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The Story of Creation According to Igbo Mythology

by InlandTown Editor
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I am sure you have read ancient Greek and Roman mythologies, the stories of Zeus, Hercules, Athens and other gods. You may have as well read the very intriguing stories of creation in the Holy Bible or Quran, and how God supernaturally created the universe and everything in it. But have you ever heard the story of creation according to Igbo oral folklore? If not, here it is:

The Igbo people believe that the great creator, CHINEKE, created the universe and all therein using parts of HIM-HER-SELF and is known as the god of wealth. 

Igbo ancient god "Chineke" as depicted by Ugo Sirius art on Art Station

Igbo ancient god “Chineke” as depicted by Ugo Sirius art on Art Station

All the gods and goddesses lived in peace and harmony for a long time in one part of the heavens until they didn’t. Each god was unique, non-conformist and independent. Soon, jealousy and greed infiltrated the minds of the gods and this became a huge problem.

The gods and goddesses began to covet the powers of one another. They moved to acquire each other’s powers because more power equaled more authority. This greed led to rivalry which destabilized the heavens and threatened the existence of CHINEKE.

CHINEKE needed a solution to this problem so he came up with an ingenious plan. He divided the heavens into equal parts and each god and goddess was given a domain of their own, which the Igbos call a Holy homestead. 

The god and goddess, IGWE and ALA who were given a domain that consisted of the earth and sky were the ones who created mankind. They created eight people, four were male while the other four were female. IGWE and ALA used four materials to make mankind; sticks from “ofo” trees as bones, clay and chalk as flesh and Umune leaves from the Umune tree for nurturing the five senses and sexuality.

Ancient Igbo god "IGWE" as potrayed by Ugo Sirius art on Art Station

Ancient Igbo god “IGWE” as potrayed by Ugo Sirius art on Art Station

Igbo ancient god "ALA" as portrayed by Ugo Sirius art on Fanpop

Igbo ancient god “ALA” as portrayed by Ugo Sirius art on Fanpop

IGWE and ALA taught mankind the act of procreation, birth, childhood, adulthood, parenthood, grand-parenthood, great grand-parenthood and ancestor-hood. They then proceeded into their garden of life to gather items necessary for a ceremony called the celebration of life. The four females went with ALA to her garden while the four males went with IGWE to his garden; they all went to gather food for this ceremony. ALA, being the great mother of nurturing prepared, the meal which included tubers of yam given to her by IGWE, and then the eight humans were brought together to be taught some important customs that will guide how they operate the human society.

They were taught ALA made the rules of moral conduct related to the earth, also called the laws of the land; thus is the authority of Umune. On the other hand,  the contribution of the energy of life in the creation of life comes from the IGWE. He also enforces the laws of the land as a police, judge and priest, as well as a warrior-protector; thus is the power of the ofor.

The humans asked questions about the things that concerned them individually and they got individual answers. When the food was prepared, ALA and IGWE invited the god AMADIOHA (god of lightning and thunder), ANYANWU (god of the sun), EKWENSU (trickster god) and ONWA (god of the moon). This was followed by a large festival of singing, dancing, drinking, talking and trading.


Igbo ancient god "Ayanwu" as depicted by Sirius Ugo art on Fanpop.com

Igbo ancient god “Ayanwu” as depicted by Sirius Ugo art on Fanpop.com


AMADIOHA as depicted by Edmund jr. Oseahon on Artstation

Chineke, seeing that the affairs of humans at the time was good, bonded the holy family; ALA, IGWE, AMADIOHA, EKWENSU, ANYANWU and ONWA with laws of social equity and personal freedom. Chineke then created the Human Spirit who he gave a personal chosen destiny; this is known as CHI.

The Original 8 humans created were pure in body and spirit. They lived in the paradise of the wealth of a perfect society. But then they started to have children and each human had different traits, soon jealousy and greed started to grow and turned the perfect society to a dystopia. The Igbo community, which was the beauty of the gods was falling apart.

The original eight were not affected, for they were too pure, and because they were the oldest in the Igbo society, all of the people held a meeting presided over by them. That was how the first Igbo government came into reality, and there, the original humans came up with a master plan.

Their plan called for each of the original eight to create a ritual to restore people to the purity of the values of society. Since the original eight people were taught by IGWE and ALA in the holy homestead, they knew something about the ritual process.

Each created a ritual to restore to society the value that they represented. After that, the original humans returned to live with IGWE and ALA in the Holy Homestead. And from there they became messengers between the people of the world and the spiritual world. And so ancestor worship became the ritual relationship to one of the eight values.


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