places in our town. They expressed surprise at what they observed as obvious similarities between our customs and theirs. Later they could not help but conclude that Nnri and lgbo people in general are among the lost tribes of Israel.
Israeli ambassador in Nigeria also visited our place, Nnri, on March 28, 1996. As he went round our place he burst into tears, acknowledging in sympathetic tone that we the Nnri people are among the lost tribe of Israel. Later, before he departed, this same ambassador presented our king, Eze Nnri, with the gift of Olive fruit and oil. He stressed that such were traditionally special gifts to recognized kings in Israel. I challenge those doubt of this report to visit this ambassador in Lagos and confirm the story for themselves.
Nnri, said Ogbuefi Enemmou is the head of lgbo-land holding the staff of authority, popularly known as Ofor. Ofor is a short, thick sacred wood with ring attached to its head. It is a staff of authority symbolizing the collective will of the people and the sanction of the ancestor. There is indeed a saying in lgbo-land that Nnri holds the staff of authority, Nnri ji Ofor. Ofor has a tripartite representation of being the symbol of ritual authority, the emblem of political authority and the emblem of religious authority to the people.
During this programme, Ogbuefi challenged “those who claim that lgbo first settled at Arochukwu to produce oral, written or archeological evidence (as Nnri people do) in support of their claim.” On the story that some part of Igbo are from Igala Ogbuefi replied that Igbos (Nnri and his entourage) migrated through the land that was later inhabited by the people of Igala but not that the Igbos are from Igala as a people. Ogbuefi went further to reconstruct that it was the people of Igala who eventually migrated from Igbo people rather than the other way round. This does not sound incredible as one considers that “Igala” sounds like the Igbo “Iga-ala?” – wilt thou return?
On the concept of Igbo Amaeze, Ogbuefi Enemmou replied that “from the earliest time Igbo had a central king whose monarchy I traced to Nnri.” He attributed Lord Luggard’s Indirect Rule through the creation of paramount chiefs as having hand in confusing the Igbo kingly system.
Many callers to this programme of whom we must take special note of, is Chief Gabriel Ani, Eze Enugu, who called from Akanu Ngwo. He expressed gratitude to the organizers of this programme (Nkaohamalu). Callers of this caliber accepted without much doubt that the Igbos had the Hebrew land as a place of their origin. Some insisted, however, that the first place of settlement was not Nnri but some other place in Igbo land.
EVIDENCES FOUND AT IGBO-UKWU
Igbo-Ukwu is an autonomous community situated about twenty five miles southeast of Onitsha. Shortly before the Nigeria-Biafran war Professor Thustan Shaw of University of Ibadan led a team of researchers to Igbo-Ukwu, were they made some archaeological discoveries that shed light on the glorious past of Ndi-Igbo.
What is archaeology, and what do that archaeologists do? Archaeology is a branch of anthropology, the study of man in the broadest sense – that concerns itself with the study of man’s past history, culture and origin. The archaeologists try to do this by studying the excavated implements of the people’s cultural domestic artifact.
Before the visitation of the Thursan Shaw team a startling discovery was made by a native of Igbo-Ukwu who was digging the earth for water cistern within his compound. What the man came across was a number of objects later confirmed to be bronze. On arrival Thurstan Shaw and his group of archaeologists made other significant excavations and later published the results of the various finding about the year 1970.
Other things found at Igbo – Ukwu excavation was said to be the site of a private tomb of a man believed to have been buried in his ceremonial garb. The man was believed to have been buried in his sitting position within a roofed chamber. He had five individuals believed to be slaves, all buried with him. Histories have drawn parallels between this extravagant and sophisticated form of burial with that of Eze Nnri and the Obis of other historical communities like Aboh in what Is today Delta State. About the great Obi Ossai of Aboh it was that it required forty slaves to bury him in 1845.
Of what value are the Igbo-Ukwu discoveries? Of many value indeed. Firstly the Igbo-Ukwu archaeological evidence indicate that the Igbo people are not just nomads who have no culture or story of origin as some unfriendly voices agitate. By radio-carbon dating archaeological science has testified almost beyond dispute that the people of Igbo have occupied the present geographical abode before A.D. 800.
One report says that the Igbo occupied here as early as 3,000 BC, about the time of king David of Israel.
