Ndumodu nke Ahanyi (Teachings of Ahanyi)
" Let all that seek the light, learn from and live by the revelation"
For centuries, recent religions of the book operating in Africa, originally called Okebulani, have kept pointing to the Shrines in Africa, and at that, have continued their misrepresentation of African religion and spirituality as polytheism and paganism. To these exotic religions, who have preferred to remain oblivious of the truth of history that the concept of one Chineke (monotheism) originated in Africa, the Blackman, given the Shrines, is polytheistic (believes in many gods).
Theologians, philosophers, religion historians, ethnologists and sociologists around the world are agreed that religion now, is a phenomenon which cannot be given a precise and apt definition because of the many and varying individual experiences that it names. But it is agreed that when humans acknowledge the existence of a Supreme being, and accept their dependence upon that supreme being, religion has become a factor in them.
After the dispersal from Africa, this phenomenon is lived in such diverse fashions throughout the world, that it is now difficult to list true characteristics of religion universally. Because of this, it is accepted that any valid definition of religion has to be made within the framework of the cultural traditions of the community the religion permeates.
But those who do not know, or choose to be ignorant, see the original spirituality of Africa, which is the most ancient of all religious spirituality, through the eyes of their late-comer religions of the book, i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All are from the Middle East and Europe, and are founded on written texts said to have originated in what they call 'ancient revelations', a reference to the teachings in the 'Nsibiri nke Omenali ' (Proverbs, Idioms, etc. of Africa).
All of them equipped with powerful institutional structures, and some of them, driven by worldwide proselytizing ambitions whose imperialistic modus operandi is, "eliminate what is in other lands, supplant and substitute with your invasion".
And they want us to see ourselves and our traditional spirituality through the squint eyes of their ignorance and prejudices.
Unfortunately Africa has, up until now, allowed her spirituality to remain in the tortures of such misrepresentation and denigration as polytheism and paganism by the new religions since the past many centuries. Most of her educated sons and daughters who have attempted to write about the spirituality of Africa, have taken defensive positions and have not drawn their discourse to pointed, objective, dynamic and self confident conclusions.
Severally or jointly they have made feeble, timid and general comments on aspects of our spirituality without tying all the facets together and abstracting its pervading principles, to present them as a coordinated and harmonized complete whole in one appropriate philosophical package.
This is because, as products of colonial systems of education, they had been brain-washed to believe that their skin pigmentation, spiritual tradition and culture represents evil and so see nothing of theirs worth flaunting; and many of them are converted priests of the invading religions whose economic security is better served by repression of our spiritual traditions and the continuing existence of the dominance of the foreign religions in Africa.
Now, the NKOMII teaches what the divine spirituality of Africa is, and what the Shrines are in the context of our way of life (metaphysics).
Before Christianity or Islam came to Africa with the Bible to talk Jehovah, or the Koran to talk Allah, names for the Supreme Being existed within the numerous ethnic groups of our people all over Africa:-
Supplication is direct to Chineke, as with the Igbo who say:- "Obasi Dielu, Chineke, Chi di ebere, biko nye anyi Amara Gi" ("The Supreme Being; God the creator; God the merciful, please give us your grace.") As with the Igbo, so it is with all other ethnic groups in Africa.
The principle of direct relationship between humans and Chineke is expressed in philosophical parlance as Chiism, to tell that Africa is Godian in it’s spiritual practices; and that the pervading philosophy of our spirituality is Chiism, which expresses the divine traditional spirituality of Africa and elevates it to a higher level of vibration and dignity than other religious expressions.
Now, how does Chiism give a place to the Shrines and accommodate their images without perjuring it’s monotheism and without undermining the metaphysics that support and sustain traditional life in Africa?
For you to begin to receive this light of understanding, you must separate the ‘religion’, which relates to the human recognition of the existence of a Supreme Chi the creator, entitled to obedience, and the effect of such recognition on human conduct and mental attitude; from the religion which in ordinary usage means--'a duty one is bound to perform'. For there is a confusion in the use of 'religion' in it’s ordinary usage, and religion which concerns the human relationship with Chineke, whose temple is in everyone to make true the saying that " from me to Chineke, there is no distance".
