Eclipse at Noonday - Biafra, Diaries Of Unwritten Stories

An historical novel
 by Mike Uriel Ogbechie

Mike Uriel Ogbechie, was born in Darazo, Bauchi State of Nigeria. He grew up in Port Harcourt where he schooled at government comprehensive secondary school. He later, after the civil war, attended the pilgrim Baptist grammar school, Issele-uku. Went to university of Nigeria, Enugu Campus where he studied architecture. He has been very active in architectural consultancy practice in a thriving fi rm offering consultancy services in and outside the country. Presently, has been an active advocate of the gospel of our lord Jesus Christ, proclaiming that only Jesus is lord and saviour to the glory of God the father.

From 1967 to 1970, the Republic of Biafra experienced the darkest of days. The Nigeria‒Biafra war, sometimes called the Nigerian civil war, fell upon them – thirty months of starvation, fright, and horror. Author Mike Uriel Ogbechie was there when it all happened.
The war truncated or, like I have succinctly put it, eclipsed the lives of several people, especially the youths at noonday.
However, most published books about that period lacked detail.
It is obvious that nothing much had been written about how the war affected the lives of the youth, the young ladies, and young men who were in the thick and thin of it all or how their lives, dreams, and aspirations were truncated or altered by the war.
In his attempt to unravel the unwritten diaries of the people of Biafra, he pens ECLIPSE AT NOONDAY.
Covering a wide spectrum, this book contains many unpublished and most times, unbelievable but true stories of that war and its after-effects. Emphasis has been laid to a large extent on events that happened behind the frontlines – how such actions affected the lives and the psyche of the populace. It unfolds the tension-filled period until the commencement of the war. Also included are the events that occurred shortly after the war indicating, to an extent, the short-term effects of the war on the lives of those of the fortunate survivors.


Traditional Igbo music - drums and flutes

Oja flute

The Oja flute is often used with Igbo drums such as the (log drum) Ekwe, (vessel drum) Udu and/or the Igba. This unique whistle 'talks' while the drummers are playing. During masquerade dances in Igboland, the Oja flutist leads the drumming and praise music and dance. An Oja master is be able to produce several sounds directly analogous with spoken or sung words. Dancers also move to the tune of the Oja flute as if it were a drum or other rhythmic instrument. If an important person enters the performance space, the Oja flutist may use this instrument to announce the name of such person. The Oja flute is also played at home without other instruments, or in the evening as a serenade accompaniment while strolling with a friend or life partner.

Ekwe drum

The Ekwe is a two-pitch Igbo log drum. There are two types of hardwood (yellow or red). Played with either a plain straight wood stick or a rubber-tipped short beater similar to a large balafon or Alo (long gong-bell) mallet. Larger Ekwes are usually played with two sticks, while smaller ones are usually played with only one stick.

The Ube wood that is used for carving Yellow Ekwe log drums is also called "white wood," but not because the yellow outer part of the drum is the wood's natural color... instead, the drum's shell is painted with a yellow powder (that prior to being applied to the drum shell is diluted in water).

The Red Ekwe is carved from a naturally-red wood called "Orji" in the Igbo language. This wood is more expensive than the "white" wood used in the Yellow Ekwe both because of its beautiful intense (and very natural) red color and its ability to resist insect (termite/worm) damage.

Igba drum

These drums often accompany many other instruments. Traditionally, the deeper shelled Igba are played with the hand, while the shorter drums are played with a curved stick. In an ensemble these drums often lead, and are used to "talk" by the talking drummers. To tune the drum, the player will use a strong object to whack the pegs around the drum in order to restore its best tone.

Igba woods. Certain trees/timber of this region are noted for unique properties, and drum carvers know which varieties make the best drums. Some varieties (e.g. Orji, used in Ekwe log drums) are unique to the forests of this area; we do not have exactly the same species elsewhere, hence the names of some of these mixed-color drum woods are known only to Igbos who harvest them.

Udu drums
The Udu drum is a pot drum made of clay and played with either the hand or a foam paddle. The smaller and medium sized Udu drums have a hole on the side of the drum that is cupped with the hand allowing control over the drum's pitch as the other hand strikes the mouth of the pot to create the tone. The larger Udu drums do not have holes on the side and are, instead, played by striking the mouth of the pot with a large foam paddle. These larger Udu sometimes serve as bass for other instruments, while the smaller Udu back the larger, deeper Udu up with more melodic tones. These drums are sometimes played in churches in Igboland.


Egwu (Music)

Ndi Igbo, much like other African peoples, had a soundtrack for every occasion in their life. They had songs for children being born, songs for marriage, and for when people were being laid to rest. They had songs for work and for play. They had songs to prepare for war, songs to celebrate or call for peace, and songs to show discontent.
One such way of showing discontent through song was demonstrated through the act of “sitting on a man”, which Igbo women used to protest a man who they had felt that wronged them. “Sitting on a man” or a woman, boycotts and strikes were the women’s main weapons. To “sit on” or “make war on” a man involved gathering at his compound, sometimes late at night, dancing, singing scurrilous songs which detailed the women’s grievances against him and often called his manhood into question, banging on his hut with the pestles women used for pounding yams, and perhaps demolishing his hut or plastering it with mud and roughing him up a bit. A man might be sanctioned in this way for mistreating his wife, for violating the women’s market rules, or for letting his cows eat the women’s crops. The women would stay at his hut throughout the day, and late into the night, if necessary, until he repented and promised to mend his ways.Although this could hardly have been a pleasant experience for the offending man, it was considered legitimate and no man would consider intervening. (van Allen, Judith. “Sitting on a Man”: Colonialism and the Lost Political Institutions of Igbo Women. Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne des Études Africaines, Vol. 6)
Songs dedicated to the birth of children were a bit more positive than the ones that dealt with “sitting on a man.” These songs, which were referred to as omumu nwa songs are sung by groups of women after a successful childbirth. It is also usually accompanied by a dance. Below are two contrasting examples:

Uha (Lies)
Ye-ye-ye-yeo mumuo ma (Ye-ye-ye-ye good childbirth)
Uha-a aha we uha, uha (Lies, they are telling lies, lies)
Omumu otuotuo oluilu (Childbirth sweet and bitter)
Uha-a aha we uha, uha (Lies, they are telling lies, lies)
Omumuo ririu darao cha (Childbirth eater of ripened udara fruit)
Uha-a aha we uha, uha (Lies, they are telling lies, lies)
Aha we uha ekwu we r’ezi (Whether they are lying or telling the truth)
Uha-a aha we uha, uha. (Lies, they are telling lies, lies)

