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DELTA MONARCH BACKS NATIONAL ABOLITION OF OSU CASTE SYSTEMS
It was then a mark of achievement to know and speak Igbo, with pride and gusto especially among th e neighbours of the Igbo. Igbo ritualists, smiths and traders from the Igbo heartland were not strangers in Isokoland, Ogoniland and Ijoland. On the southern flank at least in the Niger Delta, at that time, and up to fairly recently, it was fashionable and a mark of achievement to be born of an Igbo mother. Then some years ago, so say some historians of language, the Igbo, the Yoruba and the Edo began to speak diffrent languages.
And each of the 'new' languages began to develop dialects. But one thing happened. Those dialects at the culture margins retained, in different respects, the original features of the original Igbo language which historians of language call Proto-Igbo. The Igbo at the centre and p eriphery of the igbo speech community continued to live and communicate without much difficulty, even though traveling then was severely limited by very many realities.
But there were contacts between and among Igbo people who needed to. Trade, trade fairs, politics, marriages, festivals, skirmishes and wars provided veritable avenues for permanent contacts between and among various Igbo people and their neighbours. At that time, the English Language and its syncretic scion, Pidgin were still to be in Igboland. And so transactions between these people must have been in some form of spoken Igbo - the predecessor of our Modern Spoken or Standard Igbo without a Received Pronunciation. It is true that there were written texts here and there in Igboland in different types of scripts - Nsihidi, Uriala, Uri Mmuo and Nwagwu Anieke's.
But these were used by 'closed' secret groups and societies for their in-group transactions. And so their influence was very limited. And so the evolving spoken Standard Igbo continued to hold sway especially among the Igbo who had to travel beyond their mba. Even at that, such travelling or travelled igbo must have added diglossia to their Igbo, while for the Igbo at the culture margins bilingualism of the 'native like' type must have been acquired.
Among the Igbo at the culture margins there could have been a sprachbund or language convergence involving the mixture of languages not only in vocabuary but also in the overall structures of Igbo and the languages enjoying convergence with Igbo. It is a pity we have no written records in this area! And all these came to pass. Then came the Europeans as traders, missionaries and colonial administrators. And Igboland was conouered by force. And sacred Igbo institutions, icons and their language got into a terrible bind. And the English Language was subtlely introduced and imposed through the Education Codes and Ordinances, grants-in-aid to Schools, and the missionary activities of the Catholics, especially during the Sanahan and post-Sanahan eras.
The massive bombardment of all these on the Igbo psyche led some of them to the point of believing that 'the native' was a bushman who continued to use his language. The new elite - the Igbo kotuma otue ntu, the interpretes, the cashiers and the non-Igbo colonial administl. Then came the 'great' Igbo Orthography Question - that big ferocious storm in a tea Cl.
So, from - , no serious creative literahlre was produced in the Igbo Language. Afigbo , and Emenanjo among others, have said most of all there is to say about how the Igbo were used by the Igbo to underdevelop their language. Then came the Nigeria-Biafra War. And the Igbo were again conouered by force. And this came with a new type of linguistic dilemma - the displacement of glossotomy or languag unity, with glossogamy or language splitting.
On the eve of the Biafran adventure, the Igbo had a high profile in Nigeria and so it was fashionable to be Igbo. At the end of the adventure, the Igbo had no profile in Nigeria. And so it was not fashionable to be Igbo. One of our weak points as a people is that we do not know how to manage crises, adversity failure or misfortune. As an either As something likeu, a NothIng People when we charter a society association or group in the interest or service of our people we seem to make it our own, not allowing for new or other synergies and conglomerate action.
Why was Igbo Language Association never allowed to stand? Okwu m chighaa. With the Fallen House of Biafra, many Igbo-speaking peoples and groups started to say that they are no longer Igbo. This has resulted in new myths of origin in certain communities.
Ika, Anioma, Agbor, Igbanke Roots From The Benin Kingdom – GREAT BENIN ORIGINS [GBO]
If it is not Benin or some other empire, it must be Oriental. Clearly, all these people have got their anthropology, history, and historiography all wrong. Igbo personal names did not sound well. Their Igbo place names did not look or sit well in their new states and environment. And so some affixes had to be excavated from the archeology of protor-Igbo for synchronic use. Obienyem in Akpa Uche pp.
Add that in the spelling practices, the Onwu Orthography and the conventions in use for Igbo since had to be re-written in all sorts of wa ys to de-Igbonize them. An agu can discredit its agutude. But it cannot disown it. Or wish it away. It cannot. Never ever! Nor is there any originality in the view that not everything in the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis was headed in the wrong direction. In spite of all that have happened to the Igbo people and their culture, their language has shown a great deal of resilience and vitality, moreso in the spoken medium.
The ire-cult survives in the njakili phenomenon which has become a veritable source for word-smithery in the Igbo language. There now exist hundreds if not thousands of words, structures, proverbs, anecdotes, wellerisms, as well as slang, argots, and colloquialisms in the Igbo lexicon.
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It will not be out-of-place to hypothesize that all these may constitute a subculture language of its own, completely closed to outsiders. This language is full of Igbo words with new 'underground' meanings, Engligbo and X-Igbo, where X is any language in contact with Igbo. If a new 'underground' language for which Igbo is the substratum currently co-exists with Igbo, this is simply because languag is essentially a medium for intra-group human communication in response to the many variables of its dynamic environments and needs.
The Igbo language has always been a link and bridge between and among the people rather than a gulf or a gully. A large culture area, of necessity, has sub-culture areas. In many respects, dialects are the linguistic equivalents of subcultures. At their relaxed moment s, they make fun of and laugh at the idiosyncracies of the different ways they all say the same thing. With time, these idiosyncratic ways begin to disappear and we have the emergence of a spoken standard. It is a sociofact, a mentifact and a artifact fashioned by man for intra-group communication.
