The Igbo Odinani na Omenala remains one of the most egalitarian religions on earth. It is often referred to as African Traditional Religion, by the Western world. It is among the oldest religions in the world.
In the Igbo Odinani (cultural religion) any object could be used as an object of communication with the creator or spirits once it is consecrated. After its consecration, the object never acquires the qualities of a deity/god, nor would it ever become a deity/god. Instead, it would become a religious object, assuming the name of the spirit/deity that lives and was invoked in it.
This practice can be found in Christianity, Hinduism etc, where images of Jesus, Budha are used in praying.
A body of water, a piece of metal, a stone, or even a piece of bone might serve as an object of worship/communication; however, it is not the stone or bone that is being spoken to; but rather the spirit that it represented. Many outsiders have jumped to the conclusion that the object is the god/spirit/deity itself, but they are wrong.
The most common object of worship was Ikenga (as shown in the picture below), a wooden carving, that symbolized a man’s strength and success, distinguished by its prominent horns.
Anybody could buy an Ikenga in the marketplace and have a Dibia (priest) invoke the right spirit into it, after which it would acquire the strength of the spirit it held. Until the necessary act of invocation had been performed, it remained a mere object. Every Igbo household had an Ikenga.
A man never parted with his Ikenga, although he might replace it if destroyed. He consulted his Ikenga before he embarked on any project, and he would offer a libation in its name whenever he served palm wine in his house.
Article Written By Chukwuka Nduneseokwu