The History Of Ogbanje and 500 Top Secrets To Know

Ilo uwa has the potential to go awry. In this situation, the resurrected individuals became vengeful. In Igbo society, this is referred to as Ogbanje. The word ‘gbanje’ literally means a youngster who comes and leaves in Igbo.

Ogbanje is a term given to a resentful reincarnated child in Igbo tradition. The ogbanje kid is possessed by an evil spirit, which causes him or her to bring misery to the reincarnated family. This malevolent spirit compels the family to go through a succession of death and rebirth experiences.

Most ogbanje are thought to return to houses that treated them poorly in former lifetimes in order to get retribution. These ogbanje spirits bring their family nothing but sadness and anguish. These youngsters come and go, wreaking havoc on their families.


It is thought that the ogbanje dies on purpose within a certain amount of time after birth, only to reappear later. And the family suffers as a result of this never-ending cycle. When an ogbanje dies, he or she is maimed or marked so that he or she does not resurrect. Some ogbanje children, however, were claimed to return with bodily scars or mutilation from their previous existence.

Life is divided into three cycles in Igbo cosmology: the world of the unborn, the world of the living, and the realm of the dead. It is thought that a typical life cycle swings between the three, and in most circumstances, once the shift from one cycle to the other has occurred (for example, from the realm of the living to the world of the dead), it is extremely difficult to return.

However, there are certain special people who, in many life cycles, move seamlessly between the world of the spirits and the world of the living, and are believed to have made a pact with the deities who guard the boundary between the world of the living (uwa) and the land of the spirits (Benmuo) — and thus, they are able to maintain a connection with the land of the spirits while in the land of the living.

“Ogbanje,” as these unique individuals are known, have captivated the Igbo people from time immemorial. Various legends, fables, and superstitions have sprung up around the mythology of the ogbanje throughout the years. Many books by Igbo authors have included ogbanjes as important characters since the advent of western education. One of the most contentious problems surrounding ogbanjes is their proclivity for death and how they die at critical junctures in their lives.

Obumneme Osuchukwu, a young dibia and ogbanje who was born into Christianity, was compelled to unbury his iyi uwa or amulet when he converted to the omenaala faith. Returning to his forebears’ faith had necessitated certain ceremonies, which had brought him closer to his siblings in Benmuo. This link has to be severed in order for him to live a regular life.

The iyi uwa is a black, solid material that is a signatory to the pact made by ogbanjes in past lifetimes, and through which they may simply transition and return to the world and retain a link with their siblings in the spirit realm. Uncovering the iyi uwa was therefore a method of cutting Obumneme’s link to the world of the spirits.

“Before the amulet of an ogbanje is cut, a divination procedure is required,” says Obumneme. The suitable medicine man to uncover the amulet is occasionally discovered through divination. Sometimes an elderly and strong medicine man is required. If an untrained dibia does so, he may die as a result, because disconnecting an ogbanje’s link with their partners in the country of the spirits is like rearranging the essence of their existence—it is no little matter.”

He narrated the story of his lover, Chidimma, whose amulet was discovered by a woman who later died. During divination, the elderly lady from the land of the spirits demanded that Chidimma sacrifice a chicken to her, as though the woman had given herself for Chidimma’s survival.”

Discovering an ogbanje’s amulet is about more than just stopping them from dying abruptly. It is to provide them with a blank slate from which to build a life with a destiny over which they have control. Chinelo Eze says in Guardian Life on the Ogbanje that they arrive on Earth “…as troubled beings without an iota of control….they live a life of doom doomed to emerge and leave without having a choice in their destiny, not as we do either.” As a result, the ceremony of uncovering their amulets ensures that they live a life of their choosing and have a role in their fates.

Though Ogbanjes are prone to die young, they have no set lifespan. Some die at birth, while others die in infancy, before they are acknowledged and linked to the living word. Some die throughout their adolescent or even early adult years. They do not die until they have fulfilled the reason for which they were born, which differs from ogbanje to ogbanje.