Secondly, the Igbo-Ukwu discoveries show that by A.D. 800 Igbo-land has attained a high degree of civilization. The bronzes and beads reflect the wealth of the economy, and the great artistic skill of the makers of bronzes. They reflect altogether the extent to which the Igbo-land was part of the network of international trade. This evidence corresponds with what we know of modern Igbo. They are revered by their neighbours as people of super human insight who can convert nothing into something. In the very words of an Igbo elite we conclude that, “All who have studied the Igbo-Ukwu bronzes are struck by their technical brilliance… many of these finely cast works show an extreme addiction to virtuosity, unparalleled in Africa”.
There are chiefly three ways to prove the historical claims of any people:
(1) By written documents
(2) By oral tradition
(3) By archaeological evidence.
The Igbos have these three things to present in justification of their claims to a comprehensive story of their origin as summarized in this write-up.
IGBO RELIGIOUS CONCEPT OF ORIGIN
What do we mean when we talk about the origin of a people? Do we have in mind a time when a certain people came into existence as human beings in their particular land, or do we mean (by origin) a time in history when they migrated into their present geophysical environment? In order words, shall we seek to understand biological origin or geographical origin?
Most historians have often in an attempt to give a scientific data about a people confused biological origin of a people and their geographical settlement. Thus when they fail to establish a “data” about people’s settlement within certain geographical setting, they conclude and in fact presume that such a people have no “origin” or history.
Some tribes therefore in an attempt to establish their “origin” have desperately ran into some unfounded hypothesis or superstition. Most tribal stories today revolve around myths and legends concerning their ancestors whom they associate sometimes with deities.
It is not surprising for instance to hear a Yoruba man attribute his origin to Oduduwa who was said to have been sent (by a higher god) to Ile-Ife to complete the creation of the Earth. Those who could not cleverly fabricate a story of this sort would often cling to well known centres of ancient civilization.
The Hausa man may tell you that his people came from Baghdad in Mesopotamia, now the country of Iran. The Fulani delight to say that his people migrated from Fula Jalon and Fula Toro areas in the present Senegal. The Ibibio, the Edo and some innumerable others delight in aligning themselves with places like Egypt.
Some of these immigration fantasies might have close association with fragments of truth. But such oral traditions are usually so mixed up that the position of such fragmental truths are entirely jeopardize. According to C.E. Emordi of History Department, Edo State University, Ekpoma, many people trace their origin to these areas with a view to sharing in the splendor of the civilizations and as a matter of vague insurance policy. Emordi advised that such fantasies and claims should be treated cautiously. The lesson to learn is that there is no one tradition that satisfies the origin of a people.
For the Igbos in Nigeria, however,, things are somewhat different. The Igbos inherited a concrete and practical nature. They have an approach to life that a modern philosopher would like to call pragmatism. Myths, legends and oral traditions are scarce among them. More apparent in their philosophy of life is their general tendency to build on practical evidence. As a people of competitive tendency they suspect as a trick anything they are unable to confirm with repeated practical evidence.
Hence in tracing their history of origin rather than blindly cling to legend and myth the Igbos basically prefer to build on the religious concept of Chiokike, the creator God. The Igbos generally see themselves as the hardiword of Chukwu the very Being whose name is usually attached to every household name. Thus when an Igbo man gives his child the names Chukwuma, Uchenna/Uchechukwu, Chikelu or Chibunna, his mind goes back to reflect these concepts: The Supreme God knows (Chukwuma); The Father’s-God will Uchenna/Uchechukwu); The Supreme God creates (Chikelu/Chukwukelu). The Supreme God is our Father (Chibunna/Chukwubunna).
The point to drive home is that an Igbo man does not so much detach his identity and originality from the concept of Creation. He does not so much understand his origin in terms of casual activities of the gods and deities or superficial claims to renowned places of civilization. Because some friends of Igbo have failed to grasp with this religious concept of Igbo originality they have often ridiculed the Igbo as’ “a people without history or origin”.
Those who study about human being and the relatively of human culture known as anthropologists seem to agree that the whole peoples of the earth have one origin and a single ancestor from whom every race dispersed into different direction on the face of the earth. Some radical but less sincere anthropologists and scientists have chosen to refer to this as meaning that in beginning had one giant ape as his first ancestor.
