For the next seven days, three lands will be competing for one honor. The three lands are Igbo-land, where the biggest Israelite Diaspora calls its homeland since it left Israel thousands of years ago. The second is Israel, the ancestral homeland of the Israelite people. The third is the United States, in which nearly seven million Jews reside. The honor is which of these three would have the highest number of Israelites commemorating Pesach (Passover).
I will root for the Igbos, and Igbo-land. I will explain why I will vote for Igbo-land. After slave raids for slaves during Trans Atlantic Slavery which Igbo-land was its epicenter subsided, the British-Igbo Wars which were to last more than 20 years commenced. These wars lasted so long, because they were religious wars. In time history will tell the truth. Britain won, and from one end of the land, which was likely called Ibri….then, to the other it sought to overturn the Hebrew order, strove valiantly to replace the Igbo national or tribal religion, Hebrewisms, which the Igbos address with the biblical phrase Ome na ana, with Christianity. Well, seed of Israel always rise like the Phoenix. Over 100 years ago, many strong Igbos, most of whom history forgot, realizing that religion will determine whether Igbos will survive or not, decided to return to the Hebrew religion, walking back through the Christianity which they grew up in. They had been Christians, and like everyone else had been groomed to look down on Igbo Hebrewisms, otherwise when they felt that they had to do teshuva, they would have simply teamed up with the remaining practitioners of Ome na ana. No, they left Christianity, and tried to return on their own, without compasses. Without help, but because some had great visions they were successful in strengthening Torah based lifestyle which many of the tragedies that had befallen Igbos weakened greatly. On their way back to the religion of Israel, they came up with a virile, vibrant religion called ‘Sabbath.’
Today there are millions of Igbos who follow this religion that is day by day remaking itself, and which is looking more and more like Rabbinic Judaism-should not be surprising, in Africa, outside South Africa maybe, the highest number of followers of Rabbinic Judaism, are Igbos, and as you know, ‘iron sharpeneth iron’, no doubt. I am sure Igbo Sabbatharians are responding to stimuli from Igbo Rabbinic Jews. A few years ago, a top leader in this movement which its members presently address themselves as Jews in a religious sense, which is noteworthy as they, and most Igbos also see themselves as Jews in an ethnic sense, declared that they are 7 millions in number. If they are 7millions, and you add to their number Igbo Rabbinic Jews, Ome na ana-Torah adherents, as the resurgent Hebrewists address themselves, Igbo-land will make a strong claim for the honor.
I will like to know what my brothers, Chinedu Ibegbunam Emelife, Emeka Maduewesi, Francis, Rabbi David Mark of Israel Rising, Rabbi Harry Rozenberg, Yirmiyahu Danzig, Jeffrey Rosenberg, Peter Jablin, and Chuka Onumonu, think of this point which I want us to chew on before we begin to do what our illustrious forebears led by Moshe ben Amram did in Egypt.
Remy Ilona is author of the forthcoming The Igbos And Jews: An Inter-cultural Study of Israelites