Original

Igbo names and spellings for various settlements
Abakaliki is Abankaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzö; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owere; Oyigbo is Obigbo... any more will be added.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Chi and Chi-na-eke: Dualism in divinity

Photo: Igbo double bell/gong. British Museum. 1930s.
The relationship between chi and Chineke is by far more complex and enigmatic. [...] Chineke as a single word-form for "God" suggests a later Christian missionary introduction. [...] It would appear that at the cognitive level the Igbo refer primarily to chi na (and) eke, which connotes two inseparable and complementary deities rather than the single overriding God of Christian belief. The other possible meaning [...] chi that creates, [...] is apparently foreign to Igbo way of thought. [Note:] In an original socio-literary essay Achebe (1975: 100) makes the seminal point that "the early missionaries" made the initial mistake of treating chi and eke as one God, Chineke ("Chi that creates").
[...] Thus, one of my "old" and "reliable" informants seems not to recognize the contradiction in these two assertions of [...] chineke kere uwa (chineke that made the world) but had no definite idea of him"; [...] "chi is what we know as 'god', chineke was introduced by the whiteman." [...] Eke and chi combined, if I may paraphrase his speech, exercise authority over "creation" in all its ramifications as a natural rather than imaginative or human inventive process; there is no concrete representation of eke and no sacrifices or prayers to it either; chi is the one that demands and gets all such ritual attention because eke is what chi gives to every person—that is, one's "destiny" or "fate." He added that the personal name "Ekezie" refers to the idea of "onye yo ziri uwa", i.e., one held to have reincarnated very well. My informant concluded: "eke na chi wọ otu mana eke siri na chi bia." (Eke and chi are one and the same but eke originates from chi.)
[...] [C]hi and eke are like two stones that must be struck together in order to produce a spark. [...] [T]he two tend to coalesce rather than bifurcate. In this sense the notion of duality, which [...] characterizes Igbo philosophy of life, is placed in a broader context. For not only chi and eke, a series of other analogous "stiff twin compasses" exist, e.g., ọfọ na ogu, akọ na uche, ikwu na ibe, ọgu na mgba, okwu na uka, and nta na imo. [...]

– I. Chukwukere (1983). "Chi in Igbo Religion and Thought: The God in Every Man." Anthropos, Bd. 78, H. 3./4. (1983), pp. 529–531.

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