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Africa education Igbo culture languages Nigeria

Igbo Language Alphabet

This is to respond to your requests for a clearer, easy to read Igbo Alphabet, and we’ve come up with this which we believe is simplified. It’s important to take your attention to the structure of the alphabet because it’s the key to unlock your understanding of this beautiful language. Basically 27 distinct letters are contained in this whole 36-letter alphabet, so in every word we can say or write in Igbo language we only use 27 letters. There are times however we need to make certain meanings but the 27 letters on of their own cannot deliver unless one letter tag itself with another (diphthong) for example ‘g’ for ‘gaa’ = (go) and ‘w’ for ‘wete’ = (bring) and ‘gw’ together for ‘gwakota’ = (mix). Also ‘n’ for ‘nata’ = (receive) and ‘y’ for ‘yiri’ = (wear) and ‘ny’ together for ‘nye’ = (give), etc.

Summary:

Igbo alphabet = 36 letters in all, 27 of which are self-sufficient but can also partner with others in 9 different ways for 9 different sounds and meanings.Notice also that letter ‘c’ is the only letter that is not in the alphabet but is married to letter ‘h’ = ‘ch’, which can be used in the word ‘Chineke’= (God the creator).

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love opinion proverbs

Igbo (African) Proverbs

Hello there! This is a post on selected Igbo proverbs. I wrote in Igbo language, translated in English and then gave its meaning. I did a blog post on proverbs used in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe sometime ago. You can access it here. Have a great day!

1.

Igbo: Nwaanyi muta ite ofe mmiri mmiri, di ya amuta ipi utara aka were suru ofe.

English: If a woman decides to make the soup watery, the husband will learn to dent the foofoo before dipping it into the soup.

Meaning: One should learn to change tactics to suit a situation.

2.

Igbo: Onyeubiam adi(ghi) aza “Omeokachie.”

English: An indigent does not take the title of “Omeokachie” (i.e. one who completes whatever he puts his hand to)

Meaning: Don’t make false claims.

3.

Igbo: Agwo emeghi nke o jiri buru agwo, umuaka achiri ya hie nku.

English: If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood.

Meaning: There are times when one defends ones capability.

4.

Igbo: Ukpana okpoko gburu nti chiri ya.

English: The grasshopper that is killed by a Crow is deaf.

Meaning: Once forewarned of danger, flee except one is deaf.

5.

Igbo: O na-abu akota ihe ka ubi, e lee oba.

English: Whilst farming, if one encounters what is bigger than the farm, one sells the barn.

Meaning: One who incurs what is beyond one’s ability may sell all one has.

6.

Igbo: Okirikiri k’ana gba ukwu ose, anaghi ari ya-elu

English: The pepper shrub is not climbed but circled.

Meaning: When faced with dicey situation, approach it with caution.

7.

Igbo: Egbe bere, Ugo bere, nke si ibe ya ebena nku kwaa ya

English: Let the eagle perch, let the kite perch; if one does not want the other to perch, may his wings break.

Meaning: Live and let live.

8.

Igbo: Ugo chara acha adi(ghi) echu echu

English: A mature eagle feather will ever remain pure.

Meaning: One well trained will stand the test of time.

9.

Igbo: Anaghi eji na aguu na-agu noo ukwara.

Meaning: No one swallows phlegm to appease the pangs of hunger.

10.

Igbo: E gbuo dike n’ogu uno, e ruo n’ogu agu e lote ya.

English: Kill a warrior during skirmishes at home, you will remember him when fighting enemies.

Meaning: Don’t destroy your leaders.

11.

Igbo: Aka a na-ana dike bu itube ya (abuba) ugo.

English: Appropriate handshake for the valiant is to cap him with an eagle feather.

Meaning: Noble deeds should be appreciated.

12.

Igbo: Oke soro ngwere ma mmiri, mmiri guoro ngwere agagi ako oke.

