Wednesday, August 18, 2010





When I ponder over this question what comes to my mind is principally; what is the origin of the Igbos? For certain reasons which I will mention later I have always tried to solve puzzles by first of all looking at the history of the puzzles.

An Igbo as understood presently is someone from the following Nigerian states: Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi. And some indigenes of Delta State. I would also say that the Igbos also include some people that are indigenous in Edo and Rivers states. The Igbos in all the mentioned states inhabit a contiguous territory. I do not think that some people in the Rivers, Edo, Delta States, and even a tiny minority from Anambra State will view my submission agreeably. This is because huge numbers of people who bear Igbo names, speak the Igbo language, and practice Igbo culture in the afore-mentioned states have openly declared that though ‘we speak Igbo, bear Igbo names, we are not Igbos’. These people actually speak Igbo. Close examination of their cultural practices reveal that Omenana; the Igbo culture, is also their culture. And clearly culture, and language which is an aspect of culture determines what or who one is; i.e, ones origins. So why do we have people who are Igbos disowning their identity?

I would need a book to answer the question, but because this is a newspaper I’ll try to compress my answer. I will get back to the question later, but for now I will try to work on what the tribal origin of the Igbos is, with the objective of trying to discover why there is so much complications with the issue of the Igbo identity.

The Igbos have generally not taken their tribal identity serious.

Igbo laxity has created room for certain people who do not know the importance of history, to introduce dangerous and mischievous distortions, and even fabrications into Igbo history.

Presently we have Igbo “historians” who have without a shred of evidence “proven” that the Igbos existed before the biblical Adam did. And they were scholarly, and bold enough to admit that they got this information from Ile Ife. And that they were motivated by Afro-centrism, and black-colour pride. We also have some who say that the biblical Melchizedek was Igbo, and that it was he who taught Abraham, the Hebrew patriarch the importance of monotheism. Even though some of these scholars lack the basic skills (knowledge of the Hebrew language, Hebrew culture and history); that one requires to understand Hebrew sources, among which is the principal book (the Tanakh), that talked about Adam, Melchizedek, and Abraham; they have rushed to the press with their ‘great discoveries’. Some Igbos have also claimed that they originated from Bini. A cursory comparison of the claimants’, and the Bini cultures reveals that the claimants were motivated to make the false claim purely by the desire to make mischief, and inferiority complex.

Distortions and fabrications should be kept out of history. Many of the conflicts that have shocked the world, and cost humanity dearly; especially the religious ones, wouldn’t have arisen if recorders had written exactly what happened. Many chroniclers have written what did not happen, as what happened, and have led many gullible people into basing their faith on empty lies, and emotions.

So, if the Igbo people have not treated their history as something that is sacrosanct, should it be surprising that some of the Igbos from Edo, Delta, and Rivers, deny that they are Igbos today?

It shouldn’t be surprising for many reasons, among which is the one that the groups that deny, do so because they are confused. And the second one which is that they learnt the fine art of self-denial from their kinsmen-those that admit that they are Igbos today. I will throw more light on what I’m getting at with the following illustration by talking about two episodes that were narrated in Things Fall Apart, and No Longer At Ease; two seminal works by that most clever Igbo; Chinua Achebe.

Okonkwo; that great Igbo freedom fighter who stood against desecration of the Igbos through desecration of Omenana, and seizure of the Igbos’ freedom by the invading British, died in the struggle. And his first son, Nwoye who had joined the enemies, refused to attend his funeral. And when Nwoye’s wife died, the son, Obi, repeated what Nwoye did, by not attending the funeral of his mother, Nwoye’s wife.

The Igbos from Edo, Delta, and Rivers, are simply repeating what the Igbos as a people have been doing. The Igbos generally act as if they feel that where they came from is not important. The self-denying Igbos from the afore-mentioned states say that they are not Igbos. In other words; just as the Igbos generally do not attach much importance to their Israelitishness, so do some of the Igbos of Edo, Delta, and Rivers, whom I regard as self-denying Igbos feel that they are not Igbo, and say so.

