Black Jewish Tribes of Africa (Part 3: From Ethiopia to Israel) — Jide Uwechia

Tacitus, Ethiopians and Black St. Paul

Roman historian Tacitus wrote that many of his time believed that the Jews “were a race of Ethiopian origin.”

The Bible classifies the Ethiopians & Jews together, “Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord.” (Amos 9:7)

Black Paul is mistaken for an “Egyptian” and declares himself to be a “Jew.” (Acts 21:37-39, 22: 2,3) 

Persia and Ashanti

It has also been speculated that the Jewish presence and influence was greatly helped by the ancient gold trade between Persia and Africa.

Jews were the main intermediaries of this trade in the medieval ages since most Muslims (due to Islamic laws prohibition on usury) were wary of its usurious dimensions.

These Jewish itinerant traders came to rely on contacts with the various Jewish communities of West African who proved no mean help in sourcing the scarce commodity. Thus, for instance, the silk of the Royal Kente cloths of the Ashanti reputedly came from China. 

Various historical accounts claim that Jewish travelers from Persia had organized exchanges of Chinese silk for gold in the Kingdom of Ghana; the Ashanti needed the silk for weaving Kente cloth and the Jews need gold for their intrinsic and fiscal value. It is said that the Ashanti words for numbers relate to those in Parsi, the language of Persia. See Lichtblau.


Haplogroup E3B

The E3b haplogroup has been observed in all Jewish groups world wide. It is considered to be the 2nd most prevelent haplogroup amoung the Jewish population.

All the major studies agree that E-M35 is the second highest in prevalence next to J, for “Founding Jewish Lineages.”

It is found in moderate amounts in all Jewish populations, from Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Kurdish, Yemen, Samaritan and even among Djerba Jewish groups.

The scientific consensus is that Haplogroup E3b (M35) appears to have originated in East Africa, but has been carried from there to the Near East and then on to North Africa and Europe. Today it is most common in East Africa, North Africa, the Near East and around the Mediterranean.

Haplogroup J

Haplogroup J (previously known as HG9 or Eu9/Eu10) is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. t is subdivided into two subclades: haplogroup J2, defined by the M172 marker, and haplogroup J1, defined by the M267 marker.

Of special interest are maps that show the geographical spread of the J haplogroup. J1 and J2 are both common in southern Europe, central Europe, the Mediterranean region, and Africa. The J haplogroup is considered to be a signature gene of Jewish ancestry and the cohen modal gene happens to be a subgroup of J.

In fact, the highest frequencies of J1 (M267) are seen in the Middle East, north Africa, and Ethiopia. See (Thomas et al. 1999). J2 (M172) also exists in significant proportions across Africa especially among the semitic speaking peoples of Tigriniya, Amhara, and Oromiya.

The J1’s from the Middle East and North Africa seem to be distinguishable from the rest of J’s by having YCAII=22,22. Behar et al found that a significant proportion of the Jewish population of Europe (more than 20%) carry the J1 haplogroup. The other 20% carry the J2 haplogroup. See Behar et al Hum Genet (2004) 114 : 354–365

Cohen Modal Haplotype

The presence among the Lemba of a disproportionate number of men carrying a particular polymorphism on the Y chromosome known as the Cohen modal haplotype suggests an ancestral link to the Jewish population. One sub-clan within the Lemba, the Buba clan, is considered by the Lemba to be their priestly clan. Among a small sample of the Buba, fifty-two percent of males were found to carry the Cohen modal haplotype CMH, which is generally suggestive of Y-DNA haplogroup J, but notably prevalent among Jewish Kohanim, or priests.

Decline of the Black Jews of Africa

Many reasons have been sought for the decline and virtual disappearance of Africa’s once thriviing Jewish communities of black Jews. Many see the beginning of this decline as contemporaneous with the advent of the Islamic religion in Africa.

