THE SINS OF MARY SLESSOR – A TWISTED HISTORY

THE SINS OF MARY SLESSOR – A TWISTED HISTORY

[The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they aren’t true, but they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie]

Whatever you have read in the history book about Africa, is not the absolute truth. History is completely biased. It is emotionally crafted in a manner to portray bravery in the face of fierce adversity, and there is only one group the vain narration is meant to glorify – the writers of the history.

All the ancient books about Black Africans were written by the slave masters. The tales were exaggerated and totally buttered with falsehood for selfish gratification. These fictitious accounts took away the milk of humanity in Africa, and placed us slightly beneath the savage beasts of the wild. History was never fair to my fathers and that same history was inherited and believed by you and me.

As the consumers of these lies called the ‘African History’, we accept totally the horrible fictions and concur that we are from the lineage of terrible demons, this I stand to challeng today: Those lies are from the pit of hell, malicious deception. We, the black race, are not the descendants of monsters.

BEAR THIS IN MIND, I do not come to abolish the history; No, I come to make the crooked way straight.

I am a son of a Sunday School teacher; in the 80s and early 90s, when we were small, the church in those days did not only teach the scripture, they glorified the white missionaries while they demonized our fathers. They repeatedly told us of the horrible things our fathers did and there was no single story – not even one – to prove that our fathers had something called emotions. We believed in the absolutism of their stories and accepted that our fathers were evil.

My generation was caged by the lies spread by the church, we were forced to accept that if not for the White man we would have perished. The church sang the killing of twins as an anthem – even before I was born, while I was still in my mother’s womb, I heard the stories of infanticide of twins. So I grew up believing that every good thing was done by the white man as my forefathers were busy eating human beings and killing twins. Funny.

We were told that our fathers were killing their babies until a white Messiah whose name is Mary (but not the virgin) came and SINGLEHANDEDLY forced people from Calabar, Uyo, Abakiliki, Okigwe, Nri, Otukpa, Udi, Oguta, every part of Nigeria to stop the killing of twins.

Thank you very much, Mary.

So if I give birth to a set of twins, I would tell them that if not for Mary, I and my kinsmen would throw them inside an evil forest.

What a record: Full of lies. The killing of twins was not practised everywhere in Eastern Nigeria. It was a very unpopular custom of the land that was challenged by the people. Most Igbos of the old hated that custom and criticized it; but then, there were the Priests of the land who wouldn’t want to anger the gods. People were against the killing of twins, this fact would be shared in my next article.

(Whenever you are in doubt, ASK.)

Some years ago, I was at the Marina Beach – I visited the Slave Museum – on the shores of Calabar. The Island of Mary Slessor’s haven (where she kept the rescued twins) is visible from the shores. The Beach is infamous for warehousing thousands of kidnapped Africans before transporting them to slavery. The beach is Nigerian’s version of ‘The Point of No Return.’ And on that Beach was Mary Slessor’s muster point.

Have you ever asked yourself what happened to the hundred of twins Mary rescued?
Did she send them back to their parents that forbade twins, or were the Twins taken to London and enrolled in the best schools to be groomed alongside with the children of the Lords?
Is it possible that hundreds of twins were saved from our fathers and waybilled to South Carolina in a Ship with mature slaves chained below the deck?
The young shall grow and so would the twins, and two slaves are better than one.

No matter what became of the rescued twins, I admit that Mary saved their lives, but let History be a liar if it says that Mary Slessor saved the twins alone. IT IS NOT TRUE – there were people of Calabar that helped her in the dangerous mission. What are their names? Why were they not recognized?

History would never tell you about those kind-hearted Calabar men and women that helped Mary Slessor. The truth would reveal that among those black demons in Africa were humans with fleshy hearts in the left part of their chest. Once the true story of the abolishment of the killing of twins is known, and every member of the team identified, then Mary’s achievement would not appear as magnificent as it is; her glory would not be hers alone.

Therefore, it is a crime to give a little credit to those that assisted Mary, that is why History preferred to say that Mary Slessor alone stopped the killing of twins in Africa. Yes, she did. She marched into the camp of cannibals and with a folded fist, and reddened eyes, she stopped the infanticide of twins in Nigeria.

In my opinion, Mary has received enough praise for the good work she participated in. From now onwards, let’s thank the other members of the team that made it possible – the Calabar Indigenes.

Africa stopped the killing of the twins, Mary Slessor did not. We were not enjoying the custom and we wanted to stop it by all means. Stick around and I will share the whole detail.

So when next you talk about the abolishment of infanticide of twins in Nigeria, appreciate the fact that it was a communal effort. One person couldn’t have abolished such custom; Mary did not.