So at last who are the Igbos? Two Igbos; Peter Opara and Gavriel Ogugua, had after attending a meeting of the World Igbo Congress, visited the officials of the American Jewish Committee, and had told them that: ‘…. Igbos feel a spiritual bond with Jews because, Igbos have not been able to trace their origin back to anywhere else other than Israel”1.
If sharing of a similar culture is indicative of a common origin, I would agree with Opara, and Ogugua, and I agree with them. Credible and authentic research about Igbo origins have pointed only at Israel, as the place of origins of the Igbos.

If this is an established fact, and I say that it is; because studies and comparison of Igbo culture (Omenana), and Judaism (the culture of Israel), asusu Igbo (the Igbo language), and Ibrit (Hebrew language), the Igbo and the Jewish DNA’s, and Igbo history, have all indicated that the Igbos and the Jews were originally one people, and that the Hebrew culture which is the basis of their culture evolved in ancient Israel, why haven’t the Igbos done the proper thing? The proper thing should be to introduce into the curricula of the schools and other institutions that impart knowledge to the Igbos the information about the Igbos origins. But in the curricula of all the schools, and the programmes of all the other institutions that cater to the Igbos educational needs such as the churches, which have existed for decades, and the synagogues which have started growing among the Igbos, information about the Igbos origins is totally absent. This is also what obtains in most of the print and electronic mass media. Save the National Times newspaper which has been impressive, and the Sun which reports on the subject occasionally, a follower of news is not likely to get enough information about where the Igbos originated from. And the Igbo organizations! Only the Igbo Israel Union (Society), and the Igbo Origin and Culture Research Society have prioritized the very important subject of the Igbos origins.

So in the final analysis I say that the Igbos are the descendant of Israel that migrated from the Holy Land, through North Africa, the Sahara desert, and resettled in the rain forests of what became the South-East of Nigeria.


Answer to Ques No 1 and 2. I have tried more to find out what the Igbos think, and want to do about their origins, identity and culture. That's more important to me. You can find more about my thoughts in my latest post (to go up tonight).I don't know any Igbo that has tried to make aliyah. I have not tried. I'm still preoccupied with what I'm doing here. Have you applied to make aliyah?I'm not acquianted with Mr. Nessim Gaon, and unfortunately I'm not in a position to help, as I do not work for any Israeli outfit. I must say that I'm sorry for your troubles. I must also say that I'm not an Israeli citizen, and can't answer for 'Israeli officials or NGOs'.
Remy Ilona

