The first thing one notices when they meet King David Ayi, is a deep sense of personal humility. It is this humility which caused him to shy away from his royal lineage after being sent to America in 1987. Despite his yearning to be left alone, destiny caught up to him. In 1994 he was crowned King of the Ayigbe people of the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Benin. The seat of this Kingdom was in Togo, although most historians confirm it started in Accra, Ghana.
“We always refrained from foods deemed forbidden in the Torah,” the Kings says with his big eyes staring at me as I listened. Circumcisions were also performed on the 8th day, in addition to upholding the Laws of Niddah and celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.”
This has been a whirlwind eight weeks for King Ayi, his sixth trip to Israel. He has dropped Christianity and embraced the religion of his forefathers. In the past he has met with Rav Kanievsky and Rav Shmuel Auerbach. This trip he garnered the support of the Beit Din (Rabbinic Court) of Bnei Brak as well as the nascent Sanhedrin.
The three times I met with King Ayi, I witnessed countless people come and speak with him, seeking confirmation that there is in fact a Jewish King from Africa. Some asked for blessings and others just wanted to feel part of something amazing.
Jews of the Gold Coast
Most Jewish history centers around Europe, North Africa, Ethiopia, and the Middle East. Most people have long disregarded Jewish Africa as a fairy tale. However, more and more information keeps surfacing to support claims that Jews were in fact partly involved with all three famous West African Empires, the Songhai, Mali, and Ghana.
More than this, there is ample evidence that many of the lost tribes as well as well as the Judean exiles that followed Jeremiah into Egypt made their way West across the Sahara and finally to the Gold Coast of Africa. This applies to the Igbo nation of Biafra in South East Nigeria and seemingly the Ayigbe people. Many of these tribes have various levels of parallel Jewish traditions and yet centuries after slave traders, colonialism, and war, have nearly erased direct traces of Israelite ancestry.
Targeted for Destruction
“The Europeans and Muslims purposely targeted our people in West Africa,” King Ayi says. “They knew what they were doing and worked together with non-Jewish tribes to not only destroy the Jewish tribes of the Gold Coast, but force our people to adopt Christianity.”
Over 60% of African Americans have Igbo blood in them. Many are descended from the Ayigbe as well. Ultimately history belongs to the conquerors. Any historical records have long been wiped out and yet echoes of the past remain. From circumcision to reverence for the Shabbat, this past is now reawakening and King Ayi wants to help nurture the homecoming, transforming himself into its standard bearer.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us. I want to bring 400 Kings and Queens from Africa to Jerusalem during Succot and scream Shema Yisrael at the Western Wall,” the King exclaims. “We want to bring Jews from all over the world and proclaim to our Father in Heaven that his children have returned!”