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Aba Women’s Uprising – Liberate and Fight

Ok, The Aba Women’s Riot. Well, let’s change the language here; the Aba Women’s Uprising – ok, that’s better. In 1929, Igbo women of what is now known as Nigeria fought against colonizer imposed policies and as a result, they won, and were appointed to high courts. It is described as the “launching of the most serious challenge to British rule… it became a historic example of feminist and anti-colonial protest”. Although I don’t agree that it is feminist, as we don’t view African concepts in european lenses, as you will see below, it was a moral duty to a spirituality and divine calling.

That was a summary, but let’s give a little background. The Aba women’s Uprising, or Ogu Umunwanyi in Igbo, was one of the most significant historical events during British inferiority in Nigeria. Remember, we are no longer giving life to colonization in a positive light, it’s inferior behavior. Igbo women were challenging the inferior behavior, and they decided to organize around Owerri and Calabar, the palm oil belt, in the eastern part of Nigeria also known as Igbo Land. In that part of Igbo land, the population was around two million people. The Igbo’s largely occupied and lived in mini-states where men and women exercised varying degrees of political power. Village council meetings involved men and were held in the habitat (community centers) of the Igbo earth-goddess known as Ala (the most important deity according to Odinani – Igbo religion). To make it plain, just like someone may go to church or a mosque to enter the presence of God, these centers held the presence of Ala. As mentioned above, it had nothing to do with feminism, but balance; Igbo women had nothing to prove to Igbo men, who honored and valued them, as it was British men who imposed their women oppressing worldview onto Igbo women.

Igbo women had their own sociopolitical organization. They held weekly meetings on the market day of their community (there were 4 market days in Igbo Land), where they created and enforced laws that they mutually decided on. However, British colonialism changed the fundamental structure of precolonial Igbo societies, which eliminated women’s political roles. Igbo Women saw themselves as the moral guardians and defenders of the taboos of the earth-goddess, Ala, understanding that they naturally embodied her productive forces (biologically). This helps understand the outrage that Igbo women had against the destruction of society by British colonizers, because it took away the impact of their spiritual and physical voice.

The initial protest started against a British imposed tax that created an increased inability to buy food and goods necessary for survival. They called an emergency meeting and engaged in a traditional practice where they danced around a man, or men, and chanted spiritual sayings repeatedly until he became miserable and fed into their demands. The British submitted to their demands for fear that it may get out of hand. Protests spread as the situations got worse, and a British soldier harmed two Igbo women. The Igbo women raided their factories and banks, and were eventually killed by British policeman. With all the protests, the British eventually conceded and hence, the first paragraph of this blog post. These women’s protests were modeled throughout 1930s and 1940s against the introduction of factories that took away from the interests of the Igbo people but only benefitted the stolen wealth of British colonizers.

I have updated this post because I recently learned of Igbo women’s victories again, in the elections being held in Igbo land right now, November 2021, specifically in Anambra state, the state of my patriarchal ancestors and lineage. They refused money from bribers during the elections, stating that they won’t accept the money from a party that has been bad to them – resistance! I’d like to further this by saying, every democratic election in the united states has been won because of Black women. Our tenacity to carry movements throughout the diaspora has been well documented, even if a lot of parts have been left out. I write these stories to encourage Black women, not to divide from Black men, but to say, there is a divine calling about us, that when we tap into – both spiritually and physically, we’d have the power to take down forces. We have so much divine power that the world has tried to take from us, but we continue to multiply. This is not some fantasy story or some power that ancestors had in the past, we have it now!

Let us be like our ancestors and continue to understand our power as women, we are warriors too! So many men inbox me to say that only men are warriors, and tell me I should focus on helping the children, I laugh in various laughs because I know my history as an Igbo woman, and I know my strength as a woman. When we have one common enemy, we bring out the people who are willing, based on skills and qualifications. Save the submission stuff for the colonizers. Peace!

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Igbo Revolution in The Caribbean: Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados

Hello All! So it seems you all really loved the post on Igbo’s presence in Haiti and Cuba, I am so glad you did. Today, I want to break this blog post into sections, I will be focusing on revolution and other aspects using the examples of Jamaica, Trinidad, and Barbados, respectively, then tying it all in.

