To validate the claims that the Igbo tribe migrated from Israel, some Jewish scientists recently arrived Anambra state to conduct DNA tests on interested citizens.
Facilitated by the former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, the Israeli-Yaweh group came into the country to take a random sampling of cells from the people of the South-East for studies to carry out a DNA analysis and comparison in Houston Texas USA.
Hundreds of people came out in their numbers, to participate in the test to ascertain the validity of the claims at the Ikedife Hospital located along Igwe Orizu Road, Otolo-Nnewi, Anambra state. People from other parts of Igboland also came to participate in the screening exercise.
Speaking to pressmen, Dr. Ikedife who was present at the event, said that there had been stories of Jewish/Igbo relations based on archaeological discoveries and mythology.
He said the idea is to scientifically establish the relationship of the two groups of people, in order to satisfy the curiosity and answer the question in the minds of many for quite some time.
Ikedife who is a graduate of Anthropology, as well as Medicine said the world is now at an advanced level where cellular examination can be used to establish claims of such beliefs. The test results are expected to be out by August this year.
He said; “In this modern time, such claims of relationship should not be left in the domain of mythological theories alone there is need to subject the claim to scientific proof.
“If at the end of the day, it is confirmed that we are relations, we would remain brothers and friends, but if it proved negative we remain friends.”
Some sections of the Igbo, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), believe they have Jewish ancestry. Last month, some IPOB members besieged the federal high court in Abuja in Jewish garments to protest the trial of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The “Igbo Jews” demanded the immediate release of Kanu and an end to his trial. In fact, Kanu sometimes appears in court with a Jewish fabric draped on his shoulders to portray his “Jewishness.”
Popular myths hold that a minority group of Igbos’ believe they are descended from the ‘lost tribes’ of Israel. From generation to generation, some Igbo have passed down various versions of a migration story framed around Jacob, a patriarch of Judaism.
A popular version of the narrative holds that Gad, the seventh son of Jacob, had three sons who settled in present-day southeastern Nigeria, which is predominantly inhabited by the Igbo.
Those sons, Eri, Arodi and Areli (as mentioned in the book of Genesis), are said to have fathered clans, established kingdoms and founded towns still in existence in southeastern Nigeria today, including Owerri, Umuleri, Arochukwu and Aguleri.
A few years back, some foremost researchers on Jewish identification among the Igbo, said that there has been a clear continuity of Jewish identity among the Igbo. A Swiss-Israeli anthropologist, from the Institute for Jewish Studies, University of Basel, Switzerland, Daniel Lis, says that Igbo-Jewish identity can be traced back to the 18th century.
Cross-cultural comparisons have been documented by people ranging from George Thomas Basden, the influential Anglican missionary and ethnographer who proposed that the word “Igbo” evolved as a corruption of the word “Hebrew,” to Olaudah Equiano, a freed Igbo slave living in 18th century British society.
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The oral stories and historic notations of cultural resemblances between the Igbo and the Jews have proven compelling enough to lure a diverse array of people to southeastern Nigeria.