Wednesday, 4 July 2012

igbo people and culture

Where the Igbos migrated from has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The ancestry of the Igbos has bothered many people for a long time. Many historians, philosophers, sociologists, archaeologists and anthropologists have raised a lot of dust on this issue. A lot of views have been proffered but yet the origin of the Igbos remained a mirage.
Suffice it to say that the Igbos have found themselves in Nigeria and indeed they are Nigerians like every other tribe. This tend to support the claim of an elderly Mbaise man from Imo State of Nigeria, whose name remain anonymous, in a book by Dr. Elizabeth Isichei titled “History of the Igbo People”. The elderly Mbaise man maintained that the Igbos did not come from anywhere. But the fact remains that the Igbos must come from somewhere beyond the limited knowledge of the Mbaise elder. Another claim seek to establish that the ancestors of the Igbos originated from the area they inhabit, presently known as Awka-Okigwe. Hence, the communities known as Umu-Nri regard themselves as the descendants of a hero called Eri, who along with his wife, Nnamaku, was sent down from the sky by Chukwu, the Igbo supreme God. While another version said that Igboland is the home of the Igbo people and it covers most of Southeast Nigeria. This area is divided by the Niger River into two unequal sections – the eastern region (is the which largest) and the midwestern region. The river, however, has not acted as a barrier to cultural unity; rather it has provided an easy means of communication in an area where many settlements claim different origins. The Igbos are also surrounded on all sides by other tribes (the Bini, Warri, Ijaw, Ogoni, Igala, Tiv, Yako and Ibibio).
The origins of the Igbo people has been the subject of much speculation, and it is only in the last fifty years that any real work has been carried out in this subject: any group of people, they are anxious to discover their origin and reconstruct how they came to be how they are. ...their experiences under colonialsim and since Nigeria’s Independence have emphasized for them the reality of their group identity which they want to anchor into authenticated history. (Afigbo, A.E.. ‘Prolegomena to the study of the culture history of the Igbo-Speaking Peoples of Nigeria’, Igbo Language and Culture, Oxford University Press, 1975. 28.)
Analysis of the sources that are available (fragmentary oral traditions and correlation of cultural traits) have led to the belief that there exists a core area of Igboland, and that waves of immigrant communities from the north and west planted themselves on the border of this core area as early as the ninth century. This core area – Owerri, Orlu and Okigwi – forms a belt, and the people in this area have no tradition of coming from anywhere else. 
Igbo culture (Igbo: Omenala ndi Igbo) are the customs, practices and traditions of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. It comprises archaic practices as well as new concepts added into the Igbo culture either by cultural evolution or by outside influence. These customs and traditions include the Igbo people's visual art, music and dance forms, as well as their attire, cuisine and language dialects. Because of their various subgroups, the variety of their culture is heightened further.      

The Igbo people have a melodic and symphonic musical style, into which they incorporate various percussion instruments: the udu, is essentially designed from a clay jug; an ekwe, which is formed from a hollowed log; and the ogene, a hand bell designed from forged iron. Other instruments include opi, a wind instrument similar to the flute,igba, and ichaka.MUSIC
Igbo Art is known for various types of masquerade, masks and outfits symbolising people animals or abstract conceptions. Igbo art is also known for
its bronze castings found in the town of Igbo Ukwu from the 9th century.[2] Igbo art is any body of visual art originating from the people of the Igbo.
Alusi, also known as Arusi or Arushi, are minor deities that are worshiped and served in Igbo mythology. There are a list of many different Alusi and each has its own purpose. When there is no longer need for the deity it is discarded.
The yam is very important to the Igbo as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iwaji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam.
The New Yam festival (Igbo: Iwa ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop.
Traditionally, the attire of the Igbo generally consisted of little clothing as the purpose of clothing then was to conceal private parts, although elders were fully clothed. Children were usually nude from birth till their adolescence (the time when they were considered to have something to hide) but sometimes ornaments such as beads were worn around the waist for medical reasons. Uli body art was also used to decorate both men and women in the form of lines forming patterns and shapes on the body.


Women carried their babies on their backs with a strip of clothing binding the two with a knot at her chest. This baby carrying technique was and still is practiced by many people groups across Africa along with the Igbo who still carry their babies this way. This method has been modernized in the form of the child carrier. In most cases Igbo women did not cover their Bobbie areas. Maidens usually wore a short wrapper with beads around their waist with other ornaments such as necklaces and beads. Both men and women wore wrappers.