Jamaica

From the Bight of Biafra (or the Bight of Bonny) in West Africa, Igbo people were taken in relatively high numbers to Jamaica as enslaved Africans, arriving after 1750. Besides Virginia, in the United States, Jamaica was the second most common point for ships with Enslaved Africans arriving from the Bight of Biafra. They were forced on plantations around Montego Bay and Savanna-la-Mar (the capital of Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica). Igbo enslaved Africans in Jamaica practiced resistance more so than revolt, they did not succumb to the abuse of oppressors, although they still depended on revolt. Of all the enslaved Africans in Jamaica, according to records, Igbos revolted the most. Many of them took their own lives because they believed after death, they would return or “fly back” to our homeland in Africa (see: Igbo Landing in Georgia). That breaks my heart to write that, as I have heard some people measure whether or not slaves were strong, based on their ability to “survive”. We all did, and still do, what we can! In 1815 and 1816, 2 of the biggest revolts were led by Igbos in Jamaica, they chanted “hymns” mocking the British, naming them “Buckras” (white men who owns slaves).

Remember when I told you all that in America, colonizers referred to Igbo slaves as Red Igbos, which eventually turned into the term “red bone”? Well, the same name was given to us in Jamaica. Igbo enslaved Africans were distinguished physically by their “red” or lighter skin tones. Today, in Jamaica, “red eboe” is used to describe people with light skin tones and African features. I say this not to divide, but create a commonality amongst evidence I have presented in past blog posts on this Igbo story, (colonizers studied us and our traits to divide us!). Igbo women in Jamaica were paired with Coromantee (Akan – Ghana) men because of the belief that the women were bound to their first-born sons’ birthplace (again, divide and conquer). Keep this in mind as I will tie back in this point later. Jonkonnu, a yam festival Masquerade held in Jamaica, is attributed to the Njoku Ji – Yam spirit festival, of the Okonkwo and Ekpe of the Igbo (remember I told you all about the Ekpe secret society of Cuba, and masquerade festivals, here). The Igbo also influenced language with actions such as “sucking-teeth” coming from the Igbo phrase, “ima osu” and “cutting-eye” from the Igbo phrase “iro anya”. Words were added to Jamaican Patois (broken English) when slaves were prohibited from speaking their own languages, and it prohibited colonizers from understanding what they were saying. These Igbo words still exist in Jamaican Patois, including words such as “unu” meaning “you” (plural),”di” – to be, which eventually became “de”. There are about 7 known Igbo proverbs active in Jamaican culture along with numerous words that were formed using other languages as well. I am aware that other languages make up the patois dialect, but again, my Igbo story is focusing on Igbo presence in the world. Whew! I try to be clear because I realize people from all parts of the world are reading, so I am getting better at explaining things. Let’s move on to Trinidad…

Trinidad

You want to talk about revolution? Everything we have done as a people, as a result of colonialism, is revolution that we now enjoy and forget the origin of. If anything, remember that we still have the tools to revolt for freedom, today, but follow this story. Calypso music is attributed to Trinidad. Calypso is derivative of an Igbo word “Kaiso”… In my research, I found that the term kaiso derives from an Ibibio/Igbo/Efik word used as an exclamation, such as “Bravo!”, “Let us join”. It can also mean “Let us be friends” in Igbo – Anambra dialect. *Ibibio and Efik, according to historical records and oral tradition, show accounts of Efik and Ibibio peoples migrating from Abia state in Igbo land to their present location in Calabar*. Igbo Trinidadians used calypso music to mock the slave masters and to communicate with each other. Calypso evolved into a way of spreading news around Trinidad. Politicians, journalists, and public figures often debated the content of each song, and many islanders considered these songs the most reliable news source. Calypsonians pushed the boundaries of free speech as their lyrics spread news of any topic relevant to island life, including speaking out against political corruption.

I remember growing up, my dad’s best friend, Mr. Hawkins, was a Trinidadian man, and my dad used to go to Trinidad with him. I always wondered why I couldn’t go, when we would go everywhere else, and a Trinidadian told me when I got older that he probably was going to Carnival! Well, at my former Trinidadian roommate’s family reunion in 2019, I remember being shown pictures and videos of Carnival, I immediately said “that looks just like the Igbo Masquerade!” I pulled out videos I had, and they were shocked, “I never knew they did that in Africa!” they said, “we’re all the same people!”. From then that broke the ice and we learned about each other’s cultures. The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is an annual event held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (February) in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Barbados

Today I am clearly focused on aspects of revolution, and I have tied in aspects such as the masquerade. The point is, revolt didn’t always look like an all out war; various parts of Igbo culture have been used to strategize, spiritualize, musicalize, and even hide revolution (remember I talked about that in the Aba Women’s riot post). Now let’s talk about actual physical revolution in Barbados, shout out to my Bajan people.

