On Amadioha


Ozodiobi Osuji

My dear Obi Afulezi:

I am not sure what I should write about Amadioha; your initial foray suggested that you were gathering materials on the subject and that my role is to put them together in written format. Your second letter is confusing because it suggests that I should do the initial writing without input from you. I am confused.
What I know about Amadioha is that it is a subset of Igbo religion (I have written extensively on Igbo religion but not on Amadioha). Let me briefly summarize what I know about Igbo conception of God.
Igbos believe in God. They call their Supreme God Chi-Ukwu; that God has a creative aspect that they call Chi-neke; that Chi-neke manifests in each human being as his soul, as Chi.
The Igbo tries to consult his Chi before he does anything and tries to make sure that he and his Chi are in alignment. When a person does something that agrees with his Chi, he tends to succeed but if he deviates from his Chi he tends to fail.
In addition to the Holy Trinity of Chi-Ukwu, Chi-neke and Chi, Igbos have more down to earth gods. These secondary gods are functional and made approachable by all Igbos.
Every Igbo town has an Ala (a goddess of the land); an Amadioha (the god of light, thunder and knowledge), the god of planting and harvesting (Njoku/Ajoku), the god of morality (ogu), the god of individuals’ power (Ikenga); the god for diviners (Arusi), the god for dibias (agwu ishi) and myriad other functional gods, each performing a specific function for the people on the earth plane.
With regards to Amadioha, I understand that it is equivalent to Yoruba’s Sango. The link between Yorubas and Igbos needs to be studied. Yorubas have a god called Orisha/Orisa (our village is called Umuorisha…is that related to the Yoruba god of Orisha/Orisa/Olisa). It should also be noted that Yorubas and Edos have four days in their week and the names are like our Igbo: Afor, Orie, Eke and Nkwo.
Igbos, Yorubas and Edo people and other southern Nigerians were one people not too long ago; maybe about two thousand years ago they moved away from each other and that caused the slight differences in their language (the term Igbo is woodland, bush in Yoruba, in that sense Igbos are said to be people who separated from the proto Igbo- Yoruba- Edo people and moved into the bush?) Dr Ojiaku made this point in his book on the Igbos. (Professor Ojiaku went to Harvard and taught at the University of California, Berkeley.)
Within my kindred of Umuamadioha I had asked around to find out how we became Ndi onye Ishi Amadioha and nobody really could enlighten me. All that I was told was that it has always been so, from time immemorial.
When, as a child, folks said that I am here to replace the then onye ishi Amadioha, Akakporo, I was made to understudy him (he was officially the last high priest of Amadioha). I observed him making sacrifices to Amadioha and asking that God to guide the people.
As you know, if a couple had a boy child, they sacrificed a ram to Amadioha and if they had a girl child, they sacrificed a hen to Amadioha and if they became rich, they sacrificed a cow to Amadioha.
The People brought their disputes with each other to the high priest of Amadioha; he had them swear on his Arusi; the idea was that the culprit, the guilty one would hesitate to swear because if he did, he will die.
As you know, our Umuamadioha kindred is the Opara of the town, the first born. No one takes any of the dividends of the town before we do.
Igbos believe in freeborn, and slave born. I recall asking my folks why our name is Osuji-Njoku when we are the first of the dialas, the freest of the Owerri people. They told me that in the olden days when a rich man had a son that he named him Osuji or Njoku as a sign of his gratitude to the gods. I told folks that the name Osuji is often misinterpreted by non-Owerri folks who assume that it means that the bearer is a slave when, in fact, we owned the slaves of the area.
Once in Canada, an Nkwerri man asked me whether the name osuji implied that I am a slave, and I automatically slapped him and told him that in traditional Igbo society his people were the source of our Owerri people’s slaves (they did our farm work for us). We are the freeborn of Alaigbo and the second-class Nkwerre man dared suggest that I am a slave. In our traditional society, if he made that mistake, he would have been severely punished, including been buried alive! I reminded the fool that in our society, a commoner like himself was not permitted to talk to an Osuji. The extant king of Owerri is an Osuji.
Contemporary Igbos really do not understand their traditions even though they talk too much about it.
Listen, Obi, I am familiar with what my uncle, Akakporo, the last high priest of Amadioha, did on a day-to-day basis, including his sculpturing, Mbari. I am not well informed about what you want to accomplish with your proposed write-up on Amadioha. Is it to resurrect the practice of Amadioha?
You need to enlighten me before we proceed with this monumental task.

Ozodiobi Osuji
May 25, 2023


Mazi O Ojiaku. The Igbo People, Culture and Character. Bradenton, Florida: Booklocker Inc. 2015

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