Several historians of Igbo culture have written various accounts concerning where Igbos originated from. Anyone writing an historical account of Igbo people must have facts to back it up. However, no historian can claim the historical accounts of other historians are either truthful or falsehood, because no historical account is nobler than the other.
Here are two (2) historical accounts of Igbo origin:
- Igbos are descendants of Jacob who later became known as Israel. Israel had 12 sons one of which was known as Gad. When famine caused Jacob and his sons to migrate to Egypt where there was an abundance of food at the time. They remained in Egypt for many years; before the Egyptians became envious and began to persecute the Israelites.Gad who became the patriarch of all Igbos had 7 sons – Eri was the 5th of them. Before the Egyptian persecution began, Eri in company of his family and associates left Egypt after catching an inkling of impending persecution in Egypt.Eri and his people then traversed several rivers and hills. They crossed river Nile and entered Southern Sudan, and moved onto Chad. From Chad, they crossed river Benue and came to Lokoja. From Lokoja, they sailed through river Niger and came ashore at Aguleri around 1305 BC. they settled close to the confluence point of Ezu and Omambala rivers. But Eri and his people did not stay there for long, because of the consistent flooding of the two rivers.At that confluence point of the two rivers, Eri built a shrine where he regularly offered prayers and spiritual rites to God, and to honour his own father – Gad. After Eri finished setting up his shrine, he had a dreamt, and in his dream, an entity changed his name from Eri to Igbo. From then onwards, Eri became known as Igbo. He loved the name so much that he named his fourth son Igbo.The name Igbo started trending, and became popular across the Eastern side of river Niger. The word Igbo (derived from I puru gboo, which means You left early) had great significance to Eri and his people of the, because they left Egypt early enough before the great persecution began.Later on, Eri’s descendants started to migrate to other parts of the South-East in search of livelihood… the rest has become real history.
- Another story by some Igbo historians say that Igbos didn’t descend from Jewish people rather that they were originally inhabited West Africa.Just as Igbos believe that “if someone says food tastes good, he should also say what it tastes like.” Scholars of the second school of thought believe that the second story is based on discoveries and excavation of great works of art made in various parts of Igboland such as Igbo-ukwu, Okigwe, and Nsukka to support their viewpoint. They are asking why do Igbos not share similar skin colour and hair texture like the Jews? Again, that if sunburn was responsible for darkening the complexion of Eri and his associates, does the same sunburn the cause of the dark skin of their offspring?