In 2021 Rev. father Obai aka Okunaerere granted BBC Igbo News an interview on his collection of Igbo artifacts “ALUSI”. He made a verifiable statement “Ife Alusi aburo omenaala Igbo (worshipping idols isn’t part of Igbo culture)”
For the better part of the year, I had time to ponder on this assertion to make sense of it and this drove me into researching the concept of Alusi. In my findings, the concept of Alusi is no different from our judicial system, one might even call us the originators of true justice through the influence of Alusi.
According to Emile Durkheim’s “Crime Is Normal” for every human society to create a moral boundary. These boundaries allow for the preservation and constitution of laws and custodian of those laws.
Alusi/Arunsi/Arushi and Aru-kwusi by mare interpretation or definition mean “Whatever is regarded as an abomination/crime, according to the dictates of the law, norms, and customs of a community, let it STOP/CEASE”. Hence, Aru-kwusi.
Aru-kwusi or Alusi is often depicted as wooden or molded effigies, where people give their obeisance in return for spiritual protection and favors.
Every Igbo community, family, or kindred has Alusi which was instituted based on the needs of the community or the latter.
To institute an Alusi is synonymous with the modern-day process of constituting laws that are enshrined into the constitution. Therefore Okwu-Alusi is an enshrined constituted affirmation, through which communal norms and customs are observed and preserved.
Okwu-Alusi functions as a modern-day courtroom, which is presided by the Ezemmuo or chief priest who stands as the bridge between the petitioners and the Alusi.The Igbo belief system is anchored in the preservation of life and property, which in return spells posterity. This becomes a major factor in the institution of different Alusi/deities and is therefore charged with the duty of punishing offenders. It also serves as a beacon for uprightness and morality, while upholding the law with an iron fist yet merciful.
Every Igbo community has an Alusi, which was instituted for a particular reason or purpose. It could be a result of war, discrimination, crime, and protection.
Deities like Akwali Omumu are often instituted in a community or in a family that lacks growth or birth. Edo, Ado, and Idemili were instituted to protect their people from wars while Udo and Ogwugwu were instituted for the preservation of peace within the community and between individuals, etc.
Alusi or Igbo deities cannot institute themselves. It’s not omniscient as Chukwu-Okike. For an Alusi or Okwu-alusi to function or become effective, it must need the human element to draft out its constitutions and affirm it with spoken words based on the pre-existing laws.
These spoken words or affirmations give it credence and power to hold us accountable for our misdemeanor.
To explain further, for a crime to be called a crime, it must be enshrined within the constitution. For a judge to be able to prosecute a criminal, he or she has been given authority by the constitution to function as a persecutor per the Law.
Compared to the Igbo justice system, the modern justice system is a corrupt version. Perpetuated by our colonial masters, with a brand name Judiciary.