Original

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, 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.

Edit: Just as a further note, Ogu is of the right hand just as Ọfọ is held in the left hand, in some communities ogirisi or some other shrub or shoot may be used instead of ọmụ when 'holding' Ogu, in other communities one may use the right hand alone and place it or a finger on the ground.

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?

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Child and a Crocodile, Enugwu Ukwu

A child and a crocodile photographed by Northcote Thomas in Enugwu Ukwu, 1910-11. MAA Cambridge.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Igbuzo "Yam Dance"

“A yam dance, ‘eighu ulo’, Ibusa [Igbuzo, p.d. Delta State], Near Asaba.” Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.

Eze Nri Obalike's Grandson

Prince Ben Okolo meeting the colourised photo of his grandfather Eze Nri Obalike.

Ben Okolo was born in 1926, a year prior to Obalike's 'long journey' - Prince Ben was told about the joy the Eze Nri Obalike felt when holding his grandson in his arms when a baby. Prince Ben hopes to erect a museum at the site of Obalike's Palace featuring N. W. Thomas's photographs to memorialise his grandfather.

– Paul Basu.

"MISSION OF SAINT-JOSEPH OF AGOULERI"

Photo: "Idigo, Christian leader of Agouleri (Lower Niger) (From the photograph of a missionary.)"

[Translated from French:]

Christian village. - His development.

The mission of Saint-Joseph of Agouleri [Aguleri] quickly developed, thanks to the conversion of the native chief of this country, Idigo, who, with his family, composed the nucleus of the Christian village, and has never failed to attract his peers, as much as he can. Also, this village today includes 240 Christians, including 180 baptised and 60 catechumens. The families number 52, including 39 Christian households. All are grouped around the Mission, which is a precious advantage, because we can follow people, mingle with them, live among them to speak with them about their lives, to support and strengthen them in good.
"As for baptisms, there are about forty each year, including a good number of adults. We proceed, however, with great caution for admissions. A year of catechumenate, with strong instructions, does not seem to us too much for people, yesterday, immersed in the superstitions and vices of paganism. Moreover, the experience is there to show that this is really the only way to have good Christians."

– B. P. Pawlas (1901). "Bas-Niger" In:"Annales de la Propagation de la Foi."pp. 200-1.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Ọ̀kọnkọ̀



An Okonko masquerade in Umuahia photographed by G. I. Jones, 1930s. MAA Cambridge.

Okonko is the form of Ekpe society in many southern Igbo areas. Likely from Arochukwu, it became the main masking and governing institution in the Umuahia area where every male was expected to go through the rite of ịkpụ ụlọ, the Okonko initiation and the start of education in Okonko. It is used in the burials of prominent elders, and apart from in special occasions like Iri ji, Okonko processions usually take place at night. In the past, Okonko membership was used to secure business and trading ties.
Okonko itself is split into grades, a member may rise up the grades and in rank as they acquire more knowledge of Okonko. There are several types of masks worn by members according to their rank. Okonko is headed by a president in each community.
Okonko is part of the wider Ekpe complex which stretches from the centre of the Igbo area to the Southern Cameroons.

19th Century Igbo Blacksmiths

Blacksmiths "from the Onitsha area" according to G. I. Jones, photographed by William Henry Crosse, part of the Royal Niger Company, 1886 - 1895. MAA Cambridge.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

An Unidentified Titled Man

An unidentified titled man, with the label that might read "Chief of Iboria[?] Ibo," photographed by William Henry Crosse, part of the Royal Niger Company, 1886 - 1895. MAA Cambridge.

Edit: It looks like this may be Idigo of Aguleri who was converted by French Catholics.

Unidentified Women, Niger River

Two women, possibly from Asaba or Önïcha (Onitsha), unidentified, photographed by William Henry Crosse, part of the Royal Niger Company, 1886 - 1895. MAA Cambridge.

(Could this be the same lady from the last post?)

A trader. c. 1889.

