Saturday, November 28, 2015

An Igbo Rhyme That Is A Jewish Rhyme (Had Gadya) Translated from Igbo by the Author

CHAPTER TWENTY: Concluding Parts  
The Igbos And Israel-An Inter-cultural Study of the Largest Jewish Diaspora

Linguistic Similarities

Linguistic Similarities
And while my comparison of Igbo and Ivrit is still in infancy I must reveal that I have observed that both languages share quite an uncommon resemblance; from idiomatic expressions, to similar words having similar meanings in both, etc. An Igbo who compared Igbo and Hebrew as part of her graduate work reached the conclusion that both languages are genetically related. Below is part of the work that I have started to do in the studying of both languages:
It is interesting that the Igbo word for house or home is be, and the Hebrew word for house is bes or beth. That an Igbo type of light is urimmu, and six of the lights on the breast-plate of the Israelite chief priest is urim. That the meaning of Israel’s Name for God in Hebrew Yawe, is ‘I am’, and in Igbo Yawu means ‘He is’.  That wine in Hebrew is yayin and mmanya in Igbo. Abraham to the Igbo is Abiama. We must admit that Abraham and Abiama are close in spelling and pronunciation. The Creator of the universe to the Igbos is Chukwu Abiama (Great God of Abraham). Omenana is the phrase for the Igbos religion and culture, and Emuna is the Hebrew word for faith. And adam (Hebrew) and madu (Igbo) both mean man (humans).
G.T. Basden devoted a large portion of his work to a comparison of Igbo and Israelite traditions, and he started the comparison thus:
‘There are one or two peculiarities of idiom in Ibo similar to some found in Hebrew. The chief parallel is found in the repetition of words to express a single idea and, perhaps to add emphasis. The practice of reduplicating verbs or adding their cognate nouns is characteristic of Ibo- e.g. ‘O galu aga’ = he passed; ‘o jelu ije’ = he went. As a rule, the addition makes little or no appreciable difference to the meaning. There are many verbs which are rarely used without reduplication or with their derived noun either attached or in close proximity, e.g., we have such terms as “murmur a murmur” = “o natamu atamu”, or, as we have in the litany, “those who have erred”= “ndi jefielu ejefie”, and “those who are deceived” = “ndi alaputalu alaputa.”5
My exploratory work on the idioms, expressions, usages, etc, is set out hereafter.
Moses’ call on ‘heaven and earth’ to be his witness that he gave Israel sufficient warning to stay away from idolatry and evil made profound impact on me the first time I read it scholastically (in Deuteronomy 4:26), because it is our (Igbo) fashion when we want to really lay emphasis on a matter in discussion. When the Igbo man says ‘enu igwe na ana nukwa onu m’ (‘may heaven and earth hear my voice’) he is really serious, and does not want to play with the matter that made him to utter those words. An Igbo writer; S.C. Onwuka mentioned that Igbos call upon ‘heaven and earth to witness’ while they are praying.6 I submit that it is not just coincidental that both languages have such an identical expression, and use it in similar circumstances.
Also Dr. J. H. Hertz, a Jewish scholar; had while explaining the nuance in Numbers 14:22, “these ten times” stated that it could stand for a ‘large number of times’. He further explained it to mean: “They had now filled up the measure of their iniquities, and punishment must inevitably come upon them.”7 Dr. Hertz used expressions very close to the Igbo idiom—‘iko ya ejuna’, which means that he has exhausted all his chances, but which can be translated literally to mean ‘his cup or measure is filled up.’ Igbos use this phrase or idiom when an evil doer gets caught and is awaiting punishment. From Hertz’s explanation it is easy to see that the same idea lies behind both the Igbo usage of the expression, and the Israelite usage, as explained by Hertz.
Hertz also explains, ‘for they are bread for us’ which is in Numbers 14:9 as meaning that:
‘We shall easily destroy them.’8
His explanation is very similar to an Igbo expression nni nracha ka ha wu which literally means (‘they are easy food’), which if employed during a quarrel or fight signifies that the opponent can be defeated easily.
Also very interesting is the nearness of words that Jacob and his sons deployed when they were talking about Joseph’s supposed loss, to a wild beast, to the words that Igbos would have used in similar circumstances.
The sons reported that an ‘evil beast’ might have devoured their brother. Jacob also referred to the beast as an ‘evil beast.’ Genesis 37:35.9 Ordinarily a beast is either a wild one or a domestic one. But I understand what Jacob and his sons said and why because as an Igbo I know that Igbos will refer to a ferocious or wild beast as ajo anu (evil beast), even though the beast could have equally been tagged anu ofia (wild beast) by the Igbos.
One comes across the phrase ‘the anger of the Lord was kindled’,—Numbers 12:9, ‘My wrath shall wax hot’,-Exodus 22:23. If the phrases are translated into Igbo language we will have iwe oku which means hot anger.
The Igbos call their anger iwe oku (hot anger) when they are very angry. As I was pointing out in the section that dealt with “evil beast,” is anger supposed to be “hot” or cold? Applying such adjectives in certain cases makes sense to me only when I consider that every language has its own idioms and characteristics.
I will make a preliminary conclusion of this section with the words of Basden: “The language (Igbo) also bears several interesting parallels with the Hebrew idiom.”10
But before making my final comment on this subject which I am just beginning to look at I want to bring up more strikingly similar Igbo and Hebrew words which have identical or near meanings.
It is not mere coincidence that makes may- im- hayy-iym “waters of life, living waters,” in Hebrew similar to iyi which is “stream, river” in Igbo language.
Also the belt that was part of the Israelite priest’s garment—the ephod or ‘efowd, which is comparable with the Igbo word mfiedo = girdle or belt.
In addition the Hebrew nasas /nasah which are “be clear, be pure /shinning”, can be related to the Igbo nso and which can be used for holiness. Aso can also be used for holiness, and in Igbo thought what is nso or aso (holy) is pure.
And I also observed that many Igbo words like unyahu, ebe ahu, and nke ahu (yesterday, that place, and that thing) definitely excites one to think of Hebrew names like Eliyahu, Netanyahu, Yeshayahu, etc., because of the ahu endings. It also occurred to me that Igbos would include an u when pronouncing a name like John giving out something like Johnu. I was moved by the following prayer: Barukh atah Adonai….shehekhyanu vekiymanu vehigianu lazman hazeh, because of the nu endings. I find it my favorite prayer in Hebrew. Researchers would find this area very interesting to explore I predict.
As I am only beginning an exploration of this section I will not go too far. I will not make definitive assertions on the relationship between the Igbo and Hebrew languages at this stage. However I must say that my observation is that the Igbo spoken fifty years ago was not very dissimilar in aspects like sound, pronunciation, etc, with ancient Ivrit. Shortly I will resume a comparison of both languages with Avraham Phil van Riper; an American Jewish scholar.