According to Precious Amarachi Ugo, ogbanjes arrive in the world with a purpose—usually a rapid and urgent one. “This purpose is already specified for them, or they just have their goals.” They don’t die easy until they’ve achieved their aim.” Amarachi’s view on the ogbanje phenomena suggests that possibly, by focusing too much on the tendency of certain ogbanje to die young, some aspects of what makes this group of individuals unique are overlooked.

Ogbanjes have unique and weird personalities as youngsters; they also have remarkable abilities—often superior intelligence or insight into human conditions—that set them apart. They are frequently affable but secluded. And when they retreat inside their shell, they do it with a ferocity that is frequently impenetrable.

“Surviving Ogbanjes manifest abnormalities of psychological life with vivid fantasy life or dreams characterized by the presence of water, orgiastic play with unfamiliar children, and frightening contact with a water goddess – mammy water,” writes Sunday T.C Ilechukwu in the abstract of his article, Ogbanje/abiku and cultural conceptualizations of psychopathology. They can also predict events, particularly bad ones, ahead of time.

“An aunt of mine who resided in Lagos was sick once when I was small,” Amarachi Ugo recalls. They were discussing it in low tones inside the family. So her kid came to our house in Asaba one day. Nothing had been stated about my aunt’s illness at the time. But when I saw him, I approached him and asked, ‘Shay Aunty, have you died?’ And everyone was taken aback.”

These characteristics are frequently carried by Ogbanje youngsters throughout their lives. Amarachi shares another anecdote about a man she dated who called her a witch. “We could simply be together, and I’d remind him that if he wanted to go home today, he had best hurry because it was going to rain.” However, he would take the clear weather for granted. “It would suddenly start raining,” she explained.

Because of their unusual traits, Christians sometimes see ogbanje children as “possessed.” They have been compared to sickle cell disease children because of their proclivity to die young. However, in the Igbo system of medicine and divination, the ogbanje is not associated with sick children. The Igbos had children that died of illness and were not considered ogbanje. There are significant changes in the symptoms of sickle cell disease children and the ogbanje. The latter are sometimes physically fit and healthy people.

The mythology of the ogbanje children is based on what the Igbo understand about the living and the spirit worlds. The Ogbanje connects the worlds of the living and the worlds of the spirits. Time moves in the living world in a linear fashion. There’s the present, the past, and the future. But time is an illusion in the country of the spirit; there is no present, past, or future since everything happens at the same moment.

The ogbanje has the ability to perceive the world of the living as if it were the world of the spirits, which explains their ability to predict the future and get insight into intergenerational disagreements in family problems from former lifetimes. Some of them have terrifyingly exact knowledge of land boundaries and distant familial links.

In recent years, there have been several interpretations of the Ogbanje children. On the one hand, families entrenched in Christianity are inclined to believe they are possessed by demons or bad spirits. Families whose beliefs are heavily impacted by western science, on the other hand, are prone to dismiss the occurrence entirely. Children that have been identified as ogbanje are likely to be either discreet or open about their identity, depending on how their family history handled the subject.

Identity has recently been trendy among young Igbo people as a result of the cultural rebirth among Igbo people and the emergence of pop culture, which promotes cultural niches of marginalized groups. Akwaeke Emezi, one of the most prominent young Igbo authors, is a self-proclaimed ogbanje who utilizes her works to express a distinct perspective on what it means to be an ogbanje.

They exhibit queerness not just in their behavior, but also in their sexuality and gender identity, which is neither male nor female. “Freshwater,” her debut work, illustrates ogbanje’s psychological orientation as it entails the enjoyment of vivid fancies and communion with a river goddess and unusual offspring of the spiritual realm.

The ogbanje phenomena is understood differently by various Igbo people depending on their religious or scientific perspective. Ugo sees the ogbanje as superchildren: “…in the same way that there are American Batman or Superman figures; they are exceptional children that the universe or their ancestors are attempting to reincarnate, in order to bring about a significant change in their family.” That is how I am attempting to comprehend the ogbanje phenomena.”

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