An event of major import in Igbo and African American histories took place in St. Simon's Island, Georgia, in August 2002. That event was "Ebo Landing," a memorial-sanctification ceremony which honored Igbo slaves who, in 1803, drowned themselves at a creek in the Island after disembarking from their slave ship, rather than be slaves in America. In addition to providing these ancestors the proper burial they did not have, this event reunified Igbos from Igboland with their kith and kin all over the world, including Igbo African Americans here in the United States.


A welcome address read to the audience invoked a biblical prophesy taken from Isaiah 43, verses 5-6:

Fear not, for I am with you;
  I will bring your offspring from the east,
  And from the west I will gather you;
  I will say to the north, Give up,
  And to the south, Do not withhold;
  Bring my sons from afar,
  And my daughters from the end of the earth.


The event was organized by Ekwe Nche Organization, a not-for profit organization committed to research in Igbo history and culture and to the re-establishment of Igbo sovereignty through peaceful means. Ekwe Nche is a term in the Igbo language which means "clarion call." The organization is engaged in a wake-up call to Igbos in Nigeria to rise up to Igbo oppression in the country and to the Igbo nation worldwide to recognize and live up to their Igbo heritage.  Ekwe Nche is made up of Igbos and their descendents from all parts of the world, including the U.S., Cuba, Jamaica, the West Indies and other Caribbean countries, and Nigeria. 


Igbos are a nation of about 40 million people in present day Nigeria with a history of separate and independent existence that goes back 6,000 years. Igbos also have a substantial Diasporan population running into several millions and encompassing every part of the world in which Igbos live.  Igbo  independence came to an end when Britain, in 1914, lumped Igbos together with numerous other ethnic groups to form Nigeria. These groups never had any history of living together and it was obvious from the beginning that this political marriage would not work. The Igbos suffered (and still suffer) many persecutions in Nigeria and in 1967 seceded to form their own independent republic by the name of Biafra after an unprovoked genocide by the Muslim north involving the death of 100,000 Igbos living in the north. Igbos are overwhelmingly Christian. The federal government of Nigeria responded by waging war against Igbos, armed to the teeth by Britain and the Soviet Union. The America government chose not to become involved in the war. Igbos lost 3 million lives in the Biafran war and, what is worse, were forced back into Nigeria following their defeat in the war. The Nigerian federal government announced a reconciliation program designed to reintegrate the Igbos into the mainstream of Nigerian political and economic life. Unfortunately, the program did not work and Igbo killings,  discrimination, and persecution in the country have continued unabated till date. Ekwe Nche is in the forefront of  organizations within and outside Nigeria working today for the re-establishment of Biafra sovereignty through peaceful means. In closing remarks following the sanctification at St. Simons Island, the organization appealed for African American support in current Igbo struggle for independence. It recounted: "Our ancestors gave up their lives in 1803 right here on St. Simons Island seeking for freedom. Almost 200 years later, Igbos in Nigeria are still not free. Yes, although the oppressors have changed many times, the reality of oppression still remains unchanged."


Most of the slaves brought to America and the rest of the New World came from west Africa. A good number of these slaves in turn came from Igboland. In fact, an estimated 80 percent of the slaves transported to such southern U.S. states as Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia are Igbos. The Igbo nation lost more than 2 million of its able-bodied and talented men and women as a result of the slave trade. Igboland was vulnerable to attack by the slave raiders because Igbos were (and still are) a fiercely democratic and republican people who had neither kings as a shield against attack nor built fences and high walls around themselves as other African ethnic groups did.   Igbo slaves were also well sought after because of their known reputation for hard work and endurance as well as because of their agricultural and metallurgical expertise. The slaves who drowned themselves at St. Simons Island brought with them banana plants that till date still grow wild in the creek where they made their tragic disembarkment.


The sanctification ceremony at St. Simons Island featured Igbo traditional and Hebrew rites (the Igbos trace part of their origins to ancient Hebrew Israel).  One of the larger purposes of the "Ebo Landing" dedication at St. Simons was to underscore Igbo peculiarity and uniqueness.  As the organizers noted in their welcome address, "there are no landing sites of any other ethnic group in the New World or anywhere else that our research has uncovered." According to them, "documented information on Ebo Landing from St. Simons Island establishes the occurrence as the only known Plymouth Rock for an ethnically identifiable African group in the United States."


The latest stop in the train of Igbo reunification that begun with Ebo Landing was a high-level meeting in Teaneck, New Jersey, on October 26, 2002 between representatives of Ekwe Nche and African Americans of Igbo extraction. The meeting lasted for over five hours and covered many grounds relating to Igbo future. Important decisions reached at the meeting included the establishment of Igbo Holocaust Memorials in various regions of the United States and the formation of a non-governmental organization (NGO), as part of Ekwe Nche, to be known as the Paul Robeson Committee on Human Rights and Igbo Reunification. There was also an agreement, for which plans are already afoot, for an Igbo landing dedication in Fall 2003 in South Carolina. Please join us. We will keep you posted of all future development regarding this and other Igbo landings (such as the one planned in Haiti in 2004 to coincide with the 200th independence anniversary of the country).

P. O. BOX. 408250
E-mail: ekwenche@hotmail.com
Phone # : 773-206-9401