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Igbo People of Awka, Anambra State: #TeachMeTuesdays

Hello All!

I wanted to revisit a blog post that I wrote about the Igbo people of Awka, in Anambra state, Nigeria.  I am a descendant of Awka people, my dad is from Umubuele in Awka. Although Anambra is the english name, the original name is Oma Mbala. According to oral tradition, “Oma Mbala was the name of the ancient goddess whose river runs from the Uzo-uwa-ani underworld to Anam and Onicha axis, where it connects with Nkisi & Niger-kwora/Mgbakili Rivers in their journey to the Atlantic Ocean.” Oma Mbala region extends to parts of  these states in Nigeria – Edo, Delta, Imo, Rivers, Abia, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau, Akwa Ibom, and Cross Rivers States, as well as the countries Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, and Central African Republic. According to oral tradition, it is said that the father of the Igbo’s, Eri – a sky God, settled in Anambra after being sent to the earth by Chukwu – Supreme God, after having traveled by water from what is now known as the middle east. He is said to have had 2 wives and founded Nri and Aguleri, two cities currently in Anambra state. Anambra state is part of 5 main states in Igboland – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo – and other states comprise of high numbers of Igbo people, such as Delta and Rivers states. It is said that Anambra is the wealthiest state in the southeast region of Nigeria. Anyway, I spoke about the Masquerades and Ekpe secret societies in Haiti and Cuba last week, and I just wanted to bring it back to the continent to regroup around Igbo culture in Nigeria, before continuing to America tomorrow. After we get to America, the Igbo revelations go continue o! I want you all to get ready for a complete story. Enjoy this blog post on the Igbo people of Awka, Anambra state! (All these pictures are pictures I took, and are of me and my family).

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CULTURAL AND ETHNIC GROUPS

Awka is the capital city in Anambra State in southeastern Nigeria, home of Igbo people. Before the 20th
century, the people of Awka were most famous for metal working and
their blacksmith skills throughout the region for making farming
implements, guns and tools. The Awka area in earlier times was the site
of the Nri Civilization that produced the earliest documented bronze
works in Sub-Saharan Africa around 800 AD.

Awka was governed by titled men known as Ozo and Ndichie who
were accomplished individuals in the community. Today, the tradition of
being a titled man still holds much importance. In typical Igbo
communities, people are not called or greeted by their names but rather
by their titles. Each title holds an important meaning. In Igbo land,
titles can be given through elaborate feasting and fulfilment of other
conditions. Historically, they held general meetings or “Izu Awka”
either at the residence of the oldest man (Otochal Awka) or at a place
designated by him. He was the Nne Uzu or master blacksmith, whether he
knew the trade or not, for the only master known to Awka people was the
master craftsman, the Nne Uzu. Overall, the average Igbo man by
tradition is expected to have a title, either given to him by his father
or one that he assumes and takes up himself.

Awka is currently divided into two local government areas; Awka
North and Awka South, with local representatives. However, it still
maintains traditional systems of governance with Ozo titled men often
consulted for village and community issues and a paramount cultural
ruler, the Eze Uzu who is elected by all Ozo titled men by rotation
amongst different villages to represent the city at state functions.

Awka comprises seven Igbo groups sharing common blood lineage
divided into two sections. Ifite Section, the senior section, comprises
four groups, Ayom-na-Okpala, Nkwelle, Amachalla, and Ifite-Oka followed
by Ezinator Section, which consists of three groups, Amikwo, Ezi-Oka and
Agulu. Each of these groups has a number of villages. All together,
Awka comprises 33 villages.

Awka people have always been and still are well travelled. In
earlier centuries, times demand for their skills as blacksmiths had Awka
people travelling throughout Nigeria making farming implements,
household tools, and guns. Each village had clearly defined trade
routes. For example, people from Umuogbu village plied their trade in
Benin and in the Urhobo and Itsekiri areas, people from Umubele (my
fathers land!) were stationed in the Igala areas in modern day Kogi
state, Umuike and Umuonaga in present day Abia and Rivers State,
Umuenechi in the Kwale and Isoko area of Delta state, and Umudiana,
Okperi, Ugwuogige stationed in Calabar area of today’s Cross Rivers
state.

The Imo-Oka festival is a week long festival of masquerades and
dances held in May at the beginning of the farming season in honor of a
female deity who it is hoped will make the land fertile and yield
boutiful crops. The festival starts with Awka natives visiting the
community of Umuokpu with masquerades and it ends with the visit of the
Imo-Oka stream on the final day which is heralded by a heavy rain that
falls in the late afternoon. There are four major events performed
during this festival.

