Nigeria : Are We In The States Of Nigerian/Igbo And Yoruba Ancestry

Chinelo

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Who are the Igbo people

Ndi Igbo (the Igbo people) are a West African ethnic group who trace their homeland to an area of what is now known as southeastern Nigeria. They are known for their rich, vibrant culture and history, and they have been the subject of many world renowned works of both fiction and non-fiction including Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Ifi Amadium’s Male Daughters and Female Sons as well as The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.

There have been Ndi Igbo occupying their present location for over 8000 years, and they have left behind such artifacts as the Igbo Ukwu scuptures, which are the earliest of their kind found in West Africa, as well as the Nsude pyramids which resemble some of the step pyramids of ancient Egypt and Sudan. For a large portion of its history, Alaigbo (Igboland) did not have a central authority, and within it existed many states including the medieval Nri kingdom and the more recent Onitsha and Arochukwu kingdoms, although the Nri kingdom did have a considerable influence over Alaigbo for a few hundred years.


The Maafa (Transatlantic Slave Trade) removed hundreds of thousands of Igbos from Alaigbo, placing them in significant concentrations in colonies that would eventually become the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Cuba, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, as well as the United States. These Ndi Igbo did not come empty handed, but carried with them their Omenala (customs and traditions), their Odinani (spiritual sciences), and their unbreakable wills. Their descendants helped play key roles in such slave uprisings as the Nat Turner Rebellion as well as the Haitian Revolution.

The Maafa was the beginning of the colonization process of Alaigbo by the British, which they resisted through numerous battles such as the Anglo-Aro Wars, the Ekumeku rebellions, the Aba Women’s riots and culminating in the Biafran War. It was not until 1970 that Alaigbo was under the total control of the (neo)colonial state of Nigeria. As a result of slavery and colonization, the lifestyles and practices of the majority of Ndi Igbo and their descendants has dramatically changed.

What are Omenala & Odinani?

Historians like to perpetuate the idea that Africans who ended up in the so called New World lost their African culture, which stems from the fact that most Diaspora Africans do not speak the exact same languages of their ancestors, eat the exact same foods, or practice the exact same spiritual systems. However, just because something is not exactly what it was previously does not mean it is has become “lost.” Customs and traditions, like everything else, can go through transformations and adaptations, especially when they are carried to a new environment and people undergo new experiences.

There are also many voluntary African immigrants that now live in North America. These people do not live the same way that they did in Africa, and their children do not have all of the same practices and ways of thinking that they have. The food eaten is often different, the clothing worn is different, and the language might not be passed from one generation to the next. However, you can still analyze them and make a conclusion about where they came from without too many problems. If so much can be changed in just one generation from a voluntary immigration, how much would be transformed from many generations after an involuntary one?

Even when historians admit that some African cultural practices were retained, they will systematically ignore (either directly or indirectly) the Omenala of the Ndi Igbo, especially as it pertains to their descendants in the United States. Historians will admit that Ndi Igbo did come to the “New World” but seldom ever speak on the practices that are derived from them. Rather, they attempt to paint the majority of the Diaspora as being either Yoruba or Akan.

The reality is that the majority of the Diaspora was not Yoruba or Akan, and the Ndi Igbo comprised a significant portion of it. Secondly, the practices of a people in the Diaspora are not always a signifier of who they trace their ancestry from. There are many Africans of Igbo descent in the Diaspora that practice the Yoruba religions because of the fact that the strong central organization of that particular system, as well as the ones of the Bakongo and Fon/Ewe, made them more apt to flourish in the Diaspora.

Likewise, there are people of Igbo descent in Africa that practice the Roman religion called Catholicism or the British religion called Anglicanism, but neither of these groups of Igbos are from Rome or Britain. Furthermore, the idea that the traditional religions are dead in Alaigbo or in the rest of Africa is more misleading propaganda that people fail to double check on. If the traditional religions are really dead then why do all the African “traditional healers”, “medicine men”, diviners and priests still have so much clientele, even in predominately Christian or Islamic nations? As embellishing as Nollywood (the Nigerian film industry) can be at times in its portrayal of Nigerian life, this is one thing that they are not exaggerating. The fact is that regardless of what imported tradition an Igbo (or any other African) may practice, when it begins to fail them, they will go back to the Omenala of their forefathers and foremothers that provided results.
 

