I’m delighted to be taking part in my friend Jeff’s …
IGBOLAND BLOG TOUR
Igbo beliefs – Odinani
Igbo philosophy and cultural beliefs are known as ‘Odinani’, which encapsulates the name ‘Ani’: the Earth goddess, and empathy for the natural world is central to this belief system. Their name for God is Chukwu (sometimes Chineke). He is the supreme and unknowable deity and creator. Igbo people never directly appeal to Chukwu, but often focus on Ani. Odinani literally means ‘It is anchored on the Earth goddess’. The wider pantheon includes ‘alusi’ or minor deities, who are seen as incarnations of various aspects of Chukwu.
Each individual possesses a ‘chi’, or spiritual guardian who remains with you for your entire life. A person’s success or failure is determined by their chi.
A golden rule exists in Igbo culture — summed up in the phrase “egbe bere ugo bere” (Let the eagle perch, let the hawk perch): Live and let live. Odinani is a very tolerant belief system.
In ‘Igboland’ Lydia is a young, naive English lady who becomes curious about Igbo beliefs, and the more she learns about Odinani, the more she questions her own beliefs and upbringing. Is it possible for an English, Christian girl to really understand and think like an Igbo?
Here is an English version of their creation story:
When Chukwu created the cosmos he divided it into four parts: Okike is creation itself with the heavens, sun and stars; Alusi are the gods – supernatural beings and incarnations of Chukwu – the most important of whom is Ani, the Earth goddess; Mmuo is the spirit of dead and hallowed ancestors; Uwa is our own world with its sky, winds and land. The land is Ala, further divided into people, animals, vegetation and water.
Lydia learns a great deal about the wonderful people she befriends and grows to love; but she also learns as much about herself and who she can truly become. In our world of differing cultures and faiths, it is vital that we do more than just listen to each other with a willingness to change and become tolerant and accepting of others.
‘Igboland’ by Jeff Gardiner
Jeff’s Website: http://jeffgardiner.com/
Jeff’s Blog: http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/