IGBO IS OLDER THAN YORUBA AND BENIN - Onyeji Nnaji
As was noted in the previous chapter, it is expedient that one tries to understand the information in the second chapter above. These will open doors towards understanding the multiple things are discussed in this chapter. Still at that, greater understanding of the proceedings of the various subheadings of this chapter is needed in order to have a ground understanding of the events that led to the destruction of the world of old and the need for the restructuring of the world in the later days of the Noah flood. If one does not have a better understanding of the government/civilization that existed in the pre deluge and the personalities involved in the engineering of this first ever civilization the world unanimously had before things went out of place, it would be completely impossible to understand issues connected to the emigration which when alternated returns the human population to just one body of two different sets of individuals that founded the world of today population.
Issues concerning the earliest civilization of the human race before the more recognized organized structure to the modern society are what historians have never given heeds to. Prehistory, as the modern man knows about it, is the history of man from the evolution of man after the Noah flood. Apart from Moses, who however had taken enough time to trace the genealogy of man from Adam (basically the descendants of Seth), little or no proper attention had been given by any historian towards tracing the civilization of man in the pre deluge. This is where oral tradition is necessary as it has vowed to sustain this history to any length as long as the adherents are prepared to pass it across generations. J. Ki-Zerbo made the following assertion in the book of history published by UNESCO on the African continent.
Oral tradition is not just a second-best source to be resorted to only when there is nothing else. It is a distinct source in itself, with a now well established methodology, and it lends the history of the African continent a marked originality (History, 11).
In line with the conclusion drawn from the different archives across nations as exemplified in the second chapter above, seeing that what Eze Nri held as the history of the human race was proved and supported by various civilizations of antiquity: call it Egypt, Sumer, Dogon, The Sam, Nubia and others, we shall examine this history as had been guarded in jealousy by the chain of priest-kings of the ancient Nri kingdom who never was seen but heard until the era of the colonial master. Eze Nri became more proficient in his account of this history to the point that he was able to narrate the situation that beclouded the human race and eventually God became made up to destroy the world in the days of the flood. According to Metuh, a Nigerian historian and archaeologist, in the book, Igbo Civilization: Nri hegemony,
Eri, father of Nri, and Nnamaku, his wife, were sent down by Chukwu, a sky God. When Eri came down from the sky, he had to stand on an ant heap as all the land was then a morass. He complained to Chukwu, who thereupon sent him an Awka blacksmith to dry up the land. While Eri lived, he and his descendants were fed by Chukwu and their food was Azu Igwe, Fish from heaven (God and Man, 4).
Metuh and Onwuejiogwu were not alone in this oral version told by the priest king, Eze Nri. In 1911 Northcote Thomas had the opportunity to interact with Eze Nri. He also made the same remark about the Igbo being autochthonous (non-migrant descendants). While the two set of people (Eri and the Awka) abided, Chukwu sent another set of people whom the oral tell called the Umudiala. The Umudiala comprised the third generation. You may call them the third race if you prefer that. They were called the Umudiala (the ground sons or people of the soil), otherwise translated to mean the autochthonous. Umudiala were significant with the formulation of moral tenet and the tradition that was dominant in the east. They were custodians of the divine norms, culture and tradition here on earth. They were saddled with the sole function of peopling the world. They set Odinala, the sacred principles that enforced obedience on the earth as obtained in heaven. Now, with the birth of the first father, Adama, creation ended. When Adama failed, he was sent out of the Garden; then his name changed to Adam according to the explanations made in the previous chapter.
The earth became gradually populated by, majorly the descendants of the Sons of God and partly by the descendants of Adam. The unfortunate events that befuddled the sons of Adam gave us little information about the human population different from the account of Eze Nri. When Cain killed his brother, Moses recorded that he was made to move to the eastern part of Eden; to the City called Nod (Nodo). Nodo was an ancient city in the Eastern Igbo land. Cain also built a city and called it after his son.
And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch (Gen 4:16-17).
Many people, in the bid to defend the thought in them; has suggested that Adam may have had other children (probably daughters) within the years before Seth was born. To them, it was from this supposed (presumed) population that Seth and Cain may have married from. I think such people need to see this part of the scripture sited below. When Cain slew his brother, Abel, Moses said thus:
And Adam knew his wife again; and she bore a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew (Gen. 4:24).