According to the article, “The Birth Song as a Medium for Communicating Woman’s Maternal Destiny in the Traditional Community” by Grace Okere: “This song is an expression of joyful disbelief by the mother of a woman who has successfully and safely delivered her child. They must be telling lies, she sings, although she wishes and knows that they are telling the truth. Apart from the rhythmic effect of the repetitive refrain, “uha-a aha we uha, uha” (“lies, they are telling lies, lies”), the song exploits the literary devices of paradox and imagery to effectively communicate meaning. Childbirth is paradoxically said to be “sweet and bitter.” This is so because it can bring boundless joy to the household into which a pregnant woman safely bears a child. On the other hand, it is “bitter” if the woman dies in childbirth. Then, there would be no songs of joy but sorrow and tears. Childbirth is also personified as “eater of ripened udara fruit.” This is an apt image used to communicate the fact that childbirth can kill a woman in her prime. This euphemistically expresses the sorrowful side of childbirth, when a woman dies in the process. The song brings out the antithetical qualities of childbirth- it is sweet but can be bitter, good but can send a young woman to an early grave” (Okereke, Grace Eche. “The Birth Song as a Medium for Communicating Woman’s Maternal Destiny in the Traditional Community” Research in African Literatures, Vol. 25, No. 3, Women as Oral Artists (Autumn, 1994), pp. 19-32)

This song offers a very different perspective:

Ah Nwa (The War of Childbirth)
Aha nwas u r’abalii si, osur ‘ogorowu
(If the war of childbirth happens  in the night, it happens in the afternoon)
Niyi aso egwu, oha era
(Do not be afraid owners of breast )
Aha nwaa yie jebekwae je
(The war of childbirth we must go)
Ejem eje, ala m ala
(I will go, I will return)
Aha nwaa yie jebekwae je
(The war of childbirth we must go)
Ma m’eje aha nwa
(If I don’t fight the war of childbirth)
Mbia ji agbu enyi nkwu?
(Shall I use rope to climb palm tree?)
Aha nwaa yie jebekwae je
(The war of childbirth we must go)
Ma m’eje aha nwa
(If I don’t fight the war of childbirth)
Mbia ji egbe eje ogu e-e?
(Shall I use gun to fight e-e?)
Aha nwaa yie jebekwae je
(The war of childbirth we must go)
Aha nwa bu ogu egbe ndi iyom
(The war of childbirth  is the gunfight of women)
Aha nwaa yie jebekwae je.
(The war of childbirth we must go.)

Regarding this song, Okereke states that: “a stylistic analysis of the song reveals a rich exploitation of literary devices like metaphor and imagery, rhetorical questions and reversal of word order. All these combine to generate a solemn effect on the audience, especially the women themselves. The epithet “oha era,” literally meaning “owners of breast,”is a synecdochic expression used to praise women and challenge them to action in matters of grave importance affecting them or the entire community. By aptly using the image of war to describe childbirth, the song brings out the physical  strength and valor required of women in parturition . It also brings out the suffering and danger of losing one’s life during childbirth as in war.The women’s courage, confidence, and determination to achieve victory in this “war” are brought out in the repetitive emphasis  of and resolve in the words” I will go, I will return.” This determination and certain victory derive from the fact that most women throughout history have fought the war of childbirth and have returned victorious-alive with their babies. This positive mental attitude can go a long way in aiding a woman’s safe delivery.

The reversal of the word order in the refrain,”ahan wa ayi ejebekwa eje” (“the war of childbirth we must go”) gives the song a militant rhythm, which raises it to the status of a war song. This befits the war situation of childbirth….The rhetorical questions “If I don’t fight the war of childbirth/ShalI l use rope to climb palm tree?/ …/ Shall I use gun to fight e -e?,” not only spur woman to victory, but further reinforce woman’s view of her relevance in the traditional community as being anchored on childbearing. The double metaphor in the expression ” the war of childbirth is the gunfight of women” shows how highly women value this duty, and how they see it as their “crowning glory,” as the greatest of all their achievements. Like men in war, childbirth is the arena in which women prove their worth and valor; it is the achievement that will etch a notch on a woman’s bow of honor, just as the number of human heads a man brought home from battle determined the number of notches in his bow in the old days o f inter-ethnic wars. (Okereke, Grace Eche. “The Birth Song as a Medium for Communicating Woman’s Maternal Destiny in the Traditional Community” Research in African Literatures, Vol. 25, No. 3, Women as Oral Artists (Autumn, 1994), pp. 19-32)

Igbo musicians

It is my opinion that music is the most effective and efficient way of transmitting a culture. From this single tool, you can transmit a language, history, proverbs, mythology, dances, rituals and much much more. Music is perhaps the one thing that people of African descent have not regressed on, in fact, its the one area that I believe we have even outdone our ancestors in. Despite the abominable state that we have found ourselves in worldwide , nobody can say that we are not the best in the world at making music. If we are to create the new systems that can meet the needs of our people and elevate us to a higher level, music must play a critical role in their development and implementation.

by Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga

The Transmission of Odinani & Omenala in Pre-Colonial and Modern Society

A good portion of the people of the world today attribute their beliefs and practices from one or more texts that they consider to be sacred. These “holy books”, as they are called, contain the cosmogony, proverbs, traditions, mythology, laws, customs, and other characteristics of a group of people, and are often considered to be either the “Word of God(s)” or the words of men that were “divinely inspired.”

