Africa and Asia forms of spirituality are predominantly rooted in ancestral veneration before colonization and westernization. In hind sight, western civilization and religion are somewhat rooted in the veneration of their ancestors whom they tagged national heroes. For them these heroes are not limited to their founding fathers. They also consider war heroes, inventors, including Marion Sims who operated on black women without anesthesia and is today known as the father of modern gynecology, this inclusion does not exclude catholic and their liturgy of saints.
Unfortunately, in most African countries especially Nigeria, ancestral veneration has been classified as demon worship, forgetting that veneration of one’s ancestors creates an avenue for the retention of cultural and spiritual identity.
As Ndi-Igbo we refer to our ancestors as Ndi-Ichie/Ndi-Ogbuefi, Umuada na Umuokpu. They are our spiritual intercessors and defenders against programmable technologies (Ogwu), hence the importance of an instituted structure known as Obi. This structure functions as a barrier against Ogwụ, and act as a convergent point for spiritual deliberation.
This function is therefore linked to the principle of Ka Odi na Ife, Ka Odi na Mmuo, it is applied in this context in accordance with our reverence to our ancestral spirits, we believe this ancestral structure “Obi” acts as a podium for deliberations, settling of spiritual disagreements or reports just like it was done in Igbo traditional societies.
It is therefore important to note that these demonized ancestors are the progenitors of our lineage and contributors to our genetic makeup, they sacrificed themselves and fought wars that provided us with most lands we inherit and live in.
They are also referred to as Ndi-Tara Okpukpu, this means before civilization these ancestors saw the world at its most challenging, most brutal & most complex and yet they strived to give us the nutritional foundation on which on health and lives are built on.
As intercessors, they fight for their own(igba ogu nwa). Onye gwaa nna ya ebe ona eje, nna ya a-gwa ya ihe oga okwu-when you tell your father where you are going, your father would tell you what to say. This adage is a lesson and also a warning, due to the dwindling number of practitioners most indigenes do not bother to have any interaction with their ancestors before embarking on any journey, whether new or old.
This, therefore, could result in failure causing the individual to perpetually remain as a start-up without progress, in our cosmology the ideal thing is to use a kola and a bottle of Alcohol to visit your ancestral Obi and inform the spirits of your fathers.
In another interpretation following the aphorism “Onye furu nna ya***”, this shows the height of our morality as a people, the total regard we have for our elders which an individual’s father represents.
PS-If your father is alive, you are expected to offer the kola and wine to him while he offers them to his fathers.
As practitioners, the veneration of our ancestors isn’t limited to daily rites of pouring libations, culturally we person rites/rituals that are dedicated to our Ndi-Ichie.
In Igbo traditional societies, every family had a physical manifestation of their Ndi-ichie which is referred to as (Ido-Ndi-Ichie), this could be represented with effigies constructed from spirit tress and called Okpensi Ndi-Ichie or Ezumezu Ndi-Ichie.
The veneration of Ndi-Ichie is usually done by the oldest man in a lineage while at a family level it’s done by the father or the oldest son if the father is deceased.
Ancestral Veneration In Igbo Spirituality reminds us as a people to embrace cultural and spiritual practices indigenous to us. This is to show that until we begin to honor our ancestors as we should, we would perpetually be on the path of self-destruction.
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