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The Igbo origin, what DNA shows
By: Anselm Anyoha MD
"People do not erupt like plants," I countered. "The Igbos did," the professor replied.
Is the professor right? If the Igbos were descendants of the Israeli Jews, the evidence would show in their DNA. Intrigued by the professor's emphatic statements, I decided to learn about my ancestral Igboman DNA to discover whether bonafide Igbos like me have traceable Jewish ancestry.
I was excited to receive my Ancestral DNA kit from 23andMe, a biotechnology company based in Sunnyvale, California. After collecting my saliva specimen and mailing it back, I waited for the result, which took about three weeks.
But first, why do people imagine an ancestral relationship between the Igbos of Nigeria and the Israeli Jews? Proponents of the Igbo-Jewish common ancestry point out that, like many Israeli Jews, many Igbos wear long and flourishing beards. Similarly, they say that, like the Israeli Jews, the Igbos are resourceful and economically ingenious.
Believers of the Igbo-Jewish lineage theorize two routes of ancestral convergence between the two races: either through the twelve sons of Jacob in Egypt or Queen Sheba and King Solomon's consummation in Israel.
First, believers imagine that one of the twelve sons of Jacob who came to Egypt to escape famine in Israel, might have headed towards west Africa, then Nigeria, and perhaps settled in Igboland, where they planted their regal seeds.
Alternatively, according to the legend, 900 years before Christ was born, King Solomon fell in love with Makeda, the Queen of Sheba from Ethiopia, resulting in the birth of a son named Menilek I. Descendants of Menilek I, whose dynasty ruled Ethiopia for centuries, might have migrated to Nigeria and sowed their royal seed in the Igboland. The Rastafarian President, Emperor Haile Selassie (1930-1974), is one of these descendants.
When the DNA test result arrived, I was stunned that Igbos like myself don't seem to have any ancestral links with other parts of the world--not Europe, not the Israeli Jews, and not Asia. Furthermore, Igbos do not share any ancestral relationships with the Yoruba Nigeria ethnic tribe nor with any of their West African neighbors such as the Ghanaians, Senegalese, Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, Gambians, or Guineans. Instead, the results showed that the Igbos' closest ancestral relations are the Ijaws and the Edos of Nigeria.
With a grain of satisfying skepticism, I learned that the Igbos are the "sons of the soil." Perhaps the professor was right when he said that "the Igbos materialized from the Igboland."