It is a behaviour that is learned and used by all who believe they belong together in the same culture area. Emenanjo' s comparative study of auxiliaries in the grammar of Igbo reveals that there are correspondences between the various dialectal elements used to express negation, tense and aspect across Igbo dialects. These elements include auxiliaries, tones and tonal patterns which are extraordinarily stable and systematic. Anagbogu's study of nominalization, Uwalaka's study of verbal-nominal combinations, Nwachukwu's study of noun phrase sentential complementation or Igwe's study of afiixes in the grammar of Igbo, all these reveal unity in basic structures but diversity in dialectal forms for which regular correspondences are available across the dialects.
Armstrong's Comparative Word Lists of Five Igbo Dialects reveals 'one striking unifying factor which is obvious from these lists. There is an extraordinary stability of tone through the whole range of dialects studied. Igbos who speak or understand other dialects than their own are relying to a very great extent on tone. Tones are one of the principal means to mutual intelligibility of dialects. They all predate the introduction of glossogamy into Igbo studies. They all were carried out at a time when the Igbo had not become a problem to Nigeria or to themselves. Williamson's study of Ika and Ukwuani and of the Lower Niger Group of Languages where carried out or had their gestation period during the Nigerian civil war.
And most, if not all her informants were Igbo students marooned on the Nigerian side of the Nigeria - Biafra war. This whole attempt at creating and reproducing new languages out of Igbo could be called Igbomosaic, following the same phenomenon that has been called Euromosaic in European linguistics. But human communication involves much more than speech sounds arranged in a structured systems of words, phrases and meanings.
It involves dialogue and is thus bidirectional, context-sensitive, culture-driven, simultancous, relatively unstructured, with an interdependence of participants requiring explicit and immediate feedback. Human communications only meaningful in communication contexts in which all the interlocutors who may be two, many or a mass, may be in private or in public. It may be intra-cultural or extra-cultural. This is what is called 'The Container Fallacy' Haney: Human communication through speech is conveyed by verbal and none-verbal cues.
Non-verbal cues include spatial, temporal, visual and body movements. It is estimated that well over , possible signs can be transmitted via body movements in the form of eye movements, facial expressions, body mannerisms that accompany speech acts, dresses and costumes, hand gestures, voice cues: volume, loudness, timbre, pitch - among other features of paralanguage.
Verbal and non-verbal communication are mutually complementary and mutually reinforce, replace or even contradict each other and one another. Whereas non-verbal cues are known to convey messages that are prmarily relational or emotional, the verbal ones convey messages that are lexical - and lingual. For relational. Listening: effective listening, attentive listening, active listening, is what makes human communication possible moreso for interlocutors involved in intra-cultural communication through dialects.
It is these types of listening that sensitize the participants to the unspoken messages embedded in the non-verbal cues. Listining, and especially discriminatory listening, enables interlocutors to selectively attend to, hear, understand and remember sounds and symbols. Through listening, interlocutors are able to discriminate properly between and among different speech sounds, words, structures, dialectal forms and deconstruct them for the meanings desired.
Through hearing interlocutors are able to successfully filter noises from real speech. They establish relationships rather than break them. They keep wide open ALL the channels from speaker to hearer and vice versa. They block the tendency, out of mistrust, fear and prejudice to unduly criticize, summarize, conclude, agree or disagree with the speaker. Thus, they ignore internal and external distractions.
Empathy and empathic listening are very careful and focused. From the foregoing, therefore, it is clear that in the pragmatics paralinguistics and ethnography of human communication, many more things are as involved as, if not more relevant than words, the building blocks of language, the concerns of descriptive linguistics and the basic items of which are considered in lexicostatistics. Some more words about glottochronology and its handmaid, lexicostatistics, for creating so many 'new' languages out of the Igbo language Hicks and Gwynne and Renfrew , among very many others, have drawn attention to the many flaws in glottochronology - and lexicostatistics as techniques for historical linguistics and dialectology.
In the words of Renfrew 'Glottochronology in its single assumption is just too good to be true. Onwuejeogwu has drawn attention to some fundamental problems in the application of lexicostatistics in the study of Igbo. And this critique not only forced Williamson to look again at the technique but also to change the nomenclature and classification of Igbo from the Izi Ekpey Group of Related languages or language cluster to the Lower Niger Languages which are essentially all dialects of Igbo. The title of Paul and Inge Meier and John Bendor-Samuel's book Grammar of Izi: An Igbo Language is mischievious, patronizing and misleading for imposing Euro-American post-Biafran prejudices on Igbo, and mixing politics with academics in general, and linguistics, in particlar.
It's survival in the spoken medium is the mark of a people robustly loyal to their language. But its survival in robust creative literature and other literary classics is the mark of a true civilization. For, it is the texts in all the genres of literature, and other ancillary and cognate areas, like phiosophy, literary critisism and stylistics that valorize and perpetuate a language and its civilization.
Even if the language eventually dies! Not the linguistic studies or grammars in or about the language. In the use of the Igbo language for creative literary purposes, orature appears to have done better than written literature. With Igbo orature, the genres have been largely identified and established, their structures or forms have also been identified. While the minor genres have been reduced to writing even if amateurishly - the folktales, proverbs, songs, poems, anecdotes, tongue twister, conundrums; the more mature genrs, - the epics, the sagas and the exte nded prose narratives are only now beginning to have serious mention in the collections and critiques of the Azuonyes, the Okpehwos, the Ugonnas and the Uzochukwus, among others.
It is unfortunate that the rich corpora of tales, epics and sagas which where being collected from the Aguleri areas of Anambra State and studied by the Nsukka School of Igbo Studies under the assiduous professional leadership of the Azuonyes and the Udechukwus, have suffered some serious setbacks with the 'brain drain' that has taken away the duo. For example, from some of the corpora collected and studied under their guidance, it has been established that there are tales which take one long big Igbo week i. I have in my corpora an egwu une, partly narrative and partly sung to the accompainment of the une, a string instrument, a folktale collected from Ibusa.
I have transcribed this in some fifty pages of A. There is not much problem collecting orature by the professionals. But there is with its transcription. Two problems, among others, stand out. What is the nature of the 'line' in Igbo poesy? For the scholars in the Lagos School of Igbo Studies, 'something' appears to have been extablished.
