Ozo Okonkwo Ezeani
Ozor Okonkwo, Eze Ani and High Priest is the priest of Igbo, the Forest God whom he claims is the father of the Igbo people, creator of all and supreme almighty God. In this interview with JUNGLE JOURNALIST, Okonkwo narrates the stories of the creation, right in the jungles in the heart of Igboland. He also explains that the origins of Christianity and Judaism are in fact, Igbo:
We understand that you are the high priest of Igbo. What or who is this Igbo, or are you referring to the Igbo people?
Igbo is a great mystery beyond human understanding. That is the simple meaning of Igbo. The hour is fast approaching when what Igbo is will be given out in full. This is not the time. Igbo is like saying the universe.
What about the Igbo who is a deity?
The original Mother Goddess, Nono at Offia Adu, growing out from the Earth
You mean Adu. Adu is the supreme God of all the gods in Igboland. I know why I am narrowing it to Igboland. As time goes on, people will understand what the word Igbo actually mean. My only annoyance is that the people who call themselves Igbo do not know who they actually are. Igbo is the son of Adu. So whether you see Igbo as a place, or a people, the basic thing about Igbo is that He is the son of Adu, and Adu is the universal deity. He is the God that came down and planted himself as seed on earth, the Creator. That is what Adu is. It is from this Adu that humanity and all things came into existence. A lot of stories have been told on how humanity came to be, but I want you to know that they are all the story of Adu and Igbo that people are telling because of their personal interests, and the gains they want by telling the story to suit them. But all the stories you have been hearing from Christianity, to Hinduism, to Judaism, to Islam, are all the stories of Igbo.
I was made to understand that creation happened within these forests. Can you explain more on this?
It is unfortunate that Ndi Igbo do not even know what they have, because of that, they no longer know whom they are. If you don’t know where you are coming from, you will never know where you are going. It is high time the Igbos should know who they are. It is high time the world should know the truth about mankind. Even though I may not say much now, I will explain some things to you. The Almighty God Himself is Adu. It is this same Adu that the Jews adopted His name as Adonai. He is the same whom the Muslims adopted as Allah. When Adu planted Himself as seed yam, a lot of things were happening. The yam is God but people do not know. The theory of evolution according to Charles Darwin is the story of Adu and Igbo.
In ancient times, right there in the forest of the gods, where the seat of Adu is placed, during those days, there were several species of monkeys who lived there. Whatever feast the community people hold, these monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas will participate. It is these monkeys who metamorphosed into humans. You must have seen the whitish skin I used when praying at the oracle. It is the skin of the monkey specie. Before I was able to establish myself as the high priest of Igbo in Adu, I had to wear the old body of man, which is the body of a monkey. I used that skin to purify myself, and that was when my old personality returned, giving me the eligibility to take up the position of the high priestship of Adu.
It is a mystery. When you ask questions in culture and other religions, it is Adu and Igbo you are talking about. The gorillas were in fact the people who can be said to be the Adam living in the Garden of Eden, although the story in the Bible is quite different. But that forest is the forest of creation, where God made man. The Christian Bible stated that god said ‘let us make man in our own image’. It was the almighty Chukwu Abiama who came and planted Himself as Adu. He talking to Adu and the gorillas. You can see how the gorilla looks. Man has the physique of gorilla. People have been telling this story withpout understanding. So, ‘let us create man in our own image’, it was Chukwu Abiama, Adu and the gorilla who got together to do this. So Chukwu Abiama has His image is in Adu, and Adu has His image in gorilla. That is why they said, ‘let us create man in our own image, and in creating man, that man became ‘madu’- ‘maa-du’, meaning, ‘there is divinity’, that divinity in man. It is the same word that the English mispronounces as ‘man’. Man is an Igbo word which they have shortened and robbed of its true meaning. It is a Divine Word.
There were so many deities and shrines in the Forest of Adu. Are they part of creation?
