Are Igbo the lost black Jewish tribe?

By Obi Ebuka Onochie   |   25 September 2015   |   12:04 am  

Igbo[1]-CopyFOR ages now, the Igbo people of Nigeria have claimed to be one of the lost tribes of the Jewish family. The claim to the Jewish heritage by Igbo people has been marred in many controversies by many who discredit it while many others embrace it with all their souls.Both Igbos and non-Igbos partake in both acceptance and undermining of this claim. Does Igbo people really have Jewish heritage? This question remains the most phenomenal issue among the Igbos after their quest for Biafran independence.

Mr. Adeyinka Makinde on October 22, 2007, at a seminar in Cecil Sharp House, Camden Town in North London, delivered a speech on a special Black History event for the Jewish Museum. In his speech, he stressed on the point that one must not agree with him, that though not fully proven, the Igbos have a strong link with the Jews in the Holy land of Israel. Throughout his speech, he maintained that he is not Igbo and he is not Jewish but as a researcher, was compelled to doing so based on the level of connection discovered already by researchers on this issue.

In 1789, thirteen years after America’s independence, Olaudah Equiano, a Christian Educated Igbo freed slave made a remark in his narrative on this same subject. He was quoted as saying: “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, which alone would induce me to think that the one people had sprung from the other.”

His essay was discarded just like the notion of Igbos being Jewish by some historians was, while some other historians still carefully study it alongside other pieces of evidence pointing to this fact. Mr. Equiano which was an English way of spelling Ikwuano meaning “four kindred” was known throughout his life time as Gustavus Vessa. He was not only known to propagate Igbo-Jewish heritage but was also a loud voice against slave trade. Just like King Jaja of Opobo kingdom, he gained his freedom by hard work and strong belief to excel in whatever he did which he considered another hallmark of his Jewish heritage.

Sidney Davies who is the President and Lead Director at Niger Association of Global Africana Sciences (NAGAS) and senior research fellow at Catherine Acholonu Research Center for African Studies argues based on excerpt from Equiano’s quote, “one people had sprung from the other.” He argued that Equiano’s statement does not “necessarily or logically follow or conclude that the Igbos came from the Jews and thus are Jews, for Equiano also allows in his analogy the possibility that the Jews might have sprung from the Igbos.”

Based on the Equiano’s statement in his philosophical narrative, one people could have come from the other which leaves the room that the Jews could possibly have come from the Igbos. His argument did not discredit the claim but leaves room for more clarification. This idea was based on the many similarities which exist in both Igbo and Jewish cultures, languages and idiosyncrasies which many believe to have gone beyond mere coincidences.

Some Igbos believe that Igbo people did not migrate from anywhere thus an autochthonous people in eastern Nigeria. This point of view was mentioned in Dr. Elizabeth Isichei book entitled: “History of the Igbo People,” where she quoted an unidentified Mbaise elder as saying: “The Igbos did not come from anywhere and that the ancestors of the Igbo people originated from where they live today starting from Nri, an ancient clan in present Anambra State.” Enough have been said about the pros and cons on Igbos being Jewish or having Jewish origin.

It is imperative to note striking similarities in many aspects of life between the two people’s socio-religious beliefs and way of life. First, Igbos are adventurous and aggressive like the Jews. The Igbo and Jewish customs permit a man to raise children from his brother’s widow. Both the Igbos and the Jews have a common tradition of lengthy funeral ceremony (Genesis 50:1-3). Igbos and the Jews have common circumcision date, the eight-day following the delivering of every male child. Igbos and the Jews use intermediaries in marriage negotiations and make a thorough family background check, this is practicable in Igboland up to the present time. Abraham did it while negotiating Rebecca for Isaac (Genesis 24.). The late Professor Dike’s book: The Living Document of Ekwulobia, which was expanded by I.C.U Enochusi propagated that Igbos have three origins and settled in their homes in two different periods.

According to him, the first subdivision of Igbo people were pure Jewish stock that wandered through North east Africa down to their present settlement. This stock of Igbo people are said to be the Nris, Igbo ukwus, Aros and Otuochas. The second stock of Igbos came from eastward movement of population from Benin in 17th century A.D. which resulted in increased population of the Ika Igbos who are mainly found in present day Delta State. The third Igbo origin is the Benue River region origin. These Igbos migrated from Igala country of the lower Benue River into Igbo belt late 17th century A.D. to avoid the Fulani slave trade. Majority of these Igala Igbos settled in the Northern part of the Igbo territory and are mostly inhabitants of Anambra east and west local government areas and some parts of northern Enugu state.