But this 'something' was not quite acceptable to the late Prof. Donatus Nwoga who was battling with this problem at the time that he left. The second problem - the dialect into which the text should be rendered. I believe it should be in the dialects of the performers. Attempts to reduce texts to the sound system and orthography of a Central or Standard variety of Igbo does irreparable damage to the spontaneity vibrancy, unioueness, and authenticity of these texts.
Texts collected in any lect or variety of Igbo should be faithfully reproduced in writing, in the lect or variety of the performers with their entire local colour, phonological and structural idiosyncrasies, in full and intact. To do anything different, as the scholars of the Lagos School are doing and teaching their students, does not appear to me to be doing sufficient justice to these works of great creativity. But why has creativity in written Igbo not fared so well?
The Orthography controversy? The Dialect issue? The linguistic and literary 'immaturity' of the practitioners? The neglect of publishers and the formal school system: The absence of receptive and willing audience? The abandonment of literature in Igbo by the 'mature' Igbo creative writers for Literature in English? The genres of Igbo written literature? The shape or structure of the serious, well-crafted prose narrative: cylindrical, curvilinear or linear?
Then, the language of creative Igbo literature? Emenyonu's Rise of the Igbo Novel is good schlarship in mellifulous prose for which Emenyonu is known. That book is now a classic. But is it conceived, executed, titled and headed in the right direction? Some scholars brought up in the Euro-American and Anglo-Saxon traditions of literature see everything right and exellent about the contents and argumentation in the book, and tend to trivialize the reactions of scholars of African literature in African languages, to the praxis and crisis of identity thrown up by the text.
Ladies, and Gentlemen, what really is creative literature? It is, simply put, the use of language to create domes of pleasure. It is the use of language through displacement and the exploitation of deviation in its multifarious forms, to provide entertainment, provide food for thought and thought for food for the readers wherever they might find themselves - Ala Bingo Otu Ebe, Ala Iduu, Erewhon, Utopia, Umuofia, Wonderland, Treasure Island etc. Essential to the definition of literature is human language.
If one of the definitions of poetry is the best words in the best order, o r whatever was thought but never so well expressed In a named language should the best words in English crafted'to the best order in English be used to express a poem in Igbo? The essential difference between English Literature and Literature in English lies somewhere between endogamy and autochthony - right there in the bowels of identity. Now, lastly, - another impression and another problem for Igbo written literatur. Shouldn't great literature flow from the barrels of spontaneity in tranquility?
And all of them were thrown up by literary competitions. Competitions have time frames. They are prize-driven. They are context-sensitive. They are mechanical. Great written literature t akes time to be. It consumes celebral energy. It is not written for a prize or to raise money, like Rasselas. It is not even written by those with formal training in creative writing and literary criticism. Tony Ubesie's works were all written before he went to the university.
Tony Ubesie confided in me that his biro went dry after his exposure to literary aesthetic in the university. The Igbo language can do with many more Ubesies in the different genres of creative literature - short stories, novels, plays, poems, faction, etc, etc. Let people write in their dialects if they are not comfortab le in or conversant with Standard Igbo.
But why shouldn't they be? And here I agree with Chinua Achebe. If the works are good and with great potentials they can be re-done in Standard Igbo or translated into English and other Languages by competent hands who should not distort the flavour, the internal logic and dynamics of the works. But will we be ready to read the prose narratives and go to the theatres to watch the plays, and buy the printed texts?
Hence church bulletins and denominational newspapers are rarely bought by the faithful. Given my very close association w ith publishing houses as an editor, a literary agent and assessor, I am aware of hundreds of texts in genres of all sorts IN Igbo. Some of them are of excellent quality. All these are begging to be published. Publishers, we all know, are into hard-nosed business: not into vanity publishing and philanthropy! Can the Igbo governments of today in all the Igbo states not follow the example of the Literature Bureau of the early colonial governments?
And can these governments not help out with Igbo newspapers like the Ogene of old? Abiola is no longer there to give us Udoka. Neither is Ogbalu there to give us Anyanwu. All these are veritable outlets for creativity and analyses in Igbo. They all should be revived. I think we have had more than enough of traditional dances and such spectacles. A discussion of language and literacy among the Igbo cannot lose sight of the pervasive some may say pernicious presence of and preference for English in Igboland. These are realities nobody can or should wish away.
Igbo and English laguages are not in competition but in complementation. Igbo is our own. But its use should go beyond phatic communiction and tokenism in public places. English is the one that works! Hence, at World Igbo Days or Congresses whether in the United States of America or in Enugu, the language of most transactions is English, spoken by people in three piece suits or in three-piece babariga or overflowing up-and-down caftans, the Malian style.
We certainly need English Igboland because in Igboland, English occupies an intermediate position between a 'Foreign Language' and a 'Second Language'. On account of this, therefore, just as we are spoiling for 'resource control' in our states, we should also use the concurrent status of education in a democratic federal republic to plan and implement an educational policy that best suits our circumstances. Such a policy should have a robust bilingual education component. In the whole of Igboland, we need a bilingual education in Igbo and English so that the pro ducts will have the necessary language skills to be useful citizens who enjoy reading and writing in Igbo and English.
Because, not only are the reading nations the leading nations and the winning nations; those who know how to read and write lead mankind. Where is the cohesion? Where are the links? Our interpretation of civilization is not one about larg e empires and monarchies, military campaign and conquests, big feats and the subjugation of othcrs. We have argued against group illiteracy and the dropout syndrome. We have emphasized that illiteracy is a sin, a mortal sin; a crime, a capital crime.
Illiterate people are liabilities. They have no dreams, no theoretical thinking, no strategic planning. They have no focus and lack long term durable ideals. They lack all the skills of language and cannot use language to articulate ideas. They cannot engage in geometric reasoning and can neither be proactive nor synergize.
They lack Stevn Cowen's seven attributes of the Effectiveness, and the seven desirable virtues in the Vision Report needed to steer Nigeria and her plural ethnic nationalities, of which the Igbo are one, into modernity and economic prosperity. The Igbo of the 21st century must see education for what it is - the summation of all the processes for developing abilities, attitudes and all other forms of positive attributes needed for self and group socialization, realization and the total empowerment; the acquisition of skills of all sorts including the skill of being civilized.