On the other hand most anthropologists and patriarchal religious men have referred to the first ancestor of man as Adam. From the above explanation concerning their religious concept of origin it is fair to conclude that the Igbos fall into the category of patriarchal religionists who appreciate their origin in terms of Adamic progency.
Until after the introduction of Christianity to that part of the world, the Igbos quite understandably might not have used the word Adam rather than Eri to refer to their origin. However, as much as they traced their ancestry to Chukwu Okike (the Supreme God who creates), we can safely draw the conclusion that to the Igbos-both the wise and unwise, both the learned and illiterate, both the civilized and the traditionalists-man has a common origin by the special act of God in fashioning the first parent.
Thus “origin” is not an accident to the Igbo man. To him it is a carefully designed act of God. As for geographical migrations and settlements, majority of Ndi-Igbo are satisfied to accept the Israeli hypothesis supported by the triple testimony of Oral tradition of Eri migration; the Biblical evidence of Eri as a true historical descendant of Israel and the archaeological evidences, some of which are now lodged by Anambra State Government at Igbo-Ukwu museum.
Once again, Igbo are not so much a people of metaphysical speculation or abstraction. There was this belief common among the Edo of Benin that the Oba was a sort of demi god or super human. Until quite recently it was customary to speak of Oba as a personality whom no mere man may see with his naked eyes and live. Thus when a Bini man says, “you go see Oba”, he usually implies that your death is imminent. It was assumed that no man could actually see the Oba and live to describe him to others.
Today, however, we know that Oba is a grown up human being decorated with beads and traditional regalia. The contextual relevance of such abstraction and unnecessary tale is that it contrasts sharply with the ethos by which Igbo as a general society lives. Igbo cultural characteristics do not concentrate on such fantasy as much.
No one man among them was strong enough to establish a lasting dynasting which would arrogate to itself the prerogative of interpreting realities and imposing belief randomly on the people. Thus superstition was minimized among the Igbos of Nigeria.
The Oral tradition held within Nnri province which claims that, “Eri the father of all Igbos fell from heaven (Igwe)” at a time in history may support the Biblical evidence of Israeli-descent hypothesis of Igbo origin, but does not concretely represent Igbo view of origin, but does not concretely represent Igbo view of origin in general. That “Eri fell from heaven”, is a perverted form of the more reasonable claim that, “Eri migrated from among the stock of Israel in Egypt and settled near the present Nnri with his entourage”.
IGBO CULTURAL DIVISIONS
From the earliest time Ndi-Igbo have retained five distinct Cultural Divisions:
The Western (Riverrain) Igbo
The Northern or Awka Igbo
The Southern or Owerri Igbo
The Cross-River Igbo
The Ogoja Igbo
The Awka or Northern Igbo extended to the confines of Nsukka and Okigwi (Okigwe). It includes such important places as Onitsha, Nnri, Aguleri, Igbouku, Isuofia, Enugu, Nnewi, Awgu and environs. These were influenced more by the activities around the Niger coast and northern neighbour of the Igala Kingdom.
The Western Igbo include such places Ugwashi-Uku (Ugwashi-Uku), Agbor, Asaba, Aboh, Kwale, Ahoada and environs. This division was influenced by Bini ancient monarchs. Owerri Igbo extends to the confines of Port-Harcourt and Orlu. It includes such places as Umuahia, Aba, Diobu, Owerri and Orlu environs. The Cross River Igbo are the people of Afikpo, Bende and Arochukwu environs. The Ogoja Igbos are the people of Abakaliki settlements.
These major divisional groups have distinguished cultural peculiarities that contrast them. Some of the differences are attributed to “response to Varying natural conditions and problems of everyday life”. Thus each group was influenced mostly by what happened in its geographical area.
Igbo main cultural blocks are considered by some as the “tribes” of Igbo entity. However, the word “tribe” in this regard is a misleading term. The Igbo cultural divisions are not “tribe” in the same sense one might chose to refer to the tribes of the Yoruba people of Ijebu or Egba. It is notable among the Igbo that regardless their cultural differences they posses some common homogenous traits which characterize them as one people who stand the possibility of enjoying a sense of common origin. One such major common language system.
In the midst of something close to three hundred dialect-clusters, every member of Igbo entity can freely communicate with his brother far separated as by two hundred and fifty miles. The mutual tendency is to adjust to the more commercial, educational and missionary favoured dialect of Onitsha. Thus the Igbos speaks the same Igbo language. They are within the constitution of what the linguists term “a speech community”.
