One of Nigeria’s three main ethnic groups is the Igbo. In South-East Nigeria, the Igbo people amount to about 80-81 million. Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Rivers, minor portions of Benue, Rivers, and Delta are the states of Igbo people.
Geographically speaking, the Niger River divides the Igbo land into two parts: the Eastern and the Western. Of the two sides, the Eastern portion is the largest. Regarding ethnicity, the Igbo people belong to the same group as the Edo, Igala, Ijaw, Efik, Ibibio, Idoma, Krio, Ogoni, and Annang.
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History of the Igbo people: The Origin
For the past five decades, ethnohistorians, anthropologists, botanists, archaeologists, and linguists have studied the Igbo people’s origins. In opposition to the findings of international studies.
Many schools of thought, theories, and debates have been helpful As a result, there are various narratives or points of view regarding the origin of the Igbo people.
On one hand, one of the schools of thought claims that Eri is a supernatural being, sent to bring civilization to the Igbos, making him an ancestor of the Igbo people.
On the other hand, Eri, one of the sons of Gad traveled from Isreal to the far East.
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As previously stated, we can confidently say that the Igbo are an old and advanced ethnic group.
History of the Igbo people: Pre-colonial life
The political structure of the Igbo people differs significantly from that of pre-colonial West Africa. The latter runs a hierarchical society, while the former runs a heterarchical society, except for Onitsha, which Obi and Arochukwu ruled, and Nri, which had Priests known as Eze.
The assembly person bestows titles upon well-respected individuals in the community. These individuals only carry out duties assigned to them by the assembly; they do not make laws. The Igbo community settles conflicts without a legal system but by swearing an oath to a god.
An accused person becomes guilty after swearing and the curse manifests at the pre-determined moment. The punishment can take the form of banishment or slavery to the gods.
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The defendant is free to leave the court of judgment if found not guilty. The Igbo people used a calendar with thirteen months in a year, seven weeks in a month, and four days in a week. The calendar of the Igbo people births their market days like ( Afor, Nkwo, Eke, Orie )
History of the Igbo people: The Colonial Era
The introduction of the British government caused a shift in the Igbo political system. In contrast to their heterarchical society, the colonial government’s appointed warrants chiefs began the central conflict.
The 1929 Aba women protest organized by madame Nwanyeru uwa from Ngwa’ were one such conflict that came as a result of taxation and the introduction of warrant chiefs. There was a change in the culture and religion of the Igbo people.
In favor of west, a significant portion of their religion was rejected. Concrete and metal roofs have taken the place of the previously constructed homes’ mud walls and thatched roofs.
Roads were built, and electricity was supplied, resulting in the development of technologies like the International market, multiple local markets, radio and television houses Including industries.
History of the Igbo people: The Modern Era
The beginning of the Nigerian Civil war, also known as the Biafra genocide, which took place between 1967-1970, is one of the important events in Igbo history.
An ethnic conflict between Northern Muslims and Igbos led to the war. The Biafrans aspired to restore their own nation, but the Federal Government of Nigeria rejected their proposal.
As a result, a three-year war broke out under the leadership of Odumegwu Ojukwu. Nigeria’s economy declined, and numerous lives were lost during the war.
Twenty years after the war, the Igbo land was rebuilt, and the strategy of Igbo business in the land helped the region to restore back its economy.
History of the Igbo people: Occupation
The majority of Igbos are traditionally farmers, traders, and artisans. Archaeologists discovered proof of their metalworking and craft. The Igbo people are now primarily recognized for their entrepreneurial skills.
History of the Igbo people: Religion
The traditional Igbo belief in Chineke (God) and the Ala Igbo (an earth goddess). Additionally, Igbo believes in other numerous deities and spirits, including Amadioha, Idemili, Anyanwu, Ikoro, Iyi, Obinagu, Agwu, Udoo, Arusi, Odumodu, and others.
History of the Igbo people: Food/Cuisine
The Igbos most frequently cultivate yam, corn cassava, taro, beans, melon, and pumpkin. A staple cuisine for the Igbo people. Yam is one of these delicacies that are particularly essential to the Igbo people, which is why Iri Ji (New Yam Festival) was established.
History of the Igbo people: Marriage
The four stages of an Igbo marriage are as follows:
- The first stage, known as the (Iku-Aka), Introduction is when the man approaches the woman’s father and requests her hand in marriage.
- In the second stage, the groom brings his family, and the bride’s extended family is also present.
- The third stage entails paying the bride fee and gathering the list of wedding-related items.
- The fourth stage is the Igba Nkwu when the traditional wedding takes place.
History of the Igbo people: Music
According to the history of the Igbo people, instruments such as the Oja (Flute) Ichaka(calabash), Ogene (idiophone), Igba (Tom Tom), Ekwe or Ikoro (Slit drum), Udo (Plosive Aerophone), and others are the source of musical rhythms.
They also have “high life,” which is a combination of Jazz and indigenous Igbo people music.