"Holy" Book

Ndi Igbo (Igbo people) on the other hand, did not limit the transmission of their Odinani and Omenala on scriptures written by men. The reason for it is simple. When a group of people is able to see the Divine in everything, they do not place limits on how they transmit their points of view (the fundamental definition of a cosmogony is how a people see the world). While the transmission of Odinani and Omenala are found in every walk of Igbo life, this series of articles will only focus on some of the main avenues, which include: aha (names), ilu (proverbs), egwu (music), ukabuilu (parables), ifuru (mythology), okwa nka(art), and kentoaja(rituals)/mmemme (festivals). Modern additions such as literature, movies, poetry, and comic books/graphic novels will also be discussed.
(Aha) Names
Alot of information could be gathered from an Igbo name, as each one carries some significance and meaning. From an Igbo name, one could gather information such as the market day someone was born (Okafor means a male born on Afor day), their clan (Nwaneri means a descendant of Eri), the profession of their father (Ezeana means the descendant of a priest of Ani), as well as the circumstances around their birth (Ijeagha refers to a child born during war). Besides these things, alot of Igbo philosophy is apparent in many names. Take for example, the meanings of these names:
Afulukwe: “Seeing is believing”
Akobundu: “Wisdom is Life”
Azikiwe: “To turn one’s back is better than getting angry”
Chibueze: “God is King”
Ezinne: “Good Mother”
Jideofor: “Hold on to righteousness”
Nneka: “Mother is Supreme”
Nkeiruka: “The future is greater”
Nwachukwu: “Child of God”
Onyemobi: Who knows the heart?
Onwuasoanya: “Death respects no one”
Tabansi: “Have the patience (of a vulture)”
A more extensive list of Igbo names and their meanings can be found at this site as well as this one.
People were not the only things that were given special names, the Igbo Alusi (spiritual forces) were also given names that revealed alot about them and their functions in the society:
Chukwu: “The Big God” (the sum total of everything)
Amadioha: “Freewill of the people”
Anyanwu: “Eye of the Sun”
Idemilli: “Pillar of water”
Ikenga: “Place of strength”
More time will be spent in future posts explaining the meaning of the names of the Alusi as well as their attributes.
Ilu (Proverbs)
An Igbo proverb about proverbs states: “Ilu bu mmanu e ji eri okwu” (Proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten). There are not many things that can teach you alot about a group in such a concise manner as a proverb, and Ndi Igbo (Igbo people) are amongst the most prolific in the world at producing them. In fact, I would go as far as to say that its probably impossible to have a full conversation with an elder Igbo person without hearing at least one. It makes you wonder whether ancient Igbos spoke in nothing but proverbs like Yoda.  Here are a couple that  give a taste of Igbo philosophy:
Eze mbe si na nsogbu bu nke ya, ya jiri kworo ya n’azu” (The tortoise said that trouble is its own; that’s why it carries trouble on its back)
Explanation:  One should try and shoulder one’s own burden
Nwaanyi muta ite ofe mmiri mmiri, di ya amuta ipi utara aka were suru ofe” (If a woman decides to make the soup watery, the husband will learn to dent the fufu before dipping it into the soup)
Explanation: One should learn to change tactics to suit a situation.
Madu bu chi ibe ya” (Man is God to his fellow Man)
Explanation: God works through human beings
Onye ahala nwanne ya” (Never leave your brothers and sisters behind)
Self explanatory
Aku m diri Ubani” (My wealth lies in the good in my community and what I do to bring it forth)
Self explanatory
Ebuno jị ibi éjé ogụ” (The ram goes into a fight head first)
Explanation: One must plunge into a venture in order to succeed.
E gbuo dike n’ogu uno, e ruo n’ogu agu e lote ya” (Kill a warrior during skirmishes at home, and you will remember him when fighting enemies)
Explanation: Don’t destroy your leaders.
Ugo chara  acha adi(ghi) echu echu” (A mature eagle feather will ever remain pure)
Explanation: One well trained will stand the test of time.
Ome nta ome imo, ya gwuo-nu ala lia onwe ya!” (A man who believes that he can do everything, let him dig a grave and bury himself!)
Explanation: Its not wise to believe that one is without limitations
Amara akagh ngburu oke madu.  Akaa anugh ngburu onye ogbede” (Knowing (the truth) but not telling it is what kills old men.  Hearing (the truth) but not heeding it is what kills young men.)
Self explanatory
Egbe belu-Ugo belu. Nke si ibe ya ebena, nku tije ya” (Let the kite (type of bird) perch and the hawk perch, and if one rejects the perching of the other, may his wings be broken)
Explanation: Live your life and let others life their lives.

Eze Nri Ìfikuánim, leader of the Nri kingdom

Eze Nri Ifikuanim was the first king of the Nri Kingdom. According to Igbo oral tradition, his reign started in 1043, although at least one historian puts Ìfikuánim's reign much later, around 1225 AD. He reign from 1043-1089 AD

Archaeological evidence suggests that Nri hegemony in Igboland may go back as far as the 9th century, and royal burials have been unearthed dating to at least the 10th century. Eri, the god-like founder of Nri, is believed to have settled the region around 948, with other related Igbo cultures following after in the 13th century. The first eze Nri (King of Nri), Ìfikuánim, follow directly after him. According to Igbo oral tradition, his reign started in 1043. At least one historian puts Ìfikuánim's reign much later, around 1225 AD.

In 1911, the names of 19 eze Nri were recorded, but the list is not easily converted into chronological terms because of long interregnums between installations. Tradition held that at least seven years would pass upon the death of the eze Nri before a successor could be determined; the interregnum served as a period of divination of signs from the deceased eze Nri, who would communicate his choice of successor from beyond the grave in the seven or more years ensuing upon his death. Regardless of the actual date, this period marks the beginning of Nri kingship as a centralized institution.

Zenith and fall

Colonization and expansion of the kingdom of Nri was achieved by sending mbùríchi, or converts, to other settlements. Allegiance to the eze Nri was obtained not by military force but through ritual oath. Religious authority was vested in the local king, and ties were maintained by traveling mbùríchi. By the 14th century, Nri influence extended well beyond the nuclear northern Igbo region to Igbo settements on the west bank of the Niger and communities affected by the Benin Empire. There is strong evidence to indicate Nri influence well beyond the Igbo region to Benin and Southern Igala areas like Idah. At its height, the kingdom of Nri had influence over roughly most of Igboland and beyond. It reached its furthest extent between 1100 and 1400.
Nri's hegemony over much of Igboland lasted from the reigns of the fourth eze Nri to that of the ninth. After that, patterns of conflict emerged that existed from the tenth to the fourteenth reigns, which probably reflected the monetary importance of the slave trade. Outside-world influence was not going to be halted by native religious doctrine in the face of the slave trade's economic opportunities. Nri hegemony declined after the start of the 18th century. Still, it survived in a much-reduced, and weakened form until 1911. In 1911, British troops forced the reigning eze Nri to renounce the ritual power of the religious cult known as the ìkénga, ending the kingdom of Nri as a political power.


Nearly all communities in Igboland were organized according to a title system. Igbo west of the Niger River and on its east bank developed kingship, governing states such as Aboh, onitsha and oguta, their title Obi. The Igbo of Nri, on the other hand, developed a state system sustained by ritual power.

The Kingdom of Nri was a religio-polity, a sort of theocratic state, that developed in the central heartland of the Igbo region. The Nri had a taboo symbolic code with six types. These included human (such as twins), animal, object, temporal, behavioral, speech and place taboos. The rules regarding these taboos were used to educate and govern Nri's subjects. This meant that, while certain Igbo may have lived under different formal administration, all followers of the Igbo religion had to abide by the rules of the faith and obey its representative on earth, the eze Nri.

An important symbol among the Nri religion was the omu, a tender palm frond, used to sacralize and restrain. It was used as protection for traveling delegations or safeguarding certain objects; a person or object carrying an omu twig was considered protected. The influence of these symbols and institutions extended well beyond Nri, and this unique Igbo socio-political system proved capable of controlling areas wider than villages or towns.

For many centuries, the people within the Nri hegemony were committed to peace. This religious pacifism was rooted in a belief that violence was an abomination which polluted the earth. Instead, the eze Nri could declare a form of excommunication from the odinani Nri against those who violated specific taboos. Members of the Ikénga could isolate entire communities via this form of ritual siege.

Eze Nri

The eze Nri was the title of the ruler of Nri with ritual and mystic (but not military) power. He was a ritual figure rather than a king in the traditional sense. The eze Nri was chosen after an interregnum period while the electors waited for supernatural powers to manifest in the new eze Nri. He was installed after a symbolic journey to Aguleri on the Anambra River. There, he would supposedly use magical powers to collect stones from under the water, undergo a symbolic burial and exhumation, then finally be anointed with white clay, a symbol of purity. Upon his death, he was buried seated in a wood-lined chamber. The eze Nri was in all aspects a divine ruler.

