Ala is a goddess of the Ibo, African people of eastern Nigeria. The daughter of the great god Chuku, she is the mother goddess of the earth, ruler of the underworld, guardian of the harvest, and goddess of fertility for both people and animals.

According to Ibo beliefs, Ala makes a child grow within its mother's womb. She remains near and watches over the child as the child grows into an adult. Later when the individual dies, Ala receives him or her into her womb, known as the pocket of Ala. The goddess is also a lawgiver who shows people how to live a good life. Her laws emphasize moral values such as honesty.

Throughout the Ibo region, Ala is worshiped in large square houses with open sides. These structures, called Mbari, contain life-sized mud figures of the goddess painted in bright colors. Usually, Ala is surrounded by sculptures representing other deities, animals, and humans.

underworld land of the dead

deity god or goddess

According to Ibo tradition, Ala sends a sign such as a snake or a bee's nest to tell her priests where to build a Mbari. Groups of men and women work together to assemble and decorate the structure. Construction can take years and is considered a sacred act. However, once built, the Mbari houses are left alone to decay For this reason, new houses must continually be produced, which ensures that the Mbari tradition will be carried on by younger members of the group.

See also African Mythology .

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