Original

Reformed spellings for Igbo Settlements
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.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Omenala

Symbol of Ala, the Earth Mother, among the Eda Igbo, present-day Abia or Ebonyi State. P. A. Talbot, c. 1920s.

Most Igbo people in the past did not perceive themselves as belonging to a religion. The split between culture and religion did not exist. All practices were viewed as duty. This view of duty, compulsory rites that place tradition and service and reverence to ancestors over belief itself, still exists in the kola nut rite, ịche ọjị, for example, which could've been classed as a religious rite.

(It is probably the case that this rite is so central to Igbo people, that it was difficult to eliminate, and overlooked in the later classifications of 'heathenism' and 'paganism,' etc.)

This view on duty is also linked to the idea that Igbo ritual practices and, obviously, cosmology, were indigenous ways of interpreting the world and the human psyche, not just the propitiation of divinities.

The dilemma, for many, is in the attempt to decouple 'spiritual' elements from 'Igbo culture,' pigeonholing indigenous concepts into 'god', 'religion', 'sin', etc., as people now looked from the outside in as another system was positioned as the default way to view the world.

When Igbo people refer to omenala, odinala, and the like, they are not referring to religion, they are referring to duties to the land and ancestors, laws that were set by the Earth and ancestors. Respect to ancestors and heritage.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Interview of an Ọ̀kọ̀nkọ̀ priest born in c. 1880s Umuopara

This is likely Nwa Agụ, in Umuahia, the leopard Ọ̀kọ̀nkọ̀ mask worn by high ranking men as the emblem of the society. The costume's chequers represent leopard spots. The masker is signing (nsibidi?). Photo: G. I. Jones, c. 1930s. MAA Cambridge.
Uwaga Okeanya, aged c.90 (an Ọ̀kọ̀nkọ̀ priest), in Ogbodiuumwu [Ogbodiukwu?], Ụmụọpara, 12 August 1972
You people now talk of the white man's government as if we had no government in the past. The '044,0' was a secret society which served as a traditional system of government before the advent of the white man, The Ọ̀kọ̀nkọ̀ enforced the verdicts of the ama àlà (village assembly). In the past, if the Ọ̀kọ̀nkọ̀ music was played near the house of anybody, anxiety was created as to the reason for the beating of the drum and if a palm leaf was left behind in the man's house, it meant that the person was to appear before the Ọ̀kọ̀nkọ̀ court of appeal. As at present, there was then no age-limit for whoever wanted to be a member of the society. But then, only men of proven character and without a shameful past were accepted into the Ọ̀kọ̀nkọ̀ society. When you people talk of a better government today, we laugh, because any thief can today be in government because he has the money.
[...] The arrival of the white man changed the traditional pattern in Ụmụọpara society. The Ọ̀kọ̀nkọ̀ society was condemned, polygamy was said to be an uncivilised practice, Ọ̀jam̄ Ụmụ̄ọ̄para, which united all of us in the past, was destroyed, the religion we used to know — all our Ǹjọkụ̄, ọ̀fọ, iyi àfọ̀ — were all discarded with the advent of the Christian churches and schools. One thing I must tell you is that most of those things va hit h the white. man came to destroy arc still with us, and shame on us if we abandon the religion and practices of our fathers.

Interview by A. I. Atulomah (1977).

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