Ability to live with problems and paradoxes and find solutions to them. We need language transmission in Igboland. We abhor the issue of lack of inter-generational transmission leading to language shift, and the absence of language loyalty among the Igbo. There are, among the Igbo, population movements, urbanization, mixed marriages, pressures to learn the official language.
These should not be seen as liabilities but as challenges to the Igbo language - and the Igbo people. Igbo is unity with diversity; Igboid, diversity without unity.
Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman, to do the first thing last. Thanks and appreciation. I feel highly elated. My family, friends and associates feel very happy. We thank, most profusely, all those who have mad e this possible. Igbos blossomed in graveyards. Kafanchan to Fadan Karshi,. Igbos were cleansed. Nweke Udeozo. Communism and the West. Gabriel Okoh, Theo Okeke, Chief George Mbonu; and Mrs. Adekunle whose knife. Professor Emmanuel Nlenanya Onwu 1. In spite of their stupendous achievements in every area of human endeavour, particularly in science and technology, religion and education, the Igbo nation has been deliberately and systematically marginalized.
At the risk of sounding patriotic and accommodating, Ndi Igbo have suffered the loss of their human rights and dignity but have also shown great courage and determination to survive as a people. The questions arise. What is it that keeps Ndi Igbo going despite all odds? What is it that makes them behave, act, and move the way they do? What is the power behind the Igbo? Why was Igbo religion in conflict with Christianity? Why do the Igbo love the Christian way of life? The answers to these questions are the main focus of this paper. These answers definitely are rooted in the traditional religious life and philosophy of Ndi Igbo.
It has been rightly observed that the Igbo are a highly religious people. Writing about the Igbo in the early , Major A. Leonard in his book The Lower Niger and Its Peoples remarked that: They are in the strict and natural sense of the word a truly and a deeply religious people, of whom it can be said that they eat religiously, drink religiously, bathe religiously, dress religiously and sin religiously.
In a few words, the religion of these as I have all along endeavored to point out is their existence and their existence is their religion. This observation is not only true of the Igbo but also of other Africans. Professor J. Mbiti more than fifty years later in the opening sentence of the very first chapter of his book, African Religions and Philosophy has re-echoed similar statement which summarized the traditional religious attitude of Africans when he said: Africans are notoriously religious, and each people has its own religious system with a set of beliefs and practices.
Religion permeates into all the departments of life so fully that it is not easy or possible always to isolate it. A study of these religious systems is therefore, ultimately a study of the people themselves in all complexities of both traditional and modem life. Religion is the strongest element in traditional background, and exerts probably the greatest influence upon the thinking and living of the people concerned. Similarly, after observing how religion thoroughly permeated the life of every Igbo, Bishop Shanahan was cited by John P.
Jordan as having come to the conclusion that: The average native Igbo , was admirably suited by environment and training, for an explanation of life in terms of the spirit; rather than of the flesh. He was no materialist. Indeed nothing was farther from his mind than a materialist philosophy of existence. It made no appeal to him. In the context of this paper, Igbo religion and philosophy are perceived as two sides of the same coin which Leonard, Shanaham and Mbiti acknowledged. In order to understand and arrive at the meaning of Igbo religion and philosophy, it is not necessary to engage in a definition or analysis of concepts.
On this I agree with Kunirum Osia that this is because in Igbo, religious categories are not bound together in a purely ideal order. The categories do not form a system, a bundle of abstractions, as it were. Rather, they define a style of life, and a guide to practical living. Unlike the major world religions, Igbo religion is not codified or formulated into systematic dogmas. It is culturally learned and adopted. It is a tradition. Religion is an intrinsic part of culture.
Culture is itself the totality of knowledge and behaviour, ideas and objects that constitute the common heritage of a people in a given society. And as a lifestyle, culture covers every aspect of the society's life in their efforts to relate with their environment, with one another and as well as the ideational elements within the society. Scholars agree that they are layers of culture.
Kato had identified the philosophical level of culture as its core. Philosophical not in the sense of abstraction but in the sense of reality -- what is viewed as the real thing that gives answers to life's problem. The philosophical level is the basic thinking or idea of a community. It answers the question as to what gives meaning to life. Close to this hard core of culture is the mythical level, which is made up of the basic beliefs of the people, which gives meaning to life. In a sense, people's culture constitutes their beliefs, customs, ethos, and manners which of course enshrine morality.
Whereas, on the one hand, cultural elements can be discerned from the people's religion, the people's religion itself is an intrinsic part of the people's culture in a broader sense. Therefore studying one is by implication studying some of the vital elements of the other. Philosophy is therefore the heart of culture.
Religion and philosophy are therefore concerned with the beliefs and practices of the people. The inseparability of the two concepts are similarly recognized by Professor N. This is because African traditional religion is essentially a philosophy and a spiritual way of life, which permeates, pervades and animates the traditional social institution, norms and celebrations. Nwala also agreed with the inseparability of Igbo religion and philosophy. He rightly noted that generally a people or an individual may have a philosophy but no religion, but no people or individual may have a religion without a philosophy.
Religion and philosophy are intimately related both in the belief and practice content. We must note here that every Igbo ritual act - sacrifice, dance, festival, has a philosophy or idea behind it; it is such an idea that motivates such act. Both involve basic belief, a philosophy, an underlying principle, or an idea, which generate actions and behaviours, which influence individual or group.
Therefore it is obvious that a discussion of traditional Igbo religion must involve a discussion of Igbo philosophy. The main justifications rest on: 1 That Igbo religion and philosophy are centered on Chukwu, the Supreme God and 2 The fact that the sacred and the secular are held together.
In other words, the secular life of the Igbo like all other traditional communities has been inseparable from their religious life. Their cosmology has a deep religious root and their practical life and moral values are interwoven with their religion. Religion and philosophy originated from native African soil Onyewuenyi, and therefore indigenous to the Igbo as well.
Both are about our way of life, concerned with meaning and explanation. In other words, the burden of our argument is that one of the challenges of Ndi Igbo in the 21st century is religious.