** The highest and most intimate prayer that we say is the one said in private to Chineke, not the one said at any public raffia-palm shrine, of which mosques and cathedrals are enlarged varieties, made magnificent but not holier with money.
To disentangle this confusion is to wade into the broad spectrum of the natural theology of Africa that will stretch through the entire gamut of our way of life, from cosmogony through cosmology to ontology and mysticism; and then move on to the sociological dimension of our spirituality as an instrument for societal control around the globe.
We will begin with a straight walk to examining the revelations about the creation from the Nkporo community of the Igbo for this study, from which the behaviors of other communities of Africa can be appreciated.
In this approach, be encouraged by the fact that the ?f?, symbol of authority, based on truth, justice, and fair-play, innocence and good conscience in Igbo metaphysics, is cognate with ?f?, (incantation) in the metaphysics of the Yoruba as a word which has the power of becoming an event in life simply by being uttered; also the "?ph?" (covenant) in Urhobo; just as "Ase" in Yoruba and Bini, and "Ise" in Igbo means the same thing--'So let it be'.
Nkowalegheoji na Nkowalegheodi
(Cosmogony and Cosmology)
The why and wherefore
The text of Jenisisi as revealed in the Holy Nkomii states that Chineke is transcendental and immanent in all the forces of nature that are manifested. It teaches that the spirit is in everything, the heavens and earth. It is from this consciousness that Ifenta and Adam named the Supreme being Chineke, and built the shrines in locations isolated from human disturbances. That spot became a hallowed place for meditation, libation and fellowship.
The Shrine of ‘Anyanwu’, which is the abbreviated Igbo name for the Sun-'Anya-adighi anwu'-meaning 'The eye that never dies', is the symbol of the Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Immortality of Chineke.
Ofo na Ogu’ Shrine is the symbolization of the truth, justice, fair play and good conscience of Chineke ingrained into our soul. This is the conscience in our soul, from which our Chi presides over our entire life, with rewards or retribution.
In ‘Agwunsi’, we distill the grace of the wisdom of Chineke. The metaphysicians of Africa devote to this grace of Chineke for divination and clairvoyance. The Yoruba call this shrine ‘Orunmila’.
The Shrine of ‘Kamalu’ is the requital aspect of Chineke represented by the forces of nature :- rain, thunder, lightening, wind, storms, the moon and the universe. This is called ‘Sango’ in Yoruba and ‘Ekpenyong’ in Efik/Ibibio metaphysics.
The Shrine of ‘Ani’, Mother Earth, is for the enforcement of morality and Godliness.
‘Ekwuru Ochie and Imo nmiri’ is the Shrine of the living waters; streams, lakes, and the oceans. They respectively are Oshun and Olokun in Yoruba; Ndem Abasi in Efik/Ibibio; and Owu in Ijaw. It is likened to the breast of Chineke from which the milk of goodness from The Supreme Being continuously flows to suckle and sustain life.
‘Fijioku’ is the divine aspect of Chineke representing the totality of vegetation, including agricultural vegetation. The Yoruba call this divinity Orisa Oko, and it is called Vodu in Togo/Benin. It is this vodu that the French misrepresented as voodoo, from which voodooism is coined as a religion.
Below all these, the ancestors exist in "memoriam", as the fountain from which each family unit draws inspiration, pride and self confidence from their past noble deeds.
Each of the Shrine has the Divine Spirit in it, since Chineke is immanent in all the manifestations in nature and so the Spirit of Chineke is in all. This attributed Spirit is called Arunsi in Igbo; Aruosa in Beni; Orisa in Yoruba.
Chi in All-All in Chi
In this physiological or ontological structure of Chineke, the Sun is the head of Chineke; ?f? na Ogu is the conscience of Chineke; Agwunsi is the wisdom of Chineke; Kamalu is the aspect that is for the protection, and divine retribution from Chineke; Ani or Mother Earth is the foot of Chineke; Ekwuru- Ochie/Imo-Nmiri is the breast of Chineke and Fijioku is the toes of Chineke. This teaches that Chineke is in All and All are in Chineke, so that any sacrifice offered at any of these aspect of Chineke, by virtue of immanence in all of them, is to Chineke.
