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……………….”