The wider Jewish world has begun taking notice. 2012 saw the release of filmmaker Jeff Lieberman’s documentary “Re-emerging: The Jews of Nigeria,” and earlier this year, Northeastern University professor William F.S. Miles published “The Jews of Nigeria: An Afro-Judaic Odyssey.” A book on Nigeria’s Jews written by Swiss Jewish Studies professor Daniel Lis will be coming out in 2013 as well”.
We already mentioned Prof. Daniel Lis. CNN did a major story on the “Nigeria’s Igbo Jews:’Lost Tribe’ of Israel?” In that program, it quoted Prof. Daniel Lis. “Daniel Lis, from the Institute for Jewish Studies, University of Basel, Switzerland, is one of the foremost researchers on Jewish identification among the Igbo. He says there has been a clear continuity of Jewish identity among the Igbo. “It’s not just something that happened yesterday,” he says.
The Swiss-Israeli anthropologist says that Igbo-Jewish identity can be traced back to the 18th century. Cross-cultural comparisons have been documented by people ranging from George Thomas Basden, the influential Anglican missionary and ethnographer who proposed that the word “Igbo” evolved as a corruption of the word “Hebrew,” to Olaudah Equiano, a freed Igbo slave living in 18th century British society.”
This is a rather profound observation by Prof. Lis, that could be interpreted to mean that the Igbo could have known themselves as Hebrews without the internationally acclaimed writing of Olaudah Equiano, who even spelled his own name wrong. As we know, Equiano was responsible for the British Parliament passing the Slave Trade Act of 1807, abolishing slavery.
The question really is was there a group in Nigeria called the Igbo before the publication of Equiano’s historical book “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.” This is an scientific study that the Igbo Society is bound to undertake.
Prominent Igbo-Americans: Bishop T.D. Jakes; Oscar Winning Actor Forest Whittaker