Today, Awka people can be found all across the globe many
working as highly educated and skilled professionals in a wide range of
fields. As a result, there is a large Awka diaspora located primarily in
the U.K. and the U.S. There, they have formed social clubs like Awka
Union USA and Canada, Awka Town Social Community UK and Ireland, and
other community associations. These associations have been a positive
way for people to enjoy their culture as well as to engage in community
self-help projects.

Over the years Awka Town has attracted people from other states
in Nigeria and has a significant number of immigrants from northern
Nigeria, Delta and Enugu states, Cameroon and Ghana now comprising more
than 60% of residents in the town (http://naijasky.com/awka-south/114/people-of-awka/6416/).

World renown author, Chinua Achebe (author of ‘Things Fall
Apart’) says “Awka has a certain kind of aura about it, because it was
the place of the blacksmiths that created implements which made
agriculture possible.”

I’ve had fun educating you all on my people!

Remain Blessed loves ❤️.

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Precolonial Africa: Submission or Liberation? #SoulfulSundays

So there’s a long running debate on cultural practices that we shared in precolonial Africa. I’d like to say upfront that I don’t believe that how we practice our marriages have any bearing on unity as a people. I believe that as long as we are engaging in healthy, life-giving (man and woman), relationships, we will be able to build families around strong bloodlines and generational wealth building as we move towards liberation. The foundation of societies are strong families, but I want to use this blog post and video to debunk that all of precolonial Africa practiced patriarchy and submission.

This is part 1 because, I want to go way more in depth about this. In this video is use 3 models: my Igbo culture (Nigeria), the Himba people of Namibia that I lived with when I was teaching there, and Ghanaian culture based on accounts from Ghanaian friends to show that women were honored as the life giving vessel, seen as closer to God because of our ability to give birth, and esteemed amongst society. God was also genderless as a being, I’ll get into that in part 2. Let me know what you think of this video!

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#MusicMondays… Igbo Highlife Music

Hello All! I’m loving learning the voice of my audience. Your voice plus my voice creates a universal sound, and we can move forward together! Speaking of sounds, have you ever heard of Igbo highlife? If you’ve been following me for some time now, you know that I’m Igbo. On my dad’s side I’m fully Igbo, on my mom’s side I’m Igbo by ancestry via slavery (unfortunately but we’re getting it back SOON!) Well, there is a form of music called Igbo Highlife, and I want to talk about.

African cultures have a storytelling tradition that comes through in the music. Highlife music tells important stories over highly instrumental beats using guitar, horns, drums, and is bass heavy. Many times, the songs pace increases as the song goes on, starting off slow and eventually becoming fast enough to dance. The songs are usually long, and sung in Igbo with a mixture of English words as time went on. I am telling you what I know having grown up with my dad playing highlife music all the time. A major artist he listened to was Chief Osita Osadebe, who famously released the album, Kedu America – Kedu is an Igbo greeting. Chief Osita Osadebe’s career lasted over 40 years and is widely celebrated as the king of Igbo Highlife. I mean, his songs are in my spotify playlists, I love him! Check out a video then continue reading below…

Flavour N’abania is a contemporary highlife artist, and sings my favorite Igbo song to date, Oringo. I love how Flavour is contemporary but keeps the Authentic Igbo sound that older and younger generations can relate to. He singlehandedly made one of the most popular Nigerian songs that can be heard at most African parties, Nwa Baby. Flavor hails from Enugu state in Nigeria, with origin In Anambra state, so we may be cousins 👀. Just kidding! Take a listen to Oringo!

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#MusicMonday: Siddi Music

Hello All! Happy Black History continuation! So, today I wanted to talk about music that I have never heard of before. I was searching and searching, and googled Ancient Bantu Music. Everyone knows Bantu people are one of the original tribes in Africa with descendants in many countries. Well, suddenly an article comes up of how Siddi people have thrived through music. Remember I wrote a blog post about the Black Siddi people of Pakistan last week? Read it here. Well, the Siddi are descendants of Bantu people.

Siddi Dhamal, is an expressive form of dance that represents the Siddi spirit of community. Dhamal, originally a celebratory dance, was performed when community members returned from a successful battle. Women sing repetitive song patterns, and the men play a dammam; a percussive instrument made of wood and deerskin on the sides. They proceed to participate in call and response by repeating what the lead singer is singing.

Dammam instrument: Courtesy or Irancultura.it

The Siddis respect nature and often make songs based on their everyday current experiences. Meaning, if they are cooking fish, they will make a song about cooking fish as they are cooking fish. In that case I must be related to the Siddi’s because I do that too. I’ll make up a song about eggs, which I have LOL. Check out this video of the Siddi, descendants of Bantus, do their thing while dancing and singing to Dhamal music; enjoy!