Rich Trading Woman

This picture taken c. 1889, possibly by G. F. Packer credited with other photos from the Niger and Önïcha (Onitsha) (and of Önïcha trading women), is annotated as 'Trader from Timbuctou' on the right and 'Rich Trading Woman' on the left.

Is this lady an Ọmụ? Could she be the Ọmụ of Ọnịcha?

It seems to show a member of the Önïcha women's Otu Odu (ivory group) society often made up of women traders; the woman, noted as a trader, has on large ivory anklets still worn my members of this socio-economic women's group today. The lady could even be an Omu, the Omu oversaw Önïcha markets, Igbo communities to the west of the Niger also had Omu.

The trader from Timbuktu.

If Önïcha, the presence of the man from Timbuktu may illustrate the thousand-year old connection between the West African forest areas, the Sahel, and the Trans-Saharan trade, as shown by beads in the findings of Igbo Ukwu dating back to around the 9th century with their origins placed over the Sahara to places as far as Venice and India. The people from the north brought trade items like horses (for ritual use) to trade for goods such as ivory.

Two Men

Two men photographed near the Niger River by William Henry Crosse, part of the Royal Niger Company, 1886 - 1895. MAA Cambridge.

Initiation Dancer

A dancer at an initiation dance, according to G. I. Jones, in today's Anambra State, 1930s. MAA Cambridge.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Eze Nri Obalike

Nri Obalike, the Eze Nri from Uruoji who was the Eze Nri from 1889–1935. Nri Obalike was Eze Nri during the height of British colonial imposition into the north-central Igbo area, he was the Eze Nri who was made to abrogate the laws of Nri which went against British colonial interest, and also the first Eze Nri to leave Nri as he was compelled to do by the British. The Eze Nri is seen here around 1910-11, photographed by Northcote Thomas who spent some time studying the Igbo which was a job given to him by the colonial regime for the purpose of efficiently implementing indirect rule.

This photo is originally black and white and was digitally coloured by Ụ́kpụ́rụ́, 2018. (Northcote described the Eze Nri as wearing a blue gown, but this interpretation uses brown, although it's not unlikely that the gown pictured could be different.)

For more information see here.

Military Imposition of Christianity and the Attack on Igbo Culture

[The] [...] Society of African Missions managed to open a mission at Issele-Ukwu in 1893 [...] The resentment of the local people for the mission, the missionaries, the converts and to the [Royal Niger] Company spilled over to an open rebellion against the traditional ruler of the town. The aggrieved populace contended that the latter had not followed the democratic practice of due consultation with the other chiefs and important individuals in the town before inviting the missionaries and before agreeing to the abolition of the slave trade and human sacrifice. [...] The local community therefore demanded the withdrawal of the missionaries from the town and the restoration of their traditional customs. A civil war broke out at Issele-Ukwu. The opponents to the 'erring' ruler had the strong support of [Igbuzo] [...] Otu Ochi-Chi, a secret or night society [...] and its military arm, Ekumeku [...]. Fr. Zappa [...] appealed to the Company for military action and in January 1898 under Major Arthur Festing, a Company force of 250 men laid siege on [Igbuzo] and after six weeks razed it to the ground. [...]
[The] Royal Niger Company attacked [Igbuzo] the head and heart of the Anioma communities because it was the strongest and most feared of the Anioma communities. It was also the center of the most indomitable resistance to the penetration of the missionary enterprise. Fr. Zappa, the leader of the SMA mission and the brain behind the invasion of the town, reasoned that the subjugation of the most feared and the strongest of the Ika communities would also easily and quickly bring the others to their knees. According to the missionary, the overbearing chiefs of [Igbuzo] needed to be humiliated and a military conquest of the evil people was inevitable [...] The Company's bombardment of all the towns within reach of gunfire brought considerable confusion and uncertainty among the people. The cultural resisters were dispersed [...] local chiefs were taken as captives to Asaba the Company's headquarters where they were put in jail.
[Igbuzo] was coerced to accept the presence of the missionaries in the town and the chiefs were forced to accept to protect the missionaries. [...]

– Augustine S. O. Okwu (2010). Igbo Culture and the Christian Missions, 1857-1957. pp. 120–121.

