The Igbo: When did the Hebrew contact occur?


It is not my intention to do more than merely refer to this reputed connection; but, according to missionary research, both the Efik and Ibo tongues abound in Hebraisms, while the construction of sentences, the verbal significations, the mode of comparison, are also typical of the Hebrew; and in the same way nouns, adverbs, and adjectives are formed from the single roots of verbs and other elementary parts of speech.

Should this prove to be the case, by supporting the above theory, it might then be quite possible to trace the former connection of the aboriginal with certain racial units of the North African family; but in no case, however remote, does it seem possible to connect the pure Negroid race with the pure Shemitic.

What to me appears most significant is the fact that although the Ibo and Efik are now practically different tongues, this resemblance in the construction of both to the Hebrew would, if true, point to the deduction that they were formerly derived from the same original tongue, that had bifurcated into different dialects through contact with local tribes whose tongues were quite distinct from each other.

REFERENCE “A” is from:

The Lower Niger and Its Tribes, Arthur Glyn Leonard, Macmillan and Co., limited, London, 1906


There are certain customs which rather point to Levitic influence at a more or less remote period. This is suggested in the underlying ideas concerning sacrifice and in the practice of circumcision.

The language also bears several interesting parallels with the Hebrew idiom. I had a very practical demonstration of this some years ago when travelling through a strange town. I believe it was the first appearance of a white man in that particular spot, and for a few minutes there seemed to be imminent danger of unpleasant experiences.

Eventually I managed to cross the market and later rejoined my companions. On putting the question, “Why did you leave me alone in the crowd?” the answer was immediately forthcoming, “Because the men—they eye us.” It was a most telling illustration of the text, “And Saul eyed David from that day forward.”

REFERENCE “B” is from:

Amongst the Ibos of Nigeria, by G T Basden, Pgs 104-105, (Seeley, Service and Co. London)1921.


In many respects religion among the Ibo appears to take a different form from that which we meet among the Edo. We have, it is true, at the head of the pantheon a supreme god known as Cuku.

There are a large number of demi-gods, known as alose, worshipped in much the same way as among the Edo. There are a certain number of other powers, intermediate perhaps

between Cuku and the demi-gods as to whose position no precise statement can be obtained.

REFERENCE “C” is from:

Anthropological Report on the Ibo-Speaking Peoples of Nigeria, PARTS I by Northcote W. Thomas (Harrison and Sons, London) Published 1914


The religion of the Egboes is Judaism intermixed with numerous pagan rites and ceremonies. The Egboes cannot be driven to an act; they become most stubborn and bull-headed; but with kindness they could be made to do anything, even to deny themselves of their comforts.

They would not, as a rule, allow anyone to act superior over, nor sway their conscience, by coercion, to the performance of any act, whether good or bad, when they have not the inclination to do so; hence there is not that unity among them that is found among other tribes; in fact everyone likes to be his own master.

REFERENCE “D” is from:

West African Countries and Peoples, by James Africanus Horton, 1868

Written by Barr Emeka Maduewesi


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