Barbados saw the biggest slave revolt in British West Indies History (we know of the successful Haitian revolution against the French, led by Igbo slaves, with Henri Christophe, the 1st King of independent Haiti being Igbo). Led by an Igbo born Slave named Bussa, the Bajan revolt was the first of three large scale slave revolts in the British West Indies that caused people to doubt the effectiveness of slavery. This revolt is famously known as “Bussa’s Rebellion”. I dislike the use of the word rebellion, because when I think of the word “rebel”, I think of a child who doesn’t listen, not slaves that want to be free. I now use the word, revolution.

Bussa was was forced to Barbados from the Bight of Biafra in the late eighteenth century. He began planning the revolt after realizing that the British parliament had no intention of freeing the slaves after slavery had already been abolished. After much planning and coordination for about a year, Bussa, along with a few other enslaved Africans, led other enslaved Africans into battle at Baileys Plantation on April 14, 1816. He commanded about 400 freedom fighters, both men and women who were born in the islands. By his side were other enslaved Africans such as Washington Franklin, John and Nanny Grigg, a senior domestic enslaved African, and Jackey. Nanny Griggs was a domestic or “house slave” who could read and told her followers that “the only way to obtain freedom was to fight for it.” They started the revolt on April 14th, Easter Sunday, and By April 15, martial law had been declared on the entire island and was not lifted for three months. Martial law is defined as an extreme and rare measure used to control society during war or periods of civil unrest or chaos. Bussa’s rebellion did not fully free the Afro-Bajans, but, as mentioned before, it was the first of three major slave revolts named the “Late Slave Rebellions”. The second revolt took place in Demerara (now Guyana) in 1823, and lastly, in Jamaica in 1831-32. The British government finally abolished slavery in 1834. We can learn a lot from Bussa, his success did not happen overnight. He planned for one year along with like-minded people to carry out a task that others in the British West Indies would build on later. In 1998, Bussa was named one of the 10 national Heroes of Barbados. These people will always celebrate someone after they’re gone, let us celebrate each other now!

Another interesting fact about Igbo presence in Barbados is that, 44% of enslaved Africans in Barbados were Igbo from 1771-1775. Olaudah Equiano, a very famous Igbo enslaved African and author, was enslaved in Barbados, and later sent to Virginia, another highly populated area with Igbo enslaved Africans.

Conclusion

There are 2 parts to this conclusion. First, recognize that as many people are looking for revolution in physical form, I have shown through part 1 of this post, and this post, that within 5 Caribbean cultures, Igbos have used a variety of strategies to trick oppressors, strategize, celebrate culture, preserve culture, worship ancestors, etc. We today can still learn, I always say, it doesn’t have to look the same for everybody. We each have contributions that can collectively work together. When a people are divided so long, they tend to follow that model, but if today we decide that no matter what, I am going to use what I have based on what I know of myself and my people, we will be free today. Everything we celebrate and water down now, was once used as a means for survival.

Part 2: Remember I told you that research suggests 60% of all African Americans have 1 Igbo ancestor? I am arguing throughout this story that whether one lost tribe or all, the colonizers have fought to hide the true identity of Igbo people. As you can see through examples I’ve given, Igbo culture is seen in the dominant parts of these Caribbean cultures, meaning, they are well known and associated with the countries, but because of lack of education, have not all been attributed to Igbo culture. Everyone knows Calypso is from Trinidad, but who knew it was an Igbo word? Remember, with divide and conquer, the point is to divide us and dilute our true heritages. I say that because for some reason, people will credit Jamaica with Akan ancestry, Haiti with Yoruba ancestry, and name everybody else but Igbo’s, etc., or just dilute the Igbo ancestry (like many other places in the world) forgetting that colonizers mixed up and tore apart our ancestry on purpose (I said in the Jamaica section of this article, that I would tie this point in). Identities, as we can see now, are everything to Black people, globally. It is where we find customs, bloodlines, family information; important aspects to our heritage, and answers.

As I have said for years, we are the only people in the world who have been named, and renamed, and renamed again. On the African continent we have been divided into 54 countries and thousand of languages, adding on to that, the colonizers language. In the rest of the world, we have been doubly divided, and stripped of a place to call home, very unlike any other group on earth, which is why there is no alliance or joined struggle. All these made up names – Nigerian, Congolese, Sudanese, sub-Saharan, MENA, Nigger, negro, black, colored, African American, people of color, Jamaican, Haitian, St. Lucian, and everything in between, are not reflective of our original cultures, at all. We are the most scattered and divided people on the earth who have had the privilege taken away of knowing our true ancestry. Remember, even on the continent, people were scattered around to different colonies, forcing us to make up new languages and customs that dilute us from the original (even though we have recreated something even more beautiful in each location). We are the only people collectively who have to depend on colonizers to tell us what “country” we originate from through a DNA test that doesn’t always tell the “tribe”. As I continue to tell this Igbo story, and our impact in the world, you will see why colonizers worked extra hard to dilute our identity. The same way people praise Kemet and Egypt, we have another point of reference that is worthy of honor as well. Whether one lost tribe or all, there is something to be said about Igbo people and culture in the world.

