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New Poetry! “I am an Igbo Story”: #WordyWednesdays

I believe what I believe
I believe what I see
& truthfully everything about my heritage reflects me.

I'm a warrior full time
I get things done
I'm the Aba women's riot, my victory is won.

I believe that Ala gave my my beauty and fury
in situations that affect my people
I'm the judge and the jury.

In me is the life that gave birth to the world
if I see my own harmed
I do more than sit pretty and twirl.

I get up and take action, I make my voice known
in spaces where I've been my presence is known.

Igbo is an action word, 
a force of the nations
If we look to mama Africa we can see her intonations.

If you caught that I bless you
If not keep on reading
keep on searching, keep on finding
You'll see where your history has been misleading.

Thank you everyone, have a very Igbo day ahead!

*The picture for this blog post is an actual picture of me and my family in Nigeria*

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Aba Women’s Riot – #TeachMeTuesdays

The Aba Women’s Riot. Let’s change the language here, the Aba Women’s Uprising, ok, that’s better. In 1929, Igbo women 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”.

Ok that was a summary, but let’s give a little background. The Aba women’s riot, 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. So, the Igbo women were challenging the inferior behavior, and they organized around Owerri and Calabar, in the eastern part of Nigeria also known as Igbo Land, and involved a population of two million people. The organizing arose in the palm-oil belt of Southern Nigeria. 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.

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, understanding that they naturally embodied its productive forces. This helps understand the outrage that Igbo women had against the destruction of society by British colonizers.

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 of dancing around a man and chanting until he becomes miserable and feeds 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 women. The Igbo women raided their factories and banks, and were eventually killed by British policeman. With all the protests, British eventually conceded and hence, the first paragraph of this blog posts. These women’s protests were modeled throughout 1930s and 1940s against the introduction of factories that took away from the interests of the people but only benefitted the wealth of British colonizers.

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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Ogene Music: #MusicMonday

Hello All! I’m going to be talking about Igbo’s a lot more often on my blog. As you know, I am Igbo and Igbo people can currently be found in Southeast Nigeria, as our 2nd home only after migrating from the Middle East. Well, today is about a type of Igbo music called Ogene. It is a fast paced music involving the Ogene instrument which is in the shape of double bells -“ogene mkpi nabo“, or triple bells – “ogene mkpi ito“, which is a highly important instrument amongst Igbo people. Men can also be seen holding drums – “udu“, shaking rattle instruments “ichaka” , slit drum – “ekwe” and skinned drum – “igba”, while singing along in harmony in Igbo language using call and response. The music is usually accompanied by Ogene dance, but I’ll dedicate another blog post to the dance because I want to have enough content to give each part of Igbo culture it’s own post. Check out the video below!

Ogene Instrument made by Igbo Blacksmith
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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!