Some historical accounts highlight the fact that black Jews were die-hard nationalistic traditionalists and had led the black African resistance against the influx of the black muslim jihadists and their new interpretation of morality. The most notableof these black Jewish nationalists was Queen Kahina Dahiya Bint Thabitah ibn Tifan otherwise known as El-Kahina. A descendant of one of the priestly Black Jewish families of North Africa, Kahina led the nationalist resistance against the muslim invasion until her defeat at the hands of Hassan Ibn Numan. See Margolis, “History of Jewish people”, 1927 pages 278-279. See also Remy Ilona, “The Igbos : Jews in Africa?” volume 1, Research Findings Historical Links, Commentaries, Narratives,” 2004, Mega Press Limited, Abuja, Nigeria.

Amidst this tumult, the Jews of Northern and West Africa were given a choice of conversion or emigration. Many left for the deeper forest recesses of West Africa seeking the peace and tranquility that appeared to elude them in each generation. The late incursions by the colonialist christian elements of Europe did not make matters any better. There seems to have been a direct link between the incursion of relatively modern religions in Africa and the decline of the ancient practise of the Hebrews which had a pride of place in Africa, its mother land.

For instance the Jewish enclaves of Qamnurya or Naghira in the area of modern Senegal was destroyed completely in the wake of sectarian unrest. Similarly, Al-Maghili a prominent black Muslim noble not only destroyed the Jewish enclaves of Tuat in the old Mali empire, he convinced other potentates throughout the Western Sudan to banish Jews from the empire’s cities. See Remy Ilona, supra.

Lichtblau speculates that: although “…Jewish presence is also confirmed by numerous surviving accounts of Portuguese and other European visitors in the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as North African and Arab historical records… gradually most of these communities disappeared. Since they existed largely in isolation, there was a good deal of intermarriage which for a while reinforced their influence and expansion. As a result they were increasingly viewed as a threat by Muslim rulers, and most of the Jewish communities and nomad groups south of the Atlas mountains were either forced to convert to Islam or massacred; the remainder fled to North Africa, Egypt or the Sudan, and a few also to Cameroon and Southern Africa.”

Jide Uwechia

August 19, 2007

206 thoughts on “Black Jewish Tribes of Africa (Part 3: From Ethiopia to Israel) — Jide Uwechia”

  1. Shalom Shalom Brothers & Sisters,
    This is amazing information here I took the “DNA” test for the paternal and it showed that I was 100% fula/ Temne of West Africa with “YAP+” which proves I’m of african orgin. I know these roots are much deeper than I realize. I’m so grateful for some of the post here and I’m still in search of my true identy home in Afrika were my ancestors sold,snatched, or forced to be taken to the west and yes I hate the fact they are digging up of ancestors and parading them around the world. I’m sure they will never allow us to dig up “Queen Elizabeth”

  2. A variant of Ephraim may be Ifite or Ihite depending on your dialect.Nobody knows the true meaning of Ifite but it appears in scores of names of towns in Igboland. Another bibilical name that is common is Abba or Aba which is a name of so many towns in Igbo-land. Ama-Anyi can also be translated to ” the knowledge of us” depending on intonation.

    It is not surprising that the present genetic make up the modern jew is not the same as the hebrews.there have been so many events in Hebrew history that being a Jew may not guarantee that one has even a hebrew ancestor either patrilineal or matrilineal. there is suggestion of hebrew influence on igbo culture but no incontrovertible DNA evidence to suggest that Igbo/Ibo/Ebo/Eboe are in fact Hebrews. Till this is done we continue to speculate.

  3. Just to comment on one Ganda man’s interpretation of Nze; a highly respected title in Igboland. Nze is a title holder who is highly respected and is expected to maintain the highest ethical standards in his conduct in the community. He is never to bear false withness, never to steal or cheat, never to eat what is unclean( what has fallen on the ground), never to sit on the bare ground hence in the olden days was always carrying a goatskin bag that he would sit on in public gatherings. Only freeborn in the community could hold the title. He must never climb a tree. It was dignified title.

    By this my good Ganda fellow you see that nze does not mean selfishness. Please do discard all your misconceptions about the igbo people. We have only begun to sratch the surface in understanding these unique people.

    Its interesting that the ancient hebrew word (Maaz) for Isrealite man is the same as the present igbo word for an Igbo man (Mazi) Maazi, Maza in Hausa. see the evidence @

  4. Even the hebrew word for israelite woman “Baara” may be seen In the old igbo word for woman “Agbara ‘

  5. If you remember that hebrew is written in consonants and that the vowels have to be inferred you may have a few words that sound the same and have a similar meaning in the two languages.

