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, October 13, 2019

Òmenàlà

Symbol of Ala, the Earth Mother, among the Eda Igbo, present-day Abia or Ebonyi State. P. A. Talbot, c. 1920s.

Most Igbo people in the past did not perceive themselves as belonging to a religion. The split between culture and religion did not exist. All practices were viewed as duty. This view of duty, compulsory rites that place tradition and service and reverence to ancestors over belief itself, still exists in the kola nut rite, ịche ọjị, for example, which could've been classed as a religious rite.

(It is probably the case that this rite is so central to Igbo people, that it was difficult to eliminate, and overlooked in the later classifications of 'heathenism' and 'paganism,' etc.)

This view on duty is also linked to the idea that Igbo ritual practices and, obviously, cosmology, were indigenous ways of interpreting the world and the human psyche, not just the propitiation of divinities.

The dilemma, for many, is in the attempt to decouple 'spiritual' elements from 'Igbo culture,' pigeonholing indigenous concepts into 'god', 'religion', 'sin', etc., as people now looked from the outside in as another system was positioned as the default way to view the world.

When Igbo people refer to omenala, odinala, and the like, they are not referring to religion, they are referring to duties to the land and ancestors, laws that were set by the Earth and ancestors. Respect to ancestors and heritage.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great post. Thanks for the enriching clarifications about Ala Igbo

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