In Nigeria, the saying that “I fear nobody except God “ is very common, the Easterners who mostly practice the Christian religion often use this expression as a means of self defense. However, the same expression may not be applicable when it is having to do with Amadioha , the Igbo god of thunder and lightning., one of the most feared god of the Igbos. Amadioha is powerful, he is the Alusi of thunder and lightning, a very difficult deity of the Igbo people.
He is considered as one of the most dreadful gods , he is scary and very popular. Amadioha is also pronounced as Amadiora, Kamalu (which is the short form of calling Kalu Akanu), he is also called Ofufe. Egbe-Eluigwe (Gun of the sun) and Ogba Egbe Eluigwe( gunner in the sky). Amadioha governs the planet sun, he is the detentor of red colors, his symbol depicts white ram. It is also believed that Amadioha represents the collective will of the people of the land, he is often associated metaphysically with Anyanwu, another Igbo god of the sun. Anyanwu is very common in the northern part of the Igbo land, while Amadioha is prominent in the southern part, he is associated with a special day of the week called Afo, the third market day of the Igbo week days.
Igbo Shrine Carving / Collections, Lectures Gallery, Saopaulo.
In Brazil, the Nigerian Igbos living and plying their trades are christians and preachers of the good news of the bible scriptures, but when conflict extends beyond the control of the Igbo communities, the statement that comes up immediately is ”Na thunder go fire you“, a metaphysical clamor for the justice of Amadioha, the divine god of justice. In this case, Amadioha steps in as a witness of justice and sincerity.
He is never worshipped nor remembered by the Igbo communities in Brazil except during conflicts “I need your full name, let’s go and swear in the shrine “becomes the next turn of action towards resolving conflicts away from capable and judicial authorities.
Likened to Orisa Sango in the Yoruba traditional religion, Amadioha is not worshiped in Brazil and in any of the Latin American countries except in Haiti, the Caribbean where the Igbo day is celebrated and observed by appeasing Igbo-loa, another Haitian god of the Nigerian Igbos. Amadioha is a creator God and the god of love, peace and unity. His name is used as oaths in Igboland and carry death penalties when broken.
It is common to hear someone say, “Chi m le kwee – O wuru si o wu mu mere ihea, amadioha magbukwe m” (My god please see- If it is true that I did this thing, let Amadioha Kill me). Amadioha is a spirit god, he never manifests as human like his fellow thunder and lightning deities, he doesn’t carry an object of power like how Thor carries his hammer or how Sango carries his axe.
The Igbos living in Brazil are basically custodians of their culture and tradition, but the practice of the Igbo religion seems fading away, many would not declare their association with the Igbo religion but would parade and proudly exhibit the values of the Igbo culture and tradition.
Igbo Shrine in Enugu/ Collections, Lectures Gallery, Saopaulo.
According to the Igbo traditional religion, any convicted or cursed person by the shrine or Amadioha would never be buried in the village, such a convicted person would not even be allowed to be buried in the Igbo land.
Amadioha’s rigid laws could also have influenced the reasons why the Igbos in Brazil would never allow their kinsmen to be buried in Brazil, they must transport their corpses to the village for proper burial rites, this would prove to the entire community and to the gods of the land that the supposed dead person was never cursed nor convicted by the shrine or rather by Amadioha who would deny any cursed or convicted Igbo person a burial opportunity in the village.
Amadioha, the impartial god of the igbos is practically present in the dailies of every Igbo person living in Brazil, but a large number of them never would admit the presence of the god of justice in their lives until when they unknowingly shout “thunder” and he will manifest to settle arguments within them, Amadioha could easily be invited by mere saying “Na thunder go fire you” Amandioha has operated even without been consciously invited by any one, he is a spirit god who can manifest even by mere calling his name or shouting thunder.
Unlike the Yorubas in Brazil who manages shrines and places of worships for all their deities, the Igbos are far from doing such, they manage the best and most exciting christian churches in Brazil, they preach the kingdom of God according to Christ Jesus.
Lovely enough, the Igbo people in Brazil observes the importance of their culture and tradition a bit better than most of the Yorubas who parades in public what they often reject in their homes, the Igbos in Brazil hardly associate with shrines in the public, but they observe the necessities when situation gets beyond.
