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The Hebraic Origins of the Igbo

August 28, 2011

This article addresses the outside origin hypothesis that suggests the Igbo have a Jewish origin.

 After carefully studying this paper I found that there are indeed elements of indigenous Igbo philosphy that resonate very strongly with elements found in the Hebrew Bible and Judaic thought, however the author never makes this association.  The Igbo author even quotes Martin Buber. Still however, there was nothing mentioning Igbos in connection to Jews. The author mentions and compares the different Outside Origin hypotheses of some Igbo clans. There was nothing in the paper that mentioned origins as Jews, Israel or Hebrew as being one of them.


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  1. This is the only Outside Origin Hypothesis of Igbo Jew identity that I have found that has some basis in historical fact: “The Igbo Jews of Nigeria are one of the components of the Igbo ethnic group. They are said to have migrated from Syrian, Portuguese and Libyan Israelites into West Africa. Historical records shows that this migration started around 740 C.E. According to amateur Historian and Forensic Science investigator Chinedu Nwabunwanne of Aguleri, who resides in Los Angeles and has researched this subject for more than 15 years at the UCLA libraries in Los Angeles, “Ibo Jewish migration started when the forces of Caliph Mohammed leader of Qaysi-Arab Umayyads of Syria defeated the Yamani-Arab Umayyads of Syria in 744 C.E. and sacked the Yamanis and their Jewish supporters from Syria.This initial migrants were the tribes of Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali. Later, they were joined by Judean migrants from Portugal and Zebulonian migrants from Libya in 1484 and 1667 respectively. These six Israelite tribes constitute the House of Judah or The House Of Jacob. Moses mentioned their names twice when he blessed the children of Israel. The remaining six tribes not mentioned in this write up constitute the House of Ephraim or The House Of Israel.”

  2. “Igbos: A Lost Tribe of Israel?” by Adeyinka Makinde

    Article “Igbos are Africans Not Jews” by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD

    Ozodi Thomas Osuji’s paper is a critcal analysis and response to the paper written by Adeyinka Makinde.

    • Nwa afo Igbo permalink

      Ozodi osuji is a mental case.Makinde is an Igbo hater.The Igbo origin is historical.Before now centuries ago in 17th century in the days of Oluadah Equiano a free Igbo slave he wrote that Igbos are Jews and that Igbo names are Hebrew names. That was before now,so those c´laiming Igbos are not Jews should think twice.Our Jewishness did not start today

      • Mr. Nwa afo Igbo, surely you realize that Oluadah Equiano was kidnapped from his Igbo homeland when still a child. Under his colonial masters he became a devout Christian. He was a product of a Christian education and worldview. This is the mind he had when he wrote his celebrated Narrative. In his Narrative he writes, “Such is the imperfect sketch my memory has furnished me with of the manners and customs of a people among whom I first drew my breath. And here I cannot forbear suggesting what has long struck me very forcibly, namely, the strong ANALOGY which even by this sketch, imperfect as it is, 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.” The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African by Olaudah Equiano, p.21.

        You will note Mr. Nwa that nowhere in his Narrative does Oluadah Equiano state any conviction that Igbo were or are Jews. The ANALOGY that can be made of common cultural and ritual practices of Igbo and Jews does not necessarily or logically follow or conclude that the Igbo come from Jews and thus are Jews, for Equiano also allows in his analogy the possibility that the Jews might have sprung from the Igbo.

        So to be fair Mr. Nwa, we must allow for both possibilities and allow for the persual of facts bearing on these matters being ever aware that our minds have been moulded with the same Christian educational upbringing and cultural influences as Oluadah Equiano. For all that he knew and wrote, he never called himself a Jew or professed Judaism. It was the colonial missionaries who from the basis of their “Hamatic Thesis” who first proposed that the Igbo (and other Africans) could be among those lost tribes of Israel. It is easy for an Igbo whether professing Judaism or Christianity to read himself into the Bible because as Oluadah Equiano stated about his former master, “…this man soon became very much attached to me, and took very great pains to instruct me in many things. He taught me to shave and dress hair a little, and also to read in the Bible, explaining many passages to me, which I did not comprehend. I was wonderfully surprised to see the laws and rules of my country written almost exactly here; a circumstance which I believe tended to impress our manners and customs more deeply on my memory. I used to tell him of this resemblance; and many a time we have sat up the whole night together at this employment.” Ibid. p.56

        The commonality of Bible (Jewish) ritual laws, traditions, customs was not lost on Equiano or his slave master any more than it was under the Igbo and his Nigerian colonial master. However we must allow that when Equaino says “that the one people had sprung from the other” we too must allow it that Jews may have sprung from Igbo.

