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Igbo mythology and spirituality
In the traditional Igbo spiritual belief system and Igbo mythology, Chukwu is the infinitely powerful, undefinable, supreme deity encompassing everything in space and space itself. Linguistic studies suggest that the name "Chukwu" or "Chukouuee" is a portmanteau of the Igbo words "Chi" ("spiritual being") and "Ukwu" ("great in size"). In the Igbo pantheon, Chukwu is the source of all other Igbo deities, and is responsible for assigning them their different tasks. The Igbo people believe that all things come from Chukwu, who brings the rains necessary for plants to grow and controls everything on earth and the spiritual world.
Conception of Chukwu
Chukwu combines the concept of creator of deities for all we know and are aware of including the concept of a solar deity. According to the Igbo people from the eastern region of Nigeria, Chineke is the creator of the world and everything good in it. This God is also responsible for rain, trees, and other plants. Chukwu is a supreme God represented by the sun. The ancient God is not humanized in Igbo tradition belief. Because the igbo deities Amadioha and Ikenga are masculine, Chukwu is assumed to be male. Colonialism brought Christianity to Igbo people which challenged and sought to change this belief, but still remains a dominant traditional belief in Igbo people. Many Igbo Christians now refer to the Christian God as Chukwu. The Igbo believe it is impossible for humans to conceive of the unlimited power of Chukwu. Many Igbo dialects refer to God as "Olisa," "Orisa,"rce in Chukwuand "Obasi," depending on geography.
The Igbo people believe that Chukwu sent a dog to mankind to tell them that dead bodies should be covered with ashes and buried. This would bring the person back to life. On his long journey to earth, the dog became weary and prolonged its journey. So, Chukwu then sent a sheep to deliver the message faster, but the silly sheep forgot part of the message. The sheep only told the people of Earth that bodies should be buried. Because of this, the human bodies remained dead. When the dog finally arrived, nobody believed his story and thus death became permanent.
There are five aspects of Chukwu:
- Chukwu - the first force and existence of all beings.
- Anyanwu - symbolic meaning of the sun. The sun reveals everything so Chukwu is the source of knowledge and the author of all knowledge.
- Agbala - the fertility of Earth, its people, and its spiritual world full of sub-deities.
- Chi - a sub-deity functioning as a personal, spiritual guide.
- Okike - creator of laws that govern the visible and invisible.
Colonialism and Christianity
- Afigbo,Adiele Eber Chukwu. Myth, History, and Society: the Collected works of Adiele. Toyin Falola, Trenton, NJ:Africa World press,2006.