Tag Archives: Igbo

#16Days – Onwu Di

 

She dies and…

‘Oh! Take heart’

‘May God comfort you’

‘It’s one of those things’

 

He dies and it’s…

‘Aahh!!!’ ‘She has done her worst!’

Ajoo Nwanyi!

Amuusu!

 

On sick bed,

On wheels,

Beneath the sea,

In the air,

‘She was the cause!!!’

They always say.

 

The other people lament

‘What rubbish!’

‘Such injustice!!’

But to deaf ears they fall.

 

They come in troops

Lazy bones in disguise

To reap where they sowed not

in the name of kinship.

Day by day they saunter in, to cast your lot

And at times, battle over the remnants

Like vultures to the carcass.

 

Di,

Stand up!

Get up from your eternal slumber

and show us your slayer

For your home is falling apart.

Your kinsmen have ravaged your house.

 

Your wife has become a barbarian

Made to drink the juice of your corpse

Stripped of her beauty by her skinned head

Ruffled and tossed like a culprit.

 

They have sentenced her

to a dozen months imprisonment

In the confines of your ancestral home.

They gave her white this time

to cover her nakedness.

A change from the black

that used to be the uniform

 

And until she completes her days,

The light of the sun she dares not see again

Nor witness the joys of the world.

And when that happens,

A second wife we fear she may become.

 

The other people lament again,

‘What rubbish!’

‘Such injustice!!’

Yet to deaf ears they still fall.

 

Your children, we know not their fate

Chased away from your cocoon

Scattered like sheep

Destitute we fear they shall become.

 

Di,

If you do not arise

and prove the innocence of your wife,

Then your home we fear,

is doomed forever.

 

 

 

©  Chinwe Azubuike 2004

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” 

Fleeing in the time of Biafra

No one speaks of Biafra but scrape the surface and half of the yellow sun still rises. This short story published in 234NEXT goes some way to break the silence.

Going Home by Chika Unigwe

She said it started with the wife of the Igbo headmaster who was hacked to death in her own home. Neither Mike nor Egbuna remembered the headmaster’s wife. “She called you her boyfriends and Mike especially was shy of her. Every time she came Mike would run and hide in the bedroom. She was very fond of both of you.”

Her gate men had colluded and murdered her while her husband was away on a school trip. “That day, that same day, I swore we were leaving the North. I knew the Hausa meant business then. ” And they did not leave in a car….. Continue reading

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Likembe – excellent blog on African music classics – publishes a collection of music from Biafra like this one by Rex Lawson “There is death everywhere” . For more on Biafran music see here

Controlling the oil rivers from King Jaja to Ken Saro-Wiwa

King Jaja of Opobo

In “The Jaja Saga: The West Indian End (1888-1891)” Professor Gabriel Olusanya makes the connection between the exile of King Jaja of Opobo by the British colonial government because the King wanted to have control of his resources and with the present struggle in the Niger Delta again over control of resources. In King Jaja’s day it was palm oil, today it is petroleum oil but the foreign actors are the same.

The same vicious struggle for the control of the oil resources in the Delta has continued in a post colonial and independent federal Nigeria. The British Buccaneers have been replaced by non-indigenous local predators, that in collusion with the big foreign-owned oil companies have seized control of vast oil resources in the Delta area in a manner that can not be said to serve the economic interest of the people of the Delta. Like Jaja, the people of the Delta want to control their own resources.”

King Jaja finally passed away in 1891 which was also the year in which the region presently known as the Niger Delta was formalised as a British colony. Although the British had colonised Lagos as early as 1862, it wasn’t until 1891 that the Oil Rivers Protectorate was created. European traders had been coming to the Delta region since the 15century, first to trade in slaves, then after abolition to trade in palm oil.

palm oil

The traders were unable to negotiate the hundreds of creeks and dense forest of the Delta and therefore had to rely on the people from the coastal regions such as the Kalabari and Nembe for the palm oil. My own grandfather and my fathers material grandfather were both relatively rich merchants from trading in palm oil and palm kernels right up until the 1930s though by this time the British had already established their commercial interests in the region. Two things happened to end the Kalabari trade in palm oil and kernels. One was the growth of the palm oil / kernel trade in Malaysia which by 1934 had overtaken Nigeria (the plant was taken to Malaysia from West Africa at the turn of the century). The second event was the exploration for oil which began around the same time. Though it was to be some 40 years later before Shell finally struck oil there was a strong indication that oil would be discovered. Once these two factors occurred there was no longer a foreign interest in palm oil or kernels and effectively trading on a large scale ended. What were once relatively rich city states of Okrika, Nembe and Kalabari became the poverty villages and towns they are today. Unlike palm oil, local people did not have the knowledge or means to extract the oil and were therefore completely at the mercy of the oil multinationals and a non-indigenous neo-colonialist state which held them with disdain.

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I don’t know when the oil in the Delta will run out but there are probably only about another 30 years left before it dries up, the multinationals pack up and move elsewhere and the Nigerian government disintegrates into it’s indigenous parts. What this tells me is that we (people of the South south and South East) should be re-thinking an agricultural policy which includes palm oil and kernels with the aim of replacing oil and the multinationals within the next 10 years.

Links: Life with palm oil

#NigerDelta

Chinua Achebe comes home

achebe-comes-home

Chinua Achebe recently returned to Nigeria for only the second time in 20 years. Achebe who is now 79 visited his home town Ogidi and Owerri where he gave a lecture to the people. You can watch the journey home here and also listen to an interview with Achebe during his visit here.

Links: Chinua Achebe profile

Time out

Farafina Magazine is a Nigerian literary magazine that just gets better with each publication. They have recently revamped their website to include an online version of the printed magazine which has three viewing options, magazine, paper and presentation. Like all great websites, there is a blog – The Farafinist and there is some pretty good content as well. The latest issue “Remapping Africaness” is an attempt to begin the process of reclaiming North Africa for Africa and by doing so assert Africa as geographical space connected by literature, politics, culture, art and histories.

This wonderful promo video is backed up by Igbo musician, Mike Ejeagha. I love this guys music – no 2 minutes tracks these go on for 8-10 minutes and am about to go buy a bunch of tracks from Sterns online

More Mike on You Tube