Female Deities in Pre-colonial Igboland

From The Adventures of Cosmic Yoruba and her Flying Machines –  Cosmic examines the creation and roles of  female deities  in pre-colonial Igboland

 

With the abolition of the international slave trade in 1805, some Igbo people created new deities and mystical forces that were to help them fight the internal slavery that continued on after the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, as well as to protect those who were left behind. These primarily female deities functioned to defend societies, they served as both mothers and protectors. The deities shielded communities from slave raiders and they repopulated the communities by using the bodies of women and the sperm of “anonymous human male sperm donors”. This institution was called igo mma ogo and allowed female deities to marry women so as to repopulate society. The children born from such unions were said to be children of the Goddess and her human wife, they bore names of their deity parents.

The women who were chosen to marry Goddesses were usually demanded as retribution for crimes that someone in their family had committed. Such crimes included murder, manslaughter and theft. Although the women married to Goddesses were not allowed to marry any freeborn men, they were allowed to have sexual relationships with freeborn men, those are the male sperm donors mentioned above. These men played their part in helping the female deities become female fathers.

One example of a powerful female medicine that went on to become a deity is Adoro of Alor-Uno, a northern Igbo town. As with most other towns in northern Igboland where the most popular and powerful deities were female, Adoro was a Goddess. She started out as a “medicine”, a spiritual force, to protect Alor-Uno during wars with other towns, and to save them from the slaving activities of the Aro and Nike who were renowned as aggressive slave-traders. Adoro grew to become a Goddess who meted our justice in events in the community, she also maintained social harmony and was apparently one of the most powerful expressions of female religious and political power in Nsukka……. Continue reading “Pre-Colonial Igboland: Marriage to a Goddess”