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Monday, June 22, 2009


A Paper Presented by Chigachi Eke, Secretary, Research and Planning Committee of Ohaneze Ndigbo of South Africa, on African Day Celebration Organised by the Randfontein Local Municipality, Gauteng, Republic of South Africa, 23rd of May 2009.

It is customary for Igbos to treat a visitor with utmost civility. He is ushered into the obi and presented with kolanuts. Usually, important matters are postponed till he has been refreshed. Only then is the visitor asked the purpose of his visit.
Igbo people played host to our South African brothers and sisters from 1960-1993. We lived and studied with them at Owerri, Aba, Umuahia, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Onitsha and Nsukka. We also listened and heard their story.
Then a sudden role reversal saw our erstwhile guests welcoming us in their beautiful country. We have been cordially received but our story has never been heard. When we received your invitation for today's event, Ohaneze aptly saw it as that opportunity extended every guest to properly introduce himself. Igbos of South Africa have mandated me to stand and tell you who we are; and by so doing clarify certain misconceptions created by the media about us. Prefessor Chinua Achebe warns that "Until the lions have their own historians, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
I framed my topic to reflect the immanent and transcendental Igbo. If you concede that black people are religious and that their lives are a series of rites of passage, then you are in a better mindset to understand the Igbo who come into this world religiously, live religiously, work religiously and, since they're mortal, die and return religiously.
The way I understand our heritage is that it encompasses the individual, our cultural values, history, the rich land and continental shelves of Africa. The whole is inseparable from the part. This realization informs me to title this paper, "Man and His 'Chi': The Igbo of West Africa."
This paper comes in three parts:
Part One is a brief account of the Igbo; who they are and their socio-political institutions.
Part Two is a discourse on Igbo religion and concept of the Supreme Being.
Part three engages "Chi" in the light of the self and destiny.
0.1. Who Are Igbos
The Igbo have a clear notion of who they are. They call themselves Igbos or Ndigbo (Igbo people). But at the point of cultural contacts non-Igbo writers have wrongly misspelt them as Heckbos, Heebos, Egboes, Eboes or Ibos.
I tackle these misnomers right away.
There are 36 letters in the Igbo alphabet made up of 8 vowels (Udaume), 19 consonants (Mgbachiume) and 9 blends (Udamkpi). The third letter, "gb," falls under Udamkpi. "Gb" is different from "g" and "b," which are (Mgbochiume). Call us "Igbos," not "Ibos." The language we speak is also called Igbo.
Since creation, Igbos have lived in the Lower Niger down to the Niger Delta area of the Bight of Biafra. To their East (Eke) are the Annang/ Ibibio and Efik peoples. They are bounded in the West (Orie) by the Yoruba and Edo. In the North (Afo) by the Hausa/Fulani groups; while in the South (Nkwo) are the Ijaw/Ogoni kingdoms. Some forty million Igbos today live within and outside the Nigerian borders.
The culture of Igbo people is called Omenala Igbo. It has man and his well being at its very center. This culture envisages life to include the past, present and future. Cultural practices like prayer, farming, dancing, sacrifice, birth, marriage and death are there to ensure that one's link with the world beyond is not broken.
The Igbo family includes the unborn, the living and the dead, for which reason abortion has no place in Igbo culture. Our family is made up of the father, mother(s) and children. It includes all those related by blood to a common ancestor. Marriage between persons even remotely related by blood is strictly forbidden. Igbo family/society is patriarchal but one completely balanced with female values. Yes, we pay ilobola to marry somebody's daughter.
Politically, chief-priests and elders ruled Igbos for thousands of years. There was no time in Igbo history when they were ruled by one man as their core value frowns at unilateralism. Their system of government is best described as theocratic-democracy as (1) the Igbo recognize only Chukwu (God) as their spiritual and secular king and, (2) government is by mutual consent after wide and open debates usually at the market place.
0.2. Igbo Traditional Religion
I must privilege Prof. Emmanuel N Onwu's submission that Igbo religion in its original form was a "direct revelation of 'Chukwu,' 'Chineke' to the Igbo earliest ancestors" (2002 Ahiajoku Lecture, Owerri). It pre-dates Christianity.
Secondly, it is Judaism in its unwritten form. Igbos believe in the sacredness of blood. They circumcise their male children eight days after birth, observe religious purifications and washings. Altogether, if you codify the religious practices of Igbo people what will emerge is an authentic version of the Pentateuch.
Igbos believe in a Supreme Deity called Chukwu (the Great God) who created all things. Chukwu is also called Chineke (God the creator). The Igbo religion, like Christianity, engages creation from a common source or monogenesis.
The Igbo also believe in an entity called Ekwensu (the Devil) who is the father of all evil and enemy of Chukwu.
Apart from Chukwu, the Igbo have a pantheon of other lesser gods. We therefore have a polytheistic situation where Chukwu presides over lesser deities who act as his messengers.
0.3. Man and His "Chi": Meaning of "Chi" in Igbo Cosmology
Let me introduce this topic by stating that Igbos see things in two. Scholars of Igbo studies call this the principle of complementary dualities. Nothing is absolute and alone. Our philosophical thoughts equip us to see man and woman, life and death, water and fire, secular and spiritual and, so forth.
Igbos have a firm grasp of the abstract. It is true that Igbos talk mainly in proverbs. Now we know that proverbs and analogies are there to help you transmit complex ideas with the human language. Our ancestors did all these bestowing on us certain immutable truths we can feel and connect harmoniously with. One such truth is predestination. Another is will power. Between these polarities the concept of "chi" makes sense.
Even if man is predestined to die, the Igbo believe one can through conscious effort and good deed delay his death and even alter its circumstances. I believe that is what Professor Donatus Nwoga had in mind when he asserts that "Things not only form and act in dualities, it is also possible for forms of reality to change both within the same type of reality and from one type of reality to another. 'No condition is permanent' does not only operate within the social system, but also at the ontological level" (1984 Ahiajoku Lecture, Owerri).
Using the medium of the inadequate English language, my closest definition of chi is that it is one's guardian spirit bestowed on him at birth by Chukwu (God). You excel or fail only with the consent of your chi.
An Igbo believes he can achieve the impossible as long as his chi does not accept defeat. He believes he can build rocket if he works hard and if his chi approves of his efforts (Igbos actually built functional rockets within a seven-month research and production period during the 1967-1970 Biafran/Nigerian war). Coming to South Africa with little more than a traveling bag, he believes he can make it with the blessings of his chi.
Madam Speaker.
Ladies and gentlemen.
On the 17th of April Ohaneze held an election rally where Igbos endorsed the candidacy of Comrade Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress, ANC, for the 2009 general elections. On that occasion Honourable Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Home Affairs (now Minister of Correctional Services), declared that hatred for foreigners is not consistent with Africans. She asked Igbos to forgive the 2008 xenophobic attack. We did. Today, the Randfontein municipality is assuring Igbos of South Africa, by inviting us here, that not one of us is going to be attacked again.
Ohaneze is also assuring this great municipality that crime and excesses are not integral to Igbo culture. Our association is talking to every Igbo to see South Africans as brothers and sisters, Nwanne di na mba (there's a brother even in foreign land).
As we celebrate our common heritage, let us face the future conscious that you and I are but different branches of the great Nguni tree of old.
Thank you.
Chigachi Eke is an Igbo Rights activist

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

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.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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