Chinelo

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The Re-Awakening of Omenala & Odinani

Today, with the advent of DNA testing that allows people to trace their ancestry, more and more Africans in the Diaspora are uncovering their Igbo genetic heritage, and seeking to learn more about the Omenala of their Egwugwu (ancestors). However, a careful analysis will reveal that they don’t have to visit Alaigbo to discover them, as they are literally right in front of their faces in the traditions and habits that they already know and cherish.
Likewise, Nollywood is helping to spark a renaissance in interest in the Omenala of Ndi Igbo within Africa, by producing alot of films that take place in pre-colonial Alaigbo. These movies often feature Igbo language, traditional attire, make-up, and other things pertinent to Omenala. Authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) are helping to build the Igbo renaissance in the literary field by picking up the torch originally carried by people like Chinua Achebe.

This blog was motivated in part by the developing Igbo Renaissance, and the growing need to reclaim the Omenala of the Igbo both in the Diaspora and the Motherland. However, simply reclaiming and reviving Omenala is a drop in the bucket. The most vital thing is to reawaken the Odinani. Whereas Omenala can be paraphrased as “what you do”, the Odinani is “why you do it.” This fundamental relationship is the key to not only reviving old traditions and practices, but creating new and better ones that can raise the state of our people wherever they may be.

The vast majority of the people in the world today have beliefs, practices and traditions that they uphold but lack understanding about. Consider yourself as an example. Why do you feel the way you feel about certain things? Why do you believe what you believe? Who defined your values? Who is the one that designed your lifestyle? Have you ever thought about these things?

Likewise, when it comes to conditions in society or in the world as a whole, people often don’t think about the root causes of things; why things are the way that they are. They simply just accept definitions given to them by their religious leaders, social scientists or politicians. What we call religions today are not much more than the deification of a culture of a people. People can’t tell the difference between their cultural practices and the principles that caused them to come into existance.

Odinani was the means through which the Ndi Igbo sought to understand their natural environment. In pre-colonial times, their worldview was limited to their village and their surrounding villages, so their definition of Odinani would have been “laws of the land.” However, with the dramatic expansion of the Igbo worldview that came with colonization by the Europeans, a more appropriate translation of Odinani would be the laws of the Earth, or the laws of Nature. We know this today as science.
 

Chinelo

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According to Webster’s Dictionary, science is defined as “a systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” By this definition, Ndi Igbo, much like other African people, were scientists in the true sense of the word. They were master observers, able to pick up the minutest of details as well as things right in plain view that often go overlooked by most people. Ndi Igbo were also practical people who adopted traditions after they had been tested and found to produce results that could be reproduced. They did not have time for theories that had not been demonstrated or for blind faith in anything. However, there were two major differences between their view of science and the Western view. Those are, the fact that they did not separate the spiritual from the physical, and that they were also intelligent enough to never claim to have discovered anything.

Ndi Igbo knew what scientists are now finding out: that all matter in the universe is energy, that vibrates at certain frequencies. What we call the physical world is matter that is vibrating at a lower frequency. When the frequency increases, things can become inpercievable to us, even though they are still there. An example of this would be radio and television waves. Matter at a higher vibration is what the ancients called spirit. The understanding of the science of spirit is what we would call metaphysics, which is defined as “the theoretical or first principles of a particular discipline.” In other words, metaphysics is the first cause of everything in the physical.