Find the thread of Igbo Story posts I’ve written so far using this link!

Remember, you are Solid as a Rock, African, unbreakable, express that through these “Solid as a Rock” waist beads, handmade by me!, and read this post on the meaning of waist beads.

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Well, There’s Good News! #ForwardFridays

Hello All! I figured I would run into this but I tried anyway, I updated my book with new, groundbreaking, information, and it was rejected. There’s GOOD NEWS! I have uploaded the document to Google drive, and you can purchase it by clicking below, as soon as I see your payment come through, I will send you the link to the document. It is 212 pages of goodness. Once I reword it a bit and resubmit it, I can send you a hard copy if you’d like, or allow you to download it to Kindle for free. This is the 2nd edition of “The Day I learned to Cook Oatmeal: A Journey of Faith, Love, & Redemption”. You’ll find out why I title it this once you read (wink). It is a of bit my life story, how I decolonized my mind to get to new information, which led me to the Igbo story. I go through a deep analysis of observations I have made in the Global Black Diaspora, how to demolish those ways of thinking, and suggestions on how to move forward. I provide analysis and strong evidence on the Igbo story and how it connects us globally as a Diaspora. I believe that this book will help liberate some minds, and give practical ways to start living in your truth. I had great reviews the first time, and I pray that it reaches all of you who it is supposed to reach.

Also, I have released my Melanated Gem™ RBG Freedom Set. This set is a handmade Headband, Bracelet, and Waist Beads with the Red, Black, and Green PanAfrican colors. Red Black and Green are also the colors of the Igbo Biafran Flag, many of you know that millions of Igbo lives were lost and are still being lost at the hands of the Nigerian government. Everywhere we are in the world, Igbos our fighting for our lives, let us unite and free each other across the Diaspora!

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Revelations, Revelations: #TeachMeTuesday

pensive black woman in dark studio

So I remember telling you all last week that I had a revelation that made me cry. It seems that everything came full circle. I remember connecting the dots of the Igbo story and the bible, I said to myself, “wait a minute”, if white people have always hidden everything else about black people, what could they be hiding in one of the greatest stories ever told, the bible? Now, you all know I’ve read the bible from Genesis to revelation. We have to admit, even if people do not believe in it, it is one of the greatest and most influential stories evert told. Now, digging deep into it, you find the misinterpretations and additions of white males that created it into a European story, but one cannot deny it’s Africanness after fully investigating and comparing it to African narratives just as I did. People who have not read it tend to focus on the negative things, but don’t be fooled, white people, who had no God, could not have created that whole story by themselves, they needed something to rely on. They hid our identity and tried to make us hate ourselves simply because we are the people that they need to survive, we are the image of God, we are the powerful, the creators, everything about the earth comes from Africa. We are the originators, the chosen, the ones who if united would tear down everything set up against us. Igbo people are significant to the story because as they have tried to search for humanity in Kemet, I found overwhelming evidence of Igboness in the diaspora, it is beneficial to know our origin. Again, research says that at least 60% of African Americans have 1 Igbo ancestor, I talked about major caribbean themes that lead back to Igbo culture and are continued Igbo customs, such as the biggest Caribbean event every year, the carnival. I found overwhelming evidence of customs and traditions leading back to Igboness, we are the ones who have been scattered into the 4 corners of the earth. This does not eliminate any other African group, but, it gives more insight into the origin and continuation of customs that we see throughout the diaspora. I have written this how it came to me the day it came to me.

Igbo is Abraham.
Igbo is the mother of all nations.
Eri is the father of the Igbos who established a city in Nigeria 
Eri in Hebrew means my city. 
Igbos are literally Abraham 
Eri traveled by water to establish a new city in Aguleri, Anambra State
Eri was commanded to travel by a “Sky God” 
Abraham traveled from Ur to Canaan 
Abraham was commanded to travel from Ur to Canaan
Abraham was commanded to settle in a new land 
Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his children 
Eri was commanded to sacrifice his children 

Well, this information allowed me to complete part 4 of my book, and it honor of that, it will be available on June 4th, in the meantime, since I promised a Gullah Geechee post, I will post it tomorrow, but I wanted to share the revelation that I promised I’d share today. Obviously you all will have questions, so I recommend reading the entire book to see how I connected the dots!!!!!