The apparent Igbo divisive traits are best understood in the light of what the early Greek philosophers called unity in diversity. The personality of every member of Igbo cultural groups is established in the expression, IGBO-EKWENU.
IGBO-EKWENU or Igbo-Kweenu is a political magic wand of Igbo expression of unity. It is usually employed to unite as one man in repealing external aggression. Thus when Igbo-Kweenu is enthusiastically bellowed the apparent Igbo cultural differences vanish like a soap bubble. Consequently, the people are united like Babel Tower builders in pursuit of external enemy or an achievement of seemingly a difficult goal. “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language”, Genesis 11:6. The Igbos share in common a copies supply of versatile common sense and the unique capacity for improvisation.
THE FIRST IGBO WRITER AND HISTORIAN
Mr. Israel Eloebe Iweka, the crowned Igwe Iweka 1, of Obosi was said to have single-handedly built several roads in Obosi and Onitsha, around the year 1914. Some of the roads built by this famous man which exist to date include the ever busy Iweka Road, now subdivided into EzeIweka Road, from Obosi to Upper Iweka Road. This road extends from Akuora Market in Obosi to Onitsha Main Market.
Israel Iweka a scion of a dynasty of kings did not only build roads by which he is popularly remembered today. He also wrote a book. In 1922, Iweka wrote and published at 261-page history of Igbo-land. The book was written in English and Igbo languages. In the early 1990’s the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was said to have honoured “the book as the first history of the Iboland published by an Igboman”.
We do not know whether the UNN is aware of an older author at this time. But evidently there exists a older information about an older author. In 1745 a man known as Olaudah Equiano was born to a distinguished Igbo clan...the father of this man was renowned as a judge in his community which, in the very words of Equiano was Essaka, probably the present Nsuka or Isieke.
As an ideal youth, Equiano freely participated in the daily chores and industrious varieties that characterize every Igbo family until he was twelve years old. At twelve this dynamic Igbo youth was kidnapped together with his sister and sold into slavery. The European who finally bought him shipped him to England. In England he was “Sold again to a sea captain who gave him the name Gustavus Vassa (probably after Gustavus Vassa, 1496-1560, one of the greatest of Swedish kings)”.
Intelligent, energetic, tough-minded and thrifty, as F.C. Ogbalu would describe him, Equiano had it as an advantage to have been bought by a ship captain. This gave him the special privilege to have travelled widely. Eventually, he saved enough money to purchase his freedom and educate himself.
Olaudah Equiano, the name which might mean, according to Chieka Ifemesia. Olaude Ekweano, is often listed among the famous men who played a leading role in the movement towards the abolition of slave trade, which at this time had claimed some ten to twelve million Africans.
Like Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther of the Yoruba, slavery separated Equiano from his people geographically but not biologically. In all his travels, both under the rigours of slavery and freedom he remained original, an Igbo man with a will to ever succeed or secede as occasion warrants. Equiano “retained a very keen interest in his people”, said Ifemesia in his book. Traditional Humane Living Among the Igbo. “He applied, without success, to the bishop of London to be sent as a missionary to Africa”.
Equiano wrote his autobiography around the year 1789 under the title, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa the African. As far as evidence can prove this is the very first published matter by Igbo man about the Igbo people. In that monumental work, among other things, Equiano tried to answer some questions about Igbo people, their origin, government, politics, economy, social life and culture.
Until we can substantially prove otherwise this Igbo ex-slave remain the first to reduce Igbo Language and village affairs to writing. He transcribed about seventy-nine Igbo words in The Interesting Narrative. Equiano married the daughter of James Cullen a Cambridge in 1792.
THE IGBO RANT
BIBLICAL TRADITIONS OF NDI IGBO BEFORE THE MISSIONARIES CAME TO AFRICA* IGBO 101.
THE IGBO TRIBE AND ITS FEAR OF EXTINCTION
The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities
Written by Emeka Maduewesi
~on fb. 28th September, 2016.
The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.
The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.
In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.
Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.
In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.
The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.
Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.
The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.
The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.
The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.
This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.
RT. HON. DR. NNAMDI AZIKIWE TO DR. CHUBA OKADIGBO (1981)
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