Although Ndi Igbo, as well as other African people have produced their own Leonardo DaVinci’s, Issac Newtons, Albert Einsteins, etc, these African people did not take credit for finding out about things that have always existed, as Europeans have a very nasty habit of doing. The very notion that an individual “discovers” anything in nature, be it a place (especially one that is already inhabited), a thing, or a concept, implies that no other people that lived before knew it, or that that individual has some type of “ownership” over it. Ndi Igbo, like other Africans, acknowledged that they did not discover anything, they simply became aware of something that had already been there. Every other year, a new “discovery” by the Europeans renders their old “discoveries” null and void, which goes to show that they are not “discovering” anything at all, but simply uncovering a “bigger piece of the pie.” In regards to Odinani, one good way to describe it would be as a process of becoming aware, of ones self, and of reality.

In conclusion, I would like to say that if Omenala were a play, Odinani would be the script. If Omenala were a software program, Odinani would be the source code. If Omenala would be the actions one takes in response to the changing seasons, then Odinani would be the cyclical nature of the seasons themselves. The customs, traditions, and rituals that you have will change depending on season or environment, but the laws of nature themselves remain the same. And as you read the articles written by different authors, and view the different symbols and works of art that are posted and deciphered, you should be aware that nothing that is being shared should be considered true unless you can research it, observe it, and prove it true to yourself. Yagazie (May we prosper).
 

Onyemobi

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Concerning the "Spanish Jews" of Nigeria

Ama Potu simply mean in Hebrew and Spanish languages; 'home depot/mass depot', a kind of drop of zone and in some parts of Igbo, it is recognised as Ama-mputo. From a variety of Igbo history, Ama-mpotu is to be located in today's Akwa-Ibom, but in an old 15th century Yemeni Map of West Africa, it is called called Calabur. This was 'old Calabar' as the English called it, today's Akwa-Ibom (different from today's Calabar) that seethes itself against the buffetting Atlantic, where the East and West Africa meet. This was the bight of Biafra, the supposed home - stead of most Nigerian Igbo of Abia State. Like Malabu, Soa Tome, Kalahari, Bakasi, and Ama -puto/Maputo, Calabur was a reputed drop off zone for Jews and thier Moorish counterparts who were ousted from Alhambra, Spain. For in that Bight of Biafra and Benin, most ship travelling from North Africa towards the ends of Africa loose the support of the Nautical wind in the area that is called Peninsula. They grudgingly anchor of what is now West Africa, or in any Island nearby.




The name Joseph Ha - kohen's can be translated in Igbo as Osei/Osi Ukoha or Wosi Ukohe, and the name 'Yehudah Zarco', (the Spanish Jew who made the now popular comment "Alas, our father, is this the recompense we have sought" ) can be interpreted as Ehuda Nzako or Ehude Nzeako in Igbo language. These are very regular family names among the Igbos, especially Ehude. The lamentaions of these Spanish Jews were no different from the Lamentation of Igbo ancentors of 'old Calabar' called Igbos of Cross River for what reason. In thier lamentation, they speak of thier wandering ancestors who felt forgotten by both men and God, and who waited for a certain freedom which only death could bring. The name 'Onwuka' which refers to death, is now bound up to legends of warfare and preference of death in face of defeat and slavery, but this is only possible since we are speaking of Igbo history very late in time. The name Onwuka, pronounced Onwu'ka, really refers to the power of conscious sacrifice which may or may not include suicide, which usually deals on sacrifice. The name is a family of priests, like Ochams and Ukohas in Igbo society, like NKama and Kamode, and are associated with Eze -Eja/the chief priest, who the Attanis visit before the new moon. It is only natural, at least in my opinion that Igbo tradition mimic Judaism because they are one people, but given the spiritual leprosy that accompanies many Jewish tradition without the Tora, I think on this account (ceremony without guidiance/Tora) Idol worship managed to infiltrate Igbo society. Thier children can be certain that any form of Idol worship and fetish had nothing to do with Abraham and his descendants, that Igbo society was solely for God. That the principal reason why God made Judaism was to oppose Idol worship.


First Conjecture...

