Were you always an ogbanje
, that returned child from the spirit world, and we knew not this?
Born to die: The ogbanje
phenomenon and its implication on childhood mortality in southern Nigeria.
Most of these women were identified at birth by their families as ogbanje
children (these women always use the Igbo expression, even if they are Edo-speaking).
Table 1: Superstrate and Substrate influences on NP Lexical NP Lexical NP Meaning source Item English pale pal/friend veks vex maintain be calm obstacle meat remote control witchcraft Portuguese Palava problem/trouble pikin child dash gift sabi know brusai flirt French Boku Plenty kampe fine/durable pantalun bogus pair of trousers rundevu reckless spending Nigerian go slow hold up English machine motorcycle/new car watchnight night watch man houseboy male servant upstair storey building Igbo Okoro an Igbo man inyanga show off ogogoro locally brewed gin ogbanje
reincarnated birth Table 2: Reduplication in Nigerian Pidgin Nig.
Okonkwo's A Spirit of Dialogue: Incarnations of Ogbanje
, the Born-to-Die, in African American Literature (Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 2008) promises to expand our understanding of the intertextuality of Africanist traditions in African American literature.
Marking is indirectly related to another African phenomenon: the Yoruba abiku or Igbo ogbanje
A spirit of dialogue; incarnations of Ogbanje
, the born-to-die, in African American fiction.
In fact, there is a certain feeling among the Igbo people that if you met someone like Christopher Okigbo you would know that he was what the Igbo call Ogbanje
, which means a child that is born again and again, that keeps coming back.
As a matter of fact, the word ogbanje
is metaphorically used nowadays to refer to any behavior that reflects the same traits (Maduka 18; see also Ogunyemi for further discussion on the meaning of abiku and ogbanje
The Igbo concept of reincarnation includes belief in a group of souls called ogbanje
who are born, die in early life, and are reborn in the same family, often repeatedly.
Tribe members believed some families were cursed with ogbanje
, or repeater children--babies who die in infancy and are then reborn to the same parents.
Because Onwumbiko is an ogbanje
(abiku in Yoruba), a spirit child who torments parents by dying soon after birth, Okagbue slashes the corpse, and, holding it by one foot, drags it into the forest for burial.