Ìkénga Cult

While the eze Nri lived relatively secluded from his followers, he employed a group of Jesuit-like officials called ndi Nri. These were ritual specialists, easily identifiable by facial scarifications or ichi,[14] who traveled with ritual staffs of peace in order to purify the earth from human crimes.[3] The ndi Nri exercised authority over wide areas of Igboland and had the power to install the next eze Nri.
Areas under Nri influence, called Odinani Nri, were open to Ndi Nri traveling within them to perform rituals and ensure bountiful harvest or restore harmony in local affairs. Local men within the odinani Nri could represent the eze Nri and share his moral authority by purchasing a series of ranked titles called Ozo and Nze. Men with these titles were known as mbùríchi and became an extension of the Nri's religio-political system. They controlled the means for agriculture and determined guilt or innocence in disputes.

Both the Ndi Nri priests and mbùríchi nobility belonged to the Ikénga, the cult of the right hand. The Ìkénga god was one dedicated to achievement and power, both of which were associated with the right hand.


Nri maintained its vast authority well into the 16th century. The peace mandated by the Nri religion and enforced by the presence of the mbùríchi allowed trade to flourish. Items such as horses, which did not survive in tsetse fly-infested Nri, and seashells, which would have to be transported long ways due to Nri's distance from the coast, have been found depicted in Nri's bronze. A Nri dignitary was unearthed with ivory, also indicating a wealth in trade existed among the Nri. Another source of income would have been the income brought back by traveling mbùríchi.
Unlike in many African economies of the period, Nri did not practice slave ownership or trade. Certain parts of the Nri domain, like Agukwu, did not recognize slavery and served as a sanctuary. After the selection of the tenth eze Nri, any slave who stepped foot on Nri soil was considered free.

Nri had a network of internal and external trade of which it's economy was partly based on. Other aspects of Nri's economy were hunting and agriculture. Eri, the sky being, was the first to 'count' the days by their names, eke, oye, afor and nkwo which were the names of their four governing spirits. Eri revealed the opportunity of time to the Igbo who would use the days for exchanging goods and knowledge.



Igbo-Ukwu, a part of the kingdom about nine miles from Nri itself, practiced bronze casting techniques using elephant-head motifs. The bronzes of Igbo-Ukwu are often compared to those of Ife and Benin, but they come from a different tradition and are associated with the eze Nri. In fact, the earliest body of Nigerian bronzes has been unearthed in Igbo territory to the east of the Niger River at a site dated to the 9th century, making it (and, by extension, Nri) older than Ife.

It appears that Nri had an artistic as well as religious influence on the lower Niger. Sculptures found there are bronze like those at Igbo-Ukwu. The great sculptures of the Benin Empire, by contrast, were almost always brass with, over time, increasingly greater percentages of zinc added.

The bronzes of Igbo-Ukwu pay special attention to detail depicting birds, snails, chameleon's, and other natural aspects of the world such as a hatching bird. Other pieces include gourds and vessels which were often given handle's. The pieces are so fine that small insects were included on the surfaces of some while others have what looks like bronze wires decorated around them. None of these extra details were made separately; the bronzes were all one piece. Igbo-Ukwu gave the evidence of an early bronze casting tradition in Nri.


Earth cults were central to the Kingdom of Nri. Nri oral tradition states that a bounty of yams and cocoyams could be given to the eze Nri, while blessings were given in return. It was believed that Nri's influence and bountiful amount of food was a reward for the ruler's blessings. Above all, Nri was a holy land for those Igbo who followed its edicts. It served as a place where sins and taboos could be absolved just by entering it. Even Igbo living far from the center of power would send abnormal children to Nri for ritual cleansing rather than having them killed, as was sometimes the case for dwarfs or children who cut their top teeth before their lower teeth.

Nri people believed that the sun was the dwelling place of Anyanwu (Light) and Agbala (Fertility). Agbala was the collective spirit of all holy beings (human and nonhuman). Agbala was the perfect agent of Chukwu or Chineke (the Creator God) and chose its human and nonhuman agents only by their merit; it knew no politics. It transcended religion, culture and gender, and worked with the humble and the truthful. They believed Anyanwu, The Light, to be the symbol of human perfection that all must seek and Agbala was entrusted to lead man there.


Nri tradition was based on the concept of peace, truth and harmony. It spread this ideology through the ritualistic Ozo traders who maintained Nri influence by traveling and spreading Nri practices such as the Ikenga cult to other communities. These men were identified through the ritual facial scarification's they had undergone. Nri believed in cleansing and purifying the earth (a supernatural force to Nri called Ana and Ajana) of human abominations and crimes.
Year counting ceremony

The Igu Aro festival (counting of the year) was a royal festival the eze Nri used to maintain his influence over the communities under his authority. Each of these communities sent representatives to pay tribute during the ceremony to show their loyalty. At the end the Eze Nri would give the representatives a yam medicine and a blessing of fertility for their communities. The festival was seen as a day of peace and certain activities were prohibited such as the planting of crops before the day of the ceremony, the splitting of wood and unnecessary noise.[23] Igu Aro was a regular event that gave an opportunity for the eze to speak directly to all the communities under him.

Nri Scarification

Ritual scarification in Nri was known as Ichi of which there are two styles; the Nri style, and the Agbaja style. In the Nri style, the carved line ran from the center of the forehead down to the chin. A second line ran across the face, from the right cheek to the left. This was repeated to obtain a pattern meant to imitate the rays of the sun. In the Agbaja style, circles and semicircular patterns are added to the initial incisions to represent the moon. These scarification's were given to the representatives of the eze Nri; the mbùríchi. The scarification's were Nri's way of honoring the sun that they worshiped and was a form of ritual purification.

Scarification had its origins in Nri mythology. Nri, the son of Eri who established the town of Nri, was said to have pleaded to Chukwu (the Great God) because of hunger. Chukwu then ordered him to cut off his first son's and daughter's heads and plant them, creating a 'blood bond' between the Igbo and the earth deity, Ana. Before doing so, Nri was ordered to mark ichi onto their two foreheads. Coco yam, a crop managed by females, sprang from his daughter's head, and yam, the Igbo peoples' staple crop, sprung from his son's head; Chukwu had taught Nri plant domestication. From this, the eze Nri's first son and daughter were required to undergo scarification's seven days after birth, with the eze Nri's daughter being the only female to receive ichi. Nri, the son of Eri, also gained knowledge of the yam medicine (ogwu ji). People from other Igbo communities made pilgrimages to Nri in order to receive this knowledge received in exchange for annual.



Ojukwu’s burial: Committee unveils program of events

Today February 9th, 2012, the final burial plan for the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu has been released by members of the committee, with activities programmed to take place in all parts of the country and oversea.