The concept, Seed, here does not particularly define any sex, but for the phrase; “instead of Abel”. With the help of the phrase, one can comfortably suggest that the type of seed in particular nay suggest a male child. Otherwise, a seed is a seed and can only mean offspring. The English Dictionary explains seed as “all the people who are descended from one man”. All the people, it does not matter the person’s sex. With this view it is understood that there was no other seed before Seth apart from Cain and Abel. Adam’s generation was associated with daughters in his days after the birth of Seth, probably in the year 131 and above. Moses was very explicit in this. See Genesis chapter five, verse four.
Generally, from the descendants of Adam, the world before the deluge recorded two cities; one belonged to Cain and his descendants while the other belonged to the rest of the generations from Adam. From the latter generation, which counts from Seth, Moses traced his own genealogy as an Israelite.
Coming to the races of men who lived before the creation of Adam, Eze Nri clarified that they were three generations: the Nri, the Awka and the Umudiala. We can identify these races through their present habitations. The Umudiala were the most populated among these races. Their original home is the aboriginal ground of the Abia South-East of Igbo land. They are known as the aboriginals commonly termed, Hearthland or God’s-own-State. The population included Imo, Abia, Benin (Edo and all the population belonging to Idu as their ancestral father) and the inhabitants of the present day Efik, Ibibio and Anang sect. The fourth generation or race (the Nsukka) comprised the aboriginal Nsukka, and the later Anu race). Their original name was Igbo-Eze (Igbo is King) and were considered as the home of the gods. Thus is why they are (till date) called Nsukka Igboeze. Nag Hammadi gave a clear explanation of the fourth generation thus:
Then the saviour created […] of them all – and the spirits of these [are manifestly] superior, being blessed and varying in election – and also (he created) many other beings, which have no king and are superior to everyone that was before them. Consequently, four races exist. There are
three that belong to the kings of the eighth heaven. But the fourth race is kingless and perfect, being the highest of all. (PP. 124-5).
It should be noted that all the aboriginal inhabitants, including the generation of Adam, lived separate from the other, however they share few things in common. Things such as:
- They spoke one language; (Afa).
- They lived under a semi-organized government that informed true democracy; (Theosophism).
- They took to themselves for wives; (Intermarriage).
The growth of the population of the races that existed before the creation of Adam was greatly encouraged by intermarriage (the sons of God). It should be also noted that apart from Eri who descended alone with his wife Namaku, the rest of the races descended in greater population than just two. Their names suggested plurality. The Awka, the Umudiala and the fourth generation all suggest the sense of plural persons in both the English and the aboriginal tongue. The most populated among them was the Umudiala. They were the only race that settled in two different places at inception. All the races settled at a place and retained their grounds till date. But Umudiala settled at the present day Igbo heartland (the part of the land that is marshy and humid, south of the aboriginal land). The second group settled at Nodo in the present day Abakaliki where the Bible referred to as the land of Nod, East of Eden. Nodo was already a consolidated city with great population before the days of Cain.
Eri had two sons in the whole. There was no clear information about the number of female children he had. But from the words of Eze Nri himself, it was apparent that Eri had female children. According to Onwuejiogwu, a member of Umudiala married a daughter of Eri to mark the first intermarriage among the sons of God. This singular act unified the two races and offered them a special seat in the Eridu. The name of the first son of Eri was Nri. History did not reveal the exact name of the second son. All that history could capture was his position in the family as the last child. As was the manner with ancient Igbo, first sons were called Okpara, Okpala and Opara according to the autochthonous Nsukka, Nri/Awka and Umudiala respectively. In the same light, last children are everywhere called “Odudunwa”, meaning tail child. Two factors are responsible for this. Firstly, they are considered as the last formation of life; for the tail is the last mutation of human during formation. Secondly, last children are closely tied to their parents like tails are to animals. As the last child of the family, the traditional Igbo society believes that every Odudunwa remains under his eldest brother (Okpara) who in turn is the heir of the father’s position at death.
Yoruba also share in the nuances that the first men were sent down from the sky by God. A version of Yoruba oral tradition insists that Obatala (whom Ifa called the father of the Igbo nation) was saddled with the responsibility to create the world.
Olorun threw down an iron chain from the sky and told Obatala, the eldest of his sons, to climb down and create land on the water below. On his way down, Obatala joined some other Gods who were having a party, and he later discovered that his younger brother, Oduduwa had created the world in his place…Obatala and Oduduwa quarelled and all the other Gods took sides. In the end, Olorun settled the dispute by giving Obatala the power to create mankind. Oduduwa was allowed to rule the land that he had created. Oduduwa became the first Yoruba king, ruler of the ancient city of Ile-Ife, the place where he was first believed to have climbed down from the sky.