        Let me conclude with the observation that Oluadah Equiano in his Narrative never mentions the Hebrew language or Igbo names coming from Hebrew. In spite of this my studies clearly show there is a definite and undeniable relationship between Igbo and Hebrew, but that relationship is based on a fact admitted to by all linguists and cultural anthropologists that the Igbo language is older than the Hebrew language.

  3. Origin or Geneology of the Igbo people of Nigeria

    This article is discusses three main theories of Igbo origins:

    1. Autochtony Hypothesis – states that the Igbo have never been ruled and have always been there as the aboriginal people of Igboland from at least 6,000 years ago. It the words of an Igbo Elder interviewed in the article: “We do not come from anywhere. And anyone who says we come from anytwhere is a liar, write it down.”

    2. Internal Migration Hypothesis – states that the Igbo migrated from Benin/Niger/Enugu areas or the Niger-Benue confluence based on archeological findings dating between 100,000 and 5,000 BCE

    3. External Migration Hypothesis – states Igbo origins from Ancient Israel in Palestine. This along with similar cultural practises and affinities whith Hebrew/Jewish (Biblical) culture has resulted in the claim of “Igbo Jews.”

    I would ask readers to give their opinion and findings from the artcle:

  4. The research of Dr. Catherine Acholonu agrees with my Africa Israel Hypothesis which I had advanced before I ever heard of her or her books. Note the readers’ comments.

  5. Conversation About Igbo Origins – by Alice C. Linsley – Are the Igbo related to the Israelites?

  6. Godfrey C permalink

    I think we’ve got enough hypotheses to substantiate the jewishness of the Igbo nation.With particluar reference to G T Basden,a missionary to the Igbo who according to him stepped his foot on the Igbo soil in 1900, after much study of the Igbo culture,worldview,custom and essence, drawing allusions from the Bible infered that the Igbos have a Hebraic descent.Olaudah’s Interesting Narrative made same deduction, and that on the ground of fairness.The authorities that favour this view are more that the punny voices that are at discordant.I suppose the balance of probability tilts in favour of this hypotheses.

  7. Thank you Mr. Godfrey C for your comments. In reply I recommend to you the findings posted here

  8. life ifeanyi permalink

    I desire that God will influence the jews to come and take us home if am from there

  9. Atsub permalink

    Society will never admit or even want to entertain the idea that blacks of the western hemisphere are Hebrew Israelites. The fact is they are. There’re records of slaves having Hebrew customs. And scripture backs up many notions to this idea. Think w/ logic and use a little common sense here. You think it’s by coincidence that many so called Afro-Americans, Afro-Cubans, Afro-West Indies, etc, have that spiritual connection when they sign and/or worship? Think about it! You got to a “black church” and all you see and hear is a form of worship that comes from within.

    • Mr. Atsub, you say, “The fact is they are. There’re records of slaves having Hebrew customs.” Can you supply such facts? And what did our ancestors believe themselves to be before they were enslaved, colonized and indoctrinated by the Bible? You say “a form of worship that comes from within” ? Such is not a Biblical religion, for the religion taught to us by the slave master and colonizer teaches you to worship a deity that is without, not within. Please Mr. Atsub, supply us with what you say are “facts” or the “records” please. Do such “facts” or “records of slaves having Hebrew customs” really exist?

  10. Atsub permalink

    Some of you out here never cease to amaze me!! You don’t need a PhD to have a little common sense. These Gentile nations comspired to have Israel wiped out as a nation. Read scripture. And especially Gentile in reference to those who say they are Jews, but do lie! Read scripture. Nowhere is the bible talking about Europeans (Gentiles). And yes there are black Gentile nations also Egypt, Ethiopia, etc. Read scripture. And the facts that we do have is not even a good percent to what was wiped out and/or destroyed. Wake up people! Stop listening to the manyGentiles who flood these sites trying to in vain to keep you lost. Simply a last plot of Satan out of fear that Yah is turning back towards His people. Meaning? The Gentile nations and/or white supremacy rule is on the verge of being uprooted and tossed to the fiery furnace. Again read scripture!

    • It is true Mr. Atsub that one does not need a PhD to have a little common sense. It is also true one does not need a Phd to provide salient facts, none of which you have supplied to support your “Hebrew Israelite” thesis.. The spouting of religious propaganda do not make for facts.

  11. Atsub permalink

    This is one reason why you will not see those false Jews in Israel prevail over Iran. Nor ever has peace until the REAL Hebrews are returned to THEIR land !! Yah is moving back towards His chosen people. DO NOT TOSS IT OFF AS WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE AND/OR WE ALL THE SAME IN YAHS EYES STUFF. Fact is, Yahushua came for the LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL!! But through His mercy He’s giving Gentiles a chance to repent. As well as the continued prostituting sheep of Israel. But salvation is of the Jews. Prove me wrong. TALK TO ME!! The Gentiles has many of our people messed up w/ what is what. And many ignore what the bible really says for the “feel good gospel.” There is a wrath coming!! Take a good look at the economy!