Briefing journalists in Abuja, Vice-Chairman of the burial committee, Senator Uche Chukwumerije stated that due to Ojukwu’s status, his burial was planned to have a national outlook, most importantly, as prominent people from all parts of the country insisted that they should not be left out of the burial.

He also stated that social and political groups such as the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), as well as intellectual bodies would all be integrated into the events and would be welcomed without inhibitions.

The program, which commenced formally yesterday with the mounting of billboards in all strategic places in the country, has all the states in the old Eastern Region firmly represented and playing active role in the burial.
Chukwumerije made known at the briefing that youth bodies in the South-east states would commence the Icho Mmadu (looking for the deceased) in every part of the zone to bring up the tempo of the burial to the hinterland and the nooks and crannies of the country.

Speaking further, Chukwumerije said special prayer for Nigeria and justice for Ndigbo and other groups in the country would be held on Sunday, while Icho Mmadu would be held in Zungeru, where Ojukwu was born and in Abidjan, where he took refuge after the Civil War. “There would be similar programs in Kaduna and Accra, while people in Abidjan and citizens in the Diaspora would also carry out their activities on Wednesday, just as same program would take place in Makurdi, Benue State, Kano, Calabar, Kano, Uyo, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Lagos, Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Aba, Enugu, Awka and Nnewi, at dates between February 14 and 25.

“The remains of the foremost Igbo personality would arrive at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on February 27, where a program tagged Onye Ije Nnoo (welcome home) would be held, while the body would depart immediately to major towns in the South-east, for further funeral ceremonies. “The final journey for the Eze Igbo Gburu Gburu, would take place with a national funeral ceremony on February 29, with series of activities going on simultaneously in Awka and Nnewi, while the interment would take place on March 2, in Nnewi, according to the Nnewi customs and traditions,” Chukwumerije stated.

Chukwumerije, who said he was representing Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, who is the chairman of the committee, explained that though the Federal Government was yet to make known to the committee, its level of involvement in the burial, it had received assurances from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim of the government’s full participation in the burial.

He explained that though the earlier burial programs were disrupted by the nationwide fuel subsidy strikes, the “activities lined up for his burial will progressively increase in scale and intensity as the interment date draws closer.”
While saying that the program he reeled out was the outcome of the agreement reached with the family and Nnewi traditional institution, Chukwumerije said: “There will be all sorts of people coming to the South-east and particularly, to Enugu and Nnewi at that period. They are all welcome. We expect MASSOB, social and youth groups, masquerade groups, as well as other groups. And all of them are welcome.


Biafrans - Who they are, part 2

Map of Ancient Africa with Biafra

The name Biafra like the name Africa can be traced back to the Moorish Tribe of Bani Ifran, a name meaning the Children of Ephraim. In this setting Ephraim refers to their descent from the Israelite tribe of Ephraim being the House of Joseph.
The Bani Ifran or Biafrans were also known as the Bafar tribes and it is they who established the Black Moorish Kingdoms of Ghana,Mali and Songhai. From Mali many of the Biafrans migrated to the areas of present day Nigeria where they became the leaders of the Igbo Nation. 
In this regard the authority of the Biafrans was symbolized by the donning of
the Moorish Red Fez which became the sign of an Igbo Chief. The Bani-Ifran also established the " Divination System " known to the Yoruba as IFA and to the Igbo as EFA or AFA. This Ephraimite Divination System was practiced by the Prophet Joseph in Egypt and was passed on to his son Ephraim being the progenitor of the Bani-Ifran or Biafran people.

The original Biafrans were members of a Moorish tribe in Morocco known as the Bani-Ifran. A name referring to their descent from the Israelite tribe of Ephraim. Those who settled in Mauritania and Mali became known as the BAFOUR or BAFAR (BIAFAR,BIAFRAN) tribes. They were at times referred to as Black Moors or Black Berbers. They were members of the Mande tribes from which the Mandingo based Soninke and Malinke belonged. In this regard they were amongst the founders of the Ancient Ghana,Mali and Songhai. 
To this day there is a tribe in Guinea-Bissau called the Biafada and they are alternatively known as the Biafara. They speak a Mande based language. Traveling from Mali many of the Biafrans settled in Southrern Nigeria. As recently as 1930 a remnant of the Bene-Ephraim (Bani-Ifran) who maintained the original identity were found to be living amongst the Yorubas in the Ondo District. Amongst the Igbo the Biafrans (Ephraimites) became a ruling class whose authority was symbolized by the wearing of the Moorish Red Fez which to this day is a sign of an Igbo Chieftain.
During the 1990's an Igbo man named Chima petitioned the Israeli Courts for recognition of the Igbo as Israelites. His petition was presented with evidences of Ephraimite(Biafran) origins. Hausa states were founded by Bani-Ifran(Biafran Refugees) during the 10th Century. In understanding the tribal origins of the BIAFRANS it can be further understood that not only are the Igbo counted amongst the Biafrans but the Yoruba and Hausa as well.
It is through the ancient origin or understanding of Biafra as Bani-Ifran meaning of the tribe of Ephraim that the Hausa and Yoruba are connected to Biafra. It was Bani-Ifran refugees who settled in what is now Northern Nigeria who founded the Hausa States:Bayajidda was a representation of the followers of ABU YAZID of the Bani-Ifran who were the founders of the Hausa states. The Bani-Ifran(Bene-Ephraim) also settled amongst the Yoruba.
The indigenous inhabitants of the Southwest were at one time known as the Igbo. A Yoruba tribe living in the Kwara State is still known as IGBO-MINA. However there is a more ancient tribal origin which can be traced from the Bani-Ifran through the Bafour,Bafar and Biafar tribes. There is only one tribe who still uses Biafara as their tribal name. This is the BIAFADA of GUINEA-BISSAU WHO ARE ALTERNATIVELY KNOWN AS THE BIAFAR.

According to the port areas found within the Bight of Biafra maybe not as the article suggests. However most of the " Non-Igbo " of South Southeast Nigeria such as the Efik,Kwa,Ibibio of whom the article identifies as being "Authentic Biafrans" were at one time part of the " Greater Igbo Nation". The modern Biafran Republic is soley remembered as an "Igbo movement" because of the fact that the Igbo happen to be the majority living in the Southeast. However it definitely included ALL OF THE BIAFRANS OF THE SOUTHEAST INCLUDING THOSE WHO DID NOT CONSIDER THEMSELVES IGBO.



Biafrans - Who they are, part 1

Some people claim that Igbos are not Biafrans. They say that the genuine Biafrans inhabit Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States; in other words, the genuine Biafrans are the native of Eastern Niger Delta. Igbos are not native to Eastern Niger Delta, Igbos are not genuine Biafrans; they are fake Biafrans. The genuine Biafrans belong to the South-South zone. Their allegations are based on the reports of the two historians Elizabeth Isichei and Adiele Afigbo.