The Awka were the second race to descend from the sky. The Awka descended in a group. They remained as one body until the era of the creation of the mortal man. The earliest problem that hampered the population of the Awka was occasioned on their affairs with the daughters of the created man. A group of technocrats joined some of the members of Umudiala to take on the daughters of men for wives. When this happened, the pure Awka segregated against them because their mingling with the mortal man made then desecrated. As a result, they were called after Awka’s technology as that would still help in identifying their original ancestor. They were called Uzu Awka, also called briefly as Uzu. This refers to their occupation as Black Smiths. The Bible called this deviants technocrats “Uz”. The poem, the book of Job, was explained to have been set in the land of Uz and Job who was the poetic persona was believed to be a citizen of Uz. Therefore the dominant activities and the totality of the poetic environment opens the room for our understanding of the lives and characters of the inhabitants of the city, Uz. It became clearer when the poem revealed that the inhabitants where members of the sons of God who occasionally met with God for reunions. See what the Bible says in the passage below.
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. And his sons went and feasted in their houses, everyone his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them (Job 1:1-6).
It is still glaring from several indications as shown in various chapters of the book of Job. For instance, Uz was explained as one of the cities in east. The city was composed of the population of the sons of God who were deprived of taking part in the sporadic union of the sons of God and God. A critical look into the language of the poem, Job, it is evolutional in nature. The dominant mood throughout the poem was that of destruction and reconstruction. Such a language and moods reveal the exceptional role of creativity on the part of the characters in the poem, not that of external characters. Again, the name “Job” is a popular name among the Igbo settlers of the North-East Igbo land. Among the Nkanu, Nkalaha, and Nsukka the name is very popular. Nevertheless, instead of Job, the individuals are called “Ejobu”. Ejobu suggests bearing sufferings. It suggests the role of one who insists on the good way despite the suffering and torture he is placed in. the same meaning is associated and connected to the name, “Job”. Of course, the problem found on the different in the spellings is blamed upon translators. Theologians had maintained that the book of Job was older than many chapters of the book of Genesis.
Job was revealed as the only man in Uz who understood the implication of being exempted from the union of the sons of God because of the sins of their fathers. He perhaps had sought to take part in this reunion but could not. To be different, he chose to consecrate himself and led a holy life. Another person that behaved this way was Ike-Ani, popularly known as Ikenga. Ikenga was rated as the celestial hero and architect of the cosmos in the Igbo cosmology.
Osuagwu (2010) has rightly articulated that:
The Igbo composite personality is Ikenga, where Ike = Force, Nga = Motif; Ikenga = Force Motif; Driving Force). The chi supplies the vision; the onwe(self) supplies "will", but only righteousness can sustain the union and guarantee success. Igbo ethics is anchored on the need to avoid unrighteousness that could divorce the "onwe" from the "chi" and dissolve the Ikenga; the chi as a spark of God avoids the possibility of pollution by evil deeds, (p. 14)
Ikenga descended from the heartland Igbo race (the Umudiala). Among the heartland Igbo, he was the grandson of Aba, the father of Ani-Aku. Aba was the first of the gods to take the daughters of men for a wife. His unions with the daughters of men paid him with giants as opposed to his stature (size); for the Umudiala generally were little people (pygmies). The first among his giant sons was Ani-Aku. He gave him the name in praise of the earth (Ani). He saw his son as the wealth from the soil because his wife was mortal (a product of the soil).
Aba was separated from his people and he founded a new place for his family. When he died as was destined of him after a hundred and twelve years, his descendants called the land after his name. His descendants were dibias and hunters. Aba became populated grossly after more people became involved in the business with the daughters of men. Being found in this, they separated themselves and joined the deviants in the land of Aba. Through this means Aba became more popular among the Umudiala. The Aba were hunters, travelers and explorers. Through such means they founded lands at distant places and settled in them. Remarkable enough, all their lands were called after their ancestral name, Aba.
