Africa Hears the Call of Torah: M.O. Okuma
By M.O. Okuma
Little Simcha dashed out of the playground while struggling to guide a handmade kippah on his head. Amidst the scorching sun he led the guests in but first to the hand washing ritual.
Shortly, kolanuts were offered. Brachot soaring up in diverse African tongues followed. The occasion witnessed the Igbo way of life intertwining with the culture of some non-Igbo groups. Eventually, all parties pointed to nowhere but to the ancient house of Israel. Brit Milla. We discovered that all the males present, including our illiterate male ancestors were circumcised. Years after the historic visit of the Igbo group led by Moshe, we confirmed the stories of two boys born circumcised from the womb near the oil city of Warri. We, Torah people, were excited but the Christian parents perceived taboos.
Of the over 250 diverse tribal peoples of Nigeria, nearly a dozen, with comparable evidence in their cultures claims the Hebraic root. The Ezons, an ethnic tribe that produced the serving Nigerian President have no other way to tell their fellows “come” than to say “bo.” Urhobo, (“Urh”, light + “bo”, come), having priests craft in its 22 clans set aside a day for rest. The leprous or Niddah are separated. Levirate marriages are practiced.
The Ibibio, Ikwere, Ukuani, and Isoko ethnic people of the Niger delta region are also known for these timeless practices. A former Governor, Major General David Ejoor, wrote: Most Nigerians migrated from the Middle East; the people of the Niger Delta and the Igbos are known to have originated from Israel, the Yorubas from Egypt and the Hausas and Fulanis from Arab. Little wonder, Synagogues keep sprouting in Abuja and most Southern cities of Lagos, Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Awka, Warri, Abakaliki, and so on.
We strive in a nation of over 150 million people, without a Rabbi. Being passionate about the vacuum, I contended that a Jewry in shambles needed to be rescued. Rabbi Avraham Ben Yaakov perceived the groaning of hundreds of Torah warriors. Since then, Jerusalem has been calling Africa.