All these wouldn’t make much meaning if the wooden stool in Nri, which is considered as the cradle of Igbos does not exist, more so existing in the said location before Igbos made any contact with outsiders. The wooden stool is said to be made from a wood whose tree only exists or grows in the city of Jerusalem. This appears to be one of the most compelling pieces of evidence of Igbo Jewish heritage that ignited former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to send delegates to Igboland in search of “Eri” with the purpose of establishing this fact. The research in this regard is still on but to what extent can one think of Igbos having Jewish origin or the possibility of Jews springing out from Igbos still rages.

Onochie can be reached via obiebuka360@gmail.com



  • amador kester

    The key to modern history is the virtually unexplored field of prehistory where it is found that the mixture of black and white races in egypt produced a half caste semitic race of arabs and jews tens of thousands of years ago.So your question should have been;: are jews from the igbo race? I leave the answer open ended for your research or web research.On a lighter mood we know that both races are bad politicians so what does that show?

  • Iweka Okparaocha

    Igbos are black Jews of Africa, the lgbos and the Jewish people has many things in common, culture, languages, etc, and for example, take a close look at the present lsraeli prime minister’s name, “Netanyahu”, that’s an Igbos name,( ihu na ihe ahu ) that means, have you seen that thing. Another example, is when you come to United States of America and take a look at Jewish mansions or houses, it is just carbon copy houses built by my uncles, my father and most people in Igbo land, when other tribes in Nigeria leave in mood houses, even before the discovery of oil petroleum in Nigeria.
    The lgbos are jealoused today by other tribes in Nigeria because of their advancement in all aspect of life, hardworking, investment, education, business enterprenuership, science and technology, and control of Nigerian economy without oil money. This is probably why other tribes would not let go the lgbos but continues the injustice and discrimination against them, except that they are blessed by the God Almighty like the Jewish people and have less interest in power struggle but patience.

    • i believe you should trace your long lost relative to taiwanese junk merchant not creative (Albert Einstein) Jews

      • Bishop Precious Prince

        if i were some of you, the least i will do is to take note of the article. if you are then interested, you can carry out real investigation in order to come out with facts for or against the claim. responding with naked bias (especially those against…) without facts and logical reason is woeful and shameful and clearly highlights the hatred and dislike you have for the ibos

        • This is the sign of the desperation of a nomadic lost tribe. Can you explain this pathetic attempt to be everything to everybody there-by ending up as nothing to nobody, who or how many people did your mothers sleep with, how many father do you have?
          DNA people DNA!

          (This stock of Igbo people are said to be the Nris, Igbo ukwus, Aros and Otuochas. The second stock of Igbos came from eastward movement of population from Benin in 17th century A.D. which resulted in increased population of the Ika Igbos who are mainly found in present day Delta State. The third Igbo origin is the Benue River region origin. These Igbos migrated from Igala country of the lower Benue River into Igbo belt late 17th century A.D. to avoid the Fulani slave trade. Majority of these Igala Igbos settled in the Northern part of the Igbo territory and are mostly inhabitants of Anambra east and west local government areas and some parts of northern Enugu state)

          • Bishop Precious Prince

            if you understand a little bit of science and research procedures, these are still just postulations that ( i believe) researchers are still working on…DNA has nothing to do with different people coming into a place at different times from different places…historically, many ethnic groups and nationalities came to be through this process…they do not have the same biological origin, but share the same national or ethnic identity by reason of being together for very long time. the USA is a typical example. Nigeria should have been like that if not for some people that appear to be so badly stained with the dye of tribalism that no amount of water can wash it off them…i don’t think anyone should feel threatened or jealous of another for whom he claims he is…if you cannot stand it, just say who you are, DON’T TELL SOMEONE ELSE HE IS NOT!

          • “Biological origin shared” is the food you eat while alive; the soil sample from where the death was buried; the tool used and share in the region… these are some of the requirements of the make up of DNA testing

            Nigeria in the old western region Fulani and the Ooduwa people have become one by the way of llorin, there were Edo people in edo-land before Oduduwa gave them his son as king, today they’ve become one.

            The question is why don’t any tribe even the calabars, the ijaws the closest tribes to igbo people would or want to become one with you? every tribe sees you as a horrible guest from the ikities here in nigeria to Namibia?

            Jealousy should have being reserved “exclusively” for the mayango-hausa-fulani-gambari, however in your day-dreamy-land you think you’re to be envied, really?

          • Juli Iregbu

            I have never seen a more hateful Yoruba man in my life. God have mercy on your envious soul. Drinking Paracetamol for another Man’s Headache. The Igbos are still the most outstanding in Nigeria despite all the huddles you and your Gambari Fulanis place on their way.

          • Stupid, you automatically assume i’m yoruba because only yoruba people hate you tribe from other region don’t really?