Ani-Aku was more popular than his father and all his brethren, but Ike-Ani was much more popular among the Igbo race. Ike, perhaps for his superhuman character among the god-men dominated the entire nuances about Igbo celestial cosmography. Chukwukadibia made the following remark about Ikenga:
Task which Ikenga is said to have accomplished during the Igbo mythical age, earning it the great title of Owa Ota (shield breaker/ pathfinder/ greatest of all adventurers = Owata i.e. cosmic compass or map maker). Till today, this adventurous and path-finding spirit is still encouraged in the now mostly ritualized Uzo Iyi festival of Igbo people. The rectangle motif is also employed to illuminate the mystic structure of our galaxy's central sun (Ose Or a Ugbo). This star which is of a "spiral-barred" shape was highly regarded and extensively observed in ancient times. In fact, till this day, the knowledge of its very existence and the essential relationship which it shares with our sun reoccurs in nearly all ritualized practices of Igbo sacred science. For the non-Dibia, one of the few instances where its direct invocation may be observed is in the divinatory chants uttered by Ndi Dibia Afa during Afa Akpukpala divination sessions
This perhaps were born out of the fact that he was believed to have conquered the celestial orb and announced himself unequivocally as the legend of the cosmos. As one of the sons of Ani-Aku, Ike-Ani was an exceptional hunter whose holy lifestyle set him on the journey of no return. He was the first to enter the forbidden land alive. According to the anonymous book in the internet entitled The Book of Creation by the Suns of Fire, it was revealed that he was given the promise by God as a recompense for his exceptional life. Since the day he entered the forbidden he was seen no more. Therefore, his brethren called him Ikenga to sustain his celestial tour. For this single role Nga, Ike-Ani was called different name associated to the cosmic obb. Some oral artists in the traditional Igbo referred to him as the symbol of affinity that emerged as a result of the primordial periodic contacts of our planet with Mars. For such he was, called Ikenga-Nwa-Ojeluputa-Ngwu, literally, Ikenga, Son of Ojeluputa Ngwu/Jeluputa/Juputa/Jupiter. These distinct primordial twilight periods in the formation of life on our planet are called Odii-Ijite-Aka or Ijite-Abani-Agwu. The Igbo designed Ikenga to reflect this extra ordinary force/quality. Therefore, Ikenga was designed with erect horns or proboscis; exhibiting the two-sharpened-knives also known as Onataluchi Ngono with which it was by armed by its Chi (Agali n'Abo). Ikenga horned figure holding knife and horn.
Igbo cosmology is centered on the number, four, which is represented by the symbol “X”. This is demonstrated when Ikenga was called to minds. Accordingly, when Igbo men greet traditionally (Iri-Aka-Ito), they dramatize this principle in the “X” symbol (four branches) which their arms form. The Ho (three) in hi Aka Ito symbolically stands for the male principle or the dynamism of Ikenga. When added to four it gives us seven, the number of the human being in Igbo and African cosmology. Thus the formed “X” materializes Divine Perfection, or the principle of Mmadu bu Nwa Chukwu (the human being is the child of the Supreme Spirit). In other words, the primal unity of God and humans, this is achieved at the number ten. The cosmogonic pact made between Chukwu and the four primordial forces, the proof of which has been the rising direction of the Sun, is of fundamental importance to Dibia work.
With regard to Obi Chukwu (God’s abode), it is observed that both the given name and geometric choice of the rectangle (aba n'ano, mgbatiri ano, ukwu aja n'ano = Four Traingles) for this cosmological notion has remained a characteristic principle of Igbo traditional architecture. But besides its anatomical and aesthetic implications, the ukwu aja n'ano symbolism here also embodies the Igbo sacred numeric value of four (ano, ino, nno) and signifies its primordial role in the sacred deed of creation (Okike). In fact, in this particular setting, ukwu aja n'ano signifies the four primordial forces at work during the immediate first stage of creation, as will be later shown. The Igbo-Ukwu bronze roped vase depicts this particular stage of creation among other things (See Plates 3a and b). It should also be stated here that the Ite Ona as seen above is, indeed, a bright legacy of the ancient Igbo ritual tradition of Oshishi Ite, in which it was held that portions boiled in bronze pots were impacted with the noted enduring quality of bronze (Onali/Ona OH).
This mystery was publicly experienced by all during the Igbo annual festival of Ita Atu, during which the ancient Igbo Sage-King (Eze Atu/Eze Agwu) and his consort, the Queen-Mother Nono-Atu- Mma/Nono-Atu-Nne performed before all the Noble Ritual of Ikwunite- Ekwu-Itenani – lit. Rejuvenation of the Nine Great Mystical Tripod Cauldrons of Potency, which was both an advanced mystic ritual of socio-political cohesion as it was a testimony of the king's mastery of the elements and the sacred sciences undergirding the culture.
In the days of Eri, no deviant was recorded in among members of the first generation and the fourth generation. These two races have been identified in this book as Nri and Nsukka respectively. Nsukka, of course, had ever been the home of the gods and aboriginally referred to as Igbo-Eze. In the whole, the cities that saw the reign of Eri at Eridu are listed below:
Eridu (The Capitol).
The Uzu (Uz)
The City of Adam and
Enoch (the city of Cain)
A total of eight cities, world over, all consolidated in the east where they witnessed the first ever civilization the world had, there at Eridu.