Rainmaking in the Igbo Cultural Technology. VOL. 6, NO. 12

Rainmaking represents the sacred relationship between humans and the Divine. Rain is viewed as a sacred and phenomenal gift from God, the most explicit expression of God’s goodness, providence and love… Rainmakers represent the people’s contact with the blessings of time and eternity, a link between humans and the Divine. The rainmakers do not rely exclusively on their spiritual powers; they are well versed in weather and environmental matters and may spend long periods of apprenticeship acquiring their knowledge. The ancient art of rainmaking was once practiced all around the world. One very salient point about these rainmakers, is that there seems to be a kind of spiritual connection they create with their immediate environment when they want to make or mar rainfalls. Some believe that there is extraordinary sacred connection indigenous people have with the land. That intuitive understanding and knowing about life, which gives them knowledge of where water is, weather patterns, animal behavior, and the messages nature is giving them.”

In Igbo culture, the rainmakers are considered to be rainmaking priests and priestesses, and some Igbo tribes even have rainmaking clans. These groups in many occasions do conduct rituals. From inquiries, there are various ways through which the art of rainmaking is conducted in Igbo land. This might be different from what obtains in other places and cultures.
The tradition for evoking rain in some parts of Igbo land involves a ritual dance. These dances are passed down by an oral tradition. The rain dance is performed to bring rain and growth to the land and the crops. When the land is dry and rain is needed for the plants, they dance and play instruments so they can wake up the god of fertility and rain. Also, in some areas, the native ways of influencing the whether for rain involves the use of leaves, shrubs, and herbs. An anonymous rainmaker who refused to mention the leaves and shrubs used in clearing the weather said he could rig a thunderstorm out of a desert but he does not do it for a fee as it is against the interest of his gods insisting that he only does it to benefit his people.”
Another rain-maker who denounced a mention of his name, said that “once he enters the bush and plucks some special leaves, stems and roots of plants, shrubs and grasses, he will combine and set them into flames, and as soon as the smoke moves to the sky, the rain will start to fall.” A graduate of Geography from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, once said that “the modern method uses a kind of stone called crystal stone.” According to him, “the stone is washed and as soon as the stone starts glazing, the sky starts changing and soon rain starts.” He added that “the method is dangerous because it often attracts heavy thunderstorm.” In Ekwulumili, Anambra State, it was also discovered that rainmakers use stone especially mkpume onu (A special kind of stone) to make rain.” And, in Nsukka area, some rainmakers claim to have inherited the art of rainmaking from their ancestors. In fact, one rainmaker says they use a certain type of plate with some quantity of sand, little water, and cola nut which they would put at a strategic place, and at a given time in the morning; and on such day there would be rain. From our inquiries, Some rain stoppers, say if they weep under the rain, the rain stops. There are those who say they keep chanting incantations, rain will never stop.
From the above explanations, one thing persists namely, rainmaking involves man’s relationship with his environment-both the material and the immaterial components. In one wing, the rainmakers as we saw above, report on how they use plants, animals, stones and other material species of the environment to arrive at their rainmaking technology. On the other wing of the art, we still observe the invocations, incantations, sacrifices and other ritual demonstrations which connect them to the powers unseen, the immaterial beings that aid in rainmaking technology. This justifies the expediency on the discovery the Igbos make about the intrinsic values in environmental species that assist them in manipulating the weather by the combination of these uncommon species designed for the purpose of rainmaking. The underlying element here, is that the intrinsic values in environmental species assist the Igbo cultural technologies especially that of rainmaking. But the very confusing aspect of rain making is the act of spiritual invocation. For instance, that by mere ritual dancing and incantations, there will be rainfall
In as much as one gets thrilled by the art of rainmaking in Igbo culture, there are much left to settle a curious observer. The selfishness of this art, ranging from the clandestine nature of the rainmakers to the family claims of the art, makes it impossible for a thorough investigation that can make the art more scientific. The testimony of a single individual or a single family or clan in such a salient art, is not sufficient for any serious enterprise. It becomes unfortunate then to see some of those who possess these powers, go into extinction without a single document to hand over to the succeeding generations. This lack of documentation has crippled so many claims about rainmaking in Igbo cultural technology. In defense of their selfish attitudes, most of these rainmakers claim that the gift is inherited from their ancestors and as such are not sharable. In their conclusions, they insist that even if they disclose the art to one who shares no lineage with them, it cannot function fruitfully. While this seems true in some cases, it is not true in all cases especially in such cases where an individual who is alien to a particular clan that claims to have the gift of rainmaking goes into apprenticeship of the art of rainmaking.
Also, it was established that animals, plants, stones etc (which are natural beings), are instrumental to the success of rainmaking in Igbo culture. One may then be moved to ask whether these natural beings were created to be of instrumental value to some people and not for all in the same environment. It beats the imagination that when one person handles a stone or a leaf, lightening and rain will come, but the other will do same but call down neither lightening nor rain. Are there more than meets the eye in the practice, or is nature partial in sharing value to the inhabitants of the same environment?
In another sense, though the Igbos manifest a strong link with their ancestors and respect them in spite of their invisible status, it disturbs any reasonable mind on why the gods, the ancestors, and the deities must be consulted in the art of rainmaking when testimonies abound that a technical correlation of some leaves or roots can cause rain to either fall or not to fall. Why must there be sacrifices for what does not call for it? In Igbo land, it could be observed that people attach so much idol worshipping to rainmaking. To make or to stop rain, one would not need to be ritualistic or to be diabolic…. Anything that precipitates the clouds would certainly make the rain; and anything that disperses the clouds would certainly stop the rain.” However, it is pertinent to mention that people use different methods to make rain. Some people use leaves to make rain. Some other people use incantations. Some others use prayers.Therefore, it must not count as much necessity to offer a lot of sacrifices during the art of rainmaking. The gullible rainmakers use such media to extort money from their clients.
My resolutions. God has actually blessed our people but we have refused to explore these gifts generously. Worse still, out of ignorance, we attribute these realities to the gods. The westerners have been able to establish that artificial precipitation is possible based on cloud different physical properties, by using airplane or rockets to sow to the clouds with catalysts such as dry ice, silver iodine and salt powder to make clouds rain or increase precipitation. And these processes are well documented for future generations. Now look at the agony, as the Igbos cause artificial rain against those who did not invite or pay homage to them for a particular celebration, the west does theirs in order to remove or mitigate farmland drought, to increase reservoir irrigation or water supply capacity, or to increase water levels for power generations so as to enjoy 24hours power supply or even to solve the global warming problem. Therefore, as long as our people continue to ignorantly attribute the cause of rain to unrealistic mythical powers, Christians are discouraged to partner with them. Let us continue to faithfully pray God to grant us a good weather, peaceful and prosperous celebrations in all our activities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.