Therefore, our intention is to engage. It is here we find the essence of the reality of Igbo scholarship in the traditional Igbo religion. I am not, however, ignorant of the propaganda mounted by western writers about the sub-humanity of Africans as a people without history, without religion, Green, denying them any conception of morality Basden; and lacking in intellectual and technological accomplishments.
I am not unaware of how African religions in general, and Igbo religion in particular suffered neglect, misinterpretations and distortions in the hands of missionaries and colonial government and their agents. Without any intention to criticize any of these previous writers who had done veritable work in the study of African religions, our position is rather to indicate a positive contribution to the on-going quest for a meaningful and contextual interpretation of some aspects of Igbo religion and philosophy from the African point of view.
The work will draw attention to the great potential Igbo religion and philosophy hold out for the unity, peace and progress of the people was well as to argue that Igbo religion and philosophy has been the key to Igbo self-understanding, identity and achievement within the Nigerian State. We will emphasise within that context that the religious challenge of the 21st century is for the Igbo to take a leap of faith and be fully restored in their relationship with 'Chukwu' first entered into by Igbo first ancestor and to insist that Christianity and education which act as sources of empowerment remain the only viable option that can equip the Igbo with character and knowledge that can transform us into instruments of change in the 21st century world which is knowledge-based, technology- driven and responsive to environmental concerns.
We will begin this study by probing into the origin of the Igbo and their religion. Who are the Igbo? The puzzle about Igbo origin has been attributed to lack of interest in Igbo studies either from our own people or from outsiders. Most scholars are agreed that there was no real sense of pan-lgbo identity in the pre-colonial period, that the village groups felt a strong sense of local patriotism Isichei, ; Talbot, The Igbo studies by C. Meeks and M. Green only helped to perpetuate the bad press the Igbo already had as a lawless and ungovernable people. We do not intend to go into the old speculative arguments about the theories of Igbo origin and expansion.
The Igbo geographical area are what scholars call a culture area, rural or urban, manifesting distinctive characteristics or traits. There are five identifiable sub- culture areas within the Igbo culture area made up of: 1 Eastern or Cross River Igbo 2 Southern or Owerri Igbo, 3 northern or Onitsha Igbo 4 Western Igbo and 5 North-Eastern Igbo Forde and Jones, Inspite of the obvious sub cultural differences, the Igbo see themselves as one people and at the same time outsiders see them as a homogeneous entity.
They are a unique people. While the Yoruba could find their kins in Burkina Faso and the Hausa could find their kins in Chad and Niger, historians are yet to tell us where- the Igbo could be found other than in the South- eastern part of Nigeria. In recent times, our scholars have engaged in an exciting and fruitful research into Igbo origin. Their efforts are highly commendable.
Professor A. Afigbo has ably articulated the scholarly views on Igbo origin in his books Ropes of Sand and more recent monograph - Igbo Genesis The weight of scholarly opinion rests mightily on situating Igbo origin within the Negro race generally but particularly in West Africa because of the Kwa language family in which the Yoruba, Edo , Igbo, Igala, Ijo, and Idoma fell. It may sound funny but historians should not snub the Igbo Nri myth which claimed that man's origin started from Igboland when God created Eri and sent him down.
From these two human beings originated the Umueri and Umunri clans of the Igbo. Though the myth did not assert that the rest of Igbo people originated from Eri, many Igbo scholars have come to believe and treat Nri town as the heart of Igbo nationality. Similar myths of creation are found among the Bini and Yoruba. The importance of the Nri myth is not only historical but also religious.
The Igbo acknowledged their divine origin and not that they came into existence by chance. It is a figurative expression that has tremendous historical import. That man first settled in Africa is no longer an archeological statement, but a historical fact. It has also further disproved the theory of Charles Darwin that man originated from the apes.
In fact conventional wisdom ostensibly based on earlier discoveries had placed the origin of man around the Great Rift valley of East Africa , the new Lake Chad findings by Professor Michael Brunet, a paleontologist from the University of Poitiers in France has challenged the current thinking on human origins and also "the migratory patterns of the world. One fact is obvious; the myth of Igbo origin may be taken more serious. This is because the current findings have shifted attention from East Africa to the Lake Chad region which is closer to Nigeria.
In the past three decades nobody thought about this, perhaps a little patience may lead to another finding East of the Niger. However, both Igbo myth of origin and archeological discoveries show that Igbo history and culture go far back into human history. Speculation about which religion would be superior has never been of scholarly interest but rather why religion is found at all in all societies. The quest for the origins of religion has centered on four main views.
One of the most enduring strands was that the origin of religions is in fetishism — worship of the animate and inanimate things, which the early Portuguese observed in West Africa. Edward Tylor credited as having constructed the first theory of religion assumed that belief in the existence of the soul stemmed from speculation about such states as dreams, trances and death Ember, , This is the basis of the religious belief which Tylor called 'animism. Spencer moved the idea further by linking the belief in ghosts to the belief in gods which he also equated with the ghost of ancestors Nwanunobi In sum, all psychological theories agreed that whatever the origin or purpose, whatever the belief or rituals, religion served to reduce anxiety, and uncertainly which are common to all people.
Second Sociological theories suggest that religion stems from society's needs. Emile Durkhein recognized that it is the society not the individual which is the society; not the individual which distinguishes between sacred and profane things. He suggested that a sacred object symbolizes the social fact that society considered something sacred.
In other words the sociological theories concentrate on religion as significant to social solidarity and the integration of the relevant society within which the feelings, belief and practices are common. It was argued that societies from ancient times modeled their cosmology after their own experiences. Aristotle in Politics 1. Aristotle's view was extended by later scholars who saw a relationship between political sophistication and the nature of a people's cosmology Nwanunobi, Thus Fuste1 de Coulanges argued that ancestor worship as the origin of religion since in ancient societies before the larger forms of political organizations: the family was the basis of co-operation and survival.
The third suggestion is the combination of the psychological and sociological approaches. This position argued that religion is a response to strain or deprivation which is caused by events in society. Thus, when the society is stable, its efforts and its energy are employed to maintain its equilibrium. Perhaps this revita1ization is achieved by a new cult, sect, denomination or religion. Aberle has argued that relative deprivation, whether economic or social, is the cause of the stress which generates new religious movements.
