Posted: March 28, 2009 in art/entertainment, general



They lived before Adam by Catherine Acholonu as a research work sets out to place into proper perspective long held notions (correct or erroneous) concerning the origin and genealogy, psyche and spiritualism of the Igbo in particular and the Black civilization in general.

Sourcing materials for her work from oral and written accounts, ancient traditions of other nations overseas, traces left behind in the languages in world’s languages as they carry evidence of common origins and cultural contacts through centuries, the final product can be regarded as a historical handbook worth reading.

Also, gleaning from the inscriptions on the monoliths at Ikom, Cross River state and those on the Igbo Ukwu artifacts, as well as the Ogam inscriptions spread over the entire present-day United Kingdom, and many more esoteric inscriptions which the author had had to decode, Acholonu could be said to have copiously provided proof as to the sacredness of the Igbo race in particular, in world civilization.

They Lived Before Adam goes to a great length to prove that Nigeria was indeed the centre of world civilization and the Igbo by extension provided the bedrock of that civilization in terms of superior craftsmanship and well developed language.

“Based on our Ethno-semantic analysis of the relationship between European, Asian and languages of the Niger-Congo family of African languages, using the Igbo example, we can comfortably assert that Proto-Indo-European was a language of the Niger-Congo family, not unrelated to the Kwa family of languages…Yet we have demonstrated in this Igbo words of similar sound and meaning with languages cutting across the Indo-Hittite and Afro-Asiatic families indicating that Igbo is the link between these two racial families…This discovery equally places the Igbo at the origin of human civilizations and perhaps long before it.” (pp 6,7).

By listing similar sounding and meaning words from the Chinese, Irish, Greek, Hebrew, English, Scottish, ancient Canaanites languages, Acholonu maintains that the frequency and preciseness of the occurrences defeat any suggestion of coincidence as, according to her, the borrowing of a large number of basic words among numerous languages occurs only as proof of migration of bearers of the seed language across the affected area.

Beyond the spoken word, Acholonu also presents facts sieved from the spectacular Igbo Ukwu findings (p18 -25) and the unique monoliths scattered over a 250 kilometre radius of the area location in Ikom local government area of Cross River state, which she places alongside writings on the Ogam monoliths in Ireland and much of United Kingdom.

An examination of these works, according to the author, reveals a similarity in style and pattern in the use of geometric signs and body language of figures as well as a similarity of imageries suggesting that the various works shared a common creator, or a school of thought with even those distant unearthed finds in India, Far Asia.

“In Ireland, as in Igbo land, column writing was practiced. In the British Isles, column writing was called Ogam and was executed in the form of strokes or lines, originally on sticks and later on rock. Celtic traditions of Ireland say that Ogam means Oga-ama. Oga-ama is most likely derived from the Igbo word Ogu-ama. For in Igbo Ogu means sticks. Ogam writing is shaped like sticks. (p44, 45).

“Our research team found evidence that Ogam writings bore transliterations (literal translations) of a West African language and a language still spoken today in Nigeria.”

Apart from column writing, the peculiar Igbo facial scarification called ichi marks, the horsetail or pigtail insignia, the geometric lines and others that are replicated in several works unearthed in Igbo Ukwu, Ikom monoliths, Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Dravidian Indians works, even as far as the Aegean and the Levant, all portray that unique Igbo identity and culture.

According to the author, the Egyptian description of the Neshi/Nchi dwarfs as ‘pigtail wearers’ and ‘scar bearers’ located them within the Igbo cultural environment because the Igbo Nwa Nshi dwarfs all bore exclusively Igbo facial scarification called ichi as well as the pigtail both of which till today remain symbols of authority.

Going further, the author therefore posits that “that distinguishing cultural phenomenon known all over the world as Black African culture is Nigerian in origin…Southern Nigeria has obviously always been a breeding house for the cultural and spiritual emancipation of peoples of Africa and the world.” (p93)

Buttressing her facts on the pre-historic existence of a superior Igbo civilization, the author says:

“Hindu records on Egypt say that Rama ruled from the centre of the world for 11, 000 years. This is almost the length of Ra’s influence in Egypt…The centre of the world as we have demonstrated elsewhere in this work is Nigeria. Clearly, Ra/Rama/Eri did bring what is called Nri, Idu or mega Igbo civilization to ancient Median-Biafra around 11, 000 B.C. It would take another 7,000 years before the first human king would rule Egypt by 3,100 B.C in the person Menes/Mene…..Egyptian records say that Menes was a Black African from the unknown lands located south of Egypt…One cultural hint about the nationality of Menes was the fact that he usually bore a fly-whisk on his waist, an indication of the Nwa-nshi and titled men of Igbo land.”

Acholonu attributes the reason for Black African’s prominence in the making of the first civilizations known to man to their mastery of metal, being, as she put it, the world’s first metallurgists, the first to discover metal and perfect its use: Further citing the Nok culture that dates 5,000 years.

Drawing from the Bible to support her claims of Black divinity, the author deduces that because in Semitic languages, the letter /k/ is pronounced /kw/or vice versa, the configuration of the name kham/khem would be written as Kwa-m…The name of Ham’s first son, Kush, would thus read Kwush/Qush (or as already noted Akwa Nshi). Cush means Black in Hebrew, so does Akwanshi in Africa too. Therefore, Akwanshi is an allusion to the divinity of Blackness.