Saturday, August 14, 2010



This brief survey introduces the Igbo people, traces the origin of the Igbo people, and talks about why the Igbos must invest all their energy, strength and resources to know who they are, and reconnect to their source.
Presently the Igbos are a sub-Saharan African people numbering up to 40 millions that are autochthonous/indigenous in the territory that is currently called the South East of Nigeria. The term ‘South East’ is a political designation. The South East in Nigeria means the area called the ‘core’ Igbo states. These are Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. These states are also regarded, and referred to as the Igbo heartland.
There are also Igbos that are autochthonous/ indigenous in Edo, Delta, and Rivers states of Nigeria.
The Igbos are Igbos today, but what were they before they became Igbos? The word ‘Igbo’ is helpful in the quest to answer the question.
The tribal/national name of the people in discussion ‘Ibo; or ‘Igbo’ is derived from Ibri. Interestingly a foreigner dropped the hint which helped me to unravel the puzzle, in my opinion.
According to the foreigner; one of the missionaries who worked in Igboland: ‘All my attempts to trace the origin of the name Ibo have been unsuccessful. My most reliable informants have been able to offer no other alternative than that it is most probably an abbreviation of a longer name connected with an ancestor long since forgotten.’3
Abraham is the ancestor of Israel. And Abraham was specifically referred to as ‘Abram the Hebrew’ (Gen.14:13). Many Igbos have suggested that the word ‘Ibo’ which virtually all non Igbos use to address the Igbos is a corruption of ‘Hebrew.’ I know that they mean Ibri or Ivri which are the Hebrew language equivalents of Hebrew which itself is a Greek-Latin-English translation of Ibri or Ivri.
If as Genesis 14:13 posited, Abram is the Ibri. And his descendants from Isaac and Jacob went on to retain the name ha-Ibri (the Hebrews), we do not have to go far to know where the name/word ‘Igbo’ came from. The people known as the Jews today were known as the Israelites, and also as ha Ibri (the Hebrews), after their ancestors Israel and Abraham. All that we have seen in Igbo culture indicate that the Igbos emanated from the twelve tribes of Israel. Logic tells the rest of the story. It is a tradition for the Igbos to bear the names of their ancestors. All Igbos are from one clan or the other, and all the clans or most of them bear the names of their ancestors/founders, or at least names formed from those of the founding fathers or in a few cases mothers. One could ask; why won’t the Igbo people as a whole assume the name of their ancestor- ha Ibri? Listening to a modern Jew pronounce Ibri, you would conclude that he/she is saying Igbo. With all the aforesaid we can say that the Igbos simply retained the earliest name of/designation for the people of Israel, and the name that all the tribes would feel comfortable with. Perceptive modern Jews have observed that Igbos may feel more comfortable if identified as Hebrews rather than as Jews, because they didn’t all descend from the Jews (from the tribe of Judah). This deserves more talk though. The term ‘Jew’ is also used to represent the Israelites and the Hebrews presently, just as England stands for Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. And the U.S.A., and Russia respectively stand and stood for the American continent, and the defunct U.S.S.R.
So the above having been said and done with I repeat that the Igbos are of Hebraic descent. 99.9% of the Igbos know that the Igbos came from Israel. One would be right to wonder about why 0.1 % of the Igbos would not know about their origins. The explanations would be multifaceted. One could say that all the Igbos know that the Igbos were Hebrews a few years ago, because the knowledge of who the Igbos are was more in previous years, and in fact it recedes year by year. Knowledgeable Igbo elders who did not have the benefit of the European type education that became fashionable after the British conquest and colonization of the Igbos knew that the Igbo people are ha Ibri (Hebrews), because their fathers told them. I talked with some of them at Nri clan, and preserved their testimonies for posterity in the Igbo Israel Video Interview series. Today the knowledge is receding because Igbo history as a subject of instruction has been absent from the curricula of all the educational and religious institutions that have ‘catered’ to the ‘needs’ of the Igbos, since the Igbos were defeated and colonized. A close reading of the earlier works of Chinua Achebe, John Munonye, Chukwuemeka Ike, and Remy Chukwukaodinaka Ilona will reveal that the Igbo people began to develop feelings of inferiority, and self-hate, after the colonial authorities had intervened, and branded Igbo culture pagan.
The event or process that I described above led to severe losses. The same can be said about most of the mass media that have sold their products to the Igbo people. Save the National Times newspaper, no newspaper in Nigeria talks about Igbo history and culture. And Nollywood! The film industry which was built up with Igbo sweat and money but which the Igbo builders have virtually handed over to people from the competing peoples of Nigeria, because the Igbo film marketers/producers as they are called want to make money. Nollywood has excelled! It has excelled in distorting Igbo history, and ridiculing the Igbos! Even though Omenana has room for egalitarianism and republicanism only, Igbo film-makers specialize in making ’Igbo films’, which portray this Igbos as corrupt feudalists with still more corrupt monarchies. And interestingly as the film producers stray they get more destructive. Presently they use non Igbo film actors to play the roles of Igbo ‘kings’. So would anybody be surprised if a few Igbos do not know that the Igbos are Israelites. And a great majority of those that know that the Igbos are Israelites do not know that Omenana 9Igbo culture) is Israelite culture, i.e, their knowledge of their origins is not really meaningful, because they do not know what Omenana is, and that the Hebrew Bible is extracted from Omenana. However there is a minority that retain the knowledge that the Igbos are Jews, as the modern Hebrew is more regularly addressed, in a meaningful way, i.e, they know that the Igbos are Jewish, and that that sets them apart as people of God, and gives them the responsibility to live differently from their neighbours; i.e, demands that they live according to the dictates of the Written and Oral Laws of God (the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the Mishna and the Gemarra). This minority is the Igbo-Israel.
This minority is working to heal the Igbo people, and rebuild Igbo intellectual, spiritual, and material heritage.
I have been privileged to work with this section of the Igbos. That the Igbo people are in trouble is the best kept secret in the world. In Nigeria the catch-phrases for the Igbos today is ‘Igbo problem’, and ‘marginalization’. Where the Igbos live in exile the story is not different. The situation is bad to the extent that it prompted an Igbo intellectual, one of the most productive minds of the Igbos; who lives in the United States to write the following missive:

“Anybody who sees the Igbo situation in simple linear perspectiveeither is ignorant of the profound realities or dishonest. The Igbohas entered an emergency phase, and it requires good old political andsocial organizing to restore it. One of the most critical problems inAla-Igbo today is the nature of its human and ecological environment:social instability - that is, difficulties in the prospects ofsettling has made it impossible for Igbo young men and women now tomarry at the natural age - between 25-35. Young men now marry at theaverage age of 40 years. Many Igbo women are without prospects ofmarriage, having crossed certain thresholds. The implication is that45% of Igbo people are not reproducing a new generation. Those who getmarried are suffering from curious stages of infertility as a resultof environmental degradation and chemical pollution- through oilexploration activities and groundwater toxification. Anepidemiological survey carried out in the whole of Igbo land todaywill reveal a most deadly truth: a huge number of the Igbo are dyingfrom AIDS, new forms of Cancer, and Diabetes - from poor nutrition.These are issues that we must address holistically because they flowfrom the nature of the relationship between the PEOPLE and theirgovernment. The Igbo themselves have not sat down to confront theirelected representatives with an action plan, and with suggestions ofthe means to carry it out, and a timeline and oversight. The problemof insecurity occasioned by new waves of kidnapping only complicatesthis: but to put this simply, our greatest problem is not the problemof this new wave of selective and directed terrorism. It is that theIgbo as a people have learnt to be DEPENDENT on some external factor orfigure whom they expect to solve their problems. I have said thisbefore, WE ARE ALL GUILTY - either by silence, inaction, or directcomplicity.All those who wish to participate in the restoration and rebuilding ofIgbo land must begin to re-think our relationships with that land.Anaghi ano uti agba ntele ukwu. We must get active”.
The situation is as bad, or even worse than as portrayed in the missive above, but only some elements among the Igbo-Israel have really seen the handwriting on the wall. That there is danger! That there is no time to waste! The generality of the Igbos feel helpless, because they are helpless. Disarmed by ignorance, and illiteracy in Igbo studies, Igbos with even post-graduate degrees do not know what to say or do to stem the decline of the Igbo nation. Fortunately Igbo-Israel is growing!
In recognition of the above problems, and inspired by the action plan and road map laid out in books: The Igbos: Jews In Africa-With Solutions To The Most Critical Igbo Problems and Introduction To The Chronicles Of Igbo Israel-And The Connections Between The Afro Americans and the Jews, a group of Igbo scholars, professionals, businessmen, artistes, and bureaucrats have come together as The Igbo Origin and Culture Research Society to contribute to the positive growth and development of the Igbo people, and Igboland. The Society will very likely present its programmes to the Igbo people in the month of October, in 2010. It will use the opportunity to present some of the afore-mentioned books and premiere the Igbo-Israel Video Interview to the Igbo, Jewish and general public. It is also organizing an Igbo summit where solutions would be found to many of the ills that plague ndi Igbo today; such as brother kidnapping of brother which is alien to Igbo culture. In addition it will also appraise ndi Igbo about some programmes that it is working on; such as the preservation of the Igbo migration story in film. And the Igbo-Israel International Music Festival, an initiative of Moore Black Chi Mmadike, an Igbo reggae artiste, and Vice President (International) Igbo-Israel Union (Society), who is based in Australia.

