Ima Nzu - White Chalk

Ima Nzu (White Chalk) is a rites of hospitality in which you first present Nzu (White Chalk) to a guest to touch and smear on the wrist, to declare the purity of the heart toward the guest.

The word "Nzu" means ‘White Chalk’ and denotes "Wisdom". White chalk is used to draw sacred (Ogu/Oguama) lines on the floor, and this exercise signifies "Purity and Holiness" which is the foundation of Igbo cosmology and traditional religion. The Igbo of Nigeria believe that every man and woman has the spirit of Chineke (God) in them, and is ‘Holy’ and sacred. To this end, holiness must be maintained through the observance of Ogu. This is called Ogu Ama (Faultlessness/Sinlessness). In Egypt, this is known as "Ma’at". Whenever two or more Igbo elders meet, each takes the white chalk and draws four or eight lines on the floor, according to rank as Ozo (or non) initiate.

This act of reverence is regarded as a sacred act of offering to Life, the evidence of one’s innocence, and calling on "Ani" (Mother Earth) to witness before those gathered, that one comes with clean hands and heart to the gathering or meeting.

An Ozo initiate is called Nze or Ichie. He is a "Wise" one, a judge, a Teacher, a living ancestor, and must be pure. Nzu signifies "Wisdom" and is Igbo in culture, Cosmology and orientation.