To the modern-day Igbo person, Ekwensu is believed to be the Christian Satan, but in the Igbo cosmology, it’s not so and was never so.
The Igbos, natively called NDI IGBO, are the ethnic group that occupies the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria. They are among the largest ethnic groups in Africa and one of the significant three ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The Igbos have Chineke, Chukwu, chi-okike, or Chukwu okike as the almighty God and have other gods called Alusi or Alushi. This Alusis are worshiped differently as they have different purposes and functions. Like the famous Amadioha, Ekwensu, Ikenga, and others. Each major Alusi has its shrine and its chief priests, assisted by a group of acolytes and devotees.
Ekwensu has been misrepresented since the coming of the western missionaries who, in a bit to find a god equivalent to what the Abrahamic’s Satan represents, used Ekwensu because they shared characters. The Igbo tradition does not have and believes in hell, so no god was equivalent to what Satan stands for. Chukwu okike was thought to be all-powerful and all-knowing, and there was no other god that dared him. There’s the devil in the Christian religion, and there’s Ekwensu in the Igbo traditional belief. They are two different entities. Ekwensu’s companion was death.
In the Igbo tradition, there are just gods that possess different degrees of power, and Ekwensu was one of them.
Ekwensu in the Igbo cosmology was known to be a god of bargains and craftiness and a god of war.
Ekwensu is God of craftiness and bargains. A god, the Igbos, invoke when they are on a problematic mercantile mission when there’s a need for a cunning initiative to outsmart the opponent in the bargaining field. He was highly crafty when it comes to negotiations; Hence he was a Trickster.
Ekwensu was the testing force of Chukwu, which made him possess a chaotic nature, his aggressiveness was the reason he was being invoked during wars, just like the Greek God of war. He was perceived to have conquered and rules over the wicked spirits. He is also understood to be the spirit of violence, which incites people to perform violent acts, but he was not the chief of evil.
In the days, Ekwensu was used in some Igbo towns as a praise name for someone who has achieved and conquered. Just like people are being hailed Agu. But we can’t say the same for these days.
Now, the communities that bore the name have undergone name changes, and nobody would want to answer the name anymore due to western colonization.
Ekwensu has gone from being loved to being the most hated and the most insulting deity, due to colonialism.
Chinua Achebe once said, ” until the lions have their historians, the history of the hunts will always glorify the hunter.”