Returning home to rebuild Igbo people and family

My Igbo people are a resilient people, troubled continuously since the era of written history. We have been pushed, and have lurched into series of calamities. A group with a weaker culture would have died and become extinct. Igboland was the epicenter of Slave raids. 18% to 25% of persons smuggled from Africa are believed to have some connections to Igbos. Has anyone looked at the effects of the slave raids on culture and society? Well, no serious study has been done, but trust me that life became brutish, nasty and short. It was either kill or be killed. Inevitably society decayed. After Slavery, Britain imposed war on Igbos, for 24 years, and as a highly egalitarian and decentralized society they had to conquer virtually every community, one after the other. Has any one examined what this meant? Unlike the Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani societies, which had, and still have highly centralized monarchies which gave up once the centers collapsed, which left the societies largely intact, the British destroyed every Igbo community/clan/family, because each community was independent, and almost all challenged the British. From this, Igbos were subjected to colonization, which led to loss of culture, history and religion. The colonial agents taught Igbos who came under their direct tutelage about their own heroes, and not about Igbos own heroes like some of my ancestors whom I will discuss soon.

Eze Anya Ezughu my great-grandfather was obi of Egbema, Ozubulu. In this capacity he was one of the judge-leaders. He was also an nze. He was in addition one of the wealthiest people in our locality in his time. His lands were so extensive that you would not see the ends of his holdings. His nazirite name reflected his wealth. He gathered many of the weak, Levites, temple servants, run away slaves, settled them on his lands, and they all became his children. Today, relics of obi Ilona/Udoji (our homestead) remind me of the ruins of the Temple in Jerusalem. Also of relics of ancient Rome and Greece.

My grandfather, Eze Ofido, whom my mother attested that he feared God to the extent that he never uttered a lie. My father Joseph, was nicknamed ‘Clean man’ in Nigeria Ports Authority because he abhorred taking of bribes. My grandmother Nwazuonu fed the poor every day. We weren’t taught about people like this, but about heroes and holy people of the colonialists.

After colonialism, the tragedy in Biafra descended on the same Igbos. Do you know what is genocide? We survived it! Yes, my history is part of Igbo history, but what our colonizers taught our fathers was that Igbos were barbaric pagans, whom they brought light to and saved. A people with such a glittering history believed that they were worthless, and began to feel worthless. Igbo future was virtually destroyed this with infiltration of ideas like this into the Igbo mind and religion.

Having said all the above I’ll end by stating: I cannot wait to finish my studies in the United States, go back to Anambra State, Igboland, Nigeria, and contribute to rebuilding my family and people. As one of those in line to be obi of Egbema of Ozubulu I should not be far from Ozubulu. I came to the US, to engage with Religious Studies.

About the Author
Remy Ilona, is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Riverside, where he also functions as a teaching assistant. He is also the secretary-general of Hebrew-Igbo people, an Igbo socio-cultural organization. He is also an author of 10 books. He is of Ibo or Igbo extraction, and a lawyer by training, as well as a historian of the Ibo. He is among the leaders shepherding the Ibos re-emerging Judaism.
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