How to Write Your Name in Nsibidi?

If you’re interested in using Nsibidi to write your name or any other written content for purposes such as tattoos, branding, T-shirt designs etc, this article will help you find the best approach to achieve your goal.

What is Nsibidi/Nsibiri? 

Nsibidi is an ancient writing system that has been in use for centuries in Southeastern Nigeria by the indigenous peoples, such as the Ejagham, Ibibio-Efik, and Igbo. Its origins can be traced back to around 400 AD, although some believe it’s even older.

Nsibidi is an ideographic script, which means it represents meanings using characters rather than having an alphabet where letters represent phonetic sounds. In this aspect it is similar to writing systems like Chinese.

Nsibidi

Chinese

Akagu: The Phonetic Version of Nsibidi 

In 2010, Chidikaobi Nwabuani, the esteemed founder of Ukpuru, developed a phonetic version of Nsibidi called Akagu. This development was based on extensive research and documentation of historical records of Nsibidi used by Igbo people and their southeastern Nigerian neighbours. Akagu is now used alongside Nsibidi to help phonologically represent Igbo words. Detailed instructions on using Akagu to write can be found in the document below.

Akagu can be used to write English names like Sarah.

Translating Traditional Names 

In Igbo, names have meanings, and Nsibidi provides a unique way to symbolically represent these meanings. For example, the traditional Igbo name “Ijeoma,” meaning “good journey,” can be accurately represented using historic Nsibidi characters associated with the words “Ije” (journey) and “Oma” (good). Here are a few examples of translations for some traditional Igbo names.

Ije

Oma

The Importance of Grammar and Linguistic Expertise 

While the documents shared in this article provide an overview of how to use the modern versions of Nsibidi and Akagu, it’s important to remember that this is a writing system with rules and structure. Learning it sufficiently to write correctly can’t be achieved in a single instance. Due to this, it is advisable to seek assistance from individuals who are well-versed in this writing system to ensure accurate and meaningful translations.

Eze: The Nsibidi Expert 

Eze, a specialist in Nsibidi translations, has extensive experience working with the online Igbo dictionary, Nkowa Okwu. He offers reliable translation services for those seeking accurate representations of their names, ensuring they align with the rich cultural significance of Nsibidi and your specific request. While a small fee applies, Eze’s expertise guarantees proper translations. [J.a.williams8311@gmail.com].

Names$1 per name
Longer TextsContact Eze for more information.

Resources 

This 2012 document by Chidikaobi Nwabuani provides a detailed overview of the modern version of Nsibidi symbols and serves as a valuable resource for further exploration and understanding of the system. (Note: there may be later versions available). 

See full list of resources here.

Nkowa Okwu

Nkowa Okwu’s website allows users to input individual name parts to obtain accurate Nsibidi translations. For example, if your name is Uche, which means “mind,” you can type it in on Nkowa Okwu to see the corresponding Nsibidi representation. However, for more complex names or in-depth assistance, consulting Eze is highly recommended.



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