Photo: An elderly man of Igbuzo photographed in the early 20th century by Northcote Thomas.

Ikoro Obibiaku

The Ikoro Obibiaku, a giant ikoro (wooden slit drum) of Umunze made from a single oji (iroko) tree. Ikoro is beaten by males with sticks or by hand for either music, ritual purposes, or for sending messages. Photo: G. T. Basden, before 1921.

This ikoro was reported to be over 180 years old by Basden, the amazing thing is that the Ikoro Obibiaku still exists today (meaning it's now over 250 years old) at Nkwo Umunze, in Anambra State, although in a degraded state. See: See: Chijioke Onuora, "Ikoro Drums..."

Egbo Men

Egbo [Ekpe] men’s leopard ‘secret society’, Cross River area, southeastern Nigeria. Early 20th century. Wellcome Images.

Possible Ala Priest and Ala

"The goddess of the earth," as described by P. A. Talbot, c. 1932. Musée du quai Branly. This may be Ala, the Igbo earth divinity and the man pictured may be an Eze Ala, a head priest of Ala. Ala is represented by trees and shrubs.

Mbari Otamini, Opiro

An Mbari dedicated to the deified Otamini river in the Echie town of 'Opioro' as noted by P. A. Talbot in "Some Nigerian Fertility Cults," 1927. Ala still retained a prominent position among the figures in this Mbari. The Mbari's head priest is noted as Amade Onyeche.

The head priest of the Mbari Otamini, noted by Talbot as Amade Onyeche.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Heavy wood door from Igboland, 19th-20th Century

This entrance door, ḿgbó èzí, likely comes from the Nri-Oka (Nri-Awka) area in northern Igboland which has a strong tradition of highly elaborate carved gateways for enclosed compounds, particularly of titled men. The patterns on the doors combine the visual elements of ichi facial markings and appropriate and masculinise conventionally feminine uli designs. Their size and artistic decoration reflected the grandeur of the òbí, the central male meeting building of titled men and thus the status, wealth, and social influence of the family head. Such doors often protected shrines visited by travellers hoping to obtain success and good luck. Highly skilled professional carvers are responsible for crafting doors; those working in Awka are the best known where they are made by men of certain umunna, patrilineages, who also make wooden panels, shrine imagery, and other ritual objects. The Nigerian-Biafran war heavily disrupted Igbo arts, before the war ḿgbó èzí were much more numerous. Ḿgbó èzí can be seen in some museums around the world including the British Museum, and in use at the Igbo farmers house installation at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia. — Nancy C. Neaher (1981) “Igbo Carved Doors”; San Francisco International Airport Museum.

An Achala Man

An Igbo man from Achala, p.d. Anambra State, photographed by British colonial government anthropologist Northcote Thomas, 1910-1911. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.

Igbo Compound Entrance

An entrance in a compound in Nimo, p.d. Anambra State. Photographed by Northcote Thomas, 1910-11. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Names in Igbo folk religion

A few examples of Igbo folk religious names primarily found as peoples surnames today.

Christian influence from the early 20th century altered many of these names and encouraged the proliferation of ‘Chi’ names, ‘Chi’ roughly means a life source but missionaries took it for the Christian God; a name like ‘Chioma’ which originally meant ‘good chi’ – ‘lucky’ became ‘God is good’. With Christian influence more names became centred on ‘God’, in the past names were related more with philosophy, dates, and circumstances at birth.

Àlà names

Names dedicated to the Earth Mother Àlà / Ànà / Ànị̀ are very numerous emphasising the importance of Àlà in Igbo society as the chief spiritual force on earth after the high God and derivatives. [Interestingly, most ‘Chi’ in names like Chiedozie, Chinyere, Chiemeka, Chijioke, Chika today can be substituted with Ani / Ana / Ala like Aniedozie, Aninyere, Alaemeka, Anijioke, Anika.]

