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.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Chi nà Ekè

Interior of Chi shrine at Nkarahia, an Isiokpo Ikwere settlement. Photo: P. Amaury Talbot, early 1910s.

An interview of an Urata man about the High God:

“Chineke molded the world; then Eke divided the world. Eke came out of the hands of Chi, so they became the same. They are the same mother. It is like the creation of the world: the world is one. That is the way Eke came out of the hands of Chineke. But they are the same.
If it were only for the hands of Chineke no one would die a violent death. It is Eke who divided the world and after that people died in power [probably transliterated from ‘ọ́nwụ́ íké’, literally meaning "powerful death”, but metaphorically a painful suffering death]. Eke is the tricky one who portioned out these things. Chineke is straight and long, and he [no gendered pro-nouns in Igbo] made the lives of the people upright and good. Eke played this trick we are now inside.“ [in notes: (Parts of creation stories related by the cult priest of Afo at Umuoye Etche)] [Igbo group in southern Imo, northern Rivers states of Nigeria].


Chineke (or Chukwu) [in notes: (In many parts of Igboland, as in Owerri, the high god is also called Chukwu, an ellision of chi and ukwu ("great”), but in Owerri Chineke is the more common usage.)] is the creator, the high god. Though distant and not the object of images or direct sacrifices in Owerri, he is often addressed by name in prayer and does receive offerings indirectly. He knows what people are doing but does not himself intervene or punish. The etymology of his name suggests that he is both a deity and a concept, for “Chineke” is a contraction of chi, na (“and”), eke: chi apparently meaning “god” or “soul”, with eke approximating “creation” or “division”. Chi and eke are also personifications, as suggested by the quotations above and the words of another informant: “Chi and Eke represent male and female. Chineke—I don’t know if he is a man or a woman. He is up, up, up, and we don’t see him.”

– Herbert M. Cole. MBARI: Art and Life among the Owerri Igbo (1982). p. 54. Indiana University Press.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Ögbü Compound [Colourised]

Ögbü compound and tower, Anambra State today, photographed by Northcote Thomas, May 1911, colourised, Ụ́kpụ́rụ́ 2018.

... (and two (possibly lazy) compound dogs.)

... (kpaaa~.)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Thomas Thistlewood’s diary

An entry in Thomas Thistlewood’s diary, a British plantation overseer in Jamaica who eventually became a landowner and owner of enslaved people. Entry Aug. 12, 1776: A Jamaican (British) planters wife seeks “an Ebo girl, about 12 years of age” to be a “sempstress” “with small feet, not bow-legged, nor teeth filed, small hands & long, small taper fingers, &c.”

Image via Beinecke Digital Collections, Yale. Transcription via: Audra A. Diptee (2016). “A Great Many Boys and Girls.” In: Falola, T.; Njoku, R.C. eds. Igbo in the Atlantic World. p. 117.

Stereoscopic view

'Stereoscopic' gif made from two photos taken in succession of an Igbo man from Öka by Northcote Thomas c. 1910-11.

Uri Art, Bende

An ùrì drawing from Bende made by an uncredited Igbo woman artist (or group of women). Photographed by G. I. Jones, 1930s. MAA Cambridge.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Crisis in the soul"

Chinua Achebe:

What I think is the basic problem of a ... country like Nigeria is really what you might call a "crisis in the soul." We have been subjected — we have subjected ourselves too — to this period during which we have accepted everything alien as good and practically everything local or native as inferior. I could give you illustrations of when I was growing up, the attitude of our parents, the Christian parents, to Nigerian dances, to Nigerian handicrafts; and the whole society during this period began to look down on itself, you see, and this was a very bad thing; and we haven't actually, even now with the independence, we still haven't got over this period [...] You see, a writer has a responsibility to try and stop this.

– Pieterse, C.; Duerden, D. (1972). "African Writers Talking". pp. 7-8.

The Modern Ozo (Nze) Title

Photo: "Chief Okeke" photographed by Northcote Thomas in Agukwu Nri, c. 1911, this photo appears to be among a series including those taken of Eze Nri Obalike in March 1911).
The analysis above shows that at Nri, the ozo title and Nri title of kingship are closely interrelated. The first Eze Nri was the first man to take the ozo title and become the eze Nri; thereafter other men who took the title became eze ozo. This culture element associated with leadership diffused to other parts of Igbo land. ...
The decay of the essence of ozo title in Igbo land synchronizes with the decline of Nri hegemony. Nri title and ozo title symbolize leadership par excellence. The attack on Eze Nri and Ozo title by early British administrators and the Christian Churches was an attack on the basic structure of Igbo philosophy of political leadership. It was unfortunate and unwarranted as demonstrated in recent attempts of westernized Igbo elites to revive a system they still regard as primitive because it happens to be developed by their ancestors. The revived-ozo-title is not ozo title geared to leadership but bears the mark of conspicuous consumption and split political personality. ...
... The Igbo man of today is like a confused political animal, not sure of its political future, because neither the government nor the churches, nor the westernized elites are able to bridge the gap between the two trends of political ethics and values which though they believe are opposing yet could co-exist in the name of Cultural Revival.

– M. Angulu Onwuejeogwu (1979). "The Genesis, Diffusion, Structure and Significance of Ọzọ Title in Igbo Land". In: "Paideuma". p. 142.

Owere Woman

A woman from Owere (Owerri) photographed by Northcote Thomas, c. 1912-13. Her name (or at least an approximation) may have been recorded in Northcote Thomas' photographic register. MAA Cambridge. Her wrapper is similar to Akwete textile designs.

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