It is the hope they gain from the new ways - not deprivation for people can live for centuries in deprivation-which leads them to revitalize their society. The last view for the origin of religion which anthropologists and psychologists do not like to mention is that of revelation. The Bible tells us in Hebrews , God has in the last days finally and fully revealed himself to humanity.
Christ is the full expression of God's revelation, better than anything in the Old Testament, and so the author warns his readers to depend on Christ alone. It is with this conviction we now discuss the origin of Igbo traditional religion. In other words, our Igbo ancestors like other ethnic groups received the revelation of God. Igbo religion is as old as humanity.
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It is a well-established fact that religion in Africa in general is at the root of African culture. Its is the determining principle of African life. Thus religion is their basic philosophy and philosophy is their religion. It is for this reason that one comes to the conviction that the Igbo people are born religious. In Igbo world, time and space, objects and persons are made sacred. People born into the Igbo world approximate to the spiritual. The question here is what is the origin of this religious sentiment in the Igbo?
In other words what is the origin of Igbo traditional religion? This question has not been a scholarly focus. Many renowned Igbo scholars have written on many aspects of Igbo traditional religion but that question has never attracted their conscious attention. Afigbo in his Ropes of Sand first muted the idea of the origin Igbo Traditional religion, and I share his insight on the subject. The history of the origin of Igbo traditional religion must be sought within Igbo history of origin.
Igbo lived a hazardous wandering life of the hunter and gatherer of wild edible plants. The tradition of Nri disclosed how the Igbo entered a settled 1ife which brought him further development of skills. The Nri Myth has it that the father of all Nri was Eri.
When Eri was sent by Chukwu from the Sky to the earth, he sat on an anti-hill because he saw watery marshy earth. When Eri complained to God Chukwu, sent an Awka blacksmith with his fiery bellow and charcoal to dry the earth. While Eri lived, Chukwu fed him and his people with azu-igwe!
But this special food ceased after the death of Eri. Nri his first son complained to Chukwu for food. Chukwu ordered Nri to sacrifice his first son and daughter and bury them in separate graves. Nri complied with it. When Nri and his people ate these, they slept for the first time; later still Nri killed a male and female slaves burying them separately. Again, after Izu Ato, an oil palm grew from the grave of the male slave, and a bread fruit tree ukwa from that of the female-slave Afigbo, With this new food supply, Nri and his people ate and prospered.
Chukwu asked him to distribute the new food items to all people but Nri refused because he bought them at the cost of sacrificing his own children and slave. Nri and; Chukwu made an agreement. According to M. Jeffreys a tradition has it that: As a reward for distributing food to the other towns Nri would have the right of cleansing every town of an abomination nso or breach, of crowning the eze at Aguleri, and of tying the Ngulu ankle cords when a man takes the title of ozo.
For this medicine all the surrounding towns would come in and pay tribute and Umunmdri people then could travel unarmed through the world and no one would attack or harm them. They took this home with the new crops and sacrificed to it. This tradition has some variation but basic facts still remains Isichei, ; Thomas, The discovery of yam cultivation formed not only the economic base of Igbo civilization but it also carried tremendous religious import. The Nri myth suggested how agriculture and iron technology brought tremendous changes in the life of the Igbo.
These changes Afigbo rightly indicated includes 1 the more effective mastery of the land, 2 the growth of population, 3 the elaboration of the archetypal Igbo social institutions 4 the evolution of a cosmological system in which the Earth Ala, Ani, Ali then became deified and occupied the central place as the ordainer and guardian of morality, the source of law and customs. Thus from the myth the Earth Ala, Ani, Ali was so important to the Igbo that it became the most vital function of Eze Nri to preside over its worship.
This development accords with the otiose character of Chukwu - the Supreme Being - in Igbo cosmology and the domination of the lgbo world by the Earth goddess. This is not only peculiar to the Igbo; it is a common perception of the Supreme Being as Deus Otiosus in primal religions.
The Nri myth which contains Igbo cosmology also has in it an important dimension of historical truth not yet hitherto recognized, namely, the origin or evolution of Igbo traditional religion Afigbo, We wish to suggest and maintain based on Nri myth that Igbo traditional religion is going through a three-stage development. The first stage is what we may call the Eri period. This period agrees with Professor Afigbo's periodization in which he labeled the a-horizon.
This first stage is the earliest period of human existence, the probable dynamic age of Chukwu, when God created and dominated the earth, including the Igbo world. The age of pure intuition marked by the over powering awareness of the presence and nearness of Chukwu the creator. The God fed Eri and his people and Eri had intimate contact with Chukwu and worshipped him alone. This was the age of innocence and what existed at period was pure religion. This was because man had not come to need intermediaries between him and his creator. Igbo myths and folklores lend validity to this claim New; Iwuagwu.
This I call the Nri period, when with the coming of agriculture and iron technology the Igbo attention shifted from the sky above to the earth below, with Ala, Ani, Ali displacing 'Chukwu' into a supposedly remote inactivity. This is the supposed period in primal societies including Igbo when 'Chukwu' came to be perceived as the Deus Otiosus the withdrawn God, the absentee landlord.
This period marked the dominance of the Earth goddess in Igbo traditional life and the origin of Igbo traditional religion. Based on Nri myth, it became the chief function of Eze Nri to preside over the worship, veneration and purification of the Earth through rituals and sacrifices. Professor Afigbo calls this period the b-horizon marked by recession of pure intuition, the fall of man, the withdrawal of the creator and the domination of man's daily existence by a hose of gods and spirits.
At this time the Igbo adopted divinities which appear to work in controlling their world. The dominance of the Earth goddess in Igbo land at this period is well acknowledged. On this Professor Anene stated: Among the Igbo law and custom were believed to have been handed down from the spirit world from time immemorial from ancestor to ancestor.