Centuries before the African genocide of slave trade by Europe, Igbos who roved around the periphery that is the Bight of Biafra, were fragmented and disillusioned by the attitude of natives. They were hunted with knives like monkeys and killed at sight. Thier descendants are among the Abians for certain, yet the story inspite of it's credibility is only hearsay. We know for certain that the ancestors of Nkpo-oro and Abariba among the very Abians speak of a terrible place called Ala Pa`na. To send anyone to Pa`na was to send you to your death. Such conjecture means that the name Panya invokes two possible things, one the period of Slavery through Calabar Islands to the unknown worlds and then the older meaning, which refers to a place at the other end of world, that involves a journey across 'seven rivers and seven lands'.

http://iroabuchi.blogspot.com/2009/01/sign-of-spanish-jews-in-nigeria-part.html
That blog full of insanity. Igbo language has been spoken before there was such a thing as the Jewish people or a country called Spain.
 

Omowale Jabali

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That blog full of insanity. Igbo language has been spoken before there was such a thing as the Jewish people or a country called Spain.
True. There are some statements I disagree with as well (concerning the matter of so-called idol worship).
 

ru2religious

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igbos were prominent in virginia, but the bulk of african americans have ancestry in the senegambia rice growing communities
Its really hard to place AA's in a certain district of Africa because many of the prisoners of war that made it to this place actually were double transported which means that they were slaves prisoners of war in Haiti first and other places in the Islands. This is a part of history which has made it extremely hard for people to find their African Ancestry.

So go through genetics which is the worst way to look - I've written so many article dealing with genetic on African American - but to make a long story short, having been mixed with each other for at least 7 to 10 generations or so - we can basically claim ancestry from every enslaved African nation. Some try to place themselves in Senegal-Gambia, others in Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone, Benin and so forth - but the problem is - Africans in America were forced to mix other Africans in America so many of us are in fact Igbo but at the same times, Wolof, Fon, etc ....

Many of us are a mix of every West African nation that got caught up in the prison of war trade. So I can't say that I'm from Igbo alone - that would be crazy and illogical - I tell people that my heritage in Africa is that of a mixed one.

Example - I've traced my heritage back to the prisoner of war ship - some call it slave ship - but that only goes back 7 generations to a little boy that was separated from his 2 older brothers in North Carolina. He was sold and taken to Arkansas and the story goes on ... Nevertheless, he was taken directly from the ship - Now here's the problem -

1.) Did that ship come directly from Africa - or did it pick them up in Haiti or one of the other Islands to transport them to America?
2.) Genetically - Jack Hudson - which is what they renamed him - married a sista but we don't know what nation she was from and when she passed he remarried and had other kids - now from Jack down to his kids - there is a lot of genetic difference because of the different woman. Note I know the primary mtDNA in AA women are L1, L2, & L3 but that's the same of Africa period...
3.) Then there was the mixing with Native American & the European perverted rapist.

I mean their are various reasons why it is extremely hard to actually trace ancestry in American and just say Senegal-Gambia. Senegal-Gambia have the least amount of prisoners of war taken - but the assumption cannot be that because America got the least amount of slaves that the least + the least = us in America. In reality - we are a mixture but because we are the latest to really get involved in the overall trade - many of use came from Haiti by way of Africa. So many of our relatives are actually located in Haiti to this day.


Peace



Ru2religious
 

Ezinne

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Its really hard to place AA's in a certain district of Africa because many of the prisoners of war that made it to this place actually were double transported which means that they were slaves prisoners of war in Haiti first and other places in the Islands. This is a part of history which has made it extremely hard for people to find their African Ancestry.

So go through genetics which is the worst way to look - I've written so many article dealing with genetic on African American - but to make a long story short, having been mixed with each other for at least 7 to 10 generations or so - we can basically claim ancestry from every enslaved African nation. Some try to place themselves in Senegal-Gambia, others in Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone, Benin and so forth - but the problem is - Africans in America were forced to mix other Africans in America so many of us are in fact Igbo but at the same times, Wolof, Fon, etc ....

Many of us are a mix of every West African nation that got caught up in the prison of war trade. So I can't say that I'm from Igbo alone - that would be crazy and illogical - I tell people that my heritage in Africa is that of a mixed one.