    English; i gbo/Variant Igbo ; Hebrew

    eye; anya: aya: ayin
    ear: Nti( pronunced n-te) tenuk
    house ebe biri beth biri
    flee gbaraa/ gbara pu barach
    run oso/ noso nus
    say si/ kwué/ kpe melal/ qol/ peh
    bowl efele sephel
    thought eche seach
    laugh shi ochi/ chiochi tsechoq/sachaq
    look neke/ nebe nakar/nabat
    consecrate neze/ nezer nazar
    reverence kpelachi/kpeluchi pelach/palach

    I do not purport to be a linguist but I think the similarities are amazing. these are a few words that i took time to look up. See what I found.

  6. I believe the slave trade affected us more than we are aware of because during the slave trade millions of Africans including Igbo were taken by force into the diaspora and important histories both oral and written were lost. Whole villages were transplanted because insecurity, artefacts were lost. Social upheaval occurred and to worsen the matter the colonialist came along with thier divide and rule tactics and imposed their culture and apologies; religions on us, making us to demonize our own traditional ways. We have benefitted from the western influence but at what price?

    Igbos traditionally do not have kings; colonialist imposed warrant chiefs on us. From there we made kings of the warrant chiefs and the rest is history. Eze/ Ezer that we use today does not stand for king in ancient igbo it stands for priest or in its purer form helper or servant. For example Ezeani/ ezeala means the priest of Ani/ Ala or better helper of ani /ala or servant of Ani /ala which is exactly how it would translate in ancient hebrew in which EZER translates as helper.

  7. I gave serious thought to the queston and I realized that the answer to the question of Ig ancestory may bestaring at us in the face.In one of the ritual Prayers at the breaking of Kolanut the elder recites as follows: it will be well with Igbo, it is also well with olu. the question now becomes what or who is ‘Olu”?

    I believe that the OLU are the original inhabitants of the place known now as Igboland and the Igbo came and settled among them, intermarried among them abd produced the modern Igbo of today. The Olu were NOT CONQUERED as Igbo People were essentially peaceful traders and artisans, not warriors. Had there been war between them there would be no blessing of the olu during the breaking of kolanut. The olu may not have been homogenous ; they may have been some several small tribes whose remnants and Descendants are found in the South-South of Nigeria. This implies then that the south-east and the South-south are blood relations. This is verified oral History and linguistic evidence .

    No DNA evidence exists as at now unlike the Lembas in South Africa where there is evidence of Hebrew Ancestory. Is anyone aware of a Genetic study of the Igbo Population in comparism to their Nieghbors in the South-South and Other populations world-wide that claim Hebrew ancestory?

  8. Molweni-Siyanibona -Greetings -South Africa

    Thank you for opening my eyes, Just to comment on Nguni history . Our ancient history of the Nguni people is wrapped up in our oral history. According to legend we were a people who migrated from Egypt to the Great Lakes region of sub-equatorial Central/East Africa.[1] We migrated southwards over many centuries, with large herds of Nguni cattle, probably entering what is now South Africa around 2,000 years ago in sporadic settlement, followed by larger waves of migration around 1400 AD. Nguni peoples are pastoralist groups, ethnically part of the greater Bantu group occupying much of the East and Southern parts of Africa.
    Many tribes and clans were forcibly united under Shaka Zulu. Shaka Zulu’s political organisation was efficient in integrating conquered tribes, partly due to the age regiments, where men from different villages bonded with each other. The Nguni tribes kept similar political practises to those used by Shaka Zulu.
    During the southern African migrations known as mfecane, the Nguni peoples spread across a large part of southern Africa, absorbing, conquering or displacing many other peoples.

    The Nguni tribes are: Zulus, Xhosa, Swazi and Ndebele and we all can understand each other’s languages. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika is part of the national anthem of South Africa, national anthem of Tanzania and Zambia, and the former anthem of Zimbabwe and Namibia. It is a Xhosa hymn written by Enoch Sontonga in 1897. The first chorus is:

    Nkosi, sikelel’ iAfrika;
    Malupakam’upondo lwayo;
    Yiva imithandazo yethu

    Lord, bless Africa;
    May her horn rise high up;
    Hear Thou our prayers And bless us.

