How Sunday was christened Uka in Igbo language

Ubochi Uka: Before the advent of the White man, the Igbos recognized 4 days as a full week: the days – Ubochi in Igbo – were/are Eke, Orie, Afor, Nkwo. And ‘Weeks’ are ‘Izu’. The 4 days makes otu izu (One Week). Izu asaa (7 weeks) introduces a new month, which was announced by the traditional priests. These priests did so by monitoring the moon. That’s the reason a month in Igbo is called Onwa (Onwa simply means the moon).


In those days 13 months introduced Aro: a new year. Research showed that a new year in the olden days Igbo land started around March/April; others claimed that it was around July. Which ever it was, it had something to do with rainy season.


There was a popular ritual among the wealthy known as Ichu Aro (meaning casting away of the past year). In Ichu Aro, the Igbos disposed things they used in the previous year: this could only be easier around the farming season (April – July); if tried in December, it would mean disposing of harvests.


Chinua Achebe, in his book: Arrow of God, insinuated that new years started around harvest period (August/September). Which also is rational. In his book, EzeUlu had 13 yams and ate one at the sight of every new year. The last tuber, which normally was consumed before harvest, introduces a restock of new 13 ritual yams.


But after the acceptance of Christianity, the people of Igbo land started recognizing dual week. One, still remains Izu: 4 days. The second, 7 days, is known as Izu Uka (translated literally as the Week of conversation).


Ikpari Uka means ‘to converse’; Uka simply means conversation.


In the beginning, when CMS came into the eastern region of Nigeria, their evangelism – as expected – was more of conversation with the natives. Reasoning together, which was the strategy used in converting members, is translated as ikparita Uka. The new converts who accepted the new creed and jettisoned the traditional beliefs became – as they still are – ndi Uka. And their worship houses became Ulo Uka (House of Conversation or Reasoning).


The 1st of the 7th day cycle was set aside for conversations; therefore, that day (Sunday) became Ubochi Uka (the day of conversation). And every 7 days turned into an alternative week known till this day in Igbo land as Izu Uka: the week of conversation.

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