The spirit world comprised a hierarchy of gods: the most important perhaps was the god of the land-the unseen president of the small localized community. No community is complete without the shrine of the god of the land. The god of the land in context refers to the Earth goddess whose influence is very great in a society whose economy is primarily agricultural. It is at this stage that the Igbo abandoned the worship of Chineke God to the worship of the created things. The acknowledgement of the High God, the Creator, at the same time as he is dealt with as remote or withdrawn forms the major basis of the concept of deus otiosus or deus remotus or deus absconditus which many writers have given attention to at various times Pettazzoni, Horton, Apart from the worship of Ala, other divinities arose in several other communities.
The organizers of these cults were diviners, priest, medicine men, traders and other ritual experts as we ll as men of note in the community who considered their life, political and economic interests threatened. Quite often people go to these divinities to take oath. Their origin in most of those communities is unknown, they do not have documentary history but they were believed to have been brought by their respective ancestors many of whom were unknown to them. Some of them are said to have taken their origin from outside Igbo territory and especially from Igbo neighbours such as Efik, Ibibio Yako and Ekoi.
Onunwa, , 21, At the moment there are severa1 mi llions of deities and divinities in Igbo land. In this second stage, however, it is obvious that something definitely went wrong. It is the stage that Igbo ancestors abandoned the worship of God the Creator to the worship of the created things - Ala and other divinities. At this point, the created being becomes so powerful that it took the place of 'Chukwu' in Igbo traditional life. Many rituals and sacrifices accompany this celebration even in our time. Loss of contact with 'chukwu' generated insecurity and fear which necessitated the development of seeking help from powerful deities for protection and for doing evil.
Thus there came a great gap, a lacuna in Igbo spirituality. As the Nri myth would tend to suggest there arose a broken link between chukwu and Igbo ancestors, a broken link that has to be restored. The development gained impetus in the third stage of development of Igbo traditional religious life.
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This period Prof.. The era, which we regard as "the most tragic" for the Igbo race because of the evils of slave trade and slavery. A lot has been written about it. However, it is generally believed to have been imported from a small Ibibio shrine Isichei, The influence of the oracle in Igbo land was like a harmattan fire. Scholars agreed that the oracle rested on a deliberate deception.
The slave trade bred a disregard for human life. It is reported that in Nsukka ten human slaves sold for a horse and in Uburu in the 's a horse was exchanged for four to six adult human slaves Isichei, Thus fear of insecurity, constant wars, headhunting at this period led many Igbo resort to seeking the protection of divinities and deities most of which were imported. Similarly there emerged highly developed secret societies as a new p. This is not to say that secret society was absent in Igbo land but it became prominent.
They also m ade use of nsibidi sign for communication which made the need for initiation quite attractive. Thus it was common to hear that the need to belong to a secret cult would enable one pass through the road ka ewere ya ga n'uzo. In effect, this period brought about the multiplication of deities or divinities for security.
In sum, according to Igbo myth Igbo religion in its purest form originated as a direct revelation of 'Chukwu, 'Chineke' to the Igbo earliest ancestor. This leads to the theory of the origin of Igbo traditional religion as a combination of psychological and sociological needs for their protection and survival. Thus in their various studies Basden, , Meek, , Forde and Jones, , Ilogu , and other numerous researches conducted on Igbo traditional religion in the department of religion, all agree that the idea of 'Chukwu,' Chineke,' is central to Igbo traditional belief and life.
We agree with Nwanunobi that the overwhelming situation is such that even though there is a belief in the Supreme God in Igbo traditional religion, the brand of belief is characterized as polytheistic. It is a type of polytheism in which the High God, 'Chukwu' presides over the lesser gods often perceived as intermediaries in the cosmic hierarchy. The Earth goddess was the arch-divinity with omenala as its governing moral code which regulates human relationship with the land according to what obtains in the land or community.
Having therefore examined rather briefly the origin of Igbo man and his traditional religion let us then inquire into how the Igbo man perceived his world, his person, his vision and his mission. The Igbo traditional understanding of the world and reality as a whole is religious and holistic. The universe is conceived of a cyclical order as the seasons of the year, the sun, the moon, the stars and natural events in general repeat themselves in an interminable way. Mircea Elide calls this repetitive order in nature as the "myth of eternal return" This ordered succession symbolized harmony, persistence and dynamism.
This order must not be disrupted in the Universe in which the different levels of space as perceived are inhabited. A critical look at the Igbo world -- view would throw light on the rationale for man's insistence on maintaining the delicate balance or cordial relationship between him and the spirit beings in the spirit world as well as ensure the maximum success of his life on earth. The Supreme Being is the primal being. Now it the wealthiest. You are really clueless.
Maybe they do that in your village but not mine. By the way, for the sake of this conversation, it is IGBO. Can I also add Liz yemoja…she comes across as stuck up. Some of you just argue like headless chickens. What is the correlation between her getting a paycheck in Naija and the fact that the air in Nigeria is dirty? Is it not true? Is it fumes from the worn out exhuast pipes, or dirt from untarred road, abi na smoke from generators!! That been said, some of the questions she asked Lynxx were unprofessional and irrelevant. Why also would she think it was okay to state that Igbo people sell their daughters!
I am not Igbo but that was a tactless statement! Caramel and chocolate. Felinda, He does have tattoos. Please get your facts right. Also as side amebo confirmed gist…. I have done my Linda Ikeji for the day. Marrying a girl from IMO state and some parts of abia state is ridiculous. Trust me am an Igbo girl. As for lynxx not a fan.
But everyone knows that of course a daughter is priceless! For someone who sings that a song claiming igbo identity, then now denying it, you better know u have lost a fan in me. Thank you oo, my sister, if indeed Lynxxx said that, then he should be rest assured that he has lost a fan in me, he should go and sort out his conflict with his ethnicity, its either you are Igbo or you are not, period!
Please shut up and stop been dumb. Swallowing panadol for wetin no concern you. I believe he was confused with something, maybe he doesnt know his clan, which am sure is most likely anioma,cuz they are the majority igbo clan in delta state. He is not igbo though, he is from the south. He is actually correct. People in Benin republic that speak yoruba, are they classified as yorubas too? It has a lot to do with migration yeah but he is right. It is called dialect, kai, i knew it wasnt only lynxxx that didnt know himself, please go and sit down. Only igbo people will deny themselves like this.
