Leopard 🐆 is Agu in Igbo and not lion. The Igbo Bible translation is very much on point about this.
The recent argument on whether lion should be Agu and not Leopard might have a minimal reason to ponder but at the end, Igbo name for leopard is as clear as the day. Leopard is Agu in Igbo. Let’s consider below –
Igbos is a vast language, I really don’t understand it when people say Igbo as a language is severally lacking. Igbo is a super language that is almost perfect. There’s nothing obtainable in Igbo land and the surroundings that does not have Igbo name the problem is that we are confusing Igbo language with recently introduced (foreign) things.
Leopard is definitely Agu, and nothing is confusing about it. Igbo have a clear pattern of naming animals that look similar but are slightly different.
Leopard = Agu.
Cheetah =Agu Awara.
Tiger = Agu Owulu.
Lion = Odum.
Form the above names, Leopard has been a familiar animal throughout Igbo land from time immemorial, according to animal discovery Channel, leopard is said to have a very old base which is a sort of origin point at West Africa, whose natural habitat is tropical rainforest.
Ancient Igbo folklores are built on two animals – Agu (Leopard) for its strength and charisma and mbe (tortoise) for its wisdom and cunning.
Leopard is clearly described in Igbo folklore as a strong animal with spots on its skin, aggressive and charismatic. Agu is said to be the king of animals but here comes the question that opposes the view – can Agu (leopard) be the king of animals and the strongest in presence of Lion (odum)?
Seems unlikely! Leopard has no chance in a combat against a lion.
Now, here is a point to ponder. Did a typical thousands years ago Igbo know what Lion is? Did they come in contact with the beast?
In most Igbo towns and communities including Awka which is said to be among the oldest Igbo towns, leopard is still recognized as the King of animals. Whoever kills Agu is regarded as a great hunter with a title – Ogbu Agu (the killer of leopard).
To hit the nail at the head, it is likely that lion (odum) is not recognized in ancient Igbo folklore because our people never came in contact with it.
Odum as a name might not be over 200 years old while Agu is clearly thousands of years.
Leopard skin has been existing in Igboland ages ago, they still exist today and one thing is clear – they have spots.
Lion cannot be Agu because lion does not have spots.
Cheetah is called Agu Awara because it looks like a leopard (Agu) and has outstanding speed (awara = speed) remember what I said earlier about Igbo naming of similar animals. Cheetah seems a new animal to Igbo.
Agu Owuru (tiger?) also have spots like leopard but is much bigger and stronger. Tiger is also a new animal to Igbo.
Lion (odum) seems not that popular like leopard because ancient Igbo might not be aware of the existence, this is the only reason why leopard will be named the king of animals instead of lion.
This is my view on this.