Stepping Back In Time: Visiting Igbo Ancestors And Their Gods [Part III]
By Iwedi Ojinmah 15 days ago
As we know the Igbo are a deeply religious people. The imprint of Christianity, when compared to the ratio of a population, is amongst the highest in the world.
However, with the advent of the blossoming of Christianity, it is lost to many that this belief in an overseeing spiritual second force influencing our lives has always existed.
It is the famous tradition known as Odinani.
It was there long before we became hunter-gathers and eventually evolved into the 'civilised' society that we are today.
The Igbo have always had their gods to whom they prayed, depending on the event or particular gist of the conversation. While it was not as complex or turbulent as what we saw in ancient Greek and Roman mythology, it was respected and deeply embedded.
These gods or translated as Alusi (Arushi, Anusi or Arusi in differing dialects) are spirits worshipped and served throughout Igbo land extending out of Nigeria and reaching as far as Haiti.
At the top of the pantheon of Igbo gods is the supreme deity known as “Chukwu”, meaning “great in size”. However, there are lesser deities in Odinani, each of whom is responsible for a specific aspect of nature or abstract concepts.
In the Igbo folklore, these lesser Alusi, as elements of Chukwu, have their purpose, unique traits, attributes and functions. You can simply call it a religious division of labour.
In this visit with these old traditional gods we shall attempt to spotlight the specific roles they were assigned within the community as well as how Christianity and the passage of time have distorted fact, and in most instances, corrupted that way we look at these deities.
We have selected 10 and in this part three of our series, we will talk about our next two after initially discussing Ikenga, Amadioha, Ala and Ekwensu Related: Stepping Back In Time: Visiting Igbo Ancestors And Their Gods [Part V] .
Anyanwu (translated as “eye of the sun”) is an Igbo deity that is believed to dwell in the sun. Anyanwu is one of the principal gods of the Igbo, often associated with Agbara, the holy spirit as they both dwelled in the sun.
In Igbo folklore, the sun is one of the most revered things created by Chukwu. The Igbos hold it in high esteem, as it is believed to the perfect image of what a human should be. Nowadays, he is a popular surname among the Igbo people.
His European equivalent would be Sol in Rome and Helios in Greece.
Idemili (literally means Pillar of Water) is regarded as the goddess of all water bodies.
According to the lore, she is the progenitor of the Idemili people of Anambra state. It covers a wide span of people including the towns of such Ogidi, Obosi, Ojoto, Urukwu, Umuoji, Eziowelle, Ideani, Uke, Nkpor, Abacha, and Abatete.
The totemic symbol of the deity is a Python. It is said that a Python, or Eke lives in the Idemili river. As a result, the Idemili people treat this species of snakes with reverence. They regard the snake as a representative of their deity and therefore, a custodian of their culture and tradition. It is a taboo for an indigene to kill any python and whoever kills it must give it a befitting burial with full rites.
Her European equivalent would Lethe in Greece and Coventina in Rome.
Part IV Njoku Ji and Agwu Nsi