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.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Agukwu Nri

A woman and child from Agukwu Nri, photographed by Northcote Thomas, 1910-11. Colourised Ukpuru 2018.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Azu Anya Mmuo

Photo by Northcote Thomas in Öka (Awka), 1910-11. MAA Cambridge.

Azụ anya mmụọ, the 'eyes of the spirits,' a wooden openwork panel that stays in the shrine area in front of an obi in the north-central Igbo area. The panels represent the presence and protection of ancestral forces. They can be seen outside from the front of an obi facing the compound entrance from which the spirits protect against and ward off any encroaching evil. In turn, the spirits on the altar in front of the azụ anya mmụọ gain access to the outside world through the holes in the panels.

The rest of the buildings and the walls of the compound elaborate on the designs of the obi. In front of the azụ anya mmụọ, in the interior of obi, lay religious objects such as ọfọ, okpesi ancestral memorial statues, Ikenga, title-staffs of ancestors such as ngwụ agịlịga and alọ, and carefully packaged horse skulls and other sacrificed animals, these animals may also include those specially sacrificed by an ancestor, for instance, in a title-taking ceremony.

The obi as the main abode and meeting place of the patriarch of the compound is the site of the main ancestral shrine, the handling of such shrines throughout the Igbo area, regardless of the presence or absence of azụ anya mmụọ, is the exclusive right of patriarchs whose fathers have passed away and are therefore in the spiritual world, before then a son usually relies on a patriarch who is the direct son, and subsequently the closest male descendant to the ancestors, to handle ancestral work.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Ten Circular Structures at Ugwu Uto, Nsude

A together, ten pyramid-like structure photographed by G. I. Jones in 1935. MAA Cambridge.
In the neighbourhood of Ngwo, Nsude and Agbaja [Ọwa] in the Udi Division, at intervals, the people construct quaint circular pyramids. Clay is used for the purpose. The bases are about sixty feet in circumference and two to three feet in height. Then another section is laid about forty-five feet in circumference and so on until the pinnacle is reached. They are erected to the honour of Ala and to indicate ownership of land.
G. I. Jones in front of the structure, 1935. MAA Cambridge.
Two rows of five are built parallel to one another which means that 'Ala' gives children with the right hand and the left. The god (or goddess) dwells in the pinnacle and, thus, is in a position to detect any person committing evil. Such a person will be caught by the god and secured with shackles; these are represented by small sticks inserted in the clay near the tops of the pyramids.

— G. T. Basden (1912). Among the Ibos of Nigeria. p. 109.

[There were other pyramids, sometimes larger, in other areas of Igboland such as around the Abam. The ten Ugwu Uto pyramids no longer stand, although it seems as though their original site is known.]

If you look closely at the shape of these mounds, they look somewhat like stylised breasts with prominent nipples at the top. It is also interesting to note that the ten mounds were aligned five-by-five in two rows, so each was paired up. There is an established Igbo tradition of using mounds to represent feminine divinities like Akwali of Öka, could these pyramids actually be elaborations on the mound, along with the other supposed pyramids in other Igbo areas?

"Two rows of five are built parallel to one another which means that 'Ala' gives children with the right hand and the left."

Mgbe Worker

[An Igbo] spirit worker painting the walls of an mbari nearing completion. Note the double Mami Wata images at left. Photo 1930s, [Near Owere]. - Herbert Cole, 1988.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Green Sahara Event Map

This is a chronological map for that completely conjectural Green Sahara migration theory. The dates are all of real events, one date about the supposed Sahara migration to the Igbo area (5000 BP), is also estimated, and the 5500 BP date of migration to the east is also a theory. All these 'coincidentally' happened around the end of the Neolithic Subpluvial, or when the Sahara went dry.

In this theory, Megachad, the original size of Lake Chad, is probably the heart of the Sahara population.

More information about the theory see The Wet Sahara: A Practical Approach to the Question of the ‘Origin of the Igbo people?’

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Iji Ogu

Igbo shrine house photographed by Gustaf Bolinder, 1930-31.

Ogu is divine retributive justice in the Igbo world view. In many communities iji Ogu is the act of holding ọmụ (tender palm fronds) at a sacred place whether at a woman’s hearth for instance or a shrine and declaring one’s innocence in a dispute or quarrel and for whatever one is accused of. The act is meant to appeal to the spirit of Ogu in order to vindicate the swearer, or in the case of a false declaration of innocence, an exposure and usually death. The act of iji Ogu can also include the calling of accusers names by the swearer, in this case if the swearer was falsely implicated then the wrath of Ogu falls on the accuser and the accused vindicated. Whenever the spirit, Ogu, acts on mortals in whichever way, that is when iji Ogu bara n’erere, meaning that the swearing to Ogu had yielded a spiritually potent result. Re is an interesting Igbo verb that’s associated with spiritual potency, like that of a talisman.

Ogu is paired with Ọfọ, which is roughly ancestral authority, which can also be authority of divinities, and together they form a two-fold form of spiritual appeal and justice in Igbo society. Unlike Ọfọ, Ogu, apart from the ọmụ, does not usually have any specific emblem and it can be freely and openly appealed to by men and women alike without a mediator. The other universal force that humans, of all walks of like, have the ability to appeal to without a mediator or emblem in Igbo society is the universal Chi.

As one’s own personal chi and eke is connected to all others, the course and trajectory [chinaedum] of these personal divine attributes cannot be blocked, diverted, or manipulated, you cannot block a chi on its course out of malice, out of spite, or by mistake because divine retributive justice in the form of Ọfọ na Ogu and Chi na Eke will clear the blockage in the road [chimaraoke]. Even though chi all come from the same source, some chi are considered stronger than other chi, this could be between a divinity and a mortal for instance, but it can also be between humans [chika]; between humans, the strength of the chi is determined by the eke, the divine mission apportioned to the person [chidera].

The work of Ogu na Ọfọ and Chi na Eke does not mean free-will is done away with, but rather divine order and balance is believed to always take precedence.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wrestling at Elele

Wrestling at Elele described by P. A. Talbot as "[w]restling to make the yams grow. Chief Eleche's place, Elele" in "Some Nigerian Fertility Cults," 1927.

Agukwu Smiles

This is a woman and child from Agukwu Nri taken in 1910-11. The colonial appointed anthropologist Northcote Thomas made several volumes on the colonial examination of Igbo society. Among anthropological work, the 'side' material were outtakes like this which didn't make it to publishing.

These are three separate photos, MAA Cambridge. This is the photo that was published in Northcote Thomas' Anthropological Report on the Ibo-speaking Peoples of Nigeria, vol. I.

The woman's name and the child's name may have been recorded by Thomas, but it has not been made public yet. For more information see: [Re:]Entanglements: N. W. Thomas – an accidental artist? and [Re:]Entanglements: Who was N. W. Thomas?

You can see how the 'no-smiling' convention of old photography plays here, it may also have further connotations considering this is a colonial work made primarily for colonial dissection. There are many other example like this. In addition to that, many of the candid-looking photos taken outside of the makeshift studios were planned and staged ahead of Northcote Thomas (and hence other colonial-era photographers) taking photographs.

How does the contrast between these 'outtakes' and the published image come across, what is the reaction to seeing both and possibly realising how manipulated colonial images can be?

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