Sculpture of Amadioha/ Collections , Lectures Gallery , Saopaulo.
For instance, most of the Igbos living in disporá finds time to send their families to knowing each other in the village before marriage intentions are approved, they would pay the traditional rites for marriages, they would visit home and return abroad as chiefs, they would hold staff of offices in their respective villages.
In most decisions, Igbos respects the tradition of their people than a number of African tribes in Brazil, they refer to neighbors of same kindreds as blood brothers. The Igbo families at home make treaties clear to each family before marriage conclusions are reached, they have the shrine to tackle the party that betrays their treaties.
Amadioha is secretly present in all discussions before a marriage is approved by both families. However, the principal problem is that an Igbo man would still claim to be a Christian. An Igbo man in Brazil would invite you always to the church. Even with all the traditional rites been observed by him, he would never agree to be a traditionalist, he would claim to be an Igwe, an authority in the land of his ancestors.
Modern Igbo dressing / Pix, Lectures Gallery, Saopaulo.
To some people, the Igbo race is actually another lost tribe of the Jewish race, the Igbos are having a lot of identical characters with the Jewish people, the simplicity and how Igbo women gives birth to their babies is very similar to the ways of the Jewish women, the spiritual link that exists between the state of Israel and the state of Enugu in Nigeria is another reason why the Igbos are very likely to be of Jewish descents, the pronunciation of the word Hebrew and Ibo sounds phonetically identical.
However, the spirituality and the gods of the Igbos could also be traced to the kingdom of Nri, the traditional power land of the Igbos, it existed even before the creation of the Igbo states. The Kingdom of Nri (Igbo: Ọ̀ràézè Ǹrì) was a medieval polity located in what is now Nigeria. The kingdom existed as a sphere of religious and political influence over a third of Igboland, and was administered by a priest-king called an Eze Nri. The Eze Nri managed trade and diplomacy on behalf of the Nri people, a subgroup of the Igbo-speaking people, and possessed divine authority in religious matters.
The superiority in the Igbo traditional was enormous even before the creation of a colonial Nigeria in 1911. The hierarchy of the Eze was firm throughout the 15th and 16th century until the arrival of slave trade which dismantled the religiosity of the Igbo people. These and other reasons paved way for western religion to finally seize the beliefs of the traditional Igbo people, the same Igbos that were helped to liberty by the shrine of Nri scattered beyond expectation, many joined the western religion, many fled to other kingdoms due to the fall of the kingdom of Nri and the growth of Benin kingdom and Igala.
Amadioha, Anyanwu, Afa, Ekwensu, Ikenga are all Igbo gods with laws that are still recognized and observed by the Igbos around the globe, they are barely not appeased as deserved by the igbos living in Brazil but the conditions stipulated by these gods are observed traditionally by the Igbos in Nigeria and in the diaspora.
The practice of the Igbo religion has declined, the number of people practicing Igbo religion decreased drastically in the 20th century with the influx of Christian missionaries under the auspices of the British colonial government of Nigeria. In some cases Igbo traditional religion was syncretised with Christianity, but in many cases indigenous rites were demonised by Christian missionaries who for imperialistic reasons pointed out the practice of human sacrifice and some other cultural practices that were illegal under the colonial government.
Earlier missionaries referred to many indigenous religious practices as juju. Igbo religion is most present today in harvest ceremonies such as new yam festival (ị́wá jí) and masquerading traditions such as mmanwụ and Ekpe.
The question is, why are the igbo gods and shrines not established in Brazil like other African deities ? There is no doubt that Amadioha, Anyanwu, Ikenga, Afa and other gods of the igbo people would soon rejoice when they finally have places of worships dedicated to their cause in Brazil.
The modern Igbos in the international communities are not classified as indigenous, but are sincere custodians and lovers of the Igbo culture and tradition, the Igbos in Brazil are good exemples of Africans who mingle within themselves and their communities, they have Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Abia and several other Igbo communities that stands to help each other at difficult moments. It is no doubt that all tribes and communities have their differences and quarrels, the Igbo people are not exempted, but they still display unity than a number of African tribes in Brazil.
Adeyinka Olaiya / Artist, Writer, Curator , Journalist.