Àlà / Ànà / Ànị̀ - The Earth Mother (deity)
Ájáànà / Ájáàlà (f) - Ala, the earth mother
Ànàzọ́nwụ́ - Ala protects from death
Ànị̀àgolu - Ala has obtained / provided
Ànị̀ẹ̀mẹ́ká - Ala has ‘done’ beyond our wishes
Ànị̀kà - Ala is greater
Ànị̀gèkwú - Ala will speak [for the meek] / carry out her divine will [in our favour], Ala will vindicate her followers, Ala will embarrass detractors
Ànị̀ékwénáńsí (Ekwensi) - Ala protect from poison / witchcraft / evil
Ànị̀èdózíé - Ala has protected, restored, repaired
Ànị̀ẹ̀mẹ́ná - Ala has done it all / answered our wishes
Ànị̀yẹ̀mézè - Ala bestowed leadership on me
Ànị̀chèbé (Achebe) - Ala guard us
Ànàgọ̀zíé - Ala bless us
Ànị̀gbòọ̀gụ̀ - Ala has prevented a fight [Perhaps by the birth of a child a fight over a woman’s fertility was avoided.]
Ànị̀wètà / Ànị̀wètàlụ̀ - Ala brought [this child]
Ágwụ - The deity of divination
Amádíọ̀hà - Ágbàrà of justice, lord of lightening
Ányánwụ́ - The deity / power of the sun
Chí - Soul, providence
Chíọ́má - Good chí, lucky
Chímà - Chí knows, a resolute compass of providence (chí).
Chíkà - Chí is great, an infallible compass of providence (chí).
Èjìọ̀fọ́ (Ejiofor) (m) - Righteous, wielder of the staff of divine authority / justice (ọ̀fọ́) [ọ̀fọ́ were usually held by male heads of the family obtained from the naturally fallen branches of a special tree and were used as a staff of authority that could be sworn on.]
Èjìogù (m) - Righteous, swearer to the face of divine justice (ógù) [Somebody who is innocent and swears to ógù (íjí ógù) has divine backing over an accuser and an accuser may be harmed (ị́bà ùrè) if their name is called upon.]
Ígwé - The sky deity, or leader
Íkéǹgà (m) - The cult figure of the right hand
Ìwúányánwụ́ - The law of the sun (deity)
Kámálụ́ / Kámánụ́ / Kálụ́ / Kánụ́ - Amadioha, ágbàrà of justice, lord of lightening
Ńdígwé - Heavenly descendants, heavens favoured.
Ǹjọ́kụ / Íféjíọ́kụ - Ágbàrà (deity) of yam, agriculture, and fire [who the new yam festival is partly dedicated to.]
Nwágbàrà / Nwágbàlà - Child (devotee) of an Ágbàrà, under divine grace.
Nwányánwụ́ - Child (devotee) of Ányánwụ́
Nwàlà - Child (devotee) of Àlà
Nwádíbìà - Child of a dibia (diviner)
Nwágwụ - Child (devotee) of Ágwụ
Nwáḿụ́ọ́ - Child of a spirit
Nwáǹjọ́kụ / Nwáíféjíọ́kụ́ - Child (devotee) of Ǹjọ́kụ
Nwígwé - Child (devotee) of Ígwé, or descendant of a titleder

Woman of Öka (Awka)

A woman of Öka (Awka) photographed by British colonial government anthropologist Northcote Thomas, 1910-1911. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.

Mgburuichi - Bruchee - Breechee

An mgburuichi, an Igbo person with ichi marks associated with Nri. Northcote Thomas, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge. Igbo people were the largest group among people who had escaped enslavement on plantations in Jamaica, mgburuichi were known as 'Bruchee.'