Elizabeth Isichei and Adiele Afigbo, will not join people in telling lies concerning the relationship between Igbos and Biafra Isichei, though an Australian woman by birth, is an Igbo by marriage. She became Professor of History at the University of Jos in 1976 and is the leading Igbo historian. Afigbo became a Professor of History at the University of Nigeria in 1973. Afigbo read history at the University of Ibadan between 1958 and 1964, at a time when African history flourished greatly at the university.Igbo opinion leaders are free to ask for self-determination, non-marginalisation, possible secession of an all-embracing Igbo State from the federation of Nigeria. They ought to speak only on behalf of the Ígbo nation. No person will feel offended if they advertise probable secession plans for an all-Igbo-State but not Biafra, for Igbos are not Biafrans.

The Bight of Biafra, which General Yakubu Gowon, then Head of State of Nigeria, changed to ‘Bight of Bonny’in 1971 or so, is a geographical entity and not a political entity.

On 30 May, 1967, Chief Emeka Ojukwu turned the geographical entity into a political entity by including Igbos, thereby dragging Nigeria into an unprecedented 30-month experiment in human misery that cost the nation about two million lives, excluding invaluable property and monies that the barbaric war consumed.

A similar confusion appears to be raging in our National Assembly regarding a proper definition of the Niger Delta. Actually, the geographical Niger-Delta system covers virtually all the minor ethnic groups that constitute the South South zone of Nigeria. Igbos and Yorubas are not native to the Niger-Delta system. Some Igbos and Yorubas are native to various section of the River Niger but not to its Delta system.

However, just as Chief Ojukwu led the Igbos in 1967 to hijack Biafra from its genuine owners, deliberately ignoring the harbour cities of Port Harcourt and Calabar and making the riverless and rocky coal city of Enugu the political capital of a supposedly ocean situated nation, so have the Igbo and Yoruba power brokers at the National Assembly in 2000 introduced a political map of the Niger-Delta system (also known as the oil map of the Niger-Delta system) that now includes such riverless town as Umuahia, Aba and Owerri in Igboland and Akure in Yorubaland in the Niger-Delta system. Wonders shall never end.

Ceteris paribus, Enugu ought not to have been the political capital of Biafra between 1967 and 1970. Either Port Harcourt or Calabar should have been. Consider the numerous examples along the Gulf of Guinea from Senegal to Gabon. Virtually all the capital cities are situated near the cost. They include Dakar in Senegal, Banjul in Gambia, Bissau in Guinea Bissau, Conakry in Guinea, Freetown in Sierra Leone, Monrovia in Liberia, Abidjan in Ivory Coast (or Cote d’Ivoire), Accra in Ghana, Lome, in Togo, Porto-Novo in Benin and Libreville in Gabon.

The best example is exhibited in Equatorial Guinea where all the mainland cities were ignored and the island of Malabo serves as political capital. The only two exceptions are perhaps Nigeria and Cameroun. In the case of Nigeria, for about one and half centuries beginning from the 1840s, the coastal cities of Calabar and Lagos served as political capital. Abuja effectively became capital only in the out-going decade. Even at that, Abuja is situated at the centre of Nigeria unlike Enugu that is situated at the extreme northern border of Biafra. In the case of Cameroun, Yaounde, though not exactly on the coast, is also not very far from Douala, the nation’s biggest coastal city. Yaounde in Cameroun also greatly contrast with Enugu of Chief Emeka Ojukwu’s dream empire of ‘Biafra’.

Irrespective of the numerous political tricks played on the legitimage Biafrans on 30 May 1967 or those Igbo and Yoruba power-brokers are currently applying at the National Assembly, the truth remains transparent. As long as Geography and Politics (or Political Science) are studied in distinct departments in Nigerian universities, no amount of political tricks can succesfully camouflage the geographical fact under consideration, namely, that Igbos are not Biafrans.

Are they correct or is there maybe a more correct truth?

Read part 2 and make your own conclusions! 

A journey towards the correction of some distortions in Igbo thought system

Written by
Chike Egbufoama

Ndi Igbo have suffered the double misfortune of being misunderstood and having a bad press. In spite of their stupendous achievements in every area of human endeavor, particularly in science and technology, religion and education, the Igbo nation has been deliberately and systematically marginalized press wise.
 At the risk of sounding patriotic and accommodating, Ndi Igbo have suffered the loss of their integrity and reputation but have also shown great courage and determination to survive as a people. 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, 1964:52) denying them any conception of morality (Basden; 1966:34) 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. The Igbo studies by C. K. Meeks (1937) and M.M. Green (1964) only helped to perpetuate the bad press the Igbo already had as a lawless and ungovernable people. The traditional Igbo had a deep sense of community. The popular sentiment among the Igbo, as found in most other Africans is as J.S. Mbiti (1969:108) puts it: When kinsmen gather together under the moonlight it is not because they cannot see it from their different roofs or because of what they will eat together. it has a reason beyond just coming under the moonlight. For René Descartes I think therefore I am but for the igbo race. “I am because we are and since we are, therefore I am. “I relate therefore I am. The Igbo man is a being with others that explains expressions like mmadu ka aku, (person is better than money), oko taba anumanu ojekwuru osisi mana okowa mmadu ojekwuru nwanne ya (if something scratches an animal it goes to the tree to scratch it but when it scratches a man he goes to his brother).Individual existence and freedom are appreciated, but they are delicately balanced with the underlying philosophy of life-in-community.
Igbo world view before the advent of marauders

These agents of distortion won pick these expressions but rather capitalizes on the ones that serves their warpage prowess. But to them I say nothing and remind them that the tailless cow has dog to chess flies for him.Thus modern democracy is not after all foreign to the Igbo because it has its root in Igbo origin and thought. The Igbo life did not start with colonization rather before the advent of the Europeans Igbo already had a philosophy, established structure of government which was democratic, education and technology. Igweb?ike/?ha b? ike(Umunna is strength), Umunnakwe ( Umunna agreed) Agwo out onye huru bu Eke (snake seen by one person is python)The democratic spirit in Igbo checks any possible excesses arising from unnecessary seniority, status and achievement. This is further strengthened by the Igbo principle of equality and equivalence which rightly brought out in the saying egbe bere ugo bere nke si ibe ya ebela nku kwa ya which means live and lets live. This is fundamental in Igbo thought pattern. Ndi Igbo don't worship people; they even have sanctions against rude people. They respect people. In fact, there is great respect to the elders in an Igbo society but they allow people express themselves. Ndi Igbo do not tolerate of acts of rudeness to their elders. Osagie Jacobs's generalization and insults against Ndi Igbo in his (This day, September 17, 2002 page 11) where he claimed that Igbo do not respect the elders, and that they respect money not age is unfortunate. Osagie himself knows that he is dishonest, rude and crude, how because of one person he has the guts to insult a whole race. Igbo people respect their elders, but they resent oppression and authoritarianism. It is reported that during the slave trade period Igbo slaves who were constantly starved by their European masters organized a revolt to resent their starvation. They had to be fed by force. They refused to be treated as sub-humans.The original Igbo understanding of leadership which the colonialists succeeded in destabilizing and erasing is that every Igbo community strives to elect “collective” leaders who function as partners and colleagues of the other members of the community or institution. These other members are themselves called to do something to function actively as partners and colleagues. Membership and leadership are organic whole; they have influence on each other. Effective leadership needs responsible membership responsible membership needs focus, needs ways of participating, and needs an atmosphere that fosters various ways of involvement.Leadership resides in the person the member elect and it resides also in the members.

