The Igbo People are a meta-ethnicity native to the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria and also Equatorial Guinea, they are generally referred to as (Ndi-Igbo) meaning the Igbo People.
Before European colonization, the Igbo were not united as a single people but lived in autonomous local communities. By the mid-20th century, however, a sense of ethnic identity was strongly developed, and the Igbo-dominated Eastern region of Nigeria tried to unilaterally secede from Nigeria in 1967 as the independent nation of Biafra. By the turn of the 21st century, the Igbo numbered some 20 million which have significantly increased over the decades to about 42 million people according to the CIA World Factbook which puts the Igbo population of Nigeria at 24%.
The Igbo People Are Travellers:
After the Nigerian Civil War, many Igbo people emigrated out of the indigenous Igbo homeland in southeastern Nigeria due to an absence of federal presence, lack of jobs, and poor infrastructure.
In recent decades the Igbo region of Nigeria has suffered from frequent environmental damage mainly related to the oil industry.
Igbo people have moved to both Nigerian cities such as Lagos and Abuja, and other countries such as Gabon, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Prominent Igbo communities outside Africa include those of London in the United Kingdom and Houston, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. in the United States
The Igbo Language:
The Igbo language is a part of the Niger-Congo language family. It is divided into numerous regional dialects, and somewhat mutually intelligible with the larger “Igboid” cluster.
Furthermore, the Igbo language was used by John Goldsmith as an example to justify deviating from the classical linear model of phonology as laid out in The Sound Pattern of English.
It is written in the Roman script as well as the Nsibidi formalized ideograms, which is used by the Ekpe society and Okonko fraternity, but is no longer widely used.
The Igbo People Culture And Traditions:
According to everculture.com, the traditional Igbo religion reverences Ala or Ana; the earth goddess. Traditionally they also worship other male and female deities, spirits and ancestors.
They believe that these gods protect the living. The traditional Igbo seek oracles to know the will of the gods. The deity Ala/Ana captures the political and religious aspects of the Igbo society by blending space, custom, and ethics (Omenala).
In the Igbo people religious practice:, There are two different kinds of priests; the hereditary lineage priests and the priest chosen by the gods.
The Ofo: is a symbol of authority, truth and justice and priests empowered with this can interpret the will of the gods. The gods favour devotees and punish offenders.
Life In Continuity: Both the unborn, the living and the dead are part of a continuum. Ancestors who are enshrined are those who lived appealing lives and died in a manner accepted by the Igbo nation.
It is believed that these ancestors continue their lives in the world of the dead; a place that mirrors the world of the living. Tribute is paid to the ancestors through sacrifice offering.
Children who die and come back again are called Ogbanje in the Igbo culture. It is believed that these children come back through the same mother time and time again.
Ogbanjes are believed to be spirits, who come into the world, but because of a promise made with their spirit peers, they have to go back; as a result, they do not stay long in the world.
When a woman keeps losing her newborn, her husband will try to find out if it is an ogbanje child that is coming and going. A distinctive mark is put on the corpse to know if the child comes back again.
The Yam Festival:
The yam is very important to the Igbo people as the staple crop. It is known for its resiliency (a yam can remain fully edible for six months without refrigeration), but it can also be very versatile in terms of its incorporation into different dishes.
Yams can be fried, roasted, boiled, or made into a potage with tomatoes and herbs.
The cultivation of yams is most commonly carried out by the men while women tend to focus on other crops.
There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iwaji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. During the festival, yam is eaten throughout the communities as a celebration. Yam tubers are shown off by individuals as a sign of success and wealth.
Rice has replaced yam for many ceremonial occasions. Other indigenous foods include cassava, garri, maize and plantains.
Soups or stews are included in a typical meal, prepared with a vegetable (such as okra, of which the word derives from the Igbo language, Okwuru to which pieces of fish, chicken, beef, or goat meat are added.
Jollof rice is popular throughout West Africa and Palm wine is a popular alcoholic traditional beverage.