Example - I've traced my heritage back to the prisoner of war ship - some call it slave ship - but that only goes back 7 generations to a little boy that was separated from his 2 older brothers in North Carolina. He was sold and taken to Arkansas and the story goes on ... Nevertheless, he was taken directly from the ship - Now here's the problem -

1.) Did that ship come directly from Africa - or did it pick them up in Haiti or one of the other Islands to transport them to America?
2.) Genetically - Jack Hudson - which is what they renamed him - married a sista but we don't know what nation she was from and when she passed he remarried and had other kids - now from Jack down to his kids - there is a lot of genetic difference because of the different woman. Note I know the primary mtDNA in AA women are L1, L2, & L3 but that's the same of Africa period...
3.) Then there was the mixing with Native American & the European perverted rapist.

I mean their are various reasons why it is extremely hard to actually trace ancestry in American and just say Senegal-Gambia. Senegal-Gambia have the least amount of prisoners of war taken - but the assumption cannot be that because America got the least amount of slaves that the least + the least = us in America. In reality - we are a mixture but because we are the latest to really get involved in the overall trade - many of use came from Haiti by way of Africa. So many of our relatives are actually located in Haiti to this day.


Peace



Ru2religious
Valid points. I think the general aim (from me at least) is to present information as an Igbo person about our culture, because we are connected with African Americans.
 

e-forty

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Its really hard to place AA's in a certain district of Africa because many of the prisoners of war that made it to this place actually were double transported which means that they were slaves prisoners of war in Haiti first and other places in the Islands. This is a part of history which has made it extremely hard for people to find their African Ancestry.

So go through genetics which is the worst way to look - I've written so many article dealing with genetic on African American - but to make a long story short, having been mixed with each other for at least 7 to 10 generations or so - we can basically claim ancestry from every enslaved African nation. Some try to place themselves in Senegal-Gambia, others in Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone, Benin and so forth - but the problem is - Africans in America were forced to mix other Africans in America so many of us are in fact Igbo but at the same times, Wolof, Fon, etc ....

Many of us are a mix of every West African nation that got caught up in the prison of war trade. So I can't say that I'm from Igbo alone - that would be crazy and illogical - I tell people that my heritage in Africa is that of a mixed one.

Example - I've traced my heritage back to the prisoner of war ship - some call it slave ship - but that only goes back 7 generations to a little boy that was separated from his 2 older brothers in North Carolina. He was sold and taken to Arkansas and the story goes on ... Nevertheless, he was taken directly from the ship - Now here's the problem -

1.) Did that ship come directly from Africa - or did it pick them up in Haiti or one of the other Islands to transport them to America?
2.) Genetically - Jack Hudson - which is what they renamed him - married a sista but we don't know what nation she was from and when she passed he remarried and had other kids - now from Jack down to his kids - there is a lot of genetic difference because of the different woman. Note I know the primary mtDNA in AA women are L1, L2, & L3 but that's the same of Africa period...
3.) Then there was the mixing with Native American & the European perverted rapist.

I mean their are various reasons why it is extremely hard to actually trace ancestry in American and just say Senegal-Gambia. Senegal-Gambia have the least amount of prisoners of war taken - but the assumption cannot be that because America got the least amount of slaves that the least + the least = us in America. In reality - we are a mixture but because we are the latest to really get involved in the overall trade - many of use came from Haiti by way of Africa. So many of our relatives are actually located in Haiti to this day.


Peace



Ru2religious
I think you're right. what i should have said was senegambians were the most prefered in the early part of the slave trade because of their rice growing skills and their ability to read and speak arabic, some of our people are showing up with sahelian ancestry,now i don't know how accurate these dna test are though. yoruba,fon and other tribes outside of the senegambian region were a small minority thats the reason voodoo or shango didn't take root in the united states unless you're talking about new orleans where slave were brought in from the caribbean. the reason why the united states had the least slaves, because they actually wanted slaves with skills, they didn't just want anybody like the caribbean. it helped them save money
 

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