Although having existed, arguably, for thousands of years, the first sighting of the fascinating pyramids by a European was credited to British explorer Luke Walter, whose accounts of 1891 were undocumented until in 1935 when British anthropologist and colonial administrator Mr. G. I. Jones took pictures of the Pyramids.
It is recorded that Mr. Jones had stumbled upon the pyramids during a time when he was building up a remarkable photographic record of South-Eastern Nigerian culture.
Over the years since their discovery―and with the pyramids yet to be carbon dated, questions that have puzzled many are “When and how were they built?” “Why were they built?” and “Who exactly built them?” While these questions remain mysteries and unanswered, many have proffered explanations on the possible origin of the pyramids.
In his ‘See the Amazing Nsude Pyramids, Built by The Ancient Igbo’, OzoIgboNdu1 writes that “the Nsude pyramids were built by the Eri-era Igbos, who had a large Judeo-Nubian content. Continuing, he states that “these Eri-era Igbos came from Eri Ben Gad’s household in the Chineroth area in Canaan, and from the households of some Nubian chieftains he met in the Saqqara area of Egypt-Sudan”.
While various Igbo scholars refute claim above, which links Igbos to ancient Hebrews, it is, however, clear that the Nsude step pyramids bear striking resemblance to the step pyramid of Saqqara, Egypt, constructed in 2648 B.C., and without doubt, come from the same cultural/religious/philosophical tradition which inspired the ancient Egyptian monument.
More fascinating is the similar replication of Nubian-like pyramids thousands of miles away from the Nubian area in the Igbo heartland or vice versa.
It is evidence like this that indicates a strong level of correlation between the ancient Egypt/Nubia and the ancient Igbo. Some studies indicate that the building of the pyramids may have taken place at the same time the first or second wave of Egyptian pyramids built by the Nubians.
While it is not immediately clear the exact reason and technology employed for the construction of the pyramids, they are, however, believed to have served various purposes in ancient times including surveillance against potential invaders during inter-communal hostilities.
Also, they are said to been constructed as traditional worship temples for the warrior-deity, Uto-Nsude (or Ala), believed to reside at the top. In their construction, the first base section was 60 feet in circumference and 3 feet in height. The next stack was 45 feet in circumference. Circular stacks continued, till it reached the top. The structures were laid in groups of five parallel to each other and were of mud-like built like the Deffufa of Nubia.
Speaking about the importance, the Nsude Pyramids, despite decades of neglect and their obscure location, still attract the interest of scholars, historians, and tourists.
Despite this, their miserable state amidst unanswered calls to successive governments for their restoration places restraints on tourist attraction which would have added value to the economy of Ndi Igbo.
According to Vanguard quoted in The Nigerian Voice, “the pyramids in their present state depict images of the ‘signs’ the ancestors in Birago Diop’s poem, ‘Vanity’, had left ‘in the air’, ‘on the land’, ‘on the waters’, for their ‘disobedient children’ to follow that are blatantly ignored because the descendants crave for a foreign lifestyle despite strident ‘warnings’ of impending doom”.
It is widely believed by scholars that the pyramids hold the possibility of rewriting Africa’s history because they remain a compelling attraction for tourism.
Their existence also lends support to the fact that Africans had well-established civilizations, cultures, and traditions, and built monuments before the dawn of colonialism, contrary to erroneous and misleading claims from various European writers.
While the pyramids of Giza, with the sculpture of the Great Sphinx, have become strong symbols of ancient Black Egypt’s culture, the Igbo are yet to experience the benefits of the Nsude pyramids.
Considering their importance to the economy and consciousness of the people, it could be seen that successive governments in Nigeria and South-east have failed woefully to pay deserved attention to the Igbo pyramids as a cultural heritage and to tap into the tourist potentials of the site.
Their neglect, just like the great walls of Kano, has seen to it that the pyramids continue to deteriorate into ruins, with it, an opportunity to tell the African story and teach the people of their great ancestry, and who they really are.
It should be noted that as of 2010, revenues from tourism in Egypt reached an excess of $12.5 billion, with tourism provided employment for about 12 percent of the labor force. Also, the pyramids of Egypt continue to be of crucial importance as a pillar of Egypt’s economy, while attracting about 14.7 million tourists annually. “This,” Vanguard notes, “clearly suggests that the Nsude Pyramid is an untapped goldmine.”
(By Ejiofor Ekene Olaedo)
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SOURCES OF AUTHOR’S INFORMATION
Vanguard. In The Rainbow. (2017, November 6). Who Built The Igbo Pyramids? Mysteries Yet To Be Unraveled. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from The Nigerian Voice: https://m.thenigerianvoice.com/news/259458/who-built-the-igbo-pyramids-mysteries-yet-to-be-unraveled.htmlOzoIgboNdu1. (2016, August 16). See The Amazing Nsude Pyramids, Built By The Ancient Igbo. Retrieved July 19, 2020, from Igbo Defender: https://igbodefender.com/2016/08/16/see-the-amazing-nsude-pyramids-built-by-the-ancient-igbo/