"They were respected throughout Igboland. We have facial marks (ichi) that distinguish us from other Igbo people, and this served as a passport, enabling us to travel unharmed at a time when human beings were essential commodities. People with ichi marks were regarded as Nri men, and were not enslaved. It was probably because of this that some parts of Igboland started to wear ichi."
A 'runaway' advertisement from Jamaica, requesting the capture of escaped enslaved people for a reward in return, noted is an "Eboe man, with the Breeche cut on his forehead," this is an mgburuichi, an Igbo man with ichi marks likely from today's Anambra State. From a compilation of 18th century advertisements for escaped enslaved people in Jamaica. There are over 100 Igbo (Eboe) people listed.
The fact that Igbo "Breechee" show up in Jamaica among runaways from 1777-1793 is significant. It is a concrete sign that the trans-Atlantic slave trade had reached all the way to the Nri heartland in the Anambra valley of northern Igboland, and that by the 1770s (if not earlier) the social violence wrought by slaving and the agawhu (merchant-warlords) was violating even the ancient sacred authority—and the personal safety—of titled "Nri men," who no longer were preserved from capture or kidnapping and enslavement.
– Douglas B. Chambers. "The Igbo Diaspora in the Era of the Slave Trade."

Boy of Mgbakwu

A boy of Mgbakwu, p.d. Anambra State, photographed by British government anthropologist Northcote Thomas between 1910 and 1911. The pictures were taken as part of colonial studies on African people in order to find the best way to rule over them, a crucial study for the implementation of indirect rule. MAA Cambridge. (The original picture is black and white, this is a digitally coloured copy by Ụ́kpụ́rụ́, 2018).

To see this picture is to see one of the first ‘Nigerians.’ Aged around 7 or 8 maybe, with this photo taken between 1910 and 1911, presuming that he lived a long life past his 70’s, this doe-eyed boy of Mgbakwu may have seen the invasion of his town by the British Empire’s West African Frontier Force. Igbo settlements were still fighting back imperialism at this time. His whole world, or at least, that of his parents are about to change forever. He may have heard the word ‘Nigeria’ for the first time around the time this picture was taken. He would have gone from simply an onye Mgbakwu to a ‘Nigerian.’ Just three or four years after this picture was taken was WWI, and the amalgamation of the Northern Protectorate with the Southern Protectorate, where his home is. He may have been one of the first people in his family to be Christened, he may have gone to a mission school. He may have been given a European name. He would have seen the rise of warrant chiefs, the other invasion of ‘native authority’, that is the rise of ‘His Royal Majesty’s’ and ‘His Royal Highness’s.’ He may have eventually heard about the Women’s War of 1929 and heard about and witnessed some of the terrorism which occurred under the colonial regime. Eventually, he may have even casted a vote for a man named Nnamdi Azikiwe, his age mate. He would have gained greater knowledge of peoples far across the Niger and a river named Benue, people who had also ‘become’ Nigerian like him and by no choice of theirs now had linked destinies, he may have even travelled to live amongst them. If he lived long enough, he would have seen the independence of Nigeria. He may have seen the war.

Lady of Igbariam

This is a cropped and coloured part of a larger picture of a young woman from Igbariam, photographed by Northcote Thomas, a British colonial government anthropologist, with brass and ivory jewellery.

With the unreformed colonial-era style education system and general thought, art is considered a frivolous endeavour, learning is completely tied to acquiring capital, and the local economy is neglected (everything’s imported). All of these factors have contributed to the loss of a few indigenous forms of craftsmanship and their markets. What also gets lost with the death of a particular kind of indigenous art form or craft are the ancient motifs, techniques, and design and technology associated with them.

In the Igbo worldview, art is the physical expression and embodiment of the spirit. Technical knowledge of a particular craft or art form was passed on from generation to generation under tutelage and mentorship. One art which seems to have disappeared in the Igbo area is jewellery making, indigenous blacksmithing in general is also in danger of disappearing.

Afikpo Bracelet

A brass bracelet from Afikpo with parallel leaf designs, taken between 1902 and 1909 by Captain James Harold Dyer during the colonial conquest of Arochukwu and what became southeastern Nigeria. Museum of Vancouver, Canada.

