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EKWENSU IS NOT THE SATAN OF CHRISTIANITY: A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING

It is important to address a common misconception regarding the Igbo interpretation of Ekwensu. While many of us grew up associating Ekwensu with the Christian Satan, it is vital to delve deeper and gain a more insightful understanding.

As I embarked on a journey to explore African spirituality and culture, I became fascinated by the being known as Ekwensu, who had instilled fear in us as children and was often affiliated with hell.

To my astonishment, extensive research revealed that Ekwensu is not the Satan or Devil of Christianity. However, I acknowledge that many of us are already acquainted with this fact. Ekwensu is actually a trickster god within Igbo mythology, serving as the Divine Principle of bargains. Known for his cunning in trade and negotiations, he is often called upon for guidance in challenging mercantile situations. Furthermore, he embodies the forces of chaos and change, which in his more fierce aspects, granted him the title of the god of War and Victory, ruling over the tumultuous powers of nature. It is important to note that his association with violence stems from inciting individuals to perform violent acts. Consequently, after a period of war and the establishment of peace, Ekwensu’s chaotic nature is often banished from the people to prevent further conflicts.

One must recognize that Ekwensu served as a testing force or counterbalance to Chukwu, the benevolent God. This highlights the significance of balance in nature, a concept deeply understood by our ancestors. Both Ekwensu and Chukwu symbolize divine principles residing within us.

Contrary to popular belief, Igbo spirituality does not encompass the existence of a physical devil or god. Igbo deities are principles that manifest within us and the universe, harmonizing our higher and lower selves. It is the clash between good and evil that occurs within our own minds. Striving to embrace goodness,  enables us to conquer the inclination to harm others.

However, the presence of both energies is necessary in our lives. When engaging in war, punishing offenders, or seeking retribution, we activate the Ekwensu energy. Therefore, when  people commit wrongdoing, attributing it solely to the work of the Devil or Satan is misguided. Instead, they have given in to their lower selves (Ekwensu energy) when it was not intended to be utilized. Ultimately, this battle occurs within our minds. When we pass on and return to the realm of the Ancestor-Gods, we will be held accountable for how we harnessed our positive and negative energies bestowed upon us by Chukwu, the Feminine and Masculine Divine Life Force upon our birth.

The concept of Divine Judgement predates the introduction of Abrahamic religions, which presented a distorted version of Igbo spirituality. It is important to note that during the advent of Christianity, when colonialism and missionary activities thrived, deities such as Seth, Èsù, and Ekwensu were transformed into Christian Satan figures due to their respective attributes.

It is crucial to acknowledge that Ekwensu is not confined to hell, did not instigate a war in heaven, and did not deceive mythical Adam and Eve with a forbidden fruit.

When European influences established Christianity in Africa, they encountered one predicament: the absence of the Devil in the African spiritual pantheon. Consequently, they fashioned the devil from Igbo  gods. It is worth mentioning that there are people and villages in Igboland that bear the name Ekwensu, such as Obiekwensu, the community of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Lekwensu in Umueneochi LGA (Abia state), and Umunkwensu in Enugu State. Cyprian Ekwensi, a renowned writer, also shares a dialectical variation of the name Ekwensu. Ultimately, these instances showcase the commonality and linguistic variations of the term Ekwensu, symbolizing the god of trade and trickster.

It is unjust for Africans to equate our spiritual system with the fear-based ideologies of the Abrahamic religions, rooted in the notion of hell. Igbo gods represent divine principles residing within us, elevating us to godlike beings in human form, intricately connected to the Universe, and manifesting the power of Divinity on Earth. Satan is not Ekwensu; he is the Devil. Nevertheless, if one asserts that the Igbo name for Devil is Ekwensu, it is essential to also disclose Jesus’ Igbo name.

Let us embrace a deeper understanding of Igbo spirituality and honour the rich tapestry of our ancestral traditions.