A natural Igbo man is a born rebel even to his own God. The stubbornness of the Igbos to their various deities and to even the christian God is very legendary if not more defiant than that of any other race I know. Igbo’s continuous worship of a deity or a supernatural force is chiefly based on the deity’s performance and not entirely out of fear. Therefore, it’s a common saying in Igbo land that “Arusi nyebe nsogbo egosi ya osisi ejiri pia ya” meaning that “if a deity becomes unreasonable, it will be told the wood from which its symbol was carved”.
It is an age-long practice in Igboland to “dis-God” a deity by a general consensus or acclamation in a properly constituted meeting of all members or the natural representatives of a village or town . Once a sentence of “no more worship” or “sack” is passed on a deity in a general meeting of the worshippers or citizens of a community, the shrine of the dis-goded deity is destroyed and the deity is expected to take flight and leave the community. The same goes for the evil forests owned by powerful deities.
Nnewi people captures this by a saying that “o bu madu siri Edo nwelu Nkwo” meaning ” that Edo deity owns Nkwo market land and the adjoining thick forest was because it was so given by Nnewi people” and that the same citizens could as well repossess their property from the deity at anytime if they so wish. Edo is the supreme and most powerful deity of the Nnewi people.
The power of Igbos in abridging the influence of their gods was proven in the 1980s at Nnewi, when the town agreed to clear the dreaded Edo evil forest to build the Agbo Edo International Market. The initial attempts by the state government’s contractors to clear the forest were resisted and frustrated by the deity as powerful snakes, bees and mysterious birds openly chased the workers away even with their earthmoving equipment. They were too hasty.
It wasn’t until all the Ndi Isiobi (or village heads) led by the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe KON Orizu, assembled at the precinct of forest and announced to the deity, the decision of the Nnewi people to repossess their land, that the clearing of the forest became possible. The Igwe symbolically felled a shrub and all other village heads followed suit, one after the other. By this single act, the supreme deity had been properly served a notice of repossession. Edo had to comply.
The contractor who was asked to commence clearing after this important ritual was surprised that none of those dangerous animals or spiritual soldiers opposed or harmed their workers until the entire evil forest was cleared and a modern market erected. There is a long list of many deities in Igbo land sacked for either demanding more expensive sacrifices or acting against the interests of the general populace or their worshippers.
It is noteworthy that no one person, not even the chief priest of a deity can summarily sack or de-god a community deity. Due process must be followed. There must be a consensus otherwise the action is severely punished by the deity itself. Many ignorant converts of new religions have gone mad or their children seriously afflicted because they single-handedly destroyed shrines of their community gods or appropriated property belonging to a deity without first securing the permission of the family or community members. Igbo men and women wonder how a deity, called God or Allah would expect mere humans to help it punish its enemies. Such abdication of duty by a supreme being is incomprehensible to an Igbo man or woman.
In Igbo land, a deity worth its reverence or worship, demonstrates its ability to fight its own battles. Why would an entity be worshipped if it relies on a man to subdue human beings or elements to its glory? The tested power to strike dead (as Amadioha deity does) or bloating the stomach of offenders (as Udo deity does) are the marketing tools employed by the Igbo deities to awe their worshippers. It is by routing miserable diseases and misfortunes on enemies and showing instant justice to the supplicants that the obeisance, trust and greater worship are obtained from Igbo followers of a spiritual being.
Igbos believe that the job of a drummer should be separated from that of a dancer. Hence, they would never obey the instruction from any deity that asks them to the beat drums and at the same time expect them to do the dancing. A god should fight its own popularity fight. For an Igbo, it smacks of a high fraud for a spiritual being to recruit him or her to kill and coerce unbelievers to worship it when simple miracles or signs and wonders which should be the hallmarks of such a deity, Allah or God, can do the job.
If an Igbo man must kill a fellow human being, it is must be for an earthly gain or an instant benefit, not for a reward that would be received elsewhere. This is the belief of the Igbos; the very same reason why they fear no human authority because by their nature they can and do fearlessly disinherit, banish and even sack their own gods.
If you are in search of a suicide bomber or someone to kill to exalt a religion, a holy person or a deity, count Igbos out. They see it as a spiritual fraud. Why fight for someone or entity famed for having supernatural powers? But Igbos could fight for their own freedom, rights, dignity, livelihood and their property.
Credits: Ikenga Ezenwegbu