The Forest of the Gods, even at the ‘ogbaja Adu’, Chukwu Abiama, in the person of Adu has a lot of Divine Beings He works with. Some of them include Ngwu, Anyanwu, Akpu, Ogwu, and so on. All of them are a product of Aja Ani, the earthen ground, and Aja Ani is even Adu Himself. Contrary to what we have been taught, God dwells in the earth, not in the sky. That is why, when an Igbo man is doing ofo, if he doesn’t want to talk much, he says, ‘Aja Ana’. Aja Ana represents everything, because whatever you do, you do it on the earth. Adu also has a ‘Noono’. Noono is the wife of Adu. That is the real word for ‘loolo’, meaning queen in Igbo. She is a great mother to mankind. Then there is the deity called Owangene, a water deity, but there is no water there at the shrine. We have Mmuyo, we have Arushi-Iyi, and so on and so forth. Outside that, we have what we call Nechukwu, which is the Mother of God. She has mother name apart from Nechukwu. These personalities are all messengers to Adu, who is Chukwu Abiama.
Is she the same as what the Catholics call Mary, mother of God?
Exactly. Nechukwu actually is seen as the mother of the entire universe. Since she is the mother of the God that created everything, we also see her as the mother of the entire universe. She is a god that sees about fertility. We can also address her as ‘akwari-omumu’, the deity of fertility.
A handmade European version of the Mother Goddess deity
There is this image arising from the earth at the shrine of Noono Adu that looks like the image commonly referred to as The Universal Mother Goddess in antiquity. Are they the same?
Yes, I am sure those ones you have been seeing is the carved one. You can see this one just came upon its own, naturally-you can see that she is soil, from the earth, not man-made. She also is carrying a baby on her back, showing that we are already in a new generation but people do not know. Over the years, people do not know the truth behind creation, even among the so-called Igbo people. They do not knowmuch about themselves, simply because they rejected their culture. That is why they have been paying dearly for it. The Igbos cannever achieve anything in life until they return to their culture. Also, mankind can never know peace except the Igbos know peace. So, in as much as people are trying to debase the Igbos, they are debasing the entire universe.
As I said earlier, people do not know how creation came to be. A lot of stories have been told, people have been living in the dark over the generations. This work I am doing today, I was aware from the day I was born, that my work was to come and tell the truth about mankind and how mankind came to be, whom Chukwu Abiama is, Adu and Igbo. It was until some few years back when it was time for me to start this work that that very new baby appeared on her back. It is representing what I am doing today. She has given birth to a new beginning, which everybody has been clamouring for. Even though you see her that the image looks new, she renews herself all the time.
You said that Chukwu Abiama and Adu are the same, yet the shrine of Chukwu Abiama is in Arochukwu, and Adu is here. How come?
All the shrines in Igboland represent Chukwu Abiama. It is the presence of Chukwu Abiama that is in all the shrines. It is a mystery you won’t understand now. Chukwu Abiama named the Arochukwu shrine after himself. It is the same Chukwu Abiama who manifested His presence everywhere.
I saw you making the sign of the cross during the igo ofo, and it is a catholic tradition. Why do you use a catholic rite in Igbo worship?
I am sure you did observe me very well and saw that I did more than the sign of the cross. After doing the so-called sign of the cross-the forehead, two shoulders, heart area, didn’t you see me touching my knees and feet? That is to tell you that this is the original. It has been like this before the advent of the early missionaries in Igboland. You saw what I used-it’s not a cross, but the mpi atu. What that mpi atu means is that whenever I am performing any holy ritual, I use the mpi atu to purify the environment by touching ever corner of the shrine, then I purify myself by doing what you saw.
I noticed that you used a certain leaf to purify when the mpi atu was not available. Can you explain that?
That leaf is a holy leaf as well. You cannot use it to do evil, its called ogirishi. Not everybody knows it, and you can use the ogirishi for purification. I made use of several other things as well in the process of igo ofo. The culture of igo ofo has been there before Christianity came, but you will find that it is the same process as the Holy Communion of the church, but it is more complex.