Males would wear loin cloths that wrapped around their waist and between their legs to be fastened at their back, the type of clothing appropriate for the intense heat as well as jobs such as farming. Men could also tie a wrapper over their loin cloth.
Highly accomplished men and women are admitted into orders for people of title such as Ndi Ozo or Ndi Nze. Such individuals receive certain insignia to show their stature. Membership in these orders is highly exclusive, and to qualify an individual needs more than mere material accomplishment or gallantry. They need to be highly regarded and well-spoken of in the community, and most importantly, they must be a person of the greatest integrity, truthfulness and sanity.
Before the rise of Christianity in Igboland during the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Igbo considered the birth of twins (and other multiple births), like neighboring groups such as the Ibibio, as against nature and inherently evil. Multiple births were believed to be only what animals should produce, and humans were believed to be meant for single births.The reason behind this belief may have been that, because it was a rare occurence, it was considered wrong.
The community generally killed twins by abandonment in the community's evil forest, or by direct attack. After the birth, the mother of the twins went through cleansing rituals to purify her from the birth. This practice has ended.
Kingship Organization
An Igbo offspring is a product of his father's lineage and therefore the chi is patrilineal in outlook.
When one attains the age of puberty, then one is introduced to both the mother's mother's lineage and the father's father's lineage. When one marries, his wife's lineage plays a very important social role for his children. In fact, in the entire society of Igbo people, there exists a series of Agnatic groups. For inheritance and succession, a person takes the lawful right property from the lineage of his father.
Kola-Nut -- Symbol of Hospitality
At any village function, the titled man or a village head is presented with kola-nuts, which play a very important social and ritual role in the Igbo culture. The kola-nuts are the highest symbol of Igbo hospitality. Whenever a kola-nut appeared in a gathering, the matter to be discussed at that particular time was regarded as very vital. The offering of drinks, food and meat are not regarded so important in Igbo culture as the offering of kola-nuts. When an important guest visits the community, kola-nuts are brought out and handed to the elder person or the priest. This symbol of Igbo hospitality has three steps and anyone who fails to follow these steps is penalized by the village elders.
  1. The first step is the presentation of the kola-nuts
  2. The second is the breaking of the kola.
  3. The third is the distribution of the kola-nuts.
Igbo Marriages
Marriage in Igbo land is an arrangement which enables individuals (man/woman) to live together and cooperate in an orderly social life. A marriage in Igbo land or any African country goes beyond sexual union. "The type of family organization is the extended family.
Ohu/Domestic Slaves
The Ohu status originated in the early period in Nigeria. The great demand for laborers on European plantations in the Americas led to the development of an immensely profitable export of slaves. The slaves were traded mainly on the coast of the Niger River. Slaves were regarded also as subordinate to the Diala in this society, but they could marry the Diala (free-born) children. This was a kind of slavery already established in Africa. It was forced service within the African tribal or state system. Men captured in war were forced into what may be called "domestic slavery," that is, they became the servants of those who captured them.
  • The ingredients consisted of four wrappings of slightly fermented oil beans locally called "Ugba" or Ukpaka.
  • A cigarette cup of fresh local salad fruit known as anara seeds
  • About two small bundles of local salad leaves "leaves of solanium family
  • Two cigarette cups of sliced and dehydrated cassava locally known as achi or abacha, or jikpu or nsisa, a pinch of potash
  • Four table-spoons of palm oil, salt to test, three table spoons full of water
  • Half a cigarette cup of dehydrated and powdered shrimp or lobsters, and a teaspoon of powdered pepper
  • Wash the local salad fruits and leaves thoroughly in luke-warm water containing a pitch of salt or few drops of milton, drain in a colander also wash the sliced dehydrated cassava achi and leaf in a colander to drain a get soft, slice the drained fruits and leaves to reasonable sizes, roast the oil bean wrappings in open fire for about five minutes, grind the pepper and potash to be mortar done, add desired level of water and oil to the mortar powdered products while stirring vigorously with the addition so as to produce a nice, smooth mixture of orange color stuff called ncha add salt to taste. Put the sliced cassava, sliced local salad leaves and fruits, roasted oil beans, and powdered shrimps to the ncha, mix thoroughly to get the finger licking, saliva-watering, anti-kwashiokor Biafran salad.
Birth, marriage and burial are considered the three most important family events in most cultures, and Igboland is not an exception to that.
It is common to get invited to a traditional marriage (Igbankwu) and certainly worth witnessing one. Marriage in Igboland is not just an affair between the future husband and wife but also involves the parents, the extended family and villages. First the groom asks his potential partner to marry him. Assuming that this is affirmative, the groom will visit the bride’s residence accompanied by his father. The groom’s father will introduce himself and his son and explain the purpose of his visit.

The bride’s father welcomes the guests, invites his daughter to come and asks her if she knows the groom. Her confirmation shows that she agrees with the proposal. Then the bride’s price settlement (Ika-Akalika) starts with the groom accompanied by his father and elders visiting the bride’s compound on another evening.
Months (nwa)
Gregorian equivalent
nwa Mb
(3rd week of February)
nwa Aba
nwa Ife Eke
nwa An
nwa Agw
nwa Ifejik
nwa Alm Chi
(August to early September)
nwa Ilo Mmụọ
(Late September)
nwa Ana
nwa Okike
(Early November)
nwa Ajana
(Late November)
nwa Ede Ajana
(Late November to December)
nwa z Als
(January to Early February)
An example of a month: nwa Mb

Naming after market days

Newborn babies were sometimes named after the day of the week when born. This is no longer the fashion. Names such as Mgbeke (maiden [born] on the day of Eke), Mgborie (maiden [born] on the Orie day) are commonly seen among the Igbo people. For males, Mgbe is replaced by Nwa or "Okoro" (Igbo: Child [of]). Examples of this are Solomon Okoronkwo and Nwankwo Kanu, two popular footballers.
There are two basic types of masquerades, visible and invisible. The visible masquerades are meant for the public. They often are more entertaining. Masks used offer a visually appeal for their shapes and forms. In these visual masquerades, performances of harassment, music, dance, and parodies are acted out .the invisible masquerades take place at night. Sound is the main tool for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment