When a child is born in Igbo land, a dibia is consulted. It is important to the Igbo people to know which of their deads has come back to them. 

Most cultures of Africa believe that souls don’t die, only the bodies that bear them get tired and when they do, they are changed. 

The Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria are not different. They believe fervently in Ilo Uwa. Ilo Uwa or reincarnation is a believe that when one dies, they come back to life. Every soul comes back seven times. Sometimes, a soul may reincarnate in two or three persons in a similar time frame. I remember my grandma warning my aunty against attending another auntie’s burial, because in her opinion, they came from the same agbara and it was dangerous for her. 

The issue of interest is, why do people come back to life? Do people remember incidents of previous lives? And if they do, what do they do or become? People come back to life because humans are of one spirit, and because a life cycle must be completed before one can become an ancestor. In most cases, especially in cases of gruesome deaths, victims come back to life with memories and even scars from their previous lives. People have been reported to say things, or avoid certain things that are connected to their previous deaths. Most of these occur while people are young and these memories become distant and even wiped out as time goes on. 

An easy way to identify a person’s incarnate is their look, which is usually so similar, their preferences and perception of things.

People’s lives are controlled, unconsciously, by decisions they made in their previous lives. The paths we take often seem mapped out before us because they have been sealed from the past. My grandmother, towards her death, called me one night and said, “I know you’re a person of books, but you must marry.” She said that because the woman, who is believed to have come back as me, had vowed to become a professor in her next life, and to my grandmother, too much book was not good for a woman who must keep a man. 

Reincarnation can go wrong when certain people become vengeful. Most people are believed to return to homes that treated them callously in their previous lives, for revenge. These people bring nothing but sorrow to their families. An example of such is the Ogbanje. These children come and go frequently, leaving their families devastated. 

What stories did you hear about reincarnation? Share them at the comment section. 

Do you have any folklore you want us to share? Tell us at the comment section. 

Comments (3)

  1. Samuel


    My father believes one of my younger brothers is her mother.
    We’re strong Christians, yet he says there are some things my brother does that echo his mother’s character.

  2. Chigozirim


    Well, I pretty much believe reincarnation. It’s such a shame that the Christian religion is trying so hard to fight it with that dumb ass line that when a man dies, judgment follows and that is that. No chance of returning back through another body. Hahaha. When my mother’s elder sister was born, she mysteriously was always thirsty and crying for water. Breast milk could not quench her thirst or stop the incessant cryings. But water. With this frequent, strange exhibition, a dibia was consulted. There it was revealed that the baby was a family member comeback. And this family member as the story went contracted small pox in her previous life when she was barely ten years, and was consequently thrown into an evil bush as was the norm then. It was obvious that she must have died of thirst in that forest.

    • artslounge


      Stories like this abound. The Igbo people believe and still believe in reincarnation. It doesn’t matter the level of Christianity they practice, they know that their dead family members would come back to them. Thank you for comment.

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