So why not stick to the modern one which is simpler, instead of having to go through all that cumbersome methods?
You mean I should adopt the Christian method of igo ofo, when I have come to restore what was suppressed? Let me ask you, is God, Chukwu Abiama modern? Modern things means things invented by man. How could you leave what God has made to be for what God has created himself? To go modern is impossible, its defying the orders of Chukwu Abiama to follow man for personal gains. So, the process is thus-the white chalk, called nzu represents peace, the brightness of the day. When you are using nzu for ofo, you are letting the Gods know that you have come to them in peace. Someone who is not a man of peace that touches nzu has invoked trouble upon himself. So evil people do not use nzu during igo ofo. on the other hand, the reddish one is called odo. It is also for peace. It is meant to cool whatever is hot. So whatever we do in culture, we always ensure everybody is at peace with his God. No priest will use anything that is negative to offer ofo prayers. If you use it, you have dug your own grave yourself. The issue of the kolanuts is, you finish offering the nzu and odo, then you pray with the kola. Then you break and offer a lobe or two to the deity, indicating that you are eating together, that you are having a continous communion with God.
Nobody can also use kola to say a negative prayer; it is death on the person. So these three items is for positive prayers.
There are different types of kola. Is it safe to use any type, like the gworo or other ones?
No, no no. the gods have a way of doing their thing. You can use goats and chickens for rituals, but you can’t use a leopard or monkey. It’s only those native animals you must use. You cannot even use a he-goat if you are doing what is holy.
Is it only priests like you who can perform the igo ofo? Can other people like even a woman perform it?
No, any man can do it, but women do not. The gods forbid it. Left for us alone, it would even have been good if our wives are allowed to perform it when we are absent, but the gods do not accept that. If she does it, she will definitely see the repercussion. So, any man can perform the ofo prayers, but make sure that you are on the positive side whenever you are doing it. But note that a young man cannot perform the ofo where an elder is. It must be done by the eldest person around. It is in situation like when you are in your house and receives visitors that you do it, even though you are young. You offer the kola to the visitors, and they will respect you by returning it and saying, ‘oji eze di eze na aka’. When you are in your house, you are also a king, the king of your house.
What is the essence of visioning the shrine of Igbo, and what does one stand to gain by going there?
Anybody who goes to Igbo to offer obeisance should count himself as highly blessed. It is either the gods have seen you as somebody who is worthy, and want you to come in close communion with them, so as to guide you on what they will want you to do for them. Or if you feel that you need the favour of the gods, you can as well take something to the shrine of Igbo, so that the gods will favour you in positive ways. You cannot bear any evil thing in mind and go to offer anything to the gods. If you do, you have destroyed yourself. So, sometimes some people try to do that, but the gods do not accept such foul form of worship. Whoever you see who go to the deities to offer oblation, that person is a pure person. Only an honest and pure soul can offer anything at the shrine of Igbo.
How do we know when a deity is benevolent and when another is a malevolent one, since some deities are said to assist people in committing atrocities?
My brother, traditional worship and juju/charms are not the same at all. As Igbos will say, ‘Omenana bu igbaru ihe ojoo oso-‘ (culture) is running away from evil and atrocities. You can ony be eligible to stand before the gods when you keep away from evil. If you are making juju to destroy people or do some negative things, it is not culture. It is people forcing what is not their destiny on themselves. When you want to force things on yourself, you have to go extra miles, you do the wrong thing. That is juju for you. Juju people are seen as cult people in the eyes of the true adherent of the culture. There is a great difference between culture and cultism- ndi otu na ndi omenana (cultists against culture adherents). The people that practice culture are people who dissociate from anything evil, and cultists are people who are so desperate that they can commit any atrocity, any abomination in order to become what they are not. They do this to become too wealthy or too powerful. Juju can only affect somebody who is not pure in his heart. If you are a pure person, and does not engage in anything evil, no matter the type of charm the person uses, it will never affect you. Those who get affected might have gone wrong somewhere, knowingly or unknowingly.