To the credit of the author, the book is not a one-way traffic of the pre-historic glorious reign of the Igbo race and the significance and place of that race in world civilizations, which as she tried to point out in the first place was intended as tribute to the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

They Lived Before Adam also attempted presenting a common platform on which the prominence of the entire Black race could be viewed in totality. Thus we see in Chapter 4:

“Our research team found evidences that Ogam writings were transliterations of a West African language; a language still spoken today in Nigeria. What this means is that the pre-historic inhabitants of Ireland and their Scandinavian relatives could have originated from West Africa. It could also indicate language borrowing romper-historic West African colonizers, missionaries of the religion of Druids.

“Irish Druids referred to Ireland as the ‘Land of Erin”, which was the etymological origin of the word Ire-land. In the Gram Code we have on the basis of linguistic analysis identified the famous Druid Magician Mer-lin (Mer-erin) as a minister of the great god and world teacher Eri, known as Erin in Yoruba tongue.

“The word Merlin would be a corruption of the Mel-Erin or Orun-mila (Erin-the-Black). This would make Merlin an incantation if not a reinvented persona of Orunmila, who is known as the od of letters and oracles and a great world civilizer among the Yoruba. Orunmila was said to have left Yoruba land to travel the world, bringing learning wherever he went.

The 443-page book of 31 chapters is a product of a research which began according to the author in 1990 and which has produced two books, the first being, The Gram Code of African Adam (Stone books and Cave Libraries, Reconstructing 450, 000 Years of Africa’s Lost Civilizations) which was published in 2005 and the present They Lived Before Adam which on its part was first presented in excerpts at the 6th Annual Igbo Studies Conference at the Howard University, Washington, U.S in 2008 under the title of; The Sons of God and the Unshakable Generation: Tracing Igbo Divine Rights through Pre-History, Forgotten scriptures and oral traditions.

According to Acholonu, the motivation for embarking on the project was based on the need to begin the healing and restoration process that the Igbo so desperately needed in the aftermath of years of divisions which Achebe’s Things Fall Apart so well portrayed.

“The breaking of the Igbo soul centre at the beginning, like the breaking of the kolanut should not have led as it did to the shattering of the chalice of communion. Rather it should be understood for what it is and what it was meant to be by the Creator of All: the division of the cells of the body of the god-man so that each cell may be planted and in the fullness of time yield a plenitude of harvests in the souls of all the peoples and nations of the world. Now that seed is ripe, and that plenitude of harvest (Obia-nuju/Obia-nuju) is ripe for the plucking. It is time to put together through the process of Ntikonu (what in Hebrew Cabbala is known as Tikkun) that which has fallen apart.”

Furthermore, by the book They Lived Before Adam, the author seeks a re-writing of world history which, as she submits, would take into account present day evidence thrown up by findings contained in the book that indeed Black Africans were the core creators of civilizations as far flung as Sumer, Hindu, Cush, Meso-America, China, and others (pXXVII).

However, a book as commendable as the They Lived Before Adam is not without its own fair share of controversies, one of them being the author’s decision to place the Okigwe/Orlu area as the centre of world civilization on the basis of its mounting linguistic relations with most other civilizations of the world.

The bulk of the language comparisons conducted and listed by the author’s research appeared to have been centred around the Okigwe/Orlu dialect of Igbo (see chapter 4) wherein she also concluded and submitted rather enthusiastically that the origins of world civilization may well have taken root from there.

Constant references to the Orlu/Okigwe dialect of the Igbo language (see pp334, 335, 336, and 339), throw up not only a question of bias, insufficient or inconclusive research, by extension also questions the author’s take on the Central Igbo school of thought.

Is it possible therefore for foreign languages to draw from a dialect of a language instead of the main language itself since a dialect is a variation of the mother language? Also, would her arguments on semblance of words’ origin hold water if those same words were compared with the so-called Central Igbo.

Secondly, is it also possible for Igbo Ukwu to have influenced world civilization via its superior craftsmanship excluding its own language and system of writing?

On another level, the author’s serious references to Chinua Achebe’s novel titled; Things Fall Apart, as if for the authentication of her facts, is a major minus as it tended to puncture those premises on which she arrives at her conclusions, which of course invariably faults most of them.



If the author seeks to validate her facts, it would have been advisable to make references to historical accounts that are non-fiction based instead of the constant allusions to a work of fiction that Things Fall Apart represents. (See pp43, 62, 97, 117, 346, and 347).

Things Fall Apart as much as it evokes and to a larger extent re-awakens the Igbo consciousness, on the strength of the fact it was set on a possible world, has won bagged numerous laurels on account of its place in literature, as a work of fiction and not a true-life narrative of life in the ancient Igbo society, as Acholonu is wont to make her readers believe.

Aside the usual printer’s devil, where the words /worshipped/worshippers/ are wrongly spelt (pp18, 347, 374) and perhaps the word /kolanut/ where the author insists it is /oji/ (ppXXXII, XXIV, 104), the rest are occurrences of grammatical flaws that are few and far between.

Acholonu has succeeded in also rejuvenating the Igbo consciousness by presenting evidence that most people merely trample upon on a day-to-day basis without knowing it. It is difficult not to hold one’s head high as an Igbo or as a Black African after reading the book They Lived Before Adam.

Her research efforts should be commended on account of the passion with she pursued them, just as the result should be respected and perhaps improved upon either by the author in a revised edition of the book or another book entirely.

Similarly, some of the research findings should spur further probes into finding the missing language link among all Igbo nations or even all Black nations




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