Thomas Maduena Mrs. Aisola
December 16, 2012
Unconventional Culture of the Ibo People in Nigeria
The Ibo people, traditionally known as Igbo, are one of the largest and most significant ethnic groups of Southern Nigeria (Igboland). Their culture and traditions are so diverse because their group is fragmented into subgroups. Chinua Achebe explains the tough and cultural ways of the Ibo people in his novel Things Fall Apart. Their customs can be compared but, nevertheless they have kept their traditions stayed the same throughout their history.
Origin; Ibo people originated in the Kingdom of Nri. “Nri Kingdom in the Awka area is the cradle of Igbo civilization and culture” (destee.com) It is also one of the most oldest Nigerian kingdoms. Although Nri people were a different group, they influenced the traditional Igbo people with their customs and practices. “There is a little bit of Nri in all of us...Igbo is Nri and Nri is Igbo...you are Nri and Nri is you...” (destee.com) The orgin of the Igbo people can be argued about, but no doubt the originated from the Nri People.
Traditional Society; Although some ill-informed people would only see that the Ibo people are very primitive and barbaric, they had their own form of government, leadership, and economy. “The basic unit of Igbo life was the village group…family head” (qub.ac.uk) The “family head” or modern colloquial, the man of the house, would be the older male, In most cases the father. He settled all issues within and outside his family, and was the one to
talk to higher members of the clan or in the village. “Social status is based on wealth, regardless of occupation. The Igbo distinguish between obgenye or mbi (the poor), dinkpa (the moderately prosperous), and nnukwu madu or ogaranya (the rich). “ (everyculture.com) Titles were a major role in every Nigerian tribe whether it be the Ibos, Yorubas, or Hausas. A title gave respect and honor to their family. “Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages...fame rested on solid personal achievements.” (Things Fall Apart P.1, Chinua Achebe) His title was earned throughout his life and solely on himself, which gave him a god reputation and being respected. “There was a hierarchy of ascending titles that were to be taken in order, accompanied by an ascending scale of payments.” (qub.ac.uk) Titles were not easy to come by and had an extensive process. Rituals were acquired and having a title gave the person a sense of success. Their villages are very dependent on one another. Any interference with their village would be taken up to the leader of the clan and if necessary brought up to the elders. Decisions would affect their entire village or town and need to be thoroughly checked with. Oracles played a key role for Ibo villages because of their consistency of being dependable. In “Things Fall Apart” the Oracle was an important character in their decisions made. “And there were indeed occasions when the Oracle had forbidden Umuofia to wage a war. If the clan had disobeyed the Oracle they would surely have been beaten.” (Things Fall Apart P.11, Chinua Achebe) The Umuofia people are so superstitious that they will not make any major decisions without first consulting the gods through the Oracle. Their thought is that only the Gods can justify when the time to war is right. Government; The Igbo leaders of the village and the common people all work together to form a democracy. They all participate to make their villages such a working Maduena 3
community. “Perhaps it was the small scale of their political institutions that made Igbo Land such a good example of what a democracy should be. Some of the first European visitors to this region were struck by the extent to which democracy was truly practiced.” (qub.ac.uk) Igbo people are not the barbarians...