Every African needs to ask him/herself this question, Why did our fathers – from some part of the continent – kill twins?

 

ALUSI – THE LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

ALUSI – THE LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

 

 To the white invaders, Alusi, was a term for idol which they did not only see as primitive but as a competition to the white man’s religion. And for the early church to survive, this indigenous altar – like a dog – was given a bad name, soaked in the muddy water, and what was once the hope and defender of Ndi Igbo repulses the people whose fathers it protected. This led to the renunciation of Alusi by the first generation of Igbo Christians – and the generation that followed the first mentioned the name with nauseous contempt. For nearly a century, the modern people of ndi Igbo remain distracted from deeply understanding the institution of Alusi and why it was necessary to our ancestors.

HOW WAS THE NAME ‘ALUSI’ COINED?

The word Alusi is a marriage of two words Aluu and Si. Aluu simply means abomination, but the watchword in the term is the attached word ‘Si’. This ‘Si’ is all that matters in the term above.

Si: The Terminator.

In Igbo terminology, the affix ‘Si’ is used as stop words. Take for example:

The word ‘Kwu’ means Stand; however, it could be used as moving aimlessly like in the sentence: O na aKWUghali (He/She is wandering around.)

The word ‘KwuSi’ means Standstill/ stop moving.

‘Ezo’ means raining (mmiri na Ezo – it is raining)
‘EzoSigo’ means the end of the rain

‘Gwa’ is to talk to (Gi ka m na aGWA – I am talking to you)
‘GwaSia’ – finished talking.

Bringing it into our discussion, joining the two words together – ‘Aluu’ (Abomination) and ‘Si’ (The end) – the new term formed literally becomes (Si) the end of (Aluu) abomination: the termination of impunity.

That’s why till this day, people still go by the name: Nwalusi, Ulasi, Idemili, NwaOgwu, Agbala, Nweke, Nwoye and names that are directly linked to great Deities of our fathers. To understand the concept of Alusi, one must appreciate how our ancestors viewed this God of Hope.

THE INSTALLATION OF THE ULU DEITY

Chinua Achebe’s classic: Arrow of God, simplifies the concept of Alusi and how the people of Umuora set up the shrine of Ulu. The record goes thus:

Then, the hired soldiers of Abam used to strike in the dead of the night, set fire to the houses and carry men, women and children into slavery. Things were so bad for the six villages that their fathers came together to save themselves. They hired a strong team of medicine-men to install a common deity for them. This deity which the fathers of the six villages made was called Ulu. Half of the medicine was buried at a place which became Nkwo market and the other half thrown into the stream which became Mili Ulu. The six villages took the name of Umuaro, and the priest of Ulu became their Chief Priest. From THAT DAY, they were never again beaten by their enemy.
(Arrow of God – pg 14 – 15)

In the passage above, Alusi Ulu was the savior of the people of Umuaro. The passage added how they sanctified their river and rebaptised it to Mili Ulu (Ulu River), and they sanctified their market and renamed it Nkwo. It’s indisputable that every customary market in Igbo land (Eke, Orie, Afor, Nkwo market) has its foundation with charms of good luck from a powerful Alusi and so does every river in Igbo land. This will lead us to the question: who needs Alusi?

ALUSI: THE MERCIFUL.

As the healthy have no need for a physician, Alusi is of no use to the great and mighty. The concept of Alusi was never to serve the strong but to protect the weak. The passage we read from Arrow of God explained that how the oppressed needed a Deity, it did not tell us that the people of Abam were in need of one.

To simplify the above axiom let me use this analogy:
If in my presence, a weaker man walks into my house to carry my pot of soup, I will not call the neighbours before curing his madness. But if an Army General does the same, in agony, I will permit him to take the stew in the fridge also. I will become the victim and definitely will seek for salvation – maybe from the court or making it a post on Social Media.
Just take it that the Court or the Social Media is to me what Alusi was to our fathers: a place of redress, a citadel of hope.

No wonder, Chinua Achebe remembered to add this essential part of the story:

When the six villages came together they offered the priesthood of Ulu to the WEAKEST among them to ensure that none in the alliance became more powerful.
(Arrow of God – pg 15)

Alusi, in Igbo spiritualism, is the only place you can take your problem to when men prove incapacitated. It is the spiritual ground where justice is never delayed. A place of comfort for the oppressed that saved the widows and the fatherless and brought bountiful harvests to our fathers.

Next time you hear the word ALUSI, just know that it is the sound of hope: THE LIGHT IN YOUR DARKNESS

 

How Sunday Was Christened Uka In Igbo Language

How Sunday Was Christened Uka In Igbo Language

Before the advent of the White man, the Igbos recognized 4 days as a full week: the days – Ubochi in Igbo – were/are Eke, Orie, Afor, Nkwo. And ‘Weeks’ are ‘Izu’. The 4 days makes otu izu (One Week). Izu asaa (7 weeks) introduces a new month, which was announced by the traditional priests. These priests did so by monitoring the moon. That’s the reason a month in Igbo is called Onwa (Onwa simply means the moon).

