Original (correct) names/spellings for Igbo City's/Towns/Villages
Abakaliki is Abakaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Asaba is Ahaba; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzor; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owerre; Oyigbo is Obigbo; Port Harcourt is Diobu; Ogwashi-Uku is Ogwa Nshi Ukwu... any more will be added.

Friday, April 13, 2018

King Oputa of "Ogbekin"

An illustration of King Oputa of "Ogbekin", an Igbo settlement noted to be near the Oshimiri (Niger River) from the book Niger et Bénoué (1880) by the Belgian explorer Adolphe Burdo.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Arochukwu, Shifting from the Slave Trade?

Photo: People at a dance in Ibom, Arochukwu, April 23, 1903 [a year or so after the British invasion.] Charles Partridge. British Museum.
The first Europeans to visit Arochukwu, in 1901, noted with some surprise--since it contradicted what they had been led to expect by their superiors--that the Aro trade in "factory goods" was no less than their trade in slaves, and that in fact "Palm oil seems to be the main export." [W.J. Venour, "The Aro Country in Southern Nigeria," Geographical Journal, 1902] Even Sir Ralph Moor, the chief creator of the myth that the Aro were solely slave traders and brigands, was compelled to admit that "the individual profits of the slave traffic, owing to the heavy tolls exacted on the roads [trade routes in the Igbo area were often tolled by the communities they ran through], together with other market tolls, have not really been great."

— Robert D. Jackson (1975). The Twenty Years War. pp. 32–33.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Atilogwu Dancers, Festac 1977

Atilogwu dancers at the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture in Festac, Lagos, Nigeria, 1977. Photo: Philip Gaunt / UNESCO.

Elizabeth II, Nigerian Federal House of Representatives, Lagos, 1956.

This photo from 1956 at the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives at the capital, Lagos, during Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh's visit, exemplifies the racialised balance of power during the colonial period, Europeans are positioned high over appointed Africans.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Igbo Ukwu and a possible Eri myth link

According to Umunri, their great father Nri, the first son of Eri, was told by Chineke to sacrifice and bury his first son and daughter and out of their graves grew cocoyam (daughter) and yam (son). There is a possibility that this altar stand found at Igbo Ukwu (in lands that were once part of Oraeri) which features a male and female figure (pictured), dated to no later than the 11th century CE, may point to that origin story.

The marks on the face of the figures bear resemblance to ichi marks which were given to first sons and daughters among Umunri. Ichi marks were related to the sun and the moon and the groove marks were likened to ogba ubi, farm furrows, emphasising the role of agriculture in Nri legend as the first son and daughters faces were also marked with ichi. There are also similar grooves found on the side of the object.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Igbo women and girls and their hairstyles, 1900-1930.

The crested hairstyle ojongo was popular until the mid-20th century, it is a distinctive feature of Igbo arts depicting women. Women used ornaments like thread, feathers, shells, bone, wood, beads, Igbo currency, coins, or cloth; mud containing colourful ores, yellow and red camwood powder or paste and palm oil and charcoal were also used for style. Isi/Ishi owu, a threaded hairstyle is still popular among married women in rural areas.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Textile Trading on the Atlantic

Internal trading, that is, trading among Africans, may also have brought about the distribution of [textiles]. [...]
Photo: Akwete (top) and Ijebu Ode (bottom) cloths compared. British Museum.
[...] One could navigate canoes from the Volta River as far east as the Calabar River in southeastern Nigeria. The Popos [Grand Popo and Aného in Togo] were transporting goods along this channel, at least as far as [...]
Photo: Ferry at Grand-Popo. Dahomey." 1936, British Museum.
[...] Whydah (Kea 1969:39-40) and possibly to Lagos. From either of these two points, [...]
Image: "Canoe on the Yoruba River [sic]." [Ogun River] BMArchives.
[...] Ijebu Yoruba merchants would then have carried them by canoe to the eastern side of the delta, as the literature tells us they had done with other textiles.
— Lisa Aronson (1982), Popo Weaving.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Odeziaku: Poet, pederast and palm-oil merchant

John Moray Stuart-Young (1881–1939) was an English 'Uranian' poet, memoirist, novelist and merchant trader who was born into poverty in the slums of Manchester and eventually found his way to Onitsha where he later became a wealthy merchant palm-oil trader under the British colonial machine. Ostracised by the white colonial upper class in the British west African colonies, Stuart-Young was embraced by the people of Onitsha who nicknamed him Odeziaku. He grew famous in Onitsha for his stores and his 'strange ways' as well as for his lack of interest in women and his apparently unmarried status. His 'strange ways' were really his 'Uranian' tendencies, John Stuart-Young was a 'boy-lover' who took a few [very young] Onitsha boys under his wing over the years, sponsoring them and their families and leaving much of his wealth to them on his death. John Stuart-Young's perceived 'effeminate' demeanour earned him the names Eke Young and Mami Wata's Wife by the Onitsha people, names he detested, preferring Odeziaku ('writer of wealth', originally a misspelling of Odoziaku, 'treasurer'). His weird shopfronts in Onitsha town, some of the shops including 'Ye Little Wonder Shop', Half Way to Bush' (his dwelling called 'The Little House of No Regrets'), with distorting mirrors in his largest store, had his stores nicknamed Mami Wata's shrine and further linked his 'unconventional' ways with the water spirit, a figure that was largely born out of the contact between west Africans and Europeans on the coast.

As a writer Stuart-Young assumed names such as "Jack O'Dazi" and "O. Dazi Aku", carrying on from his consciously manufactured identity in Onitsha, a place far from the slums of Manchester. His articles and poems were highly regarded and printed in several African-edited newspapers which had him hailed as "West Africa's Poet Laureate". John Stuart-Young died from throat cancer in Port Harcourt on 28 May, 1939. The ceremony for his mourning lasted up to four days and was attended by 10,000 Igbo mourners; a newspaper suggested his grave should become a national shrine.

John Stuart-Young's story highlights many things about Africans and Europeans in the colonial period and the relations between them, one of the largest take aways is the unveiling of the breadth of exploitation of Africans by European colonial agents. Stuart-Young's story shows the extent to which a European could be embraced in an African society and how different identities were dealt with in Igbo society in particular.

John Stuart-Young's life and implications surrounding his identity has been expounded upon in The Forger's Tale: the Search for Odeziaku by Stephanie Newell.

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