The Igbo, Abuja, Nigeria
The Igbo, Nigeria The Igbo (Hebrew) is a collective name of several clans of Eastern Nigerian who are believed to originate from the tribes of Zebulon, Menashe, Judah, Gad and Levi. The similarities between Igbos and Israelites have been noticed and documented by various scholars since the 18th century. Among such similarities are belief in one supreme God, circumcision on the eighth day, seclusion of the mother after delivery, levirate marriage, separation between the husband and wife during her menstruation, animal ritual sacrifice, concepts of clean and unclean food, ritual slaughter, festival of dry bread, atonement day, ceremony of new moon and many others. It is speculated that the Igbo migrated to Western Africa from Eastern and Northern Africa, where Jewish communities existed since Biblical times. Though many Igbos were converted into Christianity with the arrival of the European missionaries, all Igbos are aware of their Israelite origins and carefully preserve their laws, customs and rules of conduct through their religion called Omenana , lit. “things that will be done in the land”, a term that reminds one of the strictures of the Torah that will be observed in the land. Before the Europeans reached the Igbo people, the Igbo were farmers, living in a democratic and uniquely egalitarian society. Their peaceful life was interrupted by colonization and slave trade. A great part of today’s African-American community originates from the Igbo. The Igbo lost millions in the Nigerian Civil War genocide in the end of 60's. Today there are approximately 5000-7000 Igbos practicing rabbinical Judaism with more than 60 functioning synagogues in Igboland, as well as in Lagos and in Abuja. The unique culture of the Igbo is widely known for its udu (pot) and talking drums, dance plays and masquerades.