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Meet The Igbo's of Nigeria

The IGBO Jews
The Igbo are one of Nigeria's largest ethnic groups. Among them is a minority of practicing Jews who believe they are descended from the "lost tribes" of Israel. (Courtesy: Chika Oduah.)




We practiced circumcision like the Jews, and made offerings and feasts on that
occasion in the same manner as they did. Like them also, our children were named
from some event, some circumstance, or fancied foreboding at the time of their birth. I
was named Olaudah, which, in our language, signifies vicissitude or fortune also, one
favored, and having a loud voice and well spoken.
I have before remarked that the natives of this part of Africa are extremely cleanly.
This necessary habit of decency was with us a part of religion, and therefore we had
many purification and washings; indeed almost as many, and used on the same
occasions, if my recollection does not fail me, as the Jews. Those that touched the
dead at any time were obliged to wash and purify themselves before they could enter a
dwelling-house. Every woman too, at certain times, was forbidden to come into a
dwelling-house, or touch any person, or any thing we ate. I was so fond of my mother
I could not keep from her, or avoid touching her at some of those periods, in
consequence of which I was obliged to be kept out with her, in a little house made for
that purpose, till offering was made, and then we were purified.
Such is the imperfect sketch my memory has furnished me with of the manners and
customs of a people among whom I first drew my breath. And here I cannot forbear
suggesting what has long struck me very forcibly, namely, the strong analogy which

even by this sketch, imperfect as it is, appears to prevail in the manners and customs
of my countrymen and those of the Jews, before they reached the Land of Promise,
and particularly the patriarchs while they were yet in that pastoral state which is
described in Genesis—an analogy, which alone would induce me to think that the one
people had sprung from the other. 
As to the difference of colour between the Eboan Africans and the modern Jews, I
shall not presume to account for it. It is a subject which has engaged the pens of men
of both genius and learning, and is far above my strength.
"The Spaniards, who have inhabited America, under the torrid zone, for any time, are
become as dark coloured as our native Indians of Virginia; of which I myself have
been a witness." There is also another instance [J]  of a Portuguese settlement at
Mitomba, a river in Sierra Leona; where the inhabitants are bred from a mixture of the
first Portuguese discoverers with the natives, and are now become in their
complexion, and in the woolly quality of their hair, perfect negroes, retaining however
a smattering of the Portuguese language.
These instances, and a great many more which might be adduced, while they shew
how the complexions of the same persons vary in different climates, it is hoped may
tend also to remove the prejudice that some conceive against the natives of Africa on
account of their colour. Surely the minds of the Spaniards did not change with their

Igbo History: Why there is possibility that tribe is from Israel

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However, apart from the story of how they came into being, Igbo also shares some similar practices with the biblical Jews.

To believe that the Igbos is one of the lost tribes of Israel might sound ridiculous to a lot of people.

But upon factual analysis, one is forced to rethink the possibility of this claim.

Known to be the third largest of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, Igbo communities are found in the southeastern part of Nigeria.

And according to oral tradition and many writers of Igbo history, Eri is to the Igbos what Oduduwa is to the Yoruba.

But unlike Oduduwa whose father is unknown, Eri was the fifth son of Gad, the seventh son of Jacob (Genesis 46:15-18 and Numbers 26:16:18).

He was said to have migrated from Egypt with a group of companions just before the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt thousands of years ago.

Eri and his group were said to have travelled by water and finally arrived at the confluence of Ezu and Omambala Rivers, located in present-day Aguleri, Anambra State.

We were not told how long their voyage took to get to their promised land, what we were told is that Eri and his group was divinely instructed to make the confluence of Ezu and Omambala Rivers their final destination.

They would move into the hinterland and make a settlement in the present-day Aguleri. It was here that Eri lived and died.

Meanwhile, amongst Eri's children was Agulu, the eldest son who took over from his father after his demise.

It was him who appended the name of his father, Eri, to his name and founded Agulu-Eri (Aguleri) by calling the settlement where his father Eri died and he (Agulu) lived AGULERI.

However, apart from the story of how they came into being, the Igbos also shares some similar practices with the biblical Jews. And among the Igbos, these traditional practices predate the coming of the Christian missionaries.

Examples of shared traditional practices between the Jews and the Igbos include circumcising male children eight days after birth, refraining from eating "unclean" or tabooed foods, mourning the dead for seven days and celebrating the New Moon.

Supporting this belief is Daniel Lis, a foremost researcher on Jewish Identification among the Igbo from the University of Basel, Switzerland.

He affirms that there has been a clear continuity of Jewish identity among the Igbo. "It's not just something that happened yesterday," he said.

In addition to the shared practices between the Jews and the Igbos, there is a striking evidence that forces one to see a link between the Igbos and the ancient civilization of Egypt: It is the Ancient Igbo Pyramids, which is also known as the Nsude Pyramids.

The Ancient Igbo Pyramids or Nsude Pyramids is a testimony of ancient civilization among the Igbos.

Nobody knows when it was built, but archeologists have said that the pyramids have lasted centuries and are believed to have been built at the same time the first or second wave of Egyptian pyramids were built by the Nubians.

With similar features to that of the Stepped Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, Egypt, one is forced to contemplate on the mystery behind their resemblance.

And without exaggeration, it can be suggested that the knowledge of one must have led to the building of the other.

Be that as it may, it should be stated here for the purpose of clarity that the word Ndi Igbo/ Ndigbo mean the "Ancient People." And according to them, the British called us IBO or (Heebos): A word synonymous to Hebrew.

There are other interesting arguments, with regard to the topic of this article, that has been presented by concerned Igbo scholars.

Notable among them is the claim that the following Igbo words/phrases were used in the bible.

1. Jee na isi isi (Genesis)
Known to be the first book in the bible, some Igbo scholars believe that the word is a corrupted version of the Igbo phrase "jee na isi isi" which when translated in English means "go to the very first".

2. Detere nu umu (Deuteronomy)
Known to be the fifth book in the Bible, the word “Deuteronomy” is from Latin Deuteronomium, from Greek Deuteronomion and originally from Igbo phrase "detere nu umu".

The Igbo phrase, "Detere nu umu" means "written down for the children". And actually, the book of Deuteronomy was words written down to serve as laws for the children of God.

3. Asaa bu taa (Sabbath)
According to the biblical story of creation, God rested on the seventh day. Sabbath is a day set aside for rest and worship. The word is said to be thesame with the Igbo phrase "asaa bu taa" which means "today is seventh."

4. Chere ubim (Cherubim)
Described in the Bible as a winged angel and represented in ancient Middle Eastern art as a lion or bull with eagles' wings and a human face, Cherubim is regarded in Christian angelology as an angel of the second highest order of the nine-fold celestial hierarchy.

However, the name is believed to be a distorted version of the Igbo phrase "chere ubim" which means "guard my home." And of course, angels are guardians.

5. Nta lite kuo ume (Talitha cumi)
According to the book of Mark 5:41, Jesus was storied to have raised from death- the daughter of Jairus. And "Talitha cumi" were the words he used.

"Talitha cumi" or "Talitha kum" or "Talitha koum" is an Aramaic phrase and believed to be an Igbo phrase "nta lite kuo ume" which means "little child wake up and start breathing".

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