De-constructing the marauders conceived stereotype

The relationship of leaders and members comes from their understanding of leadership as from the gods and that is to be carried out in both a personal and a communal manner. The actual living of that relationship in an organic way is a challenge that both leaders and members face in the then Igbo community before the bastardization meted out on this thought system. In modern times it could be seen that Nigerian colonial Politics had remained passive until the arrival of the lgbo intellectuals on the scene in the person of Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe, Mr. Mbonu Ojike, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, Dr. Nwafor Orizu, etc. Igbo democracy does not mean the freedom to insult, maltreat or abuse people because of one's position. I stand to refute such distortion and misrepresentation of Igbo thought system with phrases as these:1.Igbo-ama-onye-ukwu (igbos don’t know a great person) 2.I na-enye m nri (do you give me food), 3.Igbo enwe-eze (igbos have no leader or king)These were not in traditional Igbo thought. They have become Igbo expressions in the mouth of those who harbor envy, hatred and jealousy for others, those who do not appreciate 'excellence,' people influence by the Hebrew saying: "a prophet has no honor in his own community." They served a colonial interest of destabilizing Igbo unity. It has become very appalling that even our Igbo intellectuals are accepting the expression - Igbo enwe eze - as reflecting traditional Igbo situation. It does not and it is arrant nonsense. It has its origin in the early colonial European writers and philosophers like Hegel who spoke about the Igbo in particular as people without history. We must take note of the fact that Igbo history did not start with the advent of the white man. The man who denied that you had a history could not possibly come to believe you had a 'king’ or 'chief' which ever title you may prefer. The truth which historians have agreed on is that all the ethnic groups in Nigeria, it is only the Igbo that really resisted the white man, not months but several years. Igbo historians have also agreed that the Europeans had a basic dislike for the Igbo whom they found ungovernable and what was worse irreverent in their attitude to members of the 'master race'. Put simply, they hated the Igbo. This is what informed their introduction of the indirect rule in Eastern Nigeria. This colonialist created the warrant chiefs. These chiefs were installed to serve the interest of those who established them (Nwajiuba 2001:25): for reasons like : 1), to assist them hold down the Igbo 2), to serve their economic interest including collection of taxes and settlement of local cases. The colonialists distrusted the original Igbo chiefs. Thus the colonialists used the indirect rule to remove and destroy the legitimacy of Igbo rulers and they imposed their own subjects who ruled in their stead. And the people rebelled and refuse obeisance to chiefs of such kind We must not forget the fact that right from time in Igbo history there is what we call 'Igbo pride.' The Igbo saw himself from time as a superior race. For example King Jaja of Opobo treated the European traders and administrators as his inferiors. They latter feared him and tricked him to go aboard the British warship for friendly discussion but was carried away into exile where he died. Do we not know the implication of the fact that he died in exile, he died with the history of his people in his memory. The Ar?chukwu people and most Igbo royal princes never removed their hats or stood up or prostrated for the British colonialists unlike most other subservient African tribes. Specifically in 1896 at Aba a man refused to remove his hat for a white man (Isichei, 1976:59) (Leonard, 1966:191), because he felt he was superior to the white man. Have we even bothered to ask why up till today 'Eze Nri' is not listed among the first class chiefs in Igbo1and (along with Eze Ar?, Oguta, Nnewi and, Obi Of Onitsha). Nri model. Of kingship which controlled many parts of the Igbo land for several centuries was finally liquidated by the British imperialists to exploit the Igbo (slave trade). The truth of the matter in our view is that the “Igbo enwe Eze” concept was introduced into the Igbo psychic, and in practice by installing warrant chiefs in order to destabilize the Igbo society and make it impossible for them to retain their 'Igboness,' their uniqueness, their industry, their confidence and their pride/identity as a people. You will realize that this concept is introduced into our 'Culture,' the very essence of a people. It has succeeded to work like magic in the Igbo nation which presently is the most destabilized and disunited ethnic group in the world. It brought the culture of disrespect and greed as well as that of falsehood thereby destroying every evidence of a well laid down functional leadership pattern prior to the advent of the white man. How else could we explain that our people in government could not be united to promote Igbo cause. We saw what happened in the period of Shagari government. It was a near impossibility for the vice president and the governor to work together to promote Igbo interest. It is what is happening today. Today many of our state governors are in conflict with our people in government at the federal level. Does it happen elsewhere? Indirect rule is not yet over.
Igbo land still remains its testing grounds. This system was and is still the basic instrument being employed to destabilize the Igbo race, incapacitate and frustrate any plan of the Igbo people to form a common force where together they can challenge the ills done to them. There is hope. Let me ask you, who is afraid of Igbo unity? The Igbo people say: Igwe b? ike = unity/strength is power. We know even as the Igbo Bible puts it, that divided we fall, but united we stand. Igbo enwe eze concept is strange to Igbo psyche and history of the origin. It should be discarded, forgotten and formal education at reorientation of every Igbo undertaken. A family regarded as the smallest unit in a locality has the 'father' as the head, how much more a village, a clan and a tribe. Let the issue of Igbo enwe eze be laid to rest. We Igbo people are not crabs; we are men and women with great propensity for leadership and followership we do not need to invoke the expression to support our democratic thought system for self-reliance. Nor as a way of checking the excesses of any Igbo leader.
IGBOMAN LIKES MONEY TOO MUCH-It is important to notice that the history of Igbo origin as legend has it, reveals that the word 'Igbo' refers to 'forest-dwellers'. We are aware that at this time the primitive Igbo lived a hazardous wandering life of the hunter-gatherer of wild edible plants. The Nri myth which preserved for us how agriculture came meant that the Igbo became 'farmers' who had to be directly dependent on the land for their livelihood. Definitely these kinds of job descriptions will require among other qualities - strength and intelligence. The implications that right from the Igbo genesis, the Igbo man was born into a tough world that demanded him to be rugged, courageous, fearless, determined and hardworking to survive. Thus I will agree with D.I. Nwoga (1984:48) who said:…the .most prominent aspect of Igbo concept of man is that of a struggler for survival, a hard and determined person in confrontation with the environment to force out of it a means of sustenance. Luckily enough, this Igbo nature of hard work had been acknowledged right from the pre-colonial period. It is reported of Igbo slaves in Haiti that they were… excellent for work in the fields yet difficult to manage. They kept a strong sense of their Igbo identity and gave help, care and instructions to new arrivals from Igbo land. (Isichei, 1976:44; Herskovit, 1931:20-21; Uchendu, 1965:37). Even in the New World Igbo slaves were outstanding for their hard work and intelligence. Igbo slaves became much more productive than the other slaves, by exhibiting higher degree of intelligence, honesty and craftiness. Nwosu (1983:7) argued that the Igbo slaves showed a greater degree of brotherly love among themselves, which was lacking also in slaves of other nationalities. This discovery made the American Masters of Igbo slaves to become more productive, and wealthier than their counter-parts in Cuba and South America, Igbo slaves thereby became more expensive than others. Admittedly, this Igbo achievement orientation as an important aspect of Igbo life is one area in which the Igbo have been badly misunderstood and misrepresented.Many non-Igbo use it and argue that the Igbo are materialistic.Interestingly enough on this kind of accusation (Jordan, 1971:115) reported that Bishop Shanaham who had worked in Igbo land for years had come to the conclusion that: The average native 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 materialistic philosophy of existence. It made no appeal to him.This was several years ago and I wish to categorically state that the Igbo do not cherish money more than the other ethnic groups. In fact, if money has today become an Igbo problem, it is a problem which Nigeria created for them. So it is a Nigerian problem. This achievement orientation has been found in their industry, courage, determination and in traveling in search of adequate means of livelihood in all nooks and crannies of the world, in all human endeavors.

