From Freedom to Freedom Pilgrimage: The Trail

Studies have shown that over 50% of the slaves that came to the United States, came directly from southeastern Nigeria; from the region formally known as the Slave Coast. Europe3an traders named the region Slave Coast to distinguish it from the Grain Coast (now Senegal), from the Gold Coast (now Ghana), and from the Ivory Coast.† Yet, today when tourists want to visit the beginning points of the slave journeys to the United States, they do not go to Nigeria (the former Slave Coast).† They go to Ghana or Senegal instead.† The reason is that the kinds of forts and castles built in Senegal and Ghana as warehouses for slaves before shipping them to the Americas do not exist in Nigeria††

A groundbreaking research by Professor J. Akuma-Kalu Njoku now shows that there is a Cave Temple Complex in Arochukwu in the hinterland of Nigeria that served as a secret slave dealing location and processing center.† Dr. Njoku, President and CEO of the Aro Pilgrimage Froundation, has self-consciously established a particular trail from the shipping port in Bonny through former interior slave markets and slaveholding quarters in Azumini, Uzuakoli, Bende, and Ututu, to the Ancient Cave Temple Complex in Arochukwu.†† When developed, the Temple Complex together with the trail could bring slave journey-related tourism in Nigeria to a point comparable to the boom in Ghana and Senegal.†

More than just a tourist destination, the Temple Complex is expected to become a pilgrimage destination for African Americans.† Since African Americans celebrate the history of the long journey from slavery to freedom every February, the Aro Pilgrimage Foundation will start organizing a From Freedom to Freedom Pilgrimage to Africa; with effect from February 2009.† †That will be the beginning of an annual symbolic journeying back to the state of freedom that was before the Atlantic slave trade began.† Pilgrims will pass through the heartbreak trail and tunnels of disappearance an ancient Cave Temple Complex in the hinterland of Nigeria to Arochukwu. †The mission is to make a reconnection with Africa the ancestral home, enhance reconciliation and forgiveness, and start the healing of the wounds of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery on both sides of the Atlantic.

The following is a sample of the landmarks and relics found on the trail from Arochukwu to Azumini:

 

 

1.      The Dark Chamber Presence of Chukwu

 

Gateway to Chamber Presence

The Dark Chamber Presence of

Chukwu Abiama (The Holy Holies)

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.      The Oracular Shrine of Ibin Ukpabi

 

Libation Ritual and Shrine Objects

The Oracular Shrine of Ibin Ukpabi

 

 

 

2.      The Tunnel of Disappearance at the Temple Complex

The Throne of Judgment

A Tunnel of Disappearance

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The River of Blood

 

Crossing the River of Blood

Crossing the River of Blood in the Cave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Alter at the Temple

 

The Altar

 

The Kitchen Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Cave Outlet in Iyi Eke, Arochukwu

 

The waiting shelter at† the Iyi Eke Cave

Aniyom making the ritual marks on the outer wall of the cave outlet in Iyi Eke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Cave Rendezvous (Ambience of Mother God) in Obiene Ututu

 

The jungle shrine of Ihu Nne Chukwu at Obiene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Cave Outlet in Abuma Ututu

 

 

A shrine and checkpoint before cave rendezvous in Abuma

A shrine and checkpoint before cave rendezvous in Abuma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cave rendezvous in Abuma

The Cave Rendezvous at Abuma Ututu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Slave Mart at the St. Paulís Junction in Abuma Ututu

 

St. Paul's Junction; former Ahia Ose Nwamkpi and the route to Ihe Osu

St. Paul's Junction and the route to Calabar via Ihe Osu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Safe Haven in Asaga Ohafia

 

http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejohnston.njoku/arochukwu/ohafia/28_028_28.jpg

A compound hall in Asaga and safe haven for escapees

 

Ibin Ukpabi shrine at the Obunkwa Asaga

Ibin Ukpabi shrine at the Obunkwa and Safe Haven Asaga

 

 

 

 

  1. Eke Kaluís Family House in Elu Ohafia

 

 

The house of the legendary Eke Kalu who escaped slavery from Arochukwu

The house of the legendary Eke Kalu who escaped slavery from Arochukwu

 

 

 

 

  1. Omenukoís Friendís House

 

 

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A House in Ndi Mgborogwu where it is believed Omenuko stayed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Slave Cells (Ulo Isi) in Bende

 

 

28_028_27A

A Slave Holding Cell (Ulo Isi [Dark House] Built by Omenuko) in Bende

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Slave Market in Bende

 

 

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Ahia Afo: A Former Slave Mart in Bende

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Slave Route to Bende via Ozu Item

 

The Mgbele Nkume Hill in Uzuakoli on the slave route to Bende

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The House Museum in Uzuakoli

 

 

 

Chief Iheukwumere talking about the material culture

Chief Iheukwumere talking about the material culture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Slave Root Agbagwu (Eke Oba) Market in Uzuakoli

 

Captives for sale were tied to this surface root of the achi treeCaptives for sale were tied to this surface root of the achi tree

 

 

 

 

  1. The Stones of Disorientation in Uzuakoli

 

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Stones of Disorientation at the former Slave Market in Uzuakoli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Slave Market in Uzuakoli

 

 

The Eke Ukwu Agbagwu former slave market

The Eke Ukwu Agbagwu former slave market

 

 

 

Eke Ukwu, Agbagwu former slave market showing the goat shed or stalls

Eke Ukwu, Agbagwu former slave market showing the goat shed or stalls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Ram Market in Azumini

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Ahia Nwaebule the Main Slave Martket in Azumini.

 

 

 

  1. The Last Stop in Igboland (Azumini)

 

Chief and elders in the last stop (slave quarters) by the Blue River

Chief and elders in the last stop (slave quarters) by the Blue River

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Blue River

 

http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejohnston.njoku/arochukwu/azumini/2_002_2.jpg

The Blue River the waterway to Bonny

 

The idea of slave dealing in the Temple of God with direct links to Shipping Ports in the Slave Coast is fascinating. Entering the Chamber Presence and facing the exact place to which the slave dealers took their victims for judgment and ritual processing; to the exact place where probably thousands of African slaves entered and symbolically died is breathtaking.† Following the tunnels of disappearance through the trade routes to the point where the Atlantic Oceans ends in a twilight zone is heartrending. The experience can be overwhelming and the story bitter.† But it is the truth. It is the story of the memory of pain. It is the truth that must be told in order to heal the deep wounds of slavery.