Symbols have profound relevance in Igbo Spirituality and Cosmology, they give an adequate understanding of our spiritual practices and accounts, thereby giving relatable meanings to cosmic concepts. These symbols and concepts include; The concept and symbol of Chi, the concept here is Chi while the symbol is known as Okpensi. Others include; Agwu(concept) na Okpensi Agwu(symbol), Ikenga na Okpesi Ikenga, Ndi-Ichie na Okpensi Ndi-Ichie, etc. Each of these concepts and symbols are defining factors of what Odinaani or Igbo Spirituality is.
The concept of Ikenga in Odinaani is synonymous with “Strength and Representation”. It is the embodiment of success, human endeavor, and achievement. The physical manifestation of Ikenga varies on its bearer and its purported successes. For instance, a warrior’s ikenga would be designed as having two horns, a sword, and a human head but at a later age, the same warriors as a nobleman would institute a different kind of Ikenga which represented his new status, which is “Nobility” or Ikenga synonymous with Ndi-Ozo na Ndi-Ichie.
Modern-day representation of Ikenga is portrayed by awards (Statuettes) given at different events targeted at recognizing excellence in events such as; Headies Awards, AMVCA, etc.
These modern-day statuettes can be modified to represent and embody the concept of Ikenga, this means; Ikenga should be used as a blueprint in the designs of award statues. For instance; an award given to a writer should bear similarities with Ikenga, it should be adjusted into bearing two horns, a pen, and a book, this blueprint should be applied to other aspects of professionalism.
Dr. Umar Johnson gave a keynote on the importance of keeping the family unit, businesses, schools, relationships, and sovereign borders “Black”(Keep it black). In that same spirit, I’m also an advocate of keeping everything around us as Ndi-Igbo “Igbo”.
The incorporation of Ikenga statuettes as a symbol of achievements in modern society shows who we are as a people, it distinguishes us from the rest of the world and portrays a strong sense of self and cultural identity. The world on its own is evolving into a sacred sense of self, therefore “The incorporation of Ikenga” would strengthen our belief and increase the love of self and culture for us and the next generations.
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