More Bronzes from Eastern Nigeria

Photo: A bronze double-headed python, 1.5 kg, 42.5 cm, found along with other bronze objects in Okohia village in Ihiala, dated based on some bronzes found in Ezira, and Igbo Ukwu, to a range between 900-1600 CE.
One fact which is becoming increasingly clear concerns the spatial distribution of bronze objects in eastern Nigeria. Afikpo oral tradition claims that there exists a dump of bronze/brass/copper objects in the Ogwugwu valley. The spot is very sacred to the people and my attempts at locating the exact place did not get the necessary support from the local population. The bronze objects purport to have been abandoned by the Ego (the putative ancestors of present-day Ugwuagu and Amizu communities in Afikpo). In addition, the burial of a one-time chief, Okorie Chukwu, of Uzuakoli in Imo State is claimed by the elders to contain numerous burial goods including some bronze/brass objects. This site was brought to our notice by the incessant letters of one Mr. Akwani who asserted that there exist some royal tombs in Uzuakoli which might yield valuable archaeological information. After the usual survey and consultations, we were ready to test-excavate one of the chambers. But to our surprise, an explosive politicking ensued immediately and we were forced to abandon the investigation. There are, however, many garbage dumps and mounds which hold plenty of promise for archaeological investigation in Uzuakoli.

– V. E. Chikwendu (1984). "More Bronzes from Eastern Nigeria." Anthropos. pp. 260–261.

[Southeastern Nigeria is probably scattered with other 'Igbo Ukwu,' better funding for archaeology may produce other interesting finds.]

Chi and Chi-na-eke: Dualism in divinity

Photo: Igbo double bell/gong. British Museum. 1930s.
The relationship between chi and Chineke is by far more complex and enigmatic. [...] Chineke as a single word-form for "God" suggests a later Christian missionary introduction. [...] It would appear that at the cognitive level the Igbo refer primarily to chi na (and) eke, which connotes two inseparable and complementary deities rather than the single overriding God of Christian belief. The other possible meaning [...] chi that creates, [...] is apparently foreign to Igbo way of thought. [Note:] In an original socio-literary essay Achebe (1975: 100) makes the seminal point that "the early missionaries" made the initial mistake of treating chi and eke as one God, Chineke ("Chi that creates").
[...] Thus, one of my "old" and "reliable" informants seems not to recognize the contradiction in these two assertions of [...] chineke kere uwa (chineke that made the world) but had no definite idea of him"; [...] "chi is what we know as 'god', chineke was introduced by the whiteman." [...] Eke and chi combined, if I may paraphrase his speech, exercise authority over "creation" in all its ramifications as a natural rather than imaginative or human inventive process; there is no concrete representation of eke and no sacrifices or prayers to it either; chi is the one that demands and gets all such ritual attention because eke is what chi gives to every person—that is, one's "destiny" or "fate." He added that the personal name "Ekezie" refers to the idea of "onye yo ziri uwa", i.e., one held to have reincarnated very well. My informant concluded: "eke na chi wọ otu mana eke siri na chi bia." (Eke and chi are one and the same but eke originates from chi.)
[...] [C]hi and eke are like two stones that must be struck together in order to produce a spark. [...] [T]he two tend to coalesce rather than bifurcate. In this sense the notion of duality, which [...] characterizes Igbo philosophy of life, is placed in a broader context. For not only chi and eke, a series of other analogous "stiff twin compasses" exist, e.g., ọfọ na ogu, akọ na uche, ikwu na ibe, ọgu na mgba, okwu na uka, and nta na imo. [...]

– I. Chukwukere (1983). Chi in Igbo Religion and Thought: The God in Every Man. Anthropos, Bd. 78, H. 3./4. (1983), pp. 529–531.

