The Arts

September 20, 2012

Amadioha, the Igbo traditional god of thunder

Amadioha, the Igbo traditional god of thunder


AMADIOHA (god of thunder) belongs to the category or group of divinities which is said to manifest the wrath of the Supreme Being, and they symbolize the thunderbolt or the meteorite stone with which God hurls to strike to death the wicked or evil doers.

Thus, Amadioha falls into the class of gods known as war divinities often depicted in the Mbari house by a statue of man holding a gun. Like the Igbo peoples, other ethnic groups in Nigeria have their own local names for war divinities or gods of thunder as follows: Sokogba (Nupe) Ogiuwu (Edo); Eto, Itiri, Egba (Urhobo); Sango, Jakuta, Oramfe (Yoruba) etc.

Amadioha is believed to be a god of great military might. It is described as the “General” of all the divinities in Igboland, a military engineer, a tactician and armiger.

Impending doom
The Igbo believe that “Omuma igwe”(Lightning) associated with Amadioha is a sign of impending doom or evil from the gods, and they believe also that it has a track. Hence the natives normally avoid those tracks to be on the safe side. They too believe that “Egbe elu-igwe” (thunder) is the messenger of Amadioha which is normally sent to destroy the evil doers, or houses and trees in which evil things are hidden or buried such as poison etc.

There are cases when the evil men and women are struck to death by thunder as they are returning from where they have gone to import some dangerous charms and poisons to kill their fellow neighbours, relations or friends because of disputed land or property.

Most farm-lands are also being destroyed by thunder because of the charms some evil people have buried there to harm or kill their opponents or enemies. In the belligerent days of our forebears when there were frequent occurrences of inter-tribal war, the Igbo people always revere and worship Amadioha for protection and victory in time of war. That is the main reason the cult of Amadioha is regnant in most parts of the defunct Owerri province and its environs, if not to the present.

It is germane to reiterate
that Mbari house is associated with gods of land such as: Ala (earth goddess); Amadioha (god of thunder) and Ota Miri (river god); a river god takes it’s name after the river of that locality or community. It is also of a paramount importance to note that wherever one sees an Mbari house, there is always a cult of Amadioha especially in places where people are affluent and moneyed enough to build for Amadioha cult.

Amadioha is among the major gods of the land  which receive sacrifice before an Mbari house is declared open after its completion by Mbari workers (Ndi mgbe).

In some villages and communities of Igboland, people might not afford to build for Amadioha, hence they represent it by a forked stick which is found in front of the shrine. For a newly-erected Amadioha cult, a large white linen cloth is normally used as its emblem which is suspended by two strong long poles, one on each side.

The white cloth does not contain any diagram or mark whatsoever, and it is never replaced, if it is dirty; or mended, if it is torn. It is also never brought down from the poles as long as the priest of the shrine is living. It is when the priest dies that a new one can be mounted during his burial ceremony.

Building of the Amadioha cult is normally done at a very strategic place. However, in most certain areas, the front of the Amadioha occupies one or both sides of the main road that is a busy one for the natives like the road leading to their village stream or river or farmlands.

There, a long bamboo pole is normally suspended horizontally in the air by two strong big forked sticks, one on each side. Some charms and medicinal grass are tied to the suspended pole, smeared by blood of a foul, and pasted with feathers.

It is believed that any evil doer can never pass under it and go free without being struck to death or afflicted with an incurable disease. Big trees and thick bush normally surround the Amadioha shrine. Antiquated objects like broken pots, boxes, bottles, mirrors, iron pots and cups are found inside the Amadioha grove. There are special instruments in Amadioha grove which are represented in Mbari paintings. A few of them are:Ogu (hoe), Mpi Okpu(animal horn), Opi ele(antelope horn) ,  Igbugbo (metal gong)and  Nma (knife).

There are some animals that are sacred and dedicated to god of thunder(Amadioha). They are often regarded as the daughters and property of Amadioha. Nobody dares harm or kill them to avoid the wrath of Amadioha. Among them are: Ebulu Amadioha (ram of Amadioha).

Aturu Amadioha (sheep of Amadioha); Ehi Amadioha (cow of Amadioha). No man or woman can molest or harm them for any reason. They are also other animals like dogs and goats that are sacred and dedicated to Amadioha.