In those days 13 months introduced Afo: a new year. Research showed that a new year in the olden days Igbo land started around March/April; others claimed that it was around July. Which ever it was, it had something to do with rainy season.

*** There was a popular ritual among the wealthy known as Ichu Afo (meaning casting away of the past year). In Ichu Afo, the Igbos disposed things they used in the previous year: this could only be easier around the farming season (April – July); if tried in December, it would mean disposing of harvests.***

Chinua Achebe, in his book: Arrow of God, insinuated that new years started around harvest period (August/September). Which also is rational. In his book, EzeUlu had 13 yams and ate one at the sight of every new year. The last tuber, which normally was consumed before harvest, introduces a restock of new 13 ritual yams.

But after the acceptance of Christianity, the people of Igbo land started recognizing dual week. One, still remains Izu: 4 days. The second, 7 days, is known as Izu Uka (translated literally as the Week of conversation).

Ikpari Uka means ‘to converse’; Uka simply means conversation.

In the beginning, when CMS came into the eastern region of Nigeria, their evangelism – as expected – was more of conversation with the natives. Reasoning together, which was the strategy used in converting members, is translated as ikparita Uka. The new converts who accepted the new creed and jettisoned the traditional beliefs became – as they still are – ndi Uka. And their worship houses became Ulo Uka (House of Conversation or Reasoning).

The 1st of the 7th day cycle was set aside for conversations; therefore, that day (Sunday) became Ubochi Uka (the day of conversation). And every 7 days turned into an alternative week known till this day in Igbo land as Izu Uka: the week of conversation.

‘EKPERE’ IS NOT THE IGBO TRANSLATION FOR PRAYERS

‘EKPERE’ IS NOT THE IGBO TRANSLATION FOR PRAYERS

These days, every Igbo Christian believes that ‘Ekpere’ means prayer; some Christians have even taken it as a name. However, there are indications that Ekpere is possibly an accepted term for prayers but neither the right word for prayers nor the closest alternative. 

Prayer is one thing our ancestors never played with. Igbo ethnic group – being a community governed by religion before the advent of the white man – had a worship system that made every individual a priest. The symbol of the priesthood is known as Ikenga, and every man had his own Ikenga. For that reason, I could generalize by saying that all our ancestors woke every morning to pray, and their priests prayed also to the gods of the shrine. Prayer wasn’t a novel thing; but these men of old never interpreted the word ‘Ekpere’ to mean prayer.

The Igbo word ‘Ekpere’ was derived from noun: Ikpe – which means ‘Report’. That is why traditional Court – which existed in Igbo land in time immemorial – is known as ‘Ulo Ikpe’.

In Igbo linguistics, Ikpe Ikpe (both words sound differently) means to decide a case, and when you threaten to report someone to the police, for instance, you simply say: m ga EKPERE ya police. (I will report to the police.)
*** Children always say: m ga EKPERE ya mama anyi (I will report to my mother.) ***

This word ‘Ekpere’, which is commonly used, finds its way in our everyday informal communication for a different meaning entirely – not as a translation for Prayer.

On the above premise, I will like to state clearly that during the rituals of breaking of kola, the word Ekpere is employed. The elders introduce it in the midst of blessings by saying ‘Ekpere anyi na ekpere unu bu…’ (Our ‘good wishes/confession’ for you is…). Could this simply signify that Ekpere is synonymous to Prayers or does the word ‘Ekpere’ has a multi-meaning in Igbo land?

The answer is no. Ekpere remains Reporting/Talking to.
Prayer is Thanksgiving, Supplications, Confession of sins, Re-dedication and many more. It’s not just talking to.

There is a word commonly used by the traditionalist is igọ (pronounced as igor). Among every Igbo word, none has its spiritual connotation. Igọ has all the attributes of Structured religious Prayers, but for some reasons – which we will profile – it was jettisoned.

Among the Igbos, Praying before a deity is still known as ‘Igọlu Alusi’ and watered down to ‘Ikpelu Alusi’ (the latter simply means reporting to the deity). However, family sanctification remained unadulterated: when a man wishes to sanctify his household, the ancient and the present term used is ‘Igọ ofor’ (meaning intercession). And the prayers rendered before the ritual of the breaking of kola nut in Igbo land, till tomorrow, is called ‘igọ orji’ (praying over the kola).

