The Significance Of “Obi” In Igbo Cosmology & Spirituality.

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The modern-day patio “Obi”, was the only structure that existed in “Uwa- Mbu”, making it a significant structure that houses the essence of ancestors who have lived and fulfilled their mission and now dwell within the ancestral plane known as “Ikelekwu Mmuo”. These patios were previously seen within each household in Igbo pre-colonial society and were rightly referred to as “Obi Ndi-Ichie”. These structures were perceived to house the physical representation of these ancestors “Okpensi Ndi-Ichie” or ritualized or religious items imbued with the essence of ancestors from various lineages.

Obi also served as a place to entertain visitors for the living. At the same time, we believe that ancestral spirits also use the Obi to welcome other spirit beings and deliberate on issues about an individual or the family. Some of these spirit beings and energy include; Ogwu, Alusi, Chi, and other benevolent and malignant forces. This occurs because our ancestors serve as spiritual barriers that prevent the incursion of malignant spirits or unwanted spirits with sheer tendencies to cause havoc and confusion. They also serve as intercessors or judges preventing death and misfortunes as a result of spiritual summonings known as “Itu Alusi”, therefore, the Obi serve as common grounds for the deliberation of these issues. This also means that before any of the aforementioned energies, could harm or provide for you, they would first seek the permission of your ancestors before executing any intention or command.

For instance; when you go to a foreign deity to ask for a manifestation, such deity would first come before your ancestors and negotiate with them and these ancestors are at liberty to grant this deity permission to act on your behalf, the same goes, for a malignant Ogwu, before it negatively affect you, it would seek the permission of your ancestors before executing its command, hence, when you are at peace and aligned with your ancestors, they become an intermediary speaking on your behalf. This is one of the reasons we are encouraged to be in alignment with our ancestral forces.

This “Obi” is often the first structure to be seen, once an individual steps into any ancient Igbo compound “Ani-Ngwuru ”, this is to enable it serve proficiently as a spiritual gatekeeper or a shield. Another significance of the Obi is its contribution to the reincarnation process of an individual. In our culture, we have social systems that prevent the pollution of bloodline, hence, the marriage rite of Iju Ese is used to identify unworthy family traits that can be avoided. At the same things, our ancestors also purify our bloodline through a cosmic selection of talents “Agwu” and prevent the reincarnation of individuals with separate talents that differ from what a family or lineage is known for.

The significance of Obi has been delineated by the influence of Christianity and its doctrines, which has inadvertently demonized our social system, culture, and spiritual beliefs, instead of positioning our perceptions as ways we interpreted natural principles, but with the reemergence of Odinaani, we have recorded a high number of Ndi-Igbo, re-instituting these structures and revitalizing its spiritual significance as well.

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