  • Wooly Mammoth

    Tribal affiliation can no longer be determined by mere speculation or conjecture anymore. Thanks to the advancement of forensic science we have at our disposal Dna analysis, carbon dating, and other scientific investigative tools to buttress or disprove this claim. Until full use is made of these tools and empirical analysis is done this piece is nothing beyond a moonlight tale

  • Nazerine

    It’s the Jewish tribe that migrated from Igboland, not the other way round.

    • paul o oladunjoye

      Na big lie we know where you na come from.

    • paul o oladunjoye

      Na big lie we know where you na come from.

  • paul o oladunjoye

    I don’t know why ibos are lying. What are the things you people have in common with Israelis? You don’t share the same or similar culture or tradion in any ramifications of life or things. We heard the story how your generation came into existence they shown it on TV in the 70s but they quickly cut the film they agreed it will cause rift in the country with your way and manners you people did not have genealogical relevance with jews

    • Aba bello

      See foolishness! Typical yoloba man! If they say; they are from Israel or even China, How does that consign you? How has that become your headache? Why are yolobas always acting cowardice on anything that has to do with the ibo’s?

      • Beauty

        Yeah am sure an igbo lady denied him of friendship and that hurts hence he hates d igbos.. haha sorry

  • Yes, igbo are lost

    But they not jewish, they try this nonsense in the 60’s to gain sympathy

    Soon they will claim to be from Siberia, as long as they go back to biafra, nobody care if they’re from doucheville

    Ask the ethiopians who are actually related to the jewish people how they where sterilized in Israel, your lies would eventually be your demise

  • There’s more similarity in name are sound with Japanese people than you fake alinements with the jewish people,.
    lgbo’s are fraudulent by nature

  • Sule

    What is wrong if the Igbos traced their origin to the Jews. Why do you wants to break your neck over nothing? The didactic response of Non Igbos shows how paranoid they’re. Every tribe in Nigeria comes from somewhere and so what is the hue and cry about it? You cannot discover them rather the Igbos would discover themselves. The baseless argument here Shows their are two type of human beings…..the intelligent and fools. An intelligent human being would take to the advice of Bishop Precious Prince comment below.

  • Samuel Enwelim

    we do not only claim our connection to the Hebrew but that is what we are.because we know our ancestry.but it is so funny that some people do not know their history and that is why they argue alot.

    • Beauty

      They have envied igbos from the beginning of times we don’t care.. check out the beauties in our lands both male and female haha omg! and yes the story building, the smartness, d Intelligence, the strong Christian faith. Oh yes they have enough to be jealous over but like I said God has always been on our sides just as He is with the Isrealites. So go burn d sea.

  • Ebaah Odibo

    Must Igbos be Jewish to be themselves?

  • Riot50000

    This is what the War of GENOCIDE and subsequent decades of Marginalization, mental and emotional rape did to the Psyche of My People.
    Let me ask YORUBA in particular; if you had gone through what Igbos have been through in the past 5 decades, what would you be today?
    You inherited Igbo losses from Nigeria 5 decades ago, and have had every opportunity to have a quantum leap above Igbos in development of all sorts. Why do you still both have 78% Literacy rate, and why are you still jealous and hateful of these downthroden people at every angle?
    No Igbo Man has kidnapped your prominent Sons, humiliated them, directly or indirectly caused their death, like the Northern Vagabonds have.
    Why do you still hate Igbos with passion, and give passage to the very people who think you are worthless cowards, and there just as sidekicks to further their cause and total Northernization agenda against Nigeria?

  • Beauty

    Quest.. it’s sad that you are not only paranoid but indecisive. What’s your quest? What do yo u intend to gain? Someone claims they are something and they have accepted it.. what’s your business if someone claims to be a charcoal. Now listen, igbo are descendants of Isreal, I myself can testify to that, especially the way igbo worship God. Especially the way God have blessed them. People don’t want to get close to them because they are afraid of themselves, you know that anyone that gets close to an igbo person always propers and they are good in doing business.. trading they don’t care about power. But note the worship and the believe they have in God. No one else is close to that if I may say. Think deep before you leap.

  • anu

    My first incarnation on mother earth 2016 AD -was in Egypt I was a slave girl-Igbo is my first tribe-these memories are hazy-Need to Know more about Igbo in Egypt as the word was spoken to me by spirits-all the jewish links tie in with what the spirits have told me over the last 24 hours-up till now i had no knowledge of igbo and no knowledge of the spirit world-but research has led me here-my current incarnation is a british woman-…..peace, faith and grace to all

  • Genia W-m

    Why hasn’t any DNA been done?

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