=A Short Story From Igbo Israel
=The Igbos: Jews n Africa; Vol 1
=The Igbos: Jews In Africa: With Reflections on the Civil War and Solutions to the most critical Igbo problems
= A Brief Study of the Foundations of Ancient Israel: From the Igbo Experience and Perspective
=Introduction To The Chronicles of Igbo Israel-And The Connections Between The Afro-Americans and The Jews
=From Ibri to Igbo-40 million More Jews

By Chukwukaodinaka (Remy) Ilona: Lawyer, Jewish/Igbo Studies scholar, and writer.
Kulanu Inc’ Liaison for Nigeria
Founding president: The Igbo Israel Union (Society)
Field Correspondent: International Society for the study of African Jewry (I.S.S.A.J)
Secretary: Igbo Origin and Culture Research Society

Sunday, August 1, 2010



Remy Ilona

Will I ever stop being grateful to the God of Israel? Two miracle workers were used by God to save mylife. They carried out a laporoctomy on me, opened my side, brought out my colon, made an incision on it,from where I passed waste for 2 months, to enable the natural openingto heal.After two and a half months I went back to the 2men of God (the surgeons). After examinations they confirmed that mywounds had healed, and they put back the colostomy successfully. Withlaparoctomy (entire opening of the stomach, and bringing out of allthe large intestines and colon for cleansing) and colostomy operationssuccessful I'm in no doubt that He who rescued Israel from Egypt, Hewho made sure that the Igbos were not completely wiped out during theBiafra war, and He whom Israel worships, intervened and saved me fromthe clutches of death. May the God of Israel, and Him alone be blessedand praised!

I offered the thanksgiving above because of the following episode.

In November 2009 I went to Maiduguri; to try to avoid impending death, and return to life. I believe that the God of Israel; the God that I offered the prayer above to; led me to Maiduguri where the duo of Dr. Uche Eni and Dr. Na’aya performed the real miracle which I will describe shortly hereafter.

The two are consultant general surgeons in the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri, Nigeria.

The following story is about sickness, near death, medical practice in Nigeria, faith, real miracles, and restoration.

My problems began during a working visit to Lagos. Staying in Victoria Island while I carried out the work that took me to Lagos I began to eat junk food. As Victoria Island lacks places where an Igbo could find Igbo food such as akpu and ofe onugbu, etc, an Igbo may find himself relying on the wrong foods; such as meat-pies, egg-rolls, and mineral water.

I had constipation, and anal fissures/haemorrhoids. While I was doing my best to treat this condition many things happened. Literally I put one foot in the grave, and would have put the other in too, if God had not saved me.

The following was what happened.

I am reporting my experiences and observations; not as a doctor which I am not, but as a fully grown rational adult who can understand when things are done rightly, and when they are done wrongly.

