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The Igbos (Ibos): Our Journey So Far Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Pedus, Australia May 14, 2007
Media , Culture , Human Rights   Opinions
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The Igbos (Ibos): Our Journey So Far The Igbo (Ibo) Culture: Our Journey So Far.

The Igbo tribe in Nigeria is, no doubt, one of the most dynamic tribes in the African continent. Unfortunately, little is known about this tribe beyond the shores of Nigeria, and one of the reasons is the cultural evolution that has taken place in the last half century in Igboland. At the heart of this trend is the westernization of Igbo ideologies and subsequent Anglicization of Igbo culture without regards to Igbo sensibilities, including the Igbo language. Like other tribes in Nigeria, the most populous black nation, both the language spoken by the people and the people themselves is referred to as “Igbo” which is often anglicised as “Ibo”.

The Igbo’s are geographically found in the South-eastern Nigeria, and through history have dispersed to some areas in the middle belt bordering Enugu State as evident in the linguistic relevance of some of the local dialects to Igbo. The Igbos over time have sustained a culture that could be broadly described as African or Nigerian but uniquely Igbo. This is evident in the language they speak, the way they dress, eat, dance, trade, worship or organise themselves.

There is little research and fragmented documentation of the origin of Igbo people. However, there is an increasing believe that the Igbos were black Jews who prior to the 9th century migrated out of the middle east through Egypt into Sudan and ultimately into Nigeria’s east through the North. The central Igboland is around Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe areas of Imo and Abia States and form the core of Igbo tribe, prior to further migration that saw the Igbos dotted around the coast and hinterland. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to have made contact with the Igbos, then the Dutch and finally the English. Local produce such as palm products, ivory and timber supported the slave trade, and after the abolition of slave trade, the British enhanced their imperialistic ideology by expanding from the coast to the hinterland for whatever resource they could scavenge upon to the detriment of the Igbos. This was not without resistance by Igbo elders and warriors. But eventually, the British prevailed with more sophisticated weaponry, and in 1914, amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria, a decision that has already led to a war in Nigeria in 1967 and poised to cause increasing rift between the North and South of Nigeria. This is due to our cultural incompatibility.

Linguistically speaking, the Igbos speak Igbo or Ibo as used by some people. In Igbo discussions, a lot of adages, idiomatic expressions and proverbs are employed to give words the appropriate weight, and to convey the relevance of the spirit of the ancestors as epitomised in the classic works of eminent African author of Igbo extraction, Chinua Achebe in his novels, particularly Things Fall Apart. In Igboland, a single word may have numerous meanings and identifiably, some English words don’t have literal Igbo translations. As Igbos have become increasingly educated both at home and in western countries, the sustainability of the language is increasingly jeopardised by an urge to be viewed as “different” by the amount of Igbo words displaced with English, even in local village meetings.

However, as in many African cultures, daily living in Igboland is communal and every child belongs to the community not just his or her parents, given credence to the widely acclaimed African adage, “It takes a village to raise a child”. The Igbos have historically shared collective hopes, dreams and aspirations. As seen in the demographic enclave called kindreds, Igbos generally lend a helping hand to one another. While there have always been exemptions to this norm, the Igbo culture emphasises community, responsibility, responsiveness and industry.

The Igbos also have strong religious convictions as evident is the number of churches dotted across Igboland. More than three-quarters of Igbo people are Christians with the remaining worshiping God in the traditional/spiritual context with an almost insignificant number practising Islam. The Igbos generally believe in higher powers and though it is believed there is a supreme God, Chukwu, their polytheism is reflected in the dichotomy of how this Chukwu should be worshipped. For traditional Igbo spiritualists/traditional worshippers, there is reincarnation, a position shared by a large number of Christians. Death in the context of reincarnation is seen as a transition that gives rise to a new life when an individual is reborn, an argument that has widespread acceptance.

Prior to the incursion of imperialists in the 16th century, the Igbos were known to have had a strong socio-political and economic structure that focused on Agriculture and enhanced polygamy. Religion dictated politics and the extended family system was well and thrived. Continuity of lineage was and remains along a patrimonial line. Established traditional structures, including Igbo jurisprudence evolved out of Igbo experiences and circumstances. And the traditional head of the village or town, the “Eze” or “Obi’ has to be born into a royal lineage. The traditional ruler with his council of chiefs ruled within Igbo jurisprudence.

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I was born in Nigeria and was educated in Nigeria, USA and Australia. I am the founder and president of Christina-Mae Recruitment Consortium Australia and the author of the book "When Things Go Wrong: Concepts of Change". I am also the co-founder of Child Aid Survival and Development International (CASDI). As a freelance journalist, I have contributed to a number of professional journals and newspapers, as well as worked in a number of e-journalism projects. I have traveled extensively and currently call Australia and the USA home with extensive involvement in African Human Rights issues.

Malek Qtaish | May 30th, 2007
I Just red about female circumcision in u article Its true some muslims do that but it hasnt to do with the sunna muslim school . or at least I think so propobly an other school . sunnis actually focus on things the prophet mohammed said peace on hem and I dont think female circumcision is some thing he mentiond .

umeche, chinedum ikenna | Jun 4th, 2007
wonderful piece umeche chinedum

Henry Ekwuruke | Jun 15th, 2007
I appreciate ur insight in helping us understand more. I appreciate! Thanks bro. Ndewo.

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