English: When a rat swims with a lizard, his hairs won’t dry as the lizards.

Don’t do what others are doing; you are not the same.

Meaning: We shouldn’t copy others just for the sake of copying. Every human has a distinct identity.

13.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na olu oha di mma, mana oriri oha na-aka ahu.

English: The tortoise said that many hands at work is enjoyable, but many mouths to feed can be embarrassing.

Meaning: It is not easy to feed many mouths.

14.

Igbo: Nkụ onye kpara n’ọkọchị ka ọna anya n’udu mmiri.

English: Ones actions today will determine his position in the future

Meaning: Good or bad, today’s acts may either come back to bless or to haunt.

15.

Igbo: Ngwere nile makpu àfọ n’ala, mana onweghị onye ma nke àfọ n’asa.

Meaning: Everybody in this world have one or two problems; it’s only our dressing that covers it.

16.

Igbo: Onye tétárà n’ùla na-atù mkweke, ò bû mmadù kpótere yá?

English: Someone who woke up from sleep and still staggers around was he/she forcefully woken by someone else?

Meaning: Don’t be found wanting on his/her statutory obligation.

17.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na e jighi ehi kwa nne ya di na nso, mana a si ya wete na ya enweghi.

English: The (king) tortoise said it is an abomination not to conduct his mother’s funeral with a cow, but if asked to produce one he couldn’t afford it.

Meaning: Emphasizing the importance of the necessity of an object even though one cannot afford it.

18.

Igbo: Eze mbe si na nsogbu bu nke ya, ya jiri kworo ya n’azu

English: The tortoise said that trouble is its own; that’s why it carries trouble on its back

Meaning: One should try and shoulder one’s burdens and responsibilities.

19.

Igbo: Ada agwa ochi nti n’agha esula.

English: You don’t tell the deaf that war has broken out.

Meaning: Some things need not be announced, their occurrence stands as enough announcement.

20.

Igbo: Ukwa rue oge ya, o daa.

English: There’s time for everything.

Meaning: Things should be done when the time is right for them.

21.

Igbo: Udene na egbe anaghi azo nri: udene na-eri ozu; egbe na-ebu na nkike.
English: The vulture and the kite do not scramble for food: the vulture is a scavenger; the kite, a predator.

Meaning: Don’t demean yourself by competing below your level.

22.

Igbo: Si kele onye nti chiri; enu anughi, ala anu.

English: Salute the deaf; if the heavens don’t hear, the earth will hear.

Meaning: Let’s endeavour to do right even if no one is watching.

23.

Igbo: Oboloko abughi aha ejiri luta nwanyi, kama obu aha onwu di guru ya.

English: Widow is not a woman’s maiden name, but it is as a result of her husband’s death.

Meaning: Nobody likes suffering, but it is always a bad circumstance that leads to it.

24.

Igbo: Onye tétárà n’ùla na-atù mkweke, ò bû mmadù kpótere yá?

English: Someone who woke up from sleep and still staggers around was he/she forcefully woken by someone else?

Meaning: Don’t be found wanting on his/her statutory obligation.

Categories
Nature Poetry

Anyanwu Ututu m (My Morning sun)

Anyanwu ututu m

My gift and joy from God

Onyem ji eme onu

You glow like the red chilli

And you are sweet,

Sweeter than the palm wine,

Ah nwanyioma m!

When the village drums beat

You dance with ecstacy

Laughing when you move

Sometimes, words fail me

I can only ponder on God’s creativity

The blessings He had bestowed on you

And how I am lucky to have you!

***

Commentary:

Anyanwu ututu m: My morning sun

Onyem ji eme onu: The one I boast of

Nwanyioma m: My good lady

Categories
Poetry

Nnem (My Mother)

Nnem oma, my sweet mother

My best friend!

Onyem, m ji eme onu

Daada! Thinking of you

Gives me great joy!

My first love, my creator!