  9. Peter

    Please refer to the comment the other writer had i.e. “Naija is now full of people with nze culture”. what did he mean? i.r.o poverty… greed etc

    Peter also clarify please where did the Igbos get the word “IGWEE” i.e. King.

    What do you say to the Kings mentioned in the Hebrew texts e.g Old testament vis a vis Igbo true/original identity?

    In Ganda as I explained Nze means me or I .

    You also say that Nze is a noble title

    Don’t you think that it could be related to the Swahili word “Mzee” or “Mze” which can mean elder, aged, old, wiseperson, noble e.g Mze Julius Nyrerere / Kenyatta / Mandela etc

    Be good

  10. I heard that there is a book of recorded history on the Africa people,and tribes, but the book has never been translated into english. Can anyone give me more information, and can this book be purchased?

  11. It’s good to see a reaction to my post. I would like to explain the meaning of IGWE/ Igwee which may have attracted some interest. There are 2 word that are pronounced the same way in Igbo/ Ibo. The first means the “sky’.It infers something that is very high. The other “Igwe” is a title which was of very recent origin. It derives from the first above and means your “highness”. This 2nd meaning of Igwe comes from an imposed foreign culture in the 1700s when the British created warrant Chiefs for their system of Indirect colonial rule. It has now become a part of Igbo culture. There are as many Igwes as there are towns in Igboland today.

    the difficulty of the British with the imposition of any kind of ruler on the igbo people was that the Igbos traditioally had no kings. Towns and villages practiced a kind of republican democracy in which assemblies made common decisions and the kindred carried out the decision of these assemblies of the people. The word eze/ ezer comes to mind today when you want to describe a king. Yet ezes are not really king but priests who offer sacrifices and act as oracles for the people. A western writer use as a criterion for describing civilizations the presence of kings and emperors. Blacks were said to be primitive with specisl reference to igbo people because they were not ruled by kings(not slaves). Laughably the same writer did not refer to the Athenians and early Romans as primitive. Today kings, emperors and strongmen are no longer in vogue. These institutions are regarded as anachronisms in almost every country today. Kingship , oligarchy and monarchy are things Igbo people had already discarded as detrimental to personal freedom for thousands of years . There is even an adage that say that to become king you had to pay off the debt of every man (free every slave) first. there were chiefs and titled men which include the Nze, Ozo, Ichie.

    The typical Igboman of old, addressed as Mazi/ Maazi was a freeman who jealously guarded his freedom and rights. This shows that he had once been oppressed by strongmen somewhere in history.

    With regards to my ongoing research on Igbo origins I have some interesting news which i will post soon.

  12. Muwanga, Just to clarify: yes NZE could be MZEE because an Nze is cosidered a wise man, elder or counsellor in Igboland.

  13. so could it be that these were the people sold into slavery by the original inhabitants of the land because west africa was not the land of the isrealites and they would be intuders immigrants forigners ect. cause no where in human history has a people sold/killed or has committed any atrocity towards their own people in a time of plenty. there was no outbreak of disease no famine in that region during the slave trade. so they sold the lost tribes of isreal to the white man and now american blacks are the real isrealites.


  15. Have you noticed when Igbos gather it is customary since ancient time to greet thus: Igbo Kwenu! Then the people would reply : YAH! Always this is what obtains in every formal gathering of Igbos before the coming of the Europeans. It would translate thus: Igbo Hail! And the reply : YAH. The shortened version of the the name of the Lord God of Israel WHICH NO RIGHT THINKING ISRAELITE WOULD SAY IN FULL!
    Judah is the corrupted version of Yehuda which means Give praise. In Igbo Ye hu uda (onu) means to praise loudly.

    This really brings the question to mind: are these coincidences.
    Why is the full title of God in Igbo Chukwu Abuoma. Transliterated it means The Great God of Abuoma ( Abraham)
    Why are there Igbos that can tell you the names of there ancestors: for example, Eri son of Gad(or one of his lineal descendants), ancestor of many Igbos built a memorial @ Aguleri (Agulu-Eri) named OBi GAD (Dwelling of Gad).
    Ozubulu : Zebulun, probably Next wave of hebrews to migrate.