You can have all the education in life and on paper, but when you have no true self knowledge, you my brother then is a failure.
Sorry for over commenting but Why you nailed it. Please its not cool to not know anything about your roots. Its funny how most comments are directed to Lynxx and not many are bothered about how unprofessional the interviewer is. I mean what insolence? How do you refer to the air in your country as dirty? That is just so stupid. She has such a mediocre approach, no matter what information you are trying to get, you have no excuse to ask leading questions.
Her questions are not only ridiculous, but they have no consequence. What does his opinion about Peter and Lola have to do with anything? Her question about Kim and Kanye is as a consequence of what? This is so out of place……. Its highly unprofessional of her, to bring kitchen table talk to a public platform. As an interviewer, you have no excuse for your inability to choose your words and realise what is appropriate for public consumption.
She needs to go back to the drawing board, get some more training or better still, learn from Toolz, who is good at what she does and has a fantastic approach to touchy questions. I would question my success and credibility. Chances are, the interview would end in a war of words, a scene most likely……. BN, I have seen you post outrightly hateful comments, that can drive the victims to commit suicide. You have no reason to censor this comment. This is just a call for improvement and you know it. Looool … as you were… Commentator! People can be so predictable……. Sweetheart put your brain to work.
Whether I am a celebrity or not is not the point. The point is the level of unprofessionalism on the part of the interviewer. But Lynxxx is not actually Igbo you know. Well technically speaking, delta is south south and not east so he is not igbo. Yes, his language might be a lot similar to igbo some phrases and words are different though. On the technicality, maybe it has more to do with the dialect, not the language per se.
All said, I think an individual should be allowed to define himself. Ethnicity does not seem to be static. You hear about the Anglo-Saxons and you wonder about the original Anglais and the Saxons. And you even wonder why the Saxons adopted the English language that most Nigerians now form with. Lynxxx not being Igbo or Ibo points more to something historical that highlights separation or contact of two peoples.
In igbo land even simple greatings differ. In ngwa you great elders by itu mazi, which arochukwu ppl dont know, these are the simple differences that makes igbo unique, just like other languages and for your info it happens with every language, even spanish spoken in spain is different from that spoken in argentina, so chill, and go get educated. Lost Generation!! Is it hard for you to understand that as the language changes or gets diluted because of geographic space, time and contacts with others, identities and the way people conceptualize their world changes with it?
Do you know whether Yoruba and Igbo once belonged to the same language? Do you not realise that there are somethings that cannot be understood because of lack of recorded history? Do you know whether your so called Igbo originated from theirs? You seem so sure, yet you so ignorant. Karen pls just do your research before posting stuff on social media biko.
For your information, i am aware of the history behind where i am from. Some of you on here are just ridiculous with your comments. I bin listen to the interview and it was okay. Nna which one come be d long turenchi wey effribodi dey rite? We are currently working on documentary that shows light on the effect of certain crisis, from civil war to jos crisis, and how it has changed the nigerian identity greatly.
So for me I like pushing people to see what useful material i can get out of them, so thank you for being a part of discussion. As for you Mide i call your kind educated fools. I believe when one choses to live a public life as lynxxx decided to do as an artist, he should expect his every move to be scrutinized. His recent songs have been very proud igbo identity driven, and then for him to come here and say his not one, it begs one to question, are the youths of this nation, especially those who lost the war, have they also lost or rather become confused about their identity.
And if so who do we blame. So Mide dont come for me okay, this identity crisis is not only a lynxxx think but also so many others. Geane, Geane, na you biko! Geography has something to do with it. We can think our way through many things using geography. The idea that black people are mostly found in a part of the world is geography.
The idea that people resemble one another as you isolate them spatially and regionally. It is not hard to understand that language classifications and relationships follow this pattern. Please educate yourself here : en. I wish you could force your ideas on other people, but that is not so easy in a world where everyone has been taught to reason things through. The minute you understand this aspect of life the easier it helps you to live a happier life. Beaubelle, you have a point in your understanding of the issue.
I suspect it was easier for you to dial into a shared understanding because you share the same heritage with the Lynxxx. And how do I describe the other understanding of polluted air? You dialed this time into shared travel experience of coming of the plane and polluted air hitting you. Abeg tell dem o! Abeg tell dem pipu caught sleeping on Okada. Ani tell dem well well. This Delta igbo quagmire can only be fully resolved when the igbo parts of Delta Delta north are given their state-Anioma,and lumped in the south east with its sister igbo states.
Most just prefer to just be called their tribe. Just as how Kanuri people do not enjoy being called either hausa or fulani. Was I the only the person that understood that his not being igbo as not been from the majority? I also do not think that the interviewer meant any harm — proudly Nigerian but Nigerian air is polluted. When you disembark from the plane — the hot air does truly hit you and sticks to your face especially Lag. I am from the igbo speaking part of delta state but the confusion from my people confuses me.
If we arent Igbo please can beaubelle tell me where we belong? Sorry o. Too much of Westernization have affected your perpective, your point of view, the way you think. It so pathetic cos it a shame. Well, you can choose where you want to belong. You can buy the PDF from Amazon. Just google it. Lynxx bro, it not ur fault ooo. Ure still my Number one artiste. Love ya. Well, I consider the fault to be from lack of proper home training and irresponsibility of some parents. After the western education should follow a traditional one. Learning about your people, I consider it fun :D.
I have a friend from delta state, I do refer him as my cousin due to the long family relationship.
He is an Ukwuani. He said he hate travelling to his village. I asked him why, he gave some irrelevant reasons. When did he travel last to his home town? He has never travelled there. He just went there last year december by force and by chance. Why are they igbos ashamed of themselves?? He bears an Igbo name and yet he said he is not Igbo!! Igbo people need to suck it. Those igbo-esque people. In south south states like delta and rivers are NOT ibo. Why do you think they are so good looking? However, Keneolisa just had to cross the line. Ironically , you have in comments demonstrated what kind of home training you have and your intelligence level.