*** To the Igbo men of old, the word ‘Igọ’ embodied the communication between God and mortals. My eldest Aunt for an example, her name was Onyeagọm – meaning, who will intercede for me. ***

To worship in a traditional way is still known as ‘Igoo mmou – worshipping the spirits’ but Christianity found it so hard to use ‘Igoo Chukwu – worshipping God’. They accepted the term ‘Ikpelu Chukwu – reporting to God’.

Possibly, because of the general use of the word ‘igoo’ among the Igbo traditional worshippers, the white man found such a deep spiritual word not worthy to be a substitute for prayers. For this reason, the once spiritual term was outcast among the people, and the new religion converted it into something unclean.
(Traditionalists till this day are known as ‘ndi Ọgọ mmou – people that pray through the spirits’. The ‘Ọgọ’ is derived from ‘Igọ’)

Ekpere (which simply means to report) is far lighter in meaning than Igọ (which means intercession, devotion and invocation). Igọ is unacceptable by the church and this most spiritual and sacred word in Igbo terminology is reduced to a word that is perceived as unholy.

 

Have You Read:

Why Children Were Denied Eggs In The Ancient Igbo Culture 

 

 

WHY CHILDREN WERE DENIED EGGS IN ANCIENT AFRICA

WHY CHILDREN WERE DENIED EGGS IN ANCIENT AFRICA

 One Christmas in Awkuzu, my grandmother’s hen laid 9 eggs at the backyard of her neighbor. We went to see the mother hen. We were told that as an ancient custom, the new host (the neighbor) would protect the hen and eggs until the eggs were hatched.

And my grandmother would offer to this neighbor, 2 chicken from the broods as a compensation.

*** This is the tradition of the old ***

Years before our fathers embraced the western lifestyle, children were forbidden from eating eggs. This, as sarcastic as it may sound, prevented most children of that era from becoming thieves. Most of us still find it difficult to link egg-eating and thieving; however, no one will understand the past with the mindset of the present.

In the olden days, there were no poultry like we have these days. Domestic animals like cattle and fowls were raised mainly in a subsistence fashion. Local hens, which is the main subject of our discourse – and as I narrated in the introduction – laid eggs indiscriminately. Nevertheless, domestic eggs were never a part of their usual delicacies, they were only eaten not to waste them.

What does that mean?
Only a poultry man – or a village man – will understand the psychology of local chicken and how common it is for local hens to abandon their eggs.
As a boy, we were told that once you touched any of the eggs, the mother-hen would not hatch it, and this is very close to the truth. Again, if the mother hen notices snakes, rodents or insects around her nest, she leaves the nest for another place. Therefore, when this happens – and it happens often – that egg would become a waste.

In the days of our fathers, the adults in the house took those abandoned eggs and turned them to foods without giving any part of this accidental meal to children as a precaution against encouraging stealing.

They are right. Viewing this from their perspective, one could infer that a child of that era that took liking to egg would not understand that eggs were not food. This child probably would go out of his way to get those eggs – without considering the fact that neighbors’ hen was at liberty to make nests anywhere. And being a thief is simply taking what is not yours.

Before I stumbled upon this truth, I thought our ancestors were ignorant, but the truth is that they were not. Feeding children with eggs, considering their time, WAS really a bad omen.

Ozii Baba Anieto
Ajambele

 

THE ANCIENT AFRICAN HALLOWEEN

THE ANCIENT AFRICAN HALLOWEEN

THE ONLY PROOF THAT ALL MEN ARE OF THE SAME DESCENT is the relativity of our customs.

In West African settlements, the initiation into the spiritual realm starts after the Harvest (post August). In Igbo land, it’s called ịma mmou/ịkpụ ani. This festival introduces the children (mainly male children) to the ghosts of the ancestral spirits.

As recorded in the book: African Child, it is the period of making men of boys by exposing them to the spirits. As a boy, this initiation was so popular in Anambra State. Young initiates always told similar tales of a spider that cut young boys genitals.

I was never initiated. My parents were prisoners of western dogma. That western dogma that saw everything in Africa as superstitious. That same group that were convinced that nothing good could come from Africa.

But in their land, almost the exact period we commune with out ancestors, they have All Hallows’ Day (popularly known as Halloween) – the day they become one with their dead ancestors.

You see the similarity in custom that might prove Darwin right. However, ours is heinous and theirs is virtuous.

They condemned the festival that introduces the new masquerades in our land. The festival that precedes the days we remember ‘Ndi Ichie’ (Our Saintly ancestors).

Meanwhile, that which they tagged evil in our land they called Halloween in their own land. This Halloween is a prelude to the most sacred event in the Christendom – All Saints’ Celebration Day.

This, permit me to say, is just a case of a 6 and a half of a dozen…

The same ritual – different nomenclature.