Remy engages in discussion about the similarities between Igbo and Hebrew

Van Riper can actually talk about the Igbos, because he has been studying the Igbos from many important angles for years. Alongside Professor Isaac Mozeson, the author of The Origin of Speeches-Intelligent Design In Language, Igbo-American Sampson Hannuka, and myself, Van Riper has been working to find Igbo words that are as he said, ‘clearly related to ancient Hebrew’. I can say that some important progress has been made in this project, but that more astonishing finds and revelations will come up when more Igbos that know Hebrew and similar languages like Aramaic, and Arabic join the effort. And while we are at it, it will be good to conduct a little demonstration about how close the Igbo and the Hebrew languages are to each other. Among the Igbos, when a man pre-deceases the father, by Igbo customs and traditions something that is note-worthy, and very important has happened. The position of the first son is very important in the Igbo family. Among other things the first son (di okpara) takes over from the father as the priest of the family, and gets a larger share of the inheritance. If the individual who died while the father was still alive was the first son, and had married and gotten a son or sons, his own son would not get the rights of the first son of the family, even though his father was the first son. The rights would go to the younger brother of the deceased (the uncle of the son of the deceased), because the deceased ‘nwuru na ihu nna ya’, (he died in the presence of the father). Curiously, what do we find in Genesis 11: 28?- “And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah…….” The writer of Genesis could have written that Haran died when/while the father was still alive. The writer could also have written that Haran died before….or pre-deceased the father. Both statements are standard constructions in English language. But he could not have, because he was translating from Hebrew to English, and had to try as much as possible to present what he saw. And what he saw in the Hebrew language is what is found in the Igbo language-that the way to present the death of a son when the father is still alive, is ‘that he died in the presence of the father.’ This somewhat confirms what G. T. Basden, the Welsh-Anglican missionary and anthropologist who lived  among the Igbos for many years, observed so many years ago in his book  Niger Ibos:1966-that “Igbo language runs an interesting parallel with Hebrew idiom.” More detailed studies of the similarities between the Igbo and the Hebrew languages can be conducted by reading the relevant sections of The Igbos And Israel: An Inter-cultural Study of the Largest Jewish Diaspora, and www.edenic/