We have embraced Christianity, some Judaism, Islam, and even Hinduism. Why should we now leave these modern religions for these outdated traditional worship?
I will never stop advocating for our people to go back to their culture, to the ways of their ancestors. I believe stories of how your ancestors lived in harmony and peace abound in your community. Back then, there was no Christianity. Now that these foreign religions have come, saying they are here to teach us better ways of worshipping God, everything have turned upside down, things have fallen apart, in the words of Achebe in ‘Things Fall Apart’. The type of peace and unity Igbos used to enjoy in their various communities is no more. Everybody is on his own now, yet they claim to know God the more. Now that they keep piping that it is these foreign religions that are the sure ways to God, and everybody is striving to be a Christian, evil and crime is at its highest. People engage in juju and charms to poison and kill their fellows. Who are even the ones doing that juju and all those evils? Because very few people can come out today to proclaim that they worship in the ways of their ancestors. Who are the armed robbers, who are the kidnappers? This is to show you that there is little good in Christianity or any other religion. They want you to worship their ancestors, and tell you to worship St Michael, St Francis, Maharaj this and St that, and you ignore your ancestors. How can you wake up in the morning and refuse to greet your father and mother, and then you go outside the gate and start greeting all the men and women you see? That is what you do when you refuse to respect your ancestors, and that is why we Africans are suffering today. That is why we are advocating that people should come back to the ways of their forefathers, because that is where the truth is. Any true traditional worshiper can never think of harming his or her neighbour, no matter what. I want to tell you that culture is God himself, no man forms culture. But you see every other religion has a founder, but our traditions and worship have no founders. Who is fooling who? I want to let you know that culture is God himself, but people do not know. Culture is not a religion, like the others. That is why, in culture, you don’t teach people how to offer their prayers, because the culture, which is God himself will guide you on how to offer your prayers. It is not something you study in school. All you heard me talking were not learnt from anybody, they came to me. The truth is manifesting about this culture, and our people are coming into a new awareness, that is why I told you we are already in a new generation- the generation of Truth and Revelation. This is a spiritual revolution, so if you want to become who you truly are, it is a spiritual process. You should not depend on what people will tell you about yourself. You must know yourself. You must be ready to take the bulls by the horn.
But you seem to have forgotten that these same shrines that you say people should return to for worship have carved images that are made by men. What do you say about that?
If they are dead, how come Europeans and Americans come and buy the same things you call idols for millions of dollars. What they tell you are dead is what they buy with so much money. A few years ago, some Europeans who brought the great Haaba deity and took it away t5o use in their evil worship returned to Lagos and were looking for Agulu people in order to return Haaba. They said Haaba was killing them. It was because Haaba was angry, and told them to return him. They finally returned Haaba to Agulu with all the necessary rites before they had peace. Some people went to Arochukwu to steal a deity, and the deity himself arrested them. One of my friends from Abakaliki once told me how they were stealing and selling deities from different oracles. But all of them died mysterious after a number of years. Who was buying them? Whites, because they know its value. But you don’t steal our deities. That was what inspired one powerful Nollywood movie called ‘The Oracle’. We also know that these same people are majorly atheists. How can somebody who does not believe in God or Jesus Christ tell you to worship what he says does not exist? Is it not time my people should wise up?
So all those things were made to deceive you into believing in them, and remaining spiritually enslaved. When you are spiritually enslaved, you are totally a slave, because spiritually is the highest form of energy on earth. If you want to be powerful politically, or have economic power, or whatever you want, you must be spiritually powerful. So the basis of everything is based on spirituality. We are taught to think that our ways are evil and inferior. We then dumped it, and that made it easy for them to conquer us. Africa, the entire black race will never know peace until they trace their roots back to their culture.