Igbo-Jews, are a sub-sect of Igbos who believe they are Israelites.
I can't remember when I first heard about 'Igbo-Jews' but it has been around for a while.
Lately, the word has been popping up frequently as some Igbos try to reconnect their roots to Israel. In February 2017, Jewish scientists came to Anambra to conduct DNA tests to scientifically prove that Igbo people are Jewish. The results of the tests haven't been made publicly yet.
While we wait on science, Igbo-Jews point to the similarities between Igbo culture and Jewish culture.
Firstly, Jews and Igbos have lengthy funeral ceremonies. This is based on Genesis 50:1-3. Secondly, both Jews and Igbos circumcise male babies on the eight day after birth. Thirdly, the two tribes conduct extensive family background checks before marriage just like Abraham did for his son Isaac.
Also, the wooden stool in Nri or Eri, is said to be the fountain of the Igbos, is made up of a wood that can only be gotten from a tree in Israel.
"The son of Yaakov, Jacob, [was] Gad and I learned that he was among those people who went out of Israel to exile. So from there, he had a son called Eri and a son gave birth to a son called Aguleri and that's how the Igbo race began" claims Kadmiel Izungu Abor an Igbo Jew who spoke to CNN in 2013.
Another popular theory is that Jacob's seventh son had three sons, Eri, Arodi and Areli migrated to the South-Eastern part of Nigeria. It is said they established their own towns now known as Owerri, Umuleri, Arochukwu and Aguleri.
The first man who linked the supposed Igbo-Jewish connection, was an Olaudah Equiano a freed Igbo slave who lived in Britain in the 18th century.
In his biography released in 1789 he wrote "the strong analogy which... appears to prevail in the manners and customs of my countrymen and those of the Jews, before they reached the Land of Promise, and particularly the patriarchs while they were yet in that pastoral state which is described in Genesis — an analogy, which alone would induce me to think that the one people had sprung from the other." His Igbo-Jewish link up was dismissed by scholars as speculation.
The numbers of Igbo Jews differ from 3,000-5,000 and despite the 'links' they have not been accepted into mainstream Jewish culture.
This hasn't stopped Igbo-Jews from believing in their divine ancestry. Certain Jewish groups have reached out to Igbo-Jews in Nigeria.
There are a few synagogues in Nigeria where Igbo Jews can worship Yahweh. Nigerians view Igbo-Jews as weird and amusing. Still, these set of Igbo people holds on to their belief that they are Jews. And who can tell them they are not? God?
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