Master Avraham Van Riper on Igbo and Hebrew

A.  Talking About Possible Jewish presence in Nigeria

American Jewish student of world Jewish history Avraham Van Riper transmitted the following in a letter to Chika Oduah, an American-Nigerian journalist who was writing a story for the CNN about the Igbo people of Nigeria who believe that they are Jews, and whom an increasing number of non Igbos have began to believe that they are Jews.

In response Van Riper gave Oduah a brief history of the Jews, highlighting that indeed Jews went to, and many times settled in most parts of the world.

Van Riper noted: “Yes! Everybody knows about the major dislocation at the hands of the Assyrian Empire around 2600 years ago. Everybody knows that King Solomon was married to a rather famous East African ruler. And that at some point she and her son...the king's son...traveled back to East Africa. Everybody knows there were other occasional dislocations. And business travel. All thousands of years ago. Everybody knows that King Solomon dispatched a fleet of ships southward and eastward into the Indian Ocean, and that three years later the fleet, or part of it, returned to Israel...on the Mediterranean coast. Since there was no Suez Canal back then we know the fleet either circumnavigated Africa, the entire continent - or - they circumnavigated the planet! Either way, a big deal. Everybody knows that Jews and Phoenicians settled all across northern Africa. And when we read about 'Phoenicians’, 'we're often reading both about Jews and Phoenician people (as sailors, merchants, whatever). Everybody knows that Jews got kicked out of just about every country in Europe, leading to the big expulsion from Spain and then Portugal. And everyone knows that some of them sought refuge in West Africa. Perhaps in lots of places up and down West Africa”.

Van Riper also informed Oduah about his own observation:

“The 'problem' is determining and documenting who showed up where and when. The Beta Yisrael (Ethiopian Jews) could point to a few documents written by Jewish scholars hundreds of years ago. The Lemba people in Zimbabwe and RSA can provide DNA sequencing that shows they are descended from Jews (Edith Bruder, the University of London scholar that wrote the Black Jews of Africa is impressed enough with what she found in her study of the Igbo that she tried to mobilize resources for a study of the DNA of the Igbo)….Van Riper continued…..Although my Igbo brothers and sisters have a problem with actual documentation, actual paperwork - I've learned that they have a rather extensive mass of circumstantial data to present...if they were to pursue 'official' recognition as Jews. Chika, you're an anthro, not just a reporter. Check out just half of the 'data!' ……………….. Oh, I almost forgot language! There are lots of Asusu Igbo words that can, even now in 2013, be shown to be clearly related to ancient Hebrew……………….”

Uri in Igbo and Hebrew

or OO-ree Meaning of Uri: "my flame, my light" Origin of Uri: Hebrew.
As a young man when I visited my grandmother the saintly Janette Nwazuonu Nwosu, may her memory be for a blessing, we used a kind of Igbo *light* called '*uri* mmu'

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Remy Ilona at the Jewish Museum in Miami on 16th Nov '15

Remy Ilona Friends, thanks for commenting and congratulating us. A very important update follows. I just stepped in, after spending the evening at the Jewish Museum in Miami Beach, Florida, where the Distinguished Professor Tudor Parfitt, who is one of the fathers of Jewish Diasporic Studies gave a great lecture about the phenomenon of the emerging and re-emerging Jewish communities. It was a lecture that you wouldn't like to end. The professor meticulously took us around the world, and with great skill told us what is happening in each place, steps that the relevant authorities in Israel are contemplating to take, what the 'communities themselves are doing, what researchers have done, and are doing, etc. And my people, the Igbo story was among the stories recounted. And were those in attendance which included scholars from institutions like the MIT, Florida International University faculty and students wowed? They were. There were many questions, and Professor Parfitt took them all. And at the end of the day, the Jewish people, and some members of the Parfitt Clan that were also in attendance left with much satisfaction. Yours humbly enjoyed the evening thoroughly. He engaged many of the invitees in lively discussions.....

Monday, August 3, 2015

Comparing the Igbo and other Nigerian cultures on toilet practices

...comparing the Igbo and the other cultures of Nigeria................REMY ILONA:The last discussion which was on eating habits was very enriching. Many persons made very valuable comments.

I would like us to talk about another custom today. How do the Igbo and other Nigerians deal with defecation and human faeces?

When I grew up in Igboland, every Igbo home in Ozubulu had a pit latrine situated some distance away from the main dwellings. I cannot recall any dwelling that did not have toilets or latrines, and when a miscreant child mischievously defecated on the farms or on the roads, what I observed was that the first person that saw the excrement would exclaim, 'anya afuo m aru' (my eyes have beheld an abominable thing), quickly look for an egg, break it, and smear the contents on the eye (our belief is that this is purification), and a search is conducted for the offender who's parents will be fined.

Yesterday in synagogue, as we discussed Omenana Joseph N Igbo recounted what was the older practice in his Orogwe, near Owerri. He said that in the distant past when many Igbos could not afford toilets, that what people did was to head into the wilds with "mbazu"-a spear-like farming implement, and on getting to the wilds-very far from human dwellings, the person in need would dig holes with the implement, relieve himself/herself over the holes, cover the excrement carefully with sand, and return home, fully relieved.

And what does the Igbo (Hebrew) Book of life say?....Deuteronomy 23:13 says.....And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement......

I mentioned in my last post that I have lived in many non Igbo parts of Nigeria. In one part, that is deemed to be the most sophisticated presently, and its people the most civilized, the people defecate in their bedrooms, living rooms, and in all parts of their homes. Fully grown adults retire into their homes with the plastic bowl called 'poo', defecate inside it, and pour the excrement on the streets.

In some other parts people simply defecated on streets, leave the excrement uncovered and walk away.

And in some areas people have the tradition of defecating inside bodies of water.

These are part of my observations....
Like Comment

You, Luke Chinweuba Eke, Moore Black Chi Mmadike, ‎אבן כהן‎ and 2 others like this.
Leo I. Chiegboka: This was and still obtained at my place and Aguata however, you can now see some dispicanle acts as you walk along the ways.
21 hrs · Unlike · 1
אבן כהן :Defecation is simply defined as act of discharge of feces from the body. Even though is act is purely natural, most people according to their culture does not discharge feces properly. The Igbo for instance responds to this natural call positively by not deficating in their farms, market places, and other designated public or private areas. The reason for doing that in Igbo culture is because feces though regarded as a waste, is not only loathsome but very foul smelling. In other tribes' culture, I have not seen feces properly handled or disposed. Take for instance; I went to a kiosk in a motor park in Lagos to buy some biscuits. On getting there I saw a woman who covered herself, sitting just beside the open door of the kiosk and I asked her if the seller is around to sell some items to me. A man who wanted me to board his vehile came to me and said; "nwa nne! okwa I bu onye Igbo?" And I answered 'yes', then he said; "hapu nwanyi ahu obu nsi ka onanyi." I was shocked and horridly left the scene because I can not imagine a full flaged person deficating openly in the public right there in the business shop! Ever since then, I stopped buying biscuits and other sealed edible things for travel in the park and similar places. Today, it needed the power of task force to stop defecation on the main roads and other public areas, a typical sign how their culture view feces. please-give-us-toilets-uncle-fashol a-id2799180.html
19 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 1
Nnamdi Ezeji: Another good observation Remy.
14 hrs · Unlike · 2
Remy Ilona: Nnamdi, thanks. Great differences exist between the Igbo and other Nigerians. Knowing and understanding these differences will help the Igbo to cope.
12 hrs · Unlike · 1
Chinonye Laz :@Remy Ilona, broda it is quite appolling, a great eye saw i am sorry to say this the only thing yorubas never do with feces is cooking. As for toilet they do not digg atall, in Lagos what they normally do is connect their toilet pipe to the gotta thats all. And thesame to the hawusa Fulani
9 hrs · Unlike · 1

