Original (correct) names/spellings for Igbo City's/Towns/Villages
Abakaliki is Abakaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Asaba is Ahaba; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzor; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owerre; Oyigbo is Obigbo; Port Harcourt is Diobu; Ogwashi-Uku is Ogwa Nshi Ukwu... any more will be added.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ogbodo Enyi Female Maskers, A Twist of Tradition

It is extremely rare, unheard of and possibly, barring this instance, virtually impossible to find a masking tradition in west Africa that features a ‘heavy’ aggressive mask that is headed by women. A twist of tradition happened in the Izzi (northeastern Igbo) village group of Nkaliki in 1975 when the community oracle, Uke, asked Nkaliki women to organise and dance Ogbodo Enyi in honour of its work saving them from child-killing evil spirits. A woman in this picture is one of the women maskers of Nkaliki shot by Herbert Cole in 1983 dancing an Ogbodo Enyi mask amidst her female supporters. The mask is originally a men’s mask representing leadership and takes on aspects of an elephant (ogbodo enyi meaning ‘elephant spirit’) and is somewhat aggressive when worn by men.

The Ogbodo Enyi of the women’s society, although aesthetically similar to its male counterpart, is considered to be different from that of the male and the male and female maskers never appear in the same context. The female Ogbodo Enyi is embraced by the women of the community and it is worn by a woman who is selected by the ogbodo, like her male counterparts, through divination and a mask is commissioned by the women. Although a few younger men of the community do not acknowledge it, the female Ogbodo Enyi is well respected by the elders of the community and the male Ogbodo Enyi masker acknowledges female maskers during the males performance, a special occurrence since masks are usually separated from women. This is the only documented existence of a masking tradition headed by women in Igbo culture and probably Nigeria where masking traditions are usually exclusively male privileges from which women are largely barred. — Information summarised from Herbert Cole, Chike Aniakor (1984).

Friday, April 13, 2018

King Oputa of "Ogbekin"

An illustration of King Oputa of "Ogbekin", an Igbo settlement noted to be near the Oshimiri (Niger River) from the book Niger et Bénoué (1880) by the Belgian explorer Adolphe Burdo.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Arochukwu, Shifting from the Slave Trade?

Photo: People at a dance in Ibom, Arochukwu, April 23, 1903 [a year or so after the British invasion.] Charles Partridge. British Museum.
The first Europeans to visit Arochukwu, in 1901, noted with some surprise--since it contradicted what they had been led to expect by their superiors--that the Aro trade in "factory goods" was no less than their trade in slaves, and that in fact "Palm oil seems to be the main export." [W.J. Venour, "The Aro Country in Southern Nigeria," Geographical Journal, 1902] Even Sir Ralph Moor, the chief creator of the myth that the Aro were solely slave traders and brigands, was compelled to admit that "the individual profits of the slave traffic, owing to the heavy tolls exacted on the roads [trade routes in the Igbo area were often tolled by the communities they ran through], together with other market tolls, have not really been great."

— Robert D. Jackson (1975). The Twenty Years War. pp. 32–33.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Atilogwu Dancers, Festac 1977

Atilogwu dancers at the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture in Festac, Lagos, Nigeria, 1977. Photo: Philip Gaunt / UNESCO.

Elizabeth II, Nigerian Federal House of Representatives, Lagos, 1956.

This photo from 1956 at the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives at the capital, Lagos, during Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh's visit, exemplifies the racialised balance of power during the colonial period, Europeans are positioned high over appointed Africans.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Igbo Ukwu and a possible Eri myth link

According to Umunri, their great father Nri, the first son of Eri, was told by Chineke to sacrifice and bury his first son and daughter and out of their graves grew cocoyam (daughter) and yam (son). There is a possibility that this altar stand found at Igbo Ukwu (in lands that were once part of Oraeri) which features a male and female figure (pictured), dated to no later than the 11th century CE, may point to that origin story.

The marks on the face of the figures bear resemblance to ichi marks which were given to first sons and daughters among Umunri. Ichi marks were related to the sun and the moon and the groove marks were likened to ogba ubi, farm furrows, emphasising the role of agriculture in Nri legend as the first son and daughters faces were also marked with ichi. There are also similar grooves found on the side of the object.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Igbo women and girls and their hairstyles, 1900-1930.

The crested hairstyle ojongo was popular until the mid-20th century, it is a distinctive feature of Igbo arts depicting women. Women used ornaments like thread, feathers, shells, bone, wood, beads, Igbo currency, coins, or cloth; mud containing colourful ores, yellow and red camwood powder or paste and palm oil and charcoal were also used for style. Isi/Ishi owu, a threaded hairstyle is still popular among married women in rural areas.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Textile Trading on the Atlantic

Internal trading, that is, trading among Africans, may also have brought about the distribution of [textiles]. [...]
Photo: Akwete (top) and Ijebu Ode (bottom) cloths compared. British Museum.
[...] One could navigate canoes from the Volta River as far east as the Calabar River in southeastern Nigeria. The Popos [Grand Popo and Aného in Togo] were transporting goods along this channel, at least as far as [...]
Photo: Ferry at Grand-Popo. Dahomey." 1936, British Museum.
[...] Whydah (Kea 1969:39-40) and possibly to Lagos. From either of these two points, [...]
Image: "Canoe on the Yoruba River [sic]." [Ogun River] BMArchives.
[...] Ijebu Yoruba merchants would then have carried them by canoe to the eastern side of the delta, as the literature tells us they had done with other textiles.
— Lisa Aronson (1982), Popo Weaving.
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