If you have a man hit you on your head, hand or foot, can you say that he has not made a direct attack on your Possessive I, who hides unseen behind you to claim: " My head, my hand, my foot" and all other parts of your body as its own manifestation, in the same way as Chineke claims all these manifestations as parts of the Supreme Being?
This is what the Shrines represent in Africa. The libation exercises at the Shrines are not made outside the person of Chineke, or to another small god independent of, and distinct from the Supreme Chineke, in a challenging parallel or competitive posture.
Nor are the Shrines a media through which supplication is made to Chineke.
This fact is certified in this incantation or Ofo libation, which is proffered at the Fijioku Shrine on the day of the New Year / New Yam festival. It is the loudest of our annual festivals. The Ewe people of Togo/Benin call this festival Vodu, but it is now misrepresented to the world by the French as Voodooism or Voodoo religion.
Incantations at the Fijoku Shrine
After the incantation, a rooster and yams are the offerings made at the Shrine.
Throughout the prayer, the Supreme Chineke is appealed to directly, for true spirituality is positively, a direct relationship between you and Chineke. So that when you are asked to supplicate to Chineke through a deified human medium, it is the peddling of cultural imperialism, not true spirituality!
After this Fijioku ceremony, if you are a farmer, you will take a piece of yam with mud at its bottom, and a piece of wood to the common Shrine of the community. There, at the Shrine dedicated to the memory of the ancestors, you place the items, to re-enact and re-live the memory of when you used to eat with them when they were alive, though now in metaphysical existence, in memoriam.
It is the 'religion' or the binding annual duty of our people to perform the rite of the ancestors eating the new yam first, before the living descendants partake of it. Religion in this context means, the obligation or duty in the rites or ceremonies of the New Year/Yam festival which we must have to perform.
Rites in this context means a form of procedure or action required for the new year celebration, i.e. there is the rites of hospitality in which you first present chalk to a guest to touch and smear on the wrist, to declare the purity of the heart toward the guest; then the presentation of kola nuts, which has scrupulously observed rites or procedure for breaking it. After the breaking, sharing and eating of the kola, as an assurance of the covenant to protect the guest during the visit, the guest is served a refreshment desired or any the host can afford or the welcome ceremony ends with the kola.
Symbol of Chineke in all Shrines
A compound is made up of people who do not belong to the same family axis-patrilineal or matrilineal. At the 'Ala Ezi' or compound center, the eldest of each family of the compound places on behalf of its own group, a Fijioku symbol- a small pot usually made of either Uro, Olaocha or Olaedo,i.e. Clay, Silver or Gold, in which are:-
Chi, an oblong piece of specially molded kind of clay called 'Ukwomini', with finger size holes at its two ends;
An egg ;
One piece of chalk.
This is placed in the compound within a small fence of four rocks, covered with one large, flat and broad stone, with four chalk marks. Be aware that the Chi symbol occurs in every Shrine as a declaration that the symbolization is of the Supreme being, thereby making the symbols divine since the Spirit force they symbolize, proceeds from Chineke.
So much harm has been done to our religion and spirituality by others using the word 'god' in lowercase letters, to describe the symbols in our Shrines. Any scholar who is interested in writing or studying the sociology of our religious behaviors should first study the Nkomii to sort out this semantic and conceptual confusion from their mind, before proceeding.
When presenting a case about the involvement of religion as an instrument of societal control, writers should make sure that the difference between the word 'religion' as used in the figurative sense in the context of the social customs of Africa, is so clearly differentiated in the text from 'religion' when the word is used in the context of the radically fundamental understanding of the word by the church. The word is an English word and does not exist in any of our language culture. And the English has manipulated the word over the years that we must be cautious in the use of the English words which they introduced to make a mockery of our spiritual way of life.
Religion in its radical or fundamental use deals with our relationship with the Supreme Being, for religion became a factor in us when we acknowledged the existence of Chineke, and not the existence of lesser deities, and accepted our dependence on the Creator. So radically or fundamentally, religion has no half-way bus stop between humans and Chineke. Anything less is to use the word in the figurative sense, and at its sociological distention for the promotion of civilization, or harmonious living among humanity.