Friday, July 17, 2015

Paper Delivered at the Igbo Political Conference by Remy Ilona

PAPER Delivered By Remy Ilona
Greetings my umu nne na umu nna!
I very carefully studied what I’d describe as the term of reference-to craft an Igbo political agenda, a manifesto, and possibly give ideas on what should be a political road-map for the Igbo people.
I very nearly informed Ms. Ntinugwa who has graciously kept me in the loop that I won’t be able to contribute anything at the present time, due to a few reasons:
I am very busy at the moment: tied up attending to some time and energy consuming tasks, and this may stop me from giving my best. Also I have very little interest in ‘politics’, and I do not know much about it. But from what I learned from my father, one should always view calls or summons by kinsmen as priorities and respond with alacrity. I have also observed from the three presentations submitted earlier; that presentations that don’t deal strictly with ‘politics’ could also help us to reposition our ethnic group, and are from the look of things acceptable.
Frankly much of what I wanted to recommend have been touched on by those that presented before, and in some comments. In fact the erudite summation by Prof’. Mark Odu…….” congratulations for articulating survival lines. The main ingredient for starting is mutual love and social responsibility for one another. We have to build Ndigbo to a level of trust for one another in order to motivate and power effective leadership and followership. The stomach will need to be provided for. I believe cooperation at SE Zonal level should precede any movement toward independence. Prior to that we must ensure that we have ingredients for survival. That can only be built after effective and trustworthy leadership cadres have been built and tested. In the meantime we must suffer indignities of degradation and that should power us into sustainable levels of trust in one another with attendant social responsibility for one another. We do not have to start agitating for statehood without healing ourselves and our youth of our presumptuous and atomization proclivities which invariably motivate criminal tendencies. Our age-old reverence for right thinking leaders must return before we can move forward”…. sums up what I wanted to say.
What I would recommend is that we first without further delay embark on a journey of self-discovery and without delay begin to revive the bonds of Igbo brotherhood that I believe that they have gotten frayed almost to an irretrievable level, because they have not been nourished and refreshed since ancient times.
I’ll explain why we need to rediscover who we are, because my mother used to say; ‘anwupu nkita akoro egosi ya ka ogharu idi ka owu mbo ka aturu ya’. Virtually all the laws and policies rolled out in Nigeria that on their face seem harmless are in the main very harmful and disadvantageous to the Igbo, but because the Igbo as I believe is largely unaware of who he is, he carries on as if nothing is wrong. I’ll illustrate. Take a look at the Land Use Act. This law took my, your, and everybody else lands in Nigeria and vested them on the various governors. This looks harmless, and is in fact harmless to a person or group whose lands was/were traditionally vested in the Sultan or Emir or Oba or Alaafin. But to the Igbo individual whose land was vested in him traditionally and historically, and who as of right has a vested interest in ‘ana umu nna’, can we say that this ‘new law’ would not have dangerous and hazardous consequences? What if the governor that you took my lands and gave hates me? My point is that because we know so little of and about ourselves, culture and history, and have in fact become ‘more Nigerian than Igbo’ we accept anything and everything that would lead to many problems. We also take steps and actions that would only entrap us. Though I was a toddler when Obasanjo promulgated this law that captured and reflects his own Yoruba traditions, as Nigerian Law, since I grew up I have not noticed Igbos trying to make sure that this law which runs counter to Omenana Igbo is made not applicable in Igboland. And as ‘onye gbaru nkiti kwere ekwe’….our silence could be used against us when we wake up and begin to see danger in the form of herdsmen…..
Another example: recently the Supreme Court took a decision that would destroy what’s left of the resilience and viability of both the Igbo family and the Igbo marriage by making a landmark ruling that henceforth Igbo women would share with the men all the patrimony, and this includes the ‘ana obi’. I have not seen the Igbo protests against this law that would make easy divorce an Igbo way of life in the next fifty years.
