Much took place between the Igbo people and the Jews of the State of Israel, in the few years that the Igbo people led what was near to an autonomous existence within the country known as Nigeria. This was between 1957 to 1970.
As expert on Igbo-Jewish history Daniel Lis puts it, between the Igbo led Eastern Region of Nigeria, and the State of Israel, a special relationship existed.
David Mark, founder and publisher of the online Israeli media, Israel Rising is trying to inform Israelis about Igbos.
Faced with hostility from many Nigerian groups in the years in discussion, late Michael I. Okpara, the Igbo premier saying that he viewed himself as almost an Israelite, told the Israelis to consider the Igbo territory their second home, and also declared that he would always visit Israel. Plans had been set up to build a kibbutz in the Igbo territory around the beautiful rolling hills of Okigwe.
I believe that the Israeli reading public will have a lot to read about, as Mark gets more and more into this special relationship that somehow dropped out of history. This is because much is going on, both in the territory of the Igbos who today constitute the largest body of Israelites. Still recovering from setbacks which included genocide, the Igbos are finally giving attention to religion and culture. Increasingly number of Igbos are leaving the religion which the British facilitated its imposition on many Igbos, and returning to the Igbo religion, which is called Ome an ana, which is the oldest surviving version of the religion given to Israel at Sinai. Israel’s religion was addressed as ‘things to be done in the land.’ Ome na ana translated to English is ‘things that are to be done in the land.’ Some Igbos are attracted to the Jewish version of the Israelite religion, which they know as Rabbinic Judaism. Igbos are setting up modern synagogues, to serve Igbo Rabbinic Jews, and to complete the obi umu nna of the Igbos who favor the older model which adherents of call OmenanaTorah.
Mark and his team will enjoy themselves writing, and the Israeli public will have a great time reading.
Remy Ilona is a lawyer, scholar, writer, secretary-general of HIN, and author of the influential The Igbos And Israel: An Inter-cultural Study of the Largest Jewish Diaspora, and Dissecting the Osu Institution