    • Mr. Atsub, you say “Prove me wrong. TALK TO ME!!” There are many articles and documents within these Africa Israel Hypothesis blog pages for you to consider that challenges the “Hebrew Israelitie” thesis. Please consider my paper on AFRICAN ORIGINS OF JUDAISM and lets talk about it.

  12. Atsub permalink

    Lastly, anytime Yah said he would take Israel to Egypt again by ships should end all confusion on who He was talking bout. Common sense folks! I mean why would He take Israel to Egypt (the nation) again after He took them out through the Red Sea?!! And destroyed Pharaoh and his host w/ the Red Sea?! Let us not forget why He chose to cross the Red Sea to begin w/. Y? So that Israel would not walk back when they became discouraged. So it had to be the Trans Atlantic Slave (ships) and Egypt (house of bondage and/or America, Caribbean’s, South America, Europe (slaves taken there), etc.

    • Mr. Atsub, parallels between the Hebrew narrative and their experience of slavery in the Bible and the experience of slavery by captive Africans in the Americas have been made ever since our colonial and slave masters introduced our ancestors to their religion and their Bible. Ever since the slave master introduced our ancestors to the Bible, captive Africans who came to believe in the slave religion have tried to insert themselves into the Biblical narrative until today. What did our African ancestors understand of themselves, their history, culture and spirituality BEFORE the Europeans put our ancestors on the slave ships and gave them the Bible?

    • Mr. Atsub, Africans were put on ships and sold into the Orient and Far East by Muslims 1000 years before Europeans and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Have you considered this fact of history in your interpretations of Deuteronomy 28:68?

  13. Atsub permalink

    People always coming up w/ some history that nobody recalls but them to try to prove some pointless point. Next you will hear where the smurfs were sold into slavery 1000 years before the Trans Atlantic era. If Africans were sold 1000 years before, what happened at the 400 year mark? Remember Yah’s covenant w/ Abraham. Those Hebrews sold into slavery in American have not met that mark yet. But the 1000 year before era that some mention, what became of them? Who are they now? The scripture speaks directly to an era and people of that era whose ancestors where slaves as identified by scripture. Prove scripture wrong! Africans are of Ham. Though Israel are still among black Gentiles who still oppress them. Smh

    • Atsub permalink

      Igbo’s aren’t African!! They are Hebrew. They reside in Nigeria, but are Not through Ham. In the states, Igbo’s made up 70% of Va/Md. Va was even called Igboland. Nate Turner was Igbo. They are not Hamites!! They were Hebrew via Shem.

    • Mr. Atsub, you would do well to do more reading and research on the subject. What you are trying to do is to impose a Westocentric-Eurocentric epistemological Biblical tradition onto an African cosmological world view. The impostion of the Abrahamic religions upon African spirituality is nothing but foreign religious imperialism upon Africans of which your Hebrew Israelite thesis is victim to. The view that “Igbo’s aren’t African!! They are Hebrew.” is all part of the “Hamatic Hypothesis” that drives this whole African Jewish Identity phenomenon. The Igbo are black African Negro Bantu.

  14. All Hebrews (Ha-biru) are descendants of both Ham and Shem as their lines intermarried. This is what Genesis reveals.

    Abraham is a descendant of both Ham and Shem.

    • Atsub permalink

      Sure. Some fact could be to that. However, the lineage of Shem outweighs the Ham. How can I say this? Nowhere in scripture did Yah say Ham descendants would go into slavery to Abraham. Mixed some may have, but it was Shem descendants through Abraham who fulfilled this prophecy.

  15. Atsub permalink

    Alice it comes a time in all of our walks and research of the faith that we gotta really see things for what they are. Nothing happens just to happen. So when you look at the flight of a people and wonder why(?), all we have is prayer and scripture to answer those questions? Think about it. Even the bible to some degree has been tampered w/. And no publisher company is any better than the next. For even they have a script that they folllow. So it is w/ prayer that we seek answers w/ what we have to seek them w/. Igbo? My honest opinion is that they are a direct descendent of the original Jews of Israel. Why would any group stake a claim just to stake a claim w/ zero to gain from it? Now the “so called Jewish” people are staking a claim and are benefiting from that false claim. No other group including original Jews are benefiting from it. So you have to ask yourself the question(?) why? Well maybe there is truth to it as opposed to trying to benefit from the claim.

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