What do I make of all these? We know very little about ourselves, and we care even less.
And curiously other Nigerians that we interestingly see as less smart don’t accept what we do without question, often to our detriment. We all saw the Hausa/Fulani push aside the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when they noticed that it was infringing on their rights to practice ‘Sharia’. We also all saw the Yoruba declare publicly that by their customs and traditions that a non Yoruba can not head a market in Yorubaland. And that they have a right to determine who strangers in their land would vote for. And all these moves which should all be ultra vires the Constitution stood.
So, if as I recommend, we begin to look at ourselves with the objective of knowing who we are, what we should do, what should be our relationship with fellow Igbos, non Igbos and the Land of the Igbos, we should also begin to study what and what we should and would do to become one people “indeed” again. Other Igbos experiences may be different from mine, but as for me I am not convinced or persuaded that today the average Igbo feels that a fellow Igbo is more his brother than say a Yoruba or Ishan with whom he shares religion or religious denomination. I would also need to be convinced or persuaded that even here in this forum that we all have deep filial feelings for each other.
In addition as we work on coming back together to become umu nne again, and in deed, we should look again at the question of who is Igbo? It is queer to me that most Igbos that I meet today consider just the South East as Igbo. But that’s not what I learned from my father or what I have observed. I believe that Igbos who are as much Igbos as myself own ancestral lands, and are resident in: all the way from Edo, through Delta, the South East and Rivers. Some even say that a few are native to Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers. Last year I read a Sun story in which a big group told a haunting story about how they (the Igbos of Benue) have been left behind the lines, marooned, to be dealt ruthlessly with by the Idoma.
I recommend that all the above be dealt with urgently, because they have bearing on how we are treated by others. I want to believe that other Nigerians, never fools, have observed that there are deep disconnections between us, and that we are not united, and are thus vulnerable, and can accordingly be mistreated, and that there would likely not be consequences. An Igbo senator from Enugu state led the opposition to the inclusion of Anambra among the oil-producing states. And when Kogi sued Anambra for stealing its oil, if I am not wrong, Enugu sued Kogi, and also Anambra. Also I prefer to first deal with, and discipline myself than to begin with dealing with, and disciplining others. I have a strong conviction that if we become self-aware, knowledgeable, and one indeed again, that we would become strong again, and that our neighbours would begin to take us serious. They may not love us, but they would fear and respect us. I believe that when things get to this point, if we choose to remain a part of Nigeria, our existence in the country will not be onerous, and if we choose to leave, the other groups would not make a whimper.
As I round up I contribute the following: a people [who are one people], know who they are(are knowledgeable about their history and culture), and can thus navigate into the future with clarity would easily have an agenda, a manifesto, and a roadmap if impulses that make the afore-mentioned necessary come up.
Our job here should be easy because there seems to be a growing trend, a general realization and agreement that we are in trouble, in our families, in Igboland, in Nigeria, and I add everywhere-else.
Another little illustration may be helpful.
I must be careful so that I do not begin to write a book. During the last elections at least two calls were made for Igbos to be exterminated, even though no Igbo was vying for any really important position. If similar calls were made for Ijaw, or Yoruba or Fulani to be exterminated, it won’t be so worrying. But as the calls made were just for the Igbos to be killed, and from history its only the Igbos that have suffered genocide in Nigeria, I guess that we can agree that there is trouble. And expediently move with speed.
Dalu nu.