What propels the Igbo man
First, the Igbo is afraid of failure in life. He believes that nature has endowed him with the ability to subdue his world and succeed and therefore had to do just that. Definitely the mandate to control the land is a mandate to be successful. As dede Afigbo rightly put:It is thus quite clear that the Igbo saw failure in his world as a terrible calamity which implied damnation and so did every thing possible to avoid it. It is this fear of failure, this drive to succeed here, and attain the status of Ogaranya (a rich man) which he could carry across to the next world, which helped him to account for the economic drive of the Igbo man, as for the high score and prestige set on hard work, resourcefulness, foresight, and rugged individualism. Second, the Igbo is not prepared to attribute any failure to his personal 'chi.' Thus the Igbo saying that onye kwe chi ya ekwe locates the Igbo in the context of determination and faith to succeed. It is for this reason he has to get all forces on his side. The achievement orientation finds the Igbo in reverence of Ikenga, the cult of strength, a symbol for personal achievement, heroism and success. The Igbo people love to be rewarded and recognized after having worked hard. Thus recognition for achievement is well entrenched in Igbo life. For instance, far from despising manual labour, the Igbo esteem the successful farmer. Some parts of Igbo land award them the titles of Eze ji (King of yam), Oko ji (yam planter). This Igbo saying reaffirms :egbuwa ?f?a a h? ak? i.e.When you clear the forest you see wealth.The Igbo people believe so much in the dignity of labour (work) probably more than any other ethnic groups in Nigeria, and it is for this same reason, the Igbo are also hated. Everywhere in Nigeria you find the Igbo working for his livelihood. It is a new phenomenon seeing an ‘Igbo’ begging for alms. We know as Oluadah Eouiano wrote centuries ago, that begging was unknown to the Igbo society. The only circumstance that begging was probably accepted was rather than being a thief (Onye ar?r?? ka onye oshi mma). Stealing was a terrible crime in traditional Igbo society and its punishment could be death, at times. Creating wealth is based on hard work and intelligence. It is just recently we started seeing people who do ‘nothing’ but we find them building ‘estates.’ It is only recently we find people who do nothing and yet become leaders. In traditional Igbo society, you can’t lead without your being an accomplished person, having something doing. We have what is called the British pride, the American pride; we also have from time immemorial what is known as the ‘Igbo pride’ which some historians refer to as ‘Igbo identity’. This ‘Igbo pride’ is that Igbo spirit, that Igboness in every Igbo person, that courage, that determination, that fearlessness, that self-confidence in every Igbo person. That which made him Igbo rather than any other tribe He knows that he is not judged by what his father or relations have but rather by what he is able to achieve by himself for his community. We see with our eyes Igbo solidarity, ingenuity and uniqueness. We need to recover these heritages and to offer to our country the best that is in us, because we have what it takes to move Nigeria forward.


Iguafo Igbo (Igbo Calendar)

In the traditional Igbo calendar a week (Igbo: Izu) has 4 days (Igbo: Ubochi) (Eke, Orie, Afọ, Nkwọ), seven weeks make one month (Igbo: Ọnwa), a month has 28 days and there are 13 months a year. In the last month, an extra day is added.
The traditional time keepers in Igboland are the priests or Dibia.

The new year in Igbo calendar starts on the 3rd week of February.

No.Months (Ọnwa)Gregorian equivalent
1Ọnwa Mbụ(3rd week of February)
2Ọnwa Abụo(March)
3Ọnwa Ife Eke(April)
4Ọnwa Anọ(May)
5Ọnwa Agwụ(June)
6Ọnwa Ifejiọkụ(July)
7Ọnwa Alọm Chi(August to early September)
8Ọnwa Ilo Mmụọ(Late September)
9Ọnwa Ana(October)
10Ọnwa Okike(Early November)
11Ọnwa Ajana(Late November)
12Ọnwa Ede Ajana(Late November to December)
13Ọnwa Ụzọ Alụsị(January to Early February)

Months and meanings

 Ọnwa Mbụ

The first month starts from the third week of February making it the Igbo new year.

Ọnwa Abụo

This month is dedicated to cleaning and farming.

Ọnwa Ife Eke

Is described as the hunger period.

Ọnwa Anọ

Ọnwa Anọ is when the planting of seed yams start.

Ọnwa Agwụ

Ịgọchi na mmanwụ come out in this month which are adult masquerades. Ọnwa Agwu is the traditional start of the year. The Alusi Agwu, of which the month is named after is venerated by the Dibia (priests), of which Agwu is specifically worshiped by, in this month.

Ọnwa Ifejiọkụ

This month is dedicated to the yam deity ifejioku and yam rituals are performed in this month.

Ọnwa Alọm Chi

This month sees the harvesting of the yam.

Ọnwa Ilo Mmụọ

A festival called Önwa Asatọ (Igbo: Eighth Month) is held in this month.

Ọnwa Ana

Ana (or Ala) is the Igbo earth goddess and rituals for this deity commence in this month, hence it is named after her.

Ọnwa Okike

Okike ritual takes place in this month.

Ọnwa Ajana

Okike ritual also takes place in Ọnwa Ajana.

Ọnwa Ede Ajana

Ritual Ends

Ọnwa Ụzọ Alụsị

The last month sees the offering to the Alusi

The names of the day's have their roots in the mythology of the Kingdom of Nri. Eri, the sky-descended founder of the Nri kingdom, had gone on to break the mystery of time and on his journey he had saluted and counted the four days by the names of the spirits that governed them, hence the names of the spirits eke, orie, afọ and Nkwo became those of the days of the week. These spirits, who were fishmongers, were sent down by Chukwu (Great God) in order to establish markets throughout Igboland which they did by selling fish.

An example of a month: Ọnwa Mbụ