Igbo Cosmology Schematic

A schematic of creation / division in Igbo cosmology (proposed). Chi represents the first and the all encompassing, Ékè (different from Èké) breaks out of this to become two with Chi. The days of the 4-day-week, izù ntà, are the divisions of the earth (the four cardinal points), the complete Igbo week is an eight-day week, izù ukwu.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Iko Concubinage

Photo: Wall painting on an Ekpe house in Umuajata, Olokoro (Umuahia) painted by an Anang artist. G. I. Jones, c. 1935.
The Igbo lay more emphasis on the father-child relationship than on the husband-wife relationship or any other relationship in the kinship syndrome. The sexual services in the 'family' are channelled towards a most important social goal: the perpetuation of the male line. There is no emphasis among the Igbo on sexual services being exclusive and confined to husband and wife. All that the cultured demands is that sex be institutionalized. Iko mbara [institutionalised male and female concubinage] is one such institution.
... In a cross-cultural perspective, it becomes quite clear that, over space and time, the evocation of sexual jealousy or sexual tolerance is the product of social values-the result of conditioning. People are sexually jealous, tolerant, or intolerant according to the ideas they have about sex.
– Victor C. Uchendu (1965). "Concubinage among Ngwa Igbo of Southern Nigeria." Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 35, No. 2. pp. 193, 195.

Origin of the Modern Igbo Number System

Entry from the dictionary of the Igbo language centering around the Onicha and Asaba dialects, by British government colonial anthropologists Northcote Thomas, 1914.
Many views and suggestions were put forward and the matter was widely discussed before the war. Two years after the war a consensus was reached and since 1972 a new counting system has been in use. …
Perhaps we might be interested in how Igbo came by the names for the place values [the Igbo Standardisation Committee, headed by F. C. Ogbalu]. It did so without borrowing except from within the rich resources of its many dialects. It specialized the meanings of single non-sentential words in the different dialects, whose meanings for the higher numbers were until then rather vague. Thus:
puku (1,000) was 'uncountable’ in a number of the Central dialects.
nde (1,000,000) was 'uncountable' in a number of the Central dialects where ǹdè was known to be higher in value than puku.
ìjèri (1,000,000,000) represented 'uncountable' in a number of West Niger Igbo dialects.
In the case of nàrị (100) certain Igbo dialects, notably in the Nsukka and Aguleri areas of Anambra State, traditionally had this for 100. So, we adopted it but modified its spelling. As for zero we specialized efu (nothingness) and, in addition, borrowed but Igbonized the words nọọ̀tụ̀ and zirò, as synonyms.

– E. ‘Nọlue Emenanjọ (1985). “Language Engineering in Present-Day Igbo.” “In: West African languages in education: papers from the fifteenth West African Languages Congress.” p. 85.

Unique Igbo Names, Past & Present

Some unique Igbo names that are from the past and some made up here, that sound quite modern and new.

Dije - di ije, master traveller
Kika - kini ka [Ika dialect] - what is greater
Zikora - zika ora, show the world
Zimoha / Zimora - zima oha/ora, show the world
Chike - chi ike, strong chi
Mozi - mọ ozi, angel
Nisi - na isi, leading the pack
Jozi - je ozi, go on a mission
Biozi - bia ozi, came on a mission
Jamike - salute me
Diji - master yam farmer
Kobi - ka obi, brave hearted
Chika - great chi
Dinka - master artisan, artist
Lema - listen [look] to your chi, look to Chi
Lemachi - listen [look] to your chi, look to Chi
Sochi - follow your chi, follow Chi
Akala - akala aka, destiny
Dinta - hunter
Ajana - earth deity
Soludo - follow peace
Tonna - praise dad
Jemma - go well
Bialije - nwa bialije, a child on a mission
Ohato - The people praised
Atata - adi atata, does not dry (of a river)
Toro - praised
Achilike - achi uwa la [na] ike, don’t rule by force
Duru - di uru, lord, master
Anya - anya ugwu / iro egbulam, may the evil eye not kill me
Ume - breath, life
Jenudo - go in peace
Jenandu - go places in life
Umike - spirited
Juba - ji uba, fill with wealth / yam of wealth
Zuoke - enough
Olanna - father’s jewel
Achike - achi uwa na ike, don’t rule by force
Obisike - strong hearted
Tango - reward eater, ‘enjoyer’
Chitango - reward getter
Ringo / Lingo - eat the reward, ‘enjoy’
Oringo / Olingo - reward eater, ‘enjoyer'
Osondu - the race of life
Bando - enter shade
Nando - in the shade
Bosah - belu olisa, if not for the supreme being
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