There is a lingering argument on whether the biblical Satan is Ekwensu as translated in the Igbo Bible. Having learnt a little about Ndi Igbo and travelled to many parts of the Igbo land, I have always been of the opinion that the translation of the Bible to Igbo was done in haste to bring home biblical characters, and in doing so, the translation is riddled with huge errors which research are making crystal clear.
Today MyAfurika, gingered with the commitment to uncover truths pertaining to the African Culture and heritage, hit the road to Anaku-Ogbe Kingdom in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra state. Owing to the fact that it is believed that Ndi Igbo were all from Nri in Anambra state, I wasn’t surprised that the same Anambra state had the answers to a donkey year’s argument. From the state capital, Awka, getting to Anaku-Ogbe is easier through the routes of Awkuzu junction then to Aguleri junction and finally a bus or motorcycle leading to Anaku, as it is popularly called.
It wasn’t my first time in Anaku, therefore getting my way around wasn’t difficult. The people in this community have no need for fences, with the exception of the Igwe’s palace and a few other houses. In some compounds, fences were made of tree branches and white linen. Mud was a common sight in this locality— it was used by some to cover their windows, doors, join the tree branches which stood in for fences and most importantly build huts for their gods. Among the shrines in this town, worthy of notice is a huge tree covered with white linen as though tying a wrapper.
I requested to meet with the Chief Priest in charge of Ekwensu Anaku, known by the community as Odogwu Anaku. However my friend said we must get to someone who will then lead us to him. That was how I got to meet Okechukwu Amulue, popularly known as “Acid”. Okechukwu is a young man in his early twenties who is also a native doctor. At first when we talked he left his chest bare, making visible the many short knife cuts on his chest. Apart from those lines however, he looked just like every normal youth in the community. Infact, the typical white and red clothes that donned the house of native doctors were absent in his home. I guess there isn’t much to learn from Nollywood movies after all.
As if trying to convince me he was indeed a notice doctor, he brought out his Afa and Nzu, drew a circle and in it marked four lines that represented the four market days. Afterwards, he urged me to ask him any question. I asked perhaps the most pressing question I had— “can you prove that Ekwensu Anaku isn’t the biblical Satan?”
In his response, he said
“No one can tell you the exact year Ekwensu has been here because those who knew are no longer here with us. But my father died at the age of 105 and he told me that he knew about Ekwensu Anaku right from a tender age and that his father who is my grandfather told him(my father) same. Now it is worthy of note that this year, Christians in Ayamelum would be celebrating their 100th anniversary. Now, my father died 105 years ago and Ekwensu was here before his birth, therefore it is impossible for Ekwensu to be the “Satan” of a religion that is not more than 100 years old.
Among other things, Ekwensu Anaku is believed to be a great force which helps to unburden people especially indigenes who run to it. The traditional item used in appeasing the deity is Nkita (dog). During her annual feast, every dog found in the community is slaughtered and the head is given to the owner. Dog owners unwilling to part with their dogs either takes it to the forest, lock it inside a room or outside the community for safety. Aside rescuing lost citizens and bringing them home, Ekwensu Anaku also protects its people during wars, especially the Biafra war and Fulani immigrant crisis.
That being said, we left for Anaku Odogwu’s place, a few storey building almost completed. Unfortunately however, he was indisposed. So we left for the shrine and took pictures. We also came across ‘Aja Ani’, which is believed to be the first shrine in the community. The history of Anaku has it that two brothers who farmed in a place now called Itulu, decided that one of them should go for a hunt. While hunting he discovered a land whose soil wasn’t as damp as Itulu’s, so he made his game there and the first place he made fire and ate is where Aja ani is located. Aja ani has two trees; one of the trees has hug roots above the earth surface which accommodates everyone but women to sit on it.
Anaku Ogbe like other communities in Anambra state have been influenced by civilization. What differentiates her however, is how keen she holds her customs and traditions — Not only in their worship but also in other practices. Like the burial of a chief I came across where fellow chieftaincy men are made to seat on an elevated platform for hours during the burial and are to repeat the same the follow day so that the Chief’s soul rests in peace.