Ina enyem obi anuri,

Ina akasim obi,

I can not quantify this joy

You are my blessing

Nkechinyerem!

Learn Igbo language here.

***

Commentary:

I think everyone should be appreciative of their mothers. Infact I am blessed with a loving mother. A teacher, a disciplinarian and a lover of God. They say when counting your blessings count your mother twice. This is a piece for my mother. She works so hard and has taken many sacrifices alone (husband deceased) to bring her children up. I salute all mothers.

I know I have expressed some terms in Igbo language ’cause I couldn’t find the right English words. I will try to translate.

Nnem oma: my good mother

Onyem, m ji eme onu: my own, the one I brag with

Daada: used to greet matured people

Ina enyem obi anuri: you give me joy

Ina akasim obi: my comforter

Nkechinyerem: The one God has given me

Categories
Poetry

I’m coming home, with Deborah Nnagbo

1. Dn

I’m coming home,dear forgotten land.
For I’ve wandered so far away in the dungeon of life,
So far away I journeyed into the rusted past.
I picked pebbles of zeal and sealed my fears,
I traveled far from home searching for hope
Beside the faded branches of loss and pain
I was blinded by the deceptive smiles of the sons of men
And the alluring grimaces of pretentious souls
Now my heart yearns to return

2. Oi

When the stars shine, I know they come to show the way
Drawing my paths on the Earth that always held my legs
I set out,
I set out to meet you, traveling with the sun behind me
Casting the shadows of my past before me
I sing with delight, when your memories come to me
Even then, I make haste when I happen to think of you
When the days travel by, I sit to recall the Winds of memory
In her songs, I learn of my own joy of homecoming

3. Dn

Now,when the shadows of the unele trees,
Standing at the gate of hope can faintly be seen
And the unruly sun with terror pierce my calm eyes
I could only but imagine the distance of my home
The paths stretching to the lonely Eden.
My pride,my glory
My little chamber of joy
My heroic nest of aspirations
My world,my everything

4. Oi
Oh great land, my father land!
My land, which I left for long!
Ala oma! Aladinma!!
Your length and breadth beckon to me
You throw embraces to me through the wind
You whisper my name and I long for you
You paint the skies light blue when I travel to you
And when the great day ends I am almost at your doorstep

5. Dn

Yes! The tired roads of hope did bid me return.
The sun,the wind and the sturdy trees did whisper,
To my melancholy soul,sweet wordings of hope…
“There are still milk in the land,
Great treasurers still lies untouched”
There’s air for my choking heart to feed on.
My broken toes can be mended again.
And the long lost smile shall reappear,
Like the son of man on the 3rd day.

6. Oi

Oh great land, would you forget me now I have come?
Tell me what have happened since I went away?
What about the palm wine, can I still get a bowlful?
If the rains fall with the thunder and lightning,
Can we still run around and flirt with the cold rain?
The children will tell me what I have missed
The men will invite me to drink the local gin
And the girls will giggle when they see the boy from town

7. Dn

Tell the wind blowing mama’s wrapper apart to stop.
Tell that fierce sun to calm its temper,
For the prodigy has remembered.
The glory that litters in the garden,
The sweet aroma of passion.
And so shall I gather pieces of my broken parts.
I would craw,limp, walk,jump,run,and fly if need be.
For this world is no strangers paradise.
I’m coming home

8. Oi
And at last oh great land
I come home to thee
Basking in my own pride
Eating fruits which I see
Each morning I wake
The feeling will be new
And for your sake
I will make my love true

****
Commentary:

I have done a collabo with another poet friend of mine, Deborah Nnagbo. This would not be my first time hosting her here. She writes mildly and creatively. Her stanzas are signed Dn at each beginnings and mine signed Oi. We welcome your thoughts.

*

Unele trees: species of trees growing in the tropics. Unele perhaps is the native name

Ala oma, Aladinma: Igbo language for Great land, good and fertile land.