  16. Jogbehah
    Numbers 32:35
    Judges 8:11
    Very few Caucasians would be able to pronounce the “Gb” consonant that is part of Igbo (Ibo) language. They would simplify the GB to B. Yet paleo-Hebrew clearly had “gb” which many smart alecks would try to convince me was pronounced “JOG BEHAH or worse still JO-BEHAH”

  17. Okafor

    I would like to take a tour of Nigeria. I am more interested in visiting the Rural parts. i.e to see traditional dances, talk to chiefs/elders, visit museums etc.

    Are there any reputable companies which offer cultural toursim packages?

    Coz I get shocked by a lot of similarities when I watch Naija movies. i.e. house structures, the pots, Kola nuts, (coffee beans), the way women quarrel/ gossip i.e. Ganda and Igbo.

    Otherwise is there a one stop library or museum I can visit in Abuja or Lagos?.

    oh by the way In intend having a blast (party) too while am there.

  18. Muwanga,
    you may be interested to know that in Adamawa state of Northern Nigeria, there is a tribe called Ganda. Their language is also called Ganda, the town is called Ganda.

    sadly there are not many tourism companies in Nigeria. Here are a few you may try,


    1B, Tinuade Street
    Off Allen Avenue, Ikeja 100281
    Lagos, Nigeria

    Telephone: +234 1 2714573, 7625573, 8539138
    Fax: +234 1 4602138 | Mobile: +234 8023103854, 08055252066. 0803 3151776



    Suite B107, 11, Dunukofia Street
    Area 11, Garki, Abuja
    Federal Capital Territory.

    Telephone: +234 9 6703349, +234 806 6060034, +234 803 3151776, 08094697756
    Fax: +234 9 3149367


    Nike’s Tours

    All of your travel within Nigeria is provided in air-conditioned cars and vans. You schedule your travel to suit your needs (please keep in mind that all travel between cities should be done in daylight). Nigeria can be daunting to a newcomer, so Nike and her staff will be happy to accompany you as you shop, run errands, visit museums or just wander about the town.

    +234 1 2705964
    +234 1 2705965
    +234 80 330 36969

    Alken Tours

    We are a full service, fully computerized Travel Wholesale firm that prides itself in selling quality travel products which are specially designed to suit the preferences of our many clients from diverse industries. We tailor our services to meet both the personal and professional needs of our clientele.
    1661 Nostrand Ave.
    Brooklyn, NY 11226
    Tel: (80… * (718…
    Fax: (718) 282-1152

  19. Good morning Muwanga, Dr. Sullemani, and all contributors to this website. I thank you Jide. Sometime, a year or two ago, I took time off from blogging to complete my research on Ancient People (Hebrew). The Book is now completed, published, and is now selling at The title of the book is “BEFORE THE COVENANTS: Tracing Abraham the Hebrew to the Temple at Ezi Kanabo. The research of this book uncovered three landmark historical facts not readily known before:
    . I traced Abraham, the spiritual father of the Jews, Christians, and Moslems to a Temple in the town of Agukwu in Anambra State, Nigeria today. The temple is called the Temple of Ezi Kanabo, and Kanabo is Abraham’s maternal grandfather.
    2. The research also uncovered that Abraham’s ancestors were originally banished from a land called Aladinma for choosing to worship the God of heaven over the gods of their land and they fled to Mesopotamia and established a new city which they named after the God they had known from Aladinma. Hence, Ur of Chaldea/Chaldim (Ora Chialadinma or people of the God of the good land). This Aladinma is Igboland.
    3. I uncovered through the same research that Igbo language is not only the original Hebrew, but the language that God spoke during creation – a language that is older than the universe. No scholar, Jew or otherwise can refute this finding.
    My knowledge of Igbo language in its various dialects made it possible to uncover these facts. And what I am saying is not based on probabilities or maybes, but from evidences that can be seen and confirmed today. My Wesite is Blessed is the Name of the Holy One of Israel.



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