In IGBO, the word “Eke” is pregnant with meaning.   In Igbo cosmology, Eke means:

  • Fire
  • East
  • A market day

But in every day language it also means “division” and “creation.”   When you begin to ask yourself, what is it that all of these have in common, you start to look deeper at natural phenomena that exist in nature. Fundamental forces and laws of nature. And you quickly find that these definitions tell a story about how things are.To create does not exist, but transmutation is the only “creation,” and that happens through divison/subtraction. Matter is neither created nor destroyed. There is nothing new under the sun. However, everything changes from one form to another.  

Eke is one of the fundamental truths of our existence. In Igbo to kee ihe is to slice and divide, distribute or partition something.   Eke can also mean “fate,” as in eke chi which is your destiny assigned from birth.   CHI and EKE are inextricably linked in IGBO cosmology. Chi is eternality. Chi is the part of an entity that was before the things was created; that which brought the entity into being, and that which remains of the entity once it’s earthbound form has undergone any form of transmutation. CHI is intangible and difficult to describe which is why people say things like it is a “personal god.” However, speaking of “gods” is such a spiritual matter that it hardly leaves room for science and critical thinking.   CHI is more than a “god.” CHI is tied to the very nature of how this world works, and because EKE is it’s complement/corollary, CHI NA EKE is encompasses a fundamental law of nature. That law of nature has been stated by Antoine Lavoisier in 1785 when he wrote down that matter is neither created nor destroyed. This he called The Law of Conservation of Mass. Igbos call it CHI na EKE.   Where Antoine Lavoisier’s “law” differs from the Igbo understanding is that Mr. Lavoisier confines his law to a discussion about the visable realm without considering any thoughts about the nature of that which he sees. Western Science never asks the question “why?” It just takes measurements, calculates averages and engages in acts of transmutation without spending too much time on overarching consequences.   Einstein died with a pen in his hands trying to figure out the universal theory of everything. Concepts like CHI na EKE. May be a direction worth exploring to come close to the answer to this problem that has stumped scientists til this very day. If we are able to acknowledge the existence of this CHI, and find a way to use observable concepts to understand and measure this CHI, we can apply scientific concepts to the nature of existence.


In IGBO cosmology, Eke is one of the four fundamental elements. Out of the four: Earth, fire, air & water, Eke is fire. But, of the four, why was Eke used to denote fire?   Fire is arguably, THE MOST important element in creation.   Any transmutation requires heat.   Whenever anything divides or joins it gives off heat. Every physics equation, every engineered technology accounts for energy given off (or “lost”) via heat.   Fire is also used in molding metals, blending chemicals or even spearating chemicals in chemistry experiments.   Every engine or electric circuit gives off heat as part of the mechanics of how it operates.   As we said, matter is neither created nor destroyed, but transmuted. Therefore, to apply or give off heat is a telltale sign of a transmutation process occurring.   Mitosis and meiosis are two ways to describe cell division. Cell division is a fundamental law of life. It is what allows human beings and animals to reproduce and multiply.   But in order for cells to divide in your body, there must be heat. Therefore, your body has to be at the right temperature at all times. 98-degrees Farenheit. Your body stays at this warm temperature to allow for the cells to have just the right amount of heat to divide and transmutate and change form in all the ways you need to survive.   So, Eke is an important concept in IGBO cosmology. It really says alot. It is an entire science lesson unto itself.  

I strongly encourage IGBO scientists all over the world, no matter what nation or language you study your sciences in, to learn about these fundamental forces and principles of IGBO cosmology and add to the body of work, because that is what will keep IGBO alive for generations to come. May it not be said of us that we neglected our culture and abandoned our identity, because that is where our hope lies.