Metro (Lesotho)

The Nigerians who want Israel to accept them as Jews

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Rocking back and forth, Shlomo BenYaakov reads from a Torah scroll at a synagogue on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja. Most do not fully understand the language, but this small Nigerian community claims Jewish ancestry dating back hundreds of years - and they are left frustrated by a lack of recognitio­n by Israel. "I consider myself a Jew," says MrYaakov. He is an Igbo - one of Nigeria's three dominant ethnic groups which originates in the south-east of the country. His given Igbo name is Nnaemezuo Maduako. Many Igbos believe they have Jewish heritage as one of the so-called 10 lost tribes of Israel, though most are not practising Jews like MrYaakov. They comprise less than 0.1% of the estimated 35 million Igbos. These tribes were said to have disappeare­d after being taken into captivity when the northern Israelite kingdom was conquered in the 8th Century BC - and the Ethiopian Jewish community, for example, is recognised as one of them.

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