Understanding the Ram in Ikenga
When we seek to understand why the Ìgbò chose a ram represented in the Ikenga as its symbol of strength as opposed to a leopard or lion, we shouldn't be looking at the Jewish culture and the scriptures.
We must first of all look at Igbo beliefs, worldviews captured in Igbo proverbs, aphorisms and usage after all the matter is about Igbo and not about the Jews.
Let's look at these expressions commonly used among the Igbo people, perhaps we will be able to see the light and make sense out of nonsense.
The Igbos have a saying that “Ebini na-eri n'ude” (the ram bears pains without crying out). That's how the Igbo perceive the ram, an animal that has an infinite capacity to bear pains even unto death without screaming like other beasts.
Furthermore it is also said that "Ebini naa azụ, ọ bịa ọgụ" (the ram retreats and then attacks).
That's another understanding of what a ram is among the Igbo people. A ram retreats, gets ready and attacks.
The ram never gives up but it can retreat so as to achieve better results.
The above qualities depict the Igbo understanding of strength.
To the Igbo man, strength is not sheer power but resilience.
Where I come from there's a saying that to be stiff is different from being strong—a fact aptly exemplified in the stiffness of the cassava stem which bears the resemblance of strength when in fact it is just merely stiff.
The Igbos do not merely mouth these beliefs, they put it to work.
The more recent is the recovery from the Biafran revolution and the genocidal war coupled with the murderous and pretentious policies of the Nigerian state thereafter and how the Igbo through sheer resilience overcame all that and have now come to a place of 'envy' in Nigeria.
Chukwunonso Ikenna ,Odumegwu onwumere ,Igbo spirituality revivalist.
Nov. 24 2020.