The Igbo are one the Nigerians largest ethnic group s.Among them is a minority of practicing Jews who believe they are descended from the”lost tribes”of israel.
A Shabbat service is underway at the Ghihon Hebrew Research synagogue in the Jikwoyi suburb of Nigeria’s federal capital territory.
Fourteen year-old Kadmiel Izungu Abor heads there with his family. They walk alongside stray goats on a road covered in red dust and potholes, lined with open sewage. They are nearly 20 kilometers away from the modern multi-story office buildings and sprawling mansions in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja.
About 50 people gather in the synagogue. They pray from the Siddur, they read from the Torah and as they chant, Abor’s mellow alto begins to rise.
In a country of 162 million people tensions often lead to violent uprisings between Christians and Muslims and being part of the religious minority can be an issue. But Abor wears his kippah and his identity with pride.
“I am a Jewish Igbo,” he says.
The Igbo are one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups with population estimates ranging from 20 to 50 million. Abor is convinced that the Igbo’s ancestors were Jews.
“The son of Yaakov, Jacob, [was] Gad and I learned that he was among those people who went out of Israel to exile,” Abor says. “So from there he had a son called Eri and a son gave birth to a son called Aguleri and that’s how the Igbo race began.”