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Idemili: A clan of the Royal Python

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In Most part of Igboland, the specie of snake called python is treated with utmost respect and dignity while in some other areas in the same Igboland, python is regarded as a dreaded reptile.

Idemili clan is a conglomeration of towns that make up the present Idemili North and Idemili South Local Government Areas of Anambra State; Abacha, Abatete, Eziowelle, Ideani, Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi, Oraukwu, Uke, Umuoji, Akwu-Ukwu, Alor, Awka-Etiti, Ojoto, Nnokwa, Oba and Nnobi. Idemili, was derived from the river that flows throughout the whole length of the towns.

We learnt that aquatic animals in the river including fish and the snake which goes by the name Eke Idemili , in the local parlance, are untouchable and is not eaten in the entire Idemili land. The history of how the people of Idemili began to worship the short pythons was linked with the river in the area called Idemili River which cuts across towns like Obosi, Ogidi and Ojoto, adding that the river has a network.


The people of Idemili regard the snake as a representative of their deity and therefore, a custodian of their culture and tradition. History has it that the first man that founded Idemili came from the deity and as a result people worship the goddess. Therefore, it is not amazing to see people living within the Idemili community sleeping with the python in their beds or playing with it as if they are snake charmers.

It is a well known fact that in Idemili clan, people worship pythons to the extent that it is a taboo to harm or kill the snake. In a situation where the snake is killed by someone, the wrath of the community where the incident took place is always brought to the person who committed the crime and he or she is compelled to accord the snake a befitting burial like that of human being.

Stories are being told that says that when a child is born in Idemili, the short python crawls to the place where the baby is kept and curls around the child harmlessly to the admiration of the parents of the little child. It was also gathered that the visit of the snake to people’s homes could mean different thing as the snake is said to have the power to bring good or bad tidings. If, for instance, a noble person is about to pass on, a python could visit a relation of the person by dying in the house of the person.

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It is very true. It is a non poisonous python and it is treated with utmost respect and dignity. It is forbidden to kill it. It is also called the Royal Python.

Most places in Igboland forbids the killing of pythons. Although the tradition is much more pronounced around the idemili axis. It is believed that the python is the messenger of the goddess in many places in Igboland.

The Igbo deities do not appear to humans directly, in Igboland it is believed if you see a deity it means you are dead, so these agbala or alusi come through means of animal messengers, for example Amadioha comes through a white ram and a python. These animals are therefore seen as sacred.

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