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.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

"A Famous Were-Leopard"

"A Famous Were-Leopard". Percy Amaury Talbot. Internet Archive.
The power of metamorphosis is generally termed Uworraw-Ukponn, corresponding to the Ibo word Ehihi, and is sometimes inherited, sometimes bought. Since many believe that it is only used for evil purposes, the faculty is not often boasted of, or admitted, by its possessor. Nearly all " strong " animals in the bush, such as leopards, elephants, etc., are credited with being were-beasts, but such can only be recognised by hunters, who, unless bad men, would not shoot them, since their death would entail that of their affinity.

Many communities and lineages among Cross River peoples like the Ibibio and among different Igbo groups and beyond have special animals or vegetation that they have bonded with. In many cases, this came with the ability to take the form of the animal, plants, or trees through a projection of the individual's consciousness which can happen at great distances such as from one's home to an entity in the wild. The ability is usually first gotten through medicine and is hereditary. Sometimes these animals may have protected or saved the community before the bond. It is forbidden for members of such lineages to harm or harvest the animals, plants, or trees they have bonded with or allow others to do so because they are considered kin.

[…] Among Eket, snake " affinities " predominate over all others, though many women say that their souls go forth and enter the great fish in the rivers. A man named Ikot of Usun Inyan gave the following account to Mr. Eakin :
  " I was sitting, with others, in the verandah of my house, when one of the company suddenly jumped up, crying out that his soul was caught in a trap on the farm of a man whom lie named. He had the appearance of struggling violently, as though seeking to loose himself, and begged some of those present to go to the place indicated and set free his affinity. Several of the spectators ran to do as he asked, while I stayed by him, to see what would happen. In a short time he quieted down, and said, with an appearance of great relief : Now I am free once more. My soul has come back to me:
  Not long afterwards our friends returned, and said :
  " ' We went to the place pointed out to us, and there found a great python (Asaba) caught in a trap. So we cut the ropes and the snake glided forth into the bush.' "
[…] Usually fast runners, and those who move with a peculiar creeping motion, are looked upon as leopard souls[.]
[…] So firmly is this belief in fish affinities held among Eket women that, when other Ibibio have had a specially good catch and carry fine specimens of smoked fish to market, the former are known to burst into bitter tears at the sight, weeping and wailing, " You have slain our kin."

– Percy Amaury Talbot (1923). Life in Southern Nigeria. pp. 88-89, 91, 106.

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