THE HEROES OF IGBO LANDING, GEORGIA, TO RETURN AT LAST TO THEIR BELOVED WATER SPIRIT IN IGBO LAND
FROM THE THRONE OF H.R.H EZE A. E. CHUKWUEMEKA-ERI
EZE-ORA THE 34TH AND AKAJI-OVO-IGBO
THE TRADITIONAL RULER OF ENUGWU AGULERI
“THE HEROES OF IGBO LANDING, GEORGIA, TO RETURN AT LAST TO THEIR BELOVED WATER SPIRIT IN IGBO LAND”
THE ANGUISHED CRY OF IGBOS FORCED INTO SLAVERY IN USA, WHO CHOSE MASS SUICIDE RATHER THAN SLAVERY, NOW TO BE ANSWERED IN IGBO LAND
“Orimiri Omambala bu anyi bia. Orimiri Omambala ka anyi ga ejina.”
(The Water Spirit Omambala brought us. The Water Spirit Omambala will carry us home.)
There have been many marches for freedom by Africans in the United States. We remember the Selma to Montgomery freedom march and probably the most celebrated freedom march in history, the historic March on Washington in 1963. However, one could submit that the FIRST and most significant freedom march ever undertaken by Africans in the United States occurred in May 1803. In United States history, an 1803 event on St. Simons Island, Georgia holds a special place as the first freedom march against enslavement by slavery-bound African captives on American soil and waters.
The Igbo had been captured in late 1802 in Igbo land by a notorious underworld clan from the Arochukwu community. Through arrangements made by a broker at a Gulf of Guinea seaport, they were delivered to a waiting sea vessel a slave ship called “The Wanderer” which brought them to Skidaway Island, just south of Savannah, Georgia. A Savannah slave importer sold about 75 of the Igbo arrivals to two well-known coastal planters, Thomas Spalding of Sapelo and John Couper of Cannon’s Point on St. Simons Island. The two men had been signers of the Georgia Constitution which had outlawed the importation of Africans five years earlier. Yet they paid about $500 each for the Igbo captives and arranged for their delivery on St. Simons Island.
They boarded the Igbo captives aboard the schooner York carrying the Igbo to its landing place on the bluff of Dunbar Creek in mid May 1803. It was there that the Igbo rebelled. In the confusion, Couper’s overseer and two sailors jumped overboard and drowned in their attempt to reach shore. Under the direction of a high Igbo official reportedly a woman who was among them, the Igbo went ashore, singing an Igbo hymn “Orimiri Omambala bu anyi bia. Orimiri Omambala ka anyi ga ejina.” (The Water Spirit Omambala brought us. The Water Spirit Omambala will carry us home.) and walked in unison into the creek. At least 10 of them drowned, accepting the protection of their God, Chukwu, and death over the alternative of slavery.
Survivors were taken to Sapelo Island and Cannon’s Point on St. Simons Island where they passed on their recollections of the event to their children. Through the Igbo’s descendants in the Harrington community on St. Simons Island and the eye-witness accounts of the survivors, the story had become the legend of Igbo Landing. Information collected since 1980 in Africa and the United States, including a detailed account by the slave importer who had sold the Igbo, has verified the factual basis of the legend and its historical content. It is no longer a legend. It is a historical fact, a historical fact that has come full circle back to Igbo land. Even today there are ghost stories about unrequited Igbo spirits and recurring reports of unsubstantiated sounds and shadows in the marshes at Igbo Landing. The voices of our ancestors at Igbo Landing cries out still from those foreign waters to come home to Igbo land. The St. Simons Island event is not the only one of its kind involving Igbo slave mass suicide. There are reports of similar events in Haiti and in Belize. These acts of courage and ultimate defiance of slavery by the Igbo did give rise to a deep-seated fear of Igbos and their indomitable spirit among slavers. The ghost of Igbo Landing still haunts the Creeks of Georgia and in the days of slavery ‘Igbo’ was a word of pride for African slaves.
In September 2002, The St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition organized a two-day remembrance event for the heroes of Igbo Landing. Associated Press reported that African Americans and Africans from parts of North America and Nigeria came for the event. One of the attendees said he came from Nigeria to take their spirits home. For 199 years, the ghost of Igbo Landing still haunts St. Simons, Creek, Georgia, but not only the ghosts of Igbo Landing, but the ghosts of millions of men, women and children taken out of Africa and dehumanized by slavery and those born into slavery who never knew what it meant to be ‘free’, least of all to be ‘human’.
However, this has opened a door for the souls of these millions and their descendants in the African Diaspora to return home at last and to find peace through a descent “symbolic” burial. The idea for a symbolic burial for the ghosts of Igbo Landing and all other Africans dehumanized by slavery and buried in unmarked graves all over Europe and America, came as a result of the discovery of the Nigerian origin of the heroes of Igbo Landing by internationally acclaimed researcher and author, Professor Catherine Acholonu. Professor Acholonu found out that the native Igbo song which the heroes of Igbo landing were singing as they were drowning was a call to the Spirit of the Great Omambala River of Aguleri in Anambra State, Igbo land. She also asserts that the reason the ghosts of Igbo Landing have refused to rest is because Aguleri and the whole Eri clan is a Holy Land and a people set apart by the Righteous god Eri and by all gods of Igbo land, and must never be enslaved. Any outcast or slave who set foot on Eri land was automatically free. Eri brethren are the only people in Igbo land mandated by the gods of the land to cleanse abominations whether they are communal in nature or individual. Eri priest kings are the only priests with the sacred power from the Supreme Being and from the Earth Principle to restore spiritual order where spiritual disorder has set in as a result of abominations such as was occasioned by slavery of the African peoples.
Professor Acholonu has thus approached me and informed me of her disturbing discovery. The news shocked the natives of the Aguleri Holy Land to their marrows. I Eze A.E. Chukwuemeka Eri, Eze Ora 34th of Aguleri, the Aka Ji Ovo Igbo and the traditional ruler of Enugwu Aguleri, and my cabinet members all over Igbo Land and around the world would want to get to the root of the matter. Accordingly, I call on all Igbos to join hands with Eze Eri cabinet members and Professor Acholonu’s team to link up with the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition, and relevant organizations in USA, South America and Europe to organize a mass home coming and symbolic burial at Aguleri Holy Land where Omambala River – the sacred River where the Mother of the GREAT NIGER river is located.
On behalf of H.R.H EZE A. E. CHUKWUEMEKA-ERI EZE-ORA THE 34TH
Sidney Louis Davis, Jr.
The Ebo (Igbo) Landing Project