I am a lawyer, researcher and author. These three disciplines sharpen ones ability to reason, and understand. Bad luck led me to a surgeon who works at the University of Jos Teaching Hospital, Plateau State, Nigeria. The man who describes himself as a consultant general, and cardio thoracic surgeon, incidentally hails from Anambra; my home state. And he is a professor of medicine. Recommended by a friend I consulted this man at his private centre in the central part of Jos, and he agreed to give me treatment for what he called a ‘very minor ailment’. Following the surgery to repair the damage which I had suffered one thing that I was sure of was that I was not getting well or even better. And I was very worried because I hadn’t regained the ability to pass waste through the natural organ. Dutifully I was complaining to the nurses. And I am sure that they were transmitting my complaints to the professor. I followed up by complaining to him, but he waved aside my complaint in some anger. Nearly two weeks after I entered the medical centre I was discharged with the instruction that I should report after one month for a check-up. After returning home I continued to follow the professor’s instructions; to administer sitz bath on the site of the operation with water that was at 100 degrees centigrade. I was not feeling better; and was not regaining the ability to exercise some of my bodily functions, but because I felt that a professor of medicine would not have made a mistake carrying out the repair of anal fissures/haemorrhoids I believed that what I was experiencing was normal. And that I would get better in time. But I did not get better. Rather my condition continued to get worse. In addition to my inability to regain the use of the organ on which the operation was carried out, with time I began to loose the ability to sleep, to urinate, and to walk or stand erect. In all I practically did not sleep for I month. Meanwhile I continued to call the professor to complain about my deteriorating condition. I can still hear his voice telling me to ‘sit on it (my ailment)’. Slowly but surely my life was passing away, and I felt it, and was filled with dread and foreboding, but still could not believe that the professor did not carry out the operation appropriately. I continued to complain to the professor, and at a point he instructed me to proceed to Jos for a check-up. I traveled to Jos, and checked into his medical centre. And this gentleman continued trying to harm me. During my first admission at his medical centre he had injured my arm while trying to insert acanular into my veins for IV infusions. During my second visit his nurses continued to carry out his instruction that the saline solution for my sitz bath should be with boiling water. And he sent me for an XRAY which returned a result that my intestines, colon, and rectum were filled with desiccated faeces. After seeing the result of the XRAY the professor began to apply enema to the site of the operation which he had confirmed that it was badly infected. All I know was that my condition continued to worsen. And the professor discharged me; issuing me with a medical report that I had recovered fully, and completely. I returned to Abuja; practically dying. Another round of consulting of doctors in Abuja ensued. Most of the doctors that I consulted turned me away because, I believe they felt that I would die. At this point my jewel of inestimable value; my wife Ife’yi’nwa decided that I must go to Maiduguri, to see her doctors; Uche Eni, and Na’aya. Then she raised an alarm that a calamity was about to happen. Money issues arose because much of my own funds had been expended paying the bills of the professor, so my niece; Uche Onwumelu Umeokolo who is as dear to me as a daughter tearfully led a fund-raising effort. Some substantial funds were raised and I proceeded to Maiduguri. By the time I got to Maiduguri I was feeling like a corpse. With my faithful friend Ndubisi Ezeatum I made my way to the Borno Medical Clinic; an excellent health facility founded by Dr. V. C. M’oghalu, an old benefactor of mine.

Five minutes after entering the clinic in the semi-desert town of Maiduguri, I was sitting face to face to face with Drs. Eni and Na’aya, barely able to talk, and to even stand.

The two men reminded me of Moses who was the greatest, but also the humblest Israelite to exist in his time. Very humble men, they hadn’t any of those airs that some Nigerian achievers usually have. These men are miracle workers who do the job they have dedicated their lives to doing with passion, and love. Jocularly addressing each other as “my boss” they began the work that saved my life. To restore me back to good health they carried out on me some surgeries that many doctors that I am friendly with have confirmed that they were fearful, and very risky to be carried out in Nigeria. To remove the desiccated faeces they carried out a laparoctomy on me, and gave me a colostomy, so that the injuries inflicted on me during the initial operation by the professor, which had hitherto not healed would have a chance to heal.

Today I am completely healthy. And I am grateful to God, Who gave me a good wife, niece, family, and friends. And very importantly, Who gave to humanity the duo of Dr Eni and Dr. Na’aya.

For saving me from an early death I resolved to sing the praises of the ultimate Authority for the rest of my life. In furtherance of this did I compose the afore-mentioned prayer of thanksgiving. And to make sure that it gets to His primary earthly place of abode, my big brother Herman Storick, a man of Israel from America ensured that the thanksgiving got to the crevices of the remaining wall of the beth Hamikdash (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem); one of the places that my prayers for good health ended up in.