Our ancestral Shrine focuses on family unity and genealogical continuity. Our ancestors are honored and revered. They exist in 'memoriam', without contradicting our faith in re-incarnation. We revere their memory for the inspiration we draw from nostalgic review of their glorious deeds and lives during ancestor ceremonies. ‘Good deeds never die’, so in this fact, our ancestors live on.
The Eyes of Chineke
Chineke is our recess in every excuse. We do everything peeping into the countenance of Chineke, as we seek to live in the way of the Spirit. Chineke is always watching, and so we use the Shrines, which symbolizes the attributes of the Spirit, for the enforcement of discipline in our traditional societies.
Thus the Shrines are foundation for traditional calendar and festivals, instruments for social discipline and control, the background against which Africa’s traditional medical practice leans and deference to the peoples history.
"Faith endures only if it is a living faith, and It lives only if it acts upon the culture of the community it permeates."
Upon this fact, Chiism cannot in any part of the world advocate destruction of the systems inspired by the primordial philosophy of any human community because, if you alienate a people from their cultural traditions, you render them either stupid, or violent.
Idol and Image
The word 'idol', is synonymous with 'image' but the European owners of the language do not call their statues in their churches, 'idols', but extol them in the less offensive synonym of idol as 'images'. They then defend them with applause as necessary aids to God worship in their churches, even though the word 'idol' has image as its synonym in the English dictionary.
Images in Mysticism
The science of mysticism states that, "That which is fancied and focused on the mind, transposes to form; and demands environmental serenity and psychological focusing, such as the Shrines and their images provide. Mysticism seeks to link our soul with Chineke and teaches that without symbols in which the holy or sacred is embodied and focused on the mind, the experience of the holy is unattainable".
In the movement toward the linkage of our soul with Chineke, there are natural stages and processes marked differently in different traditions. The discipline of prayer, purification, contemplation, fasting, meditation, environmental serenity and rituals, remove impediments in the linkage with Chineke, and focuses the mind upon the given problem to distill the specific 'Amara' (grace) sought. It is within this philosophy that Shrines are set up in undisturbed isolation, for each specific attribute of Chineke that we want to invoke or call into play.
Thus at the Fijioku Shrine, our desire for agricultural wealth is symbolized.
At the kamalu Shrine, our desire for protection or retribution against a perceived enemy is symbolized and focused.
At the Agwunsi Shrine, we seek for long life and good health, for it is on this shrine that doctors lean their medical practice in its physical, metaphysical, spiritual and mystical dimensions.
At the Ala or Ani Shrine, morality is enforced.
Ekwuru ochie-Imo nmiri Shrine is focused on the quest for regeneration and general wealth.
Ofo na Ogu Shrine is for truth, justice, fairplay and the conscience in the soul.
In this light, Let those that have ears, hear; and those that have sight, to see, that the Shrines in Africa are in our metaphysical systems that gave excuses for the festivals that made traditional life full of joy, and worth living for our people; that set the eye of the divinity always on our people, to control our behavior and regulate our lives; that stood out and rewarded virtues; suppressed and punished vices; instilling in us a spiritual and harmonious civilization. It gave foundation to the traditional calendar, just as the calendar of others are founded on the birth , life and death of deified racial heroes or their pagan festivals.
Under the coordinating and dignifying umbrella of Chiism (Chiism) the Shrines will be studied, their mysteries will be pried into and harnessed to the service of humanity; their practices will be harmonized to give us a common behavioral pattern and a stronger foundation for unity and identity, based on the authentic traditions and values of all Children of light. Ofo
---------- Ogbaja (Prophet) Ahanyi, Kama Onu Kama Onyioha.
"If Africa unites, it will be because each part, each nation, each ethnic group gives up part of its heritage for the good of the whole. That is what union means; that is what Pan Africa means.."
---------- W. E. B. Duboise-Africa Awake, 1958.
Abasi Ke Inyong
Chi the creator
Buganda (East Africa)
"Supreme Chineke, today we have harvested the fruits of our labor and began a new year, and we are here to offer our grattitude that you kept us alive to this day. We have seen last year’s harvest and ask that this year be more bountiful; Wherever we farm, may neither the elephant or disaster pass through there; may the land bear fruit for ever; give us good health and a fruitful life; if we need a child and mate with our partner, may we conceive a healthy and good child;
May this prayer be the way it is proffered..