The Igbo People And Kola-Nut:
The Igbos believe that “kola is life”, kola symbolizes peace. This is why an Igbo man would welcome you with kola nuts when you visit his home, saying “onye wetere oji, wetere udo”, which translates to “he who brings kola, brings peace.
Kola with one cotyledon is a dumb kola or Ọjị ogbu. It is called ọjị mmụọ, that is, kola of the spirits. It is not eaten. Kola with two cotyledons is equally a dumb kola and it is not eaten.
This is the main reason why the Igbo do not use the gworo or cola nitida for rituals or in serious traditional celebrations. Kola with three cotyledons is called ọjị ike, ọjị ikenga, that is, kola of the valiant. Only warriors or brave men and consecrated or ordained persons are permitted to eat this kola, as a matter of principle.
Kola with four cotyledons is called “ọjị udo na ngọzi”, that is, “kola of peace and blessing”. It is the normal kola. The number four is very sacred among the lgbo.
Kola with five cotyledons is “ọjị ụbara mmadụ, ọmụmụ na ụkwụọma that symbolizes increase in procreation, protection and good luck.
Kola with six cotyledons indicates communion with the ancestors, that is, “ọjị ndi mmụo na ndi mmadụ jiri gbaa ndụ”. The smallest part or cotyledon is not eaten but is thrown away for the ancestors to eat.
In a like manner, kola with one cotyledon is not eaten by man, that means that it is not broken during ceremonies because it belongs to the ancestors, an attitude reminiscent of the direct link between the living and the dead in Igboland.
Kola with seven cotyledons is a sign of good omen, it symbolizes prosperity. However, it is rarely seen or broken.
The Igbo People Means Of Livelihood:
The Igbo people are some of the most hard-working tribes in Nigeria and they are resilient people who do all their best to work hard and make a good earning for themselves.
They also have this entrepreneurial spirit that helps motivate them and make them successful in their endeavours.
The Igbo loves whatever he finds himself doing so long as it can put food on his table, it can be farming, trading or any other entrepreneurial endeavour.
The Igbo People Apprenticeship System:
The Igbo apprentice system, also known as the Igbo trade apprentice system and commonly referred to as ′Igba-Odibo/Igba-Boi/Imu-Ahia/Imu-Oru′ is a framework of formal and informal indentured agreements between parties that ultimately facilitate burgeoning entrepreneurial communities within the Igbos.
It is an economic model practised widely by Igbo people and originated in South-Eastern Nigeria. Its purposes were and still remains to spur economic growth and stability, and sustainable livelihood by financing and investing in human resources through vocational training.
This practice is widely held by many entrepreneurs as an authentic method of growing any economy since it’s a direct investment in human capital.
Marriage In Igbo Land:
The process of marrying usually involves asking the young woman’s consent, introducing the woman to the man’s family and the same for the man to the woman’s family, testing the bride’s character, checking the woman’s family background, and paying the brides’ wealth.
Typically speaking, the bride’s wealth is more symbolic. Nonetheless, kola nuts, wine, goats, and chickens, among other things, are listed in the proposal, as well.
Negotiating the bride’s wealth can also take more than one day, giving both parties time for a ceremonial feast. Marriages were sometimes arranged from birth through the negotiation of the two families. However, after a series of interviews conducted in the 1990s with 250 Igbo women, it was found that 94.4% of that sample population disapproved of arranged marriages.
Permit me to sum it all with these amazing facts about the most wonderful people on earth…
The Igbo people are…
Hard-working and Industrious. …
Very Religious. …
Igbo folks have claimed to have traced their origin to Israel. …
Igbos are believed to have a strong love for money… (I don’t know how true that is, since other tribes love money also).
Great Value and regard for extended family, have great value for life…
Igbo’s Have a Calendar system peculiar to them. …
Igbo People Are Very Intelligent.
Now is your turn! Do you know some facts about the Igbo people? You can share your thoughts with us via comments and we will be happy to hear from you.