Igbo people
Overview
Igbo people, also referred to as the Ibo(e), Ebo(e), Eboans or Heebo are an ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

. They speak Igbo, which includes various Igboid languages
Igboid languages
Igboid languages constitute a branch of the Volta–Niger language family. It includes Ekpeye and the Igbo languages:*Ekpeye*Igbo: Igbo proper, Ikwerre, Ika, Izi , Ogba, and Ukwuani-Aboh-Ndoni,spoken mainly in southern Nigeria....

 and dialects; today, a majority of them speak English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 alongside Igbo as a result of British colonialism
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. Igbo people are one of the largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria. Due to the effects of migration and the Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

, there are descendant ethnic Igbo populations in countries such as Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

 and Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

, as well as outside Africa.
Encyclopedia
Igbo people, also referred to as the Ibo(e), Ebo(e), Eboans or Heebo are an ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

. They speak Igbo, which includes various Igboid languages
Igboid languages
Igboid languages constitute a branch of the Volta–Niger language family. It includes Ekpeye and the Igbo languages:*Ekpeye*Igbo: Igbo proper, Ikwerre, Ika, Izi , Ogba, and Ukwuani-Aboh-Ndoni,spoken mainly in southern Nigeria....

 and dialects; today, a majority of them speak English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 alongside Igbo as a result of British colonialism
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. Igbo people are one of the largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria. Due to the effects of migration and the Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

, there are descendant ethnic Igbo populations in countries such as Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

 and Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

, as well as outside Africa. Their exact population outside Africa is unknown, but today many African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

s and Afro Caribbeans are of Igbo descent. In rural areas in Africa, the Igbo are mostly farmers. Their most important crop is the yam
Yam (vegetable)
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea . These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania...

; celebrations are held annually to celebrate its harvesting. Other staple crops include cassava
Cassava
Cassava , also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates...

 and taro
Taro
Taro is a common name for the corms and tubers of several plants in the family Araceae . Of these, Colocasia esculenta is the most widely cultivated, and is the subject of this article. More specifically, this article describes the 'dasheen' form of taro; another variety is called eddoe.Taro is...

.

Before British colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

, the Igbo were a politically fragmented group. There were variations in culture such as in art styles, attire and religious practices. Various subgroups were organized by clan, lineage, village affiliation, and dialect. There were not many centralized chiefdom
Chiefdom
A chiefdom is a political economy that organizes regional populations through a hierarchy of the chief.In anthropological theory, one model of human social development rooted in ideas of cultural evolution describes a chiefdom as a form of social organization more complex than a tribe or a band...

s, hereditary aristocracy, or kingship customs except in kingdoms such as those of the Nri
Kingdom of Nri
The Kingdom of Nri was the West African medieval state of the Nri-Igbo, a subgroup of the Igbo people, and is the oldest kingdom in Nigeria. The Kingdom of Nri was unusual in the history of world government in that its leader exercised no military power over his subjects...

, Agbor
Agbor
Agbor, also known as Agbor Boji Boji, is a town in Delta state, Nigeria. The indigenes of Agbor town are of Ika descent, an Igbo group with heavy Bini influence. Agbor was originally named Agbon a Bini word for "land", until the British anglicized it to Agbor. The people of Agbor have traditionally...

 and Onitsha
Onitsha
Onitsha is a city, a commercial, educational, and religious center and river port on the eastern bank of the Niger river in Anambra State, southeastern Nigeria....

. This political system changed significantly under British colonialism in the 19th century; Eze
Eze
Eze is an Igbo word which means King; with further implied meaning of chieftain of the tribe or kingdom. Such words as Igwe and Obi plus others are used by Igbo people as titles of respect and homage to the Eze...

(kings) were introduced into most local communities by Frederick Lugard
Frederick Lugard
Frederick John Dealtry Lugard, 1st Baron Lugard GCMG, CB, DSO, PC , known as Sir Frederick Lugard between 1901 and 1928, was a British soldier, mercenary, explorer of Africa and colonial administrator, who was Governor of Hong Kong and Governor-General of Nigeria .-Early life and education:Lugard...

 as "Warrant Chiefs". The Igbo became overwhelmingly Christian
Christianity in Nigeria
Christianity is a major religion in Nigeria accounting for about 50% of the population. Based on a 2003Nigerian Religious and Demographic survey, Christians comprised 48.2% of the Nigerian population. Christians are dominant in the southern and central region in Nigeria...

 under colonization. Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe
Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe popularly known as Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic...

's Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apartis a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African...

is one of the most popular novels to depict Igbo culture and changes under colonialism.

By the mid-20th century, the Igbo people developed a strong sense of ethnic identity. Certain conflicts with other Nigerian ethnicities led to the Igbo-dominant Eastern Nigeria seceding from Nigeria to create the independent state of Biafra. The Nigerian-Biafran war (6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970) broke out shortly after. With their defeat, the Republic of Biafra was reabsorbed into Nigeria. MASSOB, a sectarian organization formed in 1999, continues a non-violent struggle for an independent Igbo state.

Identity

The Igbo people have had heavily fragmented and politically independent communities. Before knowledge of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

ans and full exposure to other neighbouring ethnic groups, the Igbo did not have a strong identity as one people. Based on his close reading of Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa, was a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade. His autobiography depicted the horrors of slavery and helped influence British lawmakers to abolish the slave trade through the Slave Trade Act of 1807...

's 1789 narrative, the historian Alexander X. Byrd argues that the Igbo identity had its origins in slavery
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

, emerging in the "holding patterns" of coastal towns in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. As in the case of most ethnic groups, the British and fellow Europeans identified the Igbo as a tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

. Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe
Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe popularly known as Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic...

, among other scholars, challenged this because of its negative connotations and possible wrong definition. He suggested defining the Igbo people as a nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

 similar to the Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

 Native Americans or Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

, although the Igbo do not have an officially recognized physical state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 of their own.

Origin

Pottery dated at around 4500 BCE showing similarities with later Igbo work was found at Nsukka
Nsukka
Nsukka is a town and Local Government Area in South-East Nigeria in Enugu State. Other towns that share common border with Nsukka, such as Enugu Ezike, Orba and Obollo-Afor , Ede-Oballa, Uzo Uwani and Mkpologwu, now also claim the name Nsukka, hence they all collectively fall into the political...

, along with pottery and tools at nearby Ibagwa; the traditions of the Umueri clan have as their source the Anambra valley
Anambra River
The Anambra River flows 210 km into the Niger River and is found in Anambra, Nigeria. The river is the most important feeder of the River Niger below Lokoja. The flow of the Anambra river is released into the Atlantic through various outlets forming the 25,000 km2 Niger Delta region....

. In the 1970s the Owerri
Owerri
Owerri is the capital of Imo State in Nigeria, set in the heart of the Igboland. Owerri consists of three Local Govern Areas including Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West, it has an estimated population of about 400,000 as of 2006...

, Okigwe
Okigwe
-See also:Roman Catholic Diocese of Okigwe...

, Orlu
Orlu
Orlu is the third largest city in Southeast Nigeria's Imo State with an estimated population of 220,000. It has a long history and has played a critical role as the headquarters for humanitarian relief agencies during the Nigerian civil war....

, Awgu
Awgu
Awgu is the Headquarters of Awgu Local Government Area in Enugu State, Nigeria and the Headquarters of Awgu Catholic Diocese. The Catholic Cathedral is said to resemble a space ship when viewed with Google Earth...

, Udi
Udi people
The Udis are one of the most ancient native peoples of the Caucasus.Currently they live in Azerbaijan, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and many other countries. The total number is about 10,000 people. They speak the Udi language. Among them are distributed also Azeri, Russian,...

 and Awka
Awka
Awka is the capital of Anambra State, Nigeria with an estimated population of 301,657 Nigerian census. The city is located about 600 miles east of Lagos in the centre of the densely-populated Igbo heartland in southeastern Nigeria...

 divisions were determined to constitute "an Igbo heartland" from the linguistic and cultural evidence.

There is evidence that the ancestors of the Igbo people and most of their neighbors were the proto-Benue group, which came from the African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes
The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes and the Rift Valley lakes in and around the geographic Great Rift Valley formed by the action of the tectonic East African Rift on the continent of Africa...

 and Mountains of the Moon
Mountains of the Moon (Africa)
The term Mountains of the Moon or Montes Lunae referred to a mountain range in central Africa that is the source of the White Nile.- Ancient testimony :...

 of East
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

 and Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

, before settling at the old Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 grasslands. The desertification
Desertification
Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

 of the Sahara forced some of the Benue people to migrate farther south to the north of the Niger
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 Benue
Benue River
The Benue River is the major tributary of the Niger River. The river is approximately 1,400 km long and is almost entirely navigable during the summer months...

 confluence
Confluence
Confluence, in geography, describes the meeting of two or more bodies of water.Confluence may also refer to:* Confluence , a property of term rewriting systems...

, where they developed the Nok culture.

Elements of the Benue people migrated south of this confluence and later became the Igala
Igala
Igala are an ethnic group of Nigeria. Igala practice a number of different religions, including animism, Christianity, and Islam.The home of the Igala people is situated east of the river Niger and Benue confluence and astride the Niger in Lokoja, Kogi state of Nigeria...

, Idoma, Yoruba
Yoruba people
The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

, Igbo, and possibly the Tiv peoples. The Benue people's first areas of settlement in Igboland
Igboland
Igboland, or Igbo land , also known as the Ibo, Ebo, and Heebo Country, is a cultural region in Nigeria that includes the indigenous territory and cultural reach of the Igbo people...

 was the North Central uplands (Nsukka
Nsukka
Nsukka is a town and Local Government Area in South-East Nigeria in Enugu State. Other towns that share common border with Nsukka, such as Enugu Ezike, Orba and Obollo-Afor , Ede-Oballa, Uzo Uwani and Mkpologwu, now also claim the name Nsukka, hence they all collectively fall into the political...

-Awka
Awka
Awka is the capital of Anambra State, Nigeria with an estimated population of 301,657 Nigerian census. The city is located about 600 miles east of Lagos in the centre of the densely-populated Igbo heartland in southeastern Nigeria...

-Orlu
Orlu
Orlu is the third largest city in Southeast Nigeria's Imo State with an estimated population of 220,000. It has a long history and has played a critical role as the headquarters for humanitarian relief agencies during the Nigerian civil war....

) around 5000 BCE. Elements from the Orlu area migrated south, east, and northeast, while elements from the Awka area migrated westwards across the Niger river
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 and became the Igbo subgroup now known as the Anioma. The Igbo share linguistic ties with the Bini, Igala, Yoruba, and Idoma peoples.

Nri Kingdom

The city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture
Igbo culture
Igbo culture 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 evolution or by outside influence. These customs and traditions include the Igbo people's visual art,...

. Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umueri clan who trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure Eri
Eri (divine king)
Eri is said to be the original legendary cultural head of the Nri-Igbo, a subgroup of the Igbo people and Godfather of Igbo Civilization. From oral and recorded accounts, he is said to come down from the sky, having been sent by God . Eri settled and established in the middle of Anambra river...

. Eri's origins are unclear, though he has been described as a "sky being" sent by Chukwu
Chukwu
Chukwu is the infinitely powerful, undefinable, indefinable, absolute supreme deity encompassing everything in space and space itself, in traditional Igbo spiritual belief system and Igbo mythology. Linguistic studies suggest that the name "Chukwu" is a portmanteau of the Igbo words "Chi" and "Ukwu"...

 (God). He has been characterized as having first given societal order to the people of Anambra. The historian Elizabeth Allo Isichei says "Nri and Aguleri and part of the Umueri clan, [are] a cluster of Igbo village groups which traces its origins to a sky being called Eri."

Archaeological evidence suggests that Nri hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 in Igboland may go back as far as the 9th century, and royal burials have been unearthed dating to at least the 10th century. Eri, the god-like founder of Nri, is believed to have settled the region around 948 with other related Igbo cultures following after in the 13th century. The first Eze Nri (King of Nri) Ìfikuánim
Eze Nri Ìfikuánim
Eze Nri Ìfikuánim, was the first king of the Nri Kingdom. According to Igbo oral tradition, his reign started in 1043, although at least one historian puts Ìfikuánim's reign much later, around 1225 AD.-References:...

 followed directly after him. According to Igbo oral tradition, his reign started in 1043. At least one historian puts Ìfikuánim's reign much later, around 1225 AD.

Each king traces his origin back to the founding ancestor, Eri. Each king is a ritual reproduction of Eri. The initiation rite of a new king shows that the ritual process of becoming Ezenri (Nri priest-king) follows closely the path traced by the hero in establishing the Nri kingdom.

E. Elochukwu Uzukwu


The Kingdom of Nri was a religio-polity, a sort of theocratic state, that developed in the central heartland of the Igbo region. The Nri had seven types of taboo
Taboo
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

's which included human (such as the birth of twins), animal (such as killing or eating of pythons), object, temporal, behavioral, speech and place taboos. The rules regarding these taboos were used to educate and govern Nri's subjects. This meant that, while certain Igbo may have lived under different formal administration, all followers of the Igbo religion had to abide by the rules of the faith and obey its representative on earth, the Eze Nri.

Traditional society

Traditional Igbo political organization was based on a quasi-democratic republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 system of government. In tight knit communities, this system guaranteed its citizens equality, as opposed to a feudalist system with a king ruling over subjects. This government system was witnessed by the Portuguese
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 who first arrived and met with the Igbo people in the 15th century. With the exception of a few notable Igbo towns such as Onitsha
Onitsha
Onitsha is a city, a commercial, educational, and religious center and river port on the eastern bank of the Niger river in Anambra State, southeastern Nigeria....

, which had kings called Obi, and places like the Nri Kingdom and Arochukwu
Arochukwu
Arochukwu, sometimes referred to as Arochuku, or Aro-Okigbo, is the third largest city in Abia State in southeastern Nigeria and homeland of the Igbo subgroup, Aro people....

, which had priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 kings; Igbo communities and area governments were overwhelmingly ruled solely by a republican consultative assembly of the common people. Communities were usually governed and administered by a council of elder
Elder (administrative title)
The term Elder is used in several different countries and organizations to indicate a position of authority...

s.

Although title holders were respected because of their accomplishments and capabilities, they were never revered as kings, but often performed special functions given to them by such assemblies. This way of governing was immensely different from most other communities of Western Africa, and only shared by the Ewe
Ewe people
The Ewe are a people located in the southeast corner of Ghana, east of the Volta River, in an area now described as the Volta Region, in southern Togo and western Benin...

 of Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

. Umunna are a form of patrilineage
Patrilineality
Patrilineality is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well....

 maintained by the Igbo. Law starts with the Umunna which is a male line of descent from a founding ancestor (who the line is sometimes named after) with groups of compounds containing closely related families headed by the eldest male member. The Umunna can be seen as the most important pillar of Igbo society.

Mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 in traditional Igbo society is evident in their calendar, banking system and strategic betting game called Okwe. In their indigenous calendar
Igbo calendar
The Igbo calendar is the traditional calendar system of the Igbo people which has 13 months in a year, 7 weeks in a month, and 4 days in a week. The calendar has its roots steeped in ritualism and symbolism; many parts of the Igbo calendar are named or dedicated to certain spirits and deities in...

, a week had four days, a month consisted of seven weeks and 13 months made a year. In the last month, an extra day was added. This calendar is still used in indigenous Igbo villages and towns to determine market days. They settled law matters via mediators
Mediation
Mediation, as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution , a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. A third party, the mediator, assists the parties to negotiate their own settlement...

, and their banking system for loans and savings, called Isusu, is also still used. The Igbo new year, starting with the month Önwa Mbụ occurs on the third week of February, although the traditional start of the year for many Igbo communities is around springtime in Önwa Agwụ (June). Used as a ceremonial script by secret societies, the Igbo had a traditional ideographic
Ideogram
An ideogram or ideograph is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept. Some ideograms are comprehensible only by familiarity with prior convention; others convey their meaning through pictorial resemblance to a physical object, and thus may also be referred to as pictograms.Examples of...

 set of symbols called Nsibidi
Nsibidi
Nsibidi is a system of symbols indigenous to what is now southeastern Nigeria that is apparently ideographic, though there have been suggestions that it includes logographic elements...

, originating from the neighboring Ejagham
Ekoi people
Ekoi people, also known as Ejagham, are an ethnic group in the extreme southeast of Nigeria and extending eastward into Northern Cameroon. Ekoid Bantu languages are spoken by many groups, including the Atam, Boki, Mbembe, Ufia, and Yako...

 people. Igbo people produced bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

s from as early as the 9th century, some of which have been found at the town of Igbo Ukwu
Archaeology of Igbo-Ukwu
Archaeology of Igbo-Ukwu started when bronzes dating from the 9th century were discovered in this Igbo town. The bronzes were found along with clay pots and glass beads. These objects had been made by Igbo Ukwu's citizens...

, Anambra state
Anambra State
Anambra is a state in south-eastern Nigeria. Its name is an anglicized version of the original 'Oma Mbala', the native name of the Anambra River. The Capital and the Seat of Government is Awka. Onitsha and Nnewi are the biggest commercial and industrial cities, respectively. The state's theme is...

.
A system of Indentured servitude
Indentured servant
Indentured servitude refers to the historical practice of contracting to work for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of indenture. Usually the father made the arrangements and signed...

 existed among the Igbo after and before the arrival and knowledge of Europeans. Indentured service in Igbo areas was described by Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa, was a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade. His autobiography depicted the horrors of slavery and helped influence British lawmakers to abolish the slave trade through the Slave Trade Act of 1807...

 in his narrative
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, first published in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano.-Plot introduction:...

. He describes the conditions of the slaves in his community of Essaka, and points out the difference between the treatment of slaves under the Igbo in Essaka, and those in the custody of Europeans in West Indies:

…but how different was their condition from that of the slaves in the West Indies! With us, they do no more work than other members of the community,… even their master;… (except that they were not permitted to eat with those… free-born;) and there was scarce any other difference between them,… Some of these slaves have… slaves under them as their own property… for their own use.


The Niger coast acted as a contact point between African and European traders from the years 1434–1807. This contact between the Africans and Europeans began with the Portuguese, then the Dutch
Dutch Empire
The Dutch Empire consisted of the overseas territories controlled by the Dutch Republic and later, the modern Netherlands from the 17th to the 20th century. The Dutch followed Portugal and Spain in establishing an overseas colonial empire, but based on military conquest of already-existing...

 and finally the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. Even prior to European contact, Igbo trade routes stretched as far as Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 and Jeddah
Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

.

Transatlantic slave trade

The transatlantic slave trade which took place between the 16th and late 19th century affected the Igbo heavily. Most Igbo slaves were taken from the Bight of Biafra (also known as the Bight of Bonny
Bight of Bonny
The Bight of Bonny is a bight off the West African coast, in the easternmost part of the Gulf of Guinea...

). This area included modern day southeastern Nigeria, Western Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

, Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

 and parts of Northern Gabon
Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

. Major trade ports for goods and slaves in the area included Bonny and Calabar
Calabar
Calabar is a city in Cross River State, southeastern Nigeria. The original name for Calabar was Atakpa, from the Jukun language....

 Town. A large number of slaves from the Bight of Biafra would have been Igbo. Slaves were usually sold to Europeans by the Aro Confederacy
Aro Confederacy
The Aro Confederacy was a political union orchestrated by the Igbo subgroup, the Aro people, centered in Arochukwu in present day Southeastern Nigeria. Their influence and presence was across Eastern Nigeria into parts of the Niger Delta and Southern Igala during the 18th and 19th centuries...

 who kidnapped or bought slaves from Igbo villages in the hinterland. Most Igbo slaves, however, were not victims of slave raiding wars or expeditions, but were sometimes debtors and people who committed what their communities considered to be abominations or crimes. About 15 percent of slaves were taken from the Bight of Biafra between 1650 and 1900, the third greatest percentage in the era of the transatlantic slave trade. Igbo slaves were known for being rebellious and having a high rate of suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 in defiance of slavery. For still unknown reasons, Igbo women were highly sought after (possibly as concubines).

Contrary to common belief, European slave traders were fairly informed about various African ethnicities, leading to slavers' targeting certain ethnic groups which plantation owners preferred. Ethnic groups consequently became fairly saturated in certain parts of the Americas. The Igbo were dispersed to colonies such as Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

 and Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

, among others.

Elements of Igbo culture can still be found in these places. For example, in Jamaican Patois the Igbo word unu, meaning "you" plural, is still used. Red Ibo" (or "red eboe") describes a black person
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 with fair or "yellowish" skin. This term had originated from the reported prevalence of these skin tones
Human skin color
Human skin color is primarily due to the presence of melanin in the skin. Skin color ranges from almost black to white with a pinkish tinge due to blood vessels underneath. Variation in natural skin color is mainly due to genetics, although the evolutionary causes are not completely certain...

 among the Igbo but eastern Nigerian influences may not be strictly Igbo. The word Bim, a colloquial term for Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

, was commonly used among enslaved Barbadians
Barbadian people
Barbadians are people originating on the Caribbean island of Barbados whether they live there or in the Barbadian diaspora.Rihanna is by far the most popular Barbadian on the planet.-Diaspora:...

 (Bajans). This word is said to have derived from bi mu in the Igbo language (or bem, Ndi bem, Nwanyi ibem or Nwoke ibem, which means "My people"), but may have other origins (see: Barbados etymology). A section of Belize City
Belize City
Belize City is the largest city in the Central American nation of Belize. Unofficial estimates place the population of Belize City at 70,000 or more. It is located at the mouth of the Belize River on the coast of the Caribbean. The city is the country's principal port and its financial and...

 was named Eboe Town after its Igbo inhabitants. In the United States the Igbo were found most commonly in the states of Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

  and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, where they remained the largest single group of Africans. Recent Igbo-speaking immigrants have also settled in Maryland, attracted to its strong professional job market.

Colonial period

The arrival of the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 in the 1870s and increased encounters between the Igbo and other ethnicities near the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 led to a deepening sense of a distinct Igbo ethnic identity. The Igbo proved remarkably decisive and enthusiastic in their embrace of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Western education. Due to the incompatibility of the Igbo decentralized style of government and the centralized system required for British indirect rule, British colonial rule
Colonial Nigeria
Colonial Nigeria ran from 1800 till October 1, 1960 when it gained independence. Up until the amalgamation of 1914, the country's constituting parts existed as separate British protectorates.-Abolition of the Slave Trade:...

 was marked with open conflicts and much tension. Under British colonial rule, the diversity within each of Nigeria's major ethnic groups slowly decreased and distinctions between the Igbo and other large ethnic groups, such as the Hausa
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

 and the Yoruba
Yoruba people
The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

, became sharper.

Colonial rule drastically transformed Igbo society as depicted in the book Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apartis a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African...

. British rule brought about changes in culture such as the introduction of Warrant Chiefs as Eze
Eze
Eze is an Igbo word which means King; with further implied meaning of chieftain of the tribe or kingdom. Such words as Igwe and Obi plus others are used by Igbo people as titles of respect and homage to the Eze...

 (traditional rulers) where there were no such monarchies. Christianity had played a great part in the introduction of European ideology into Igbo society and culture, sometimes shunning parts of the culture. The rumours that the Igbo women were being assessed for taxation sparked off the 1929 Igbo Women's War in Aba
Aba, Nigeria
Aba is a city and a big trading center in Abia State, southern Nigeria, located on the Aba River. Aba was established by the Igbo People of Nigeria as a market town and then later a military post was placed there by the British colonial administration in 1901...

 (also known as the 1929 Aba Riots), a massive revolt of women never encountered before in Igbo history.

Living conditions changed under colonial rule. The tradition of building houses out of mud walls and thatched roofs died while houses started being built with cement blocks and zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

 roofs. Roads for vehicles were built. Buildings such as hospitals and schools were erected in many parts of Igboland. Along with this change came electricity and running water
Running Water
Running Water may be:* Running Water, Tennessee, former name of Whiteside, Tennessee* Running Water, South Dakota, a community in Bon Homme County, South Dakota* "Running Water" from the 1983 album The Present...

 in the early 20th century. Electricity brought new devices such as radios and televisions which are now common place in most Igbo households.

Nigerian–Biafran War

A series of ethnic clashes between Northern Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s and the Igbo (and other peoples) of Eastern Nigeria living in Northern Nigeria took place between 1966 and 1967. This was followed by the assassination of the Nigerian military head of state General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi
Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi
Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi was a Nigerian soldier. He served as the Head of State of Nigeria from January 16, 1966 until he was overthrown and killed on July 29, 1966 by a group of northern army officers who revolted against the government.- Early life :Thomas Umunnakwe...

 by elements in the army and by the failure of peace talks between the military government that deposed Ironsi and the regional government of Eastern Nigeria
Eastern Region, Nigeria
The Eastern Region was one of Nigeria's federal divisions, dating back originally from the division of the colony Southern Nigeria in 1954. Its capital was Enugu. The region was official divided in 1967 into three new states, East-Central State, Rivers State and South-Eastern State...

 at the Aburi
Aburi
Aburi is a town north east of Accra, the capital city of Ghana. It is famous for the Aburi Botanical Gardens. Aburi is home to Aburi Presbyterian Technical Secondary School, which is linked to The Sixth Form College, Farnborough in Hampshire, England. Aburi has a relatively small population and is...

 Talks in Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

 in 1967. These events led to a regional council of the peoples of Eastern Nigeria deciding that the region should secede and proclaim the Republic of Biafra
Biafra
Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970, taking its name from the Bight of Biafra . The inhabitants were mostly the Igbo people who led the secession due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious...

 on May 30, 1967. General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu had made this declaration and became the Head of state of the new republic. The war, which came to be known as the Nigerian Civil War
Nigerian Civil War
The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War, 6 July 1967–15 January 1970, was a political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra...

 or the Nigerian-Biafran War, lasted from July 6, 1967, until January 15, 1970, after which the federal government reabsorbed Biafra into Nigeria. Several million Eastern Nigerians, especially Igbo, are believed to have died between the pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s and the end of the civil war. In their brief struggle for self-determination, the people of Biafra earned the respect of figures such as Jean Paul Sartre and John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

, who returned his British honor, MBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, partly in protest against British collusion in the Nigeria-Biafra war.

In July 2007, the former leader of Biafra, General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, renewed calls for the secession of the Biafran state as a sovereign entity. "The only alternative is a separate existence...What upsets the Igbo population is we are not equally Nigerian as the others".

Modern

After the Nigerian–Biafran War, Igboland was devastated. Many hospitals, schools, and homes were completely destroyed in the war. In addition to the loss of their savings, many Igbo people found themselves discriminated against by other ethnic groups and the new non-Igbo federal government. Some Igbo subgroups, such as the Ikwerre, started disassociating themselves with the larger Igbo population after the war. The post-war era saw the changing of names of both people and places to non-Igbo sounding words such as the changing of the name of the town of Igbuzo
Igbuzo
Ibusa also Igbuzo is a town in Delta State, South-South, Nigeria with an estimated population of 566,310 people in 2009. The people speak Enuani dialect of Igbo language family. The name of the community is more commonly and officially known and written as Ibusa...

 to the Anglicized Ibusa. Due to the discrimination, many Igbo had trouble finding employment, and the Igbo became one of the poorest ethnic groups in Nigeria during the early 1970s. Igboland was gradually rebuilt over a period of twenty years and the economy was again prospering due to the rise of the petroleum industry
Petroleum industry
The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting , and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline...

 in the adjacent Niger Delta
Niger Delta
The Niger Delta, the delta of the Niger River in Nigeria, is a densely populated region sometimes called the Oil Rivers because it was once a major producer of palm oil...

 region. This led to new factories being set up in southern Nigeria. Many Igbo people eventually took government positions, although many were engaged in private business and constituted and still constitute the bulk of Nigerian informal economy. Recently, there has been a wave of Igbo immigration to other African countries, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

.

Culture

Igbo culture includes the various customs
Customs
Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

, practices and traditions of the Igbo people. It comprises archaic practices as well as new concepts added into the Igbo culture either through evolution or outside influences. 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.

Language and literature

The Igbo language was used by John Goldsmith
John Goldsmith
John Anton Goldsmith is the Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, with appointments in Linguistics and Computer Science. He was educated at Swarthmore College, where he obtained his B.A. in 1972, and at MIT, where he completed his Ph.D. in Linguistics...

 as an example to justify deviating from the classical linear model of phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 as laid out in The Sound Pattern of English
The Sound Pattern of English
The Sound Pattern of English is a 1968 work on phonology by Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle. It presents a comprehensive view of the phonology of English, and stands as a landmark both in the field of phonology and in the analysis of the English language...

. It is written in the Roman script as well as the Nsibidi
Nsibidi
Nsibidi is a system of symbols indigenous to what is now southeastern Nigeria that is apparently ideographic, though there have been suggestions that it includes logographic elements...

 formalized ideograms which is used by the Ekpe society and Okonko fraternity, but is no longer widely used. Nsibidi ideography existed among the Igbo before the 16th century, but died out after it became popular among secret societies, who then made Nsibidi a secret form of communication. Igbo is a tonal language and there are hundreds of different Igbo dialects and Igboid languages
Igboid languages
Igboid languages constitute a branch of the Volta–Niger language family. It includes Ekpeye and the Igbo languages:*Ekpeye*Igbo: Igbo proper, Ikwerre, Ika, Izi , Ogba, and Ukwuani-Aboh-Ndoni,spoken mainly in southern Nigeria....

 such as the Ikwerre and Ekpeye
Ekpeye
Ekpeye is an ethnicity and people found in the niger delta region of southern nigeria n Ekpeye is an ethnicity and people found in the niger delta region of southern nigeria n Ekpeye is an ethnicity and people found in the...

 languages. In 1939, Dr. Ida C. Ward led a research expedition on Igbo dialects which could possibly be used as a basis of a standard Igbo dialect, also known as Central Igbo. This dialect included that of the Owerri
Owerri
Owerri is the capital of Imo State in Nigeria, set in the heart of the Igboland. Owerri consists of three Local Govern Areas including Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West, it has an estimated population of about 400,000 as of 2006...

 and Umuahia
Umuahia
Umuahia is the capital of Abia State in southeastern Nigeria. Umuahia is located along the rail road that lies between Port Harcourt to Umuahia's south and Enugu city to its north. Umuahia has a population of 359,230 according to the 2006 Nigerian census. Umuahia's indigenous ethnic group are the...

 groups, including the Ohuhu dialect. This proposed dialect was gradually accepted by missionaries, writers, publishers, and Cambridge University.
In 1789, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, first published in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano.-Plot introduction:...

was published in London, England, written by Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa, was a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade. His autobiography depicted the horrors of slavery and helped influence British lawmakers to abolish the slave trade through the Slave Trade Act of 1807...

, a former slave. The book featured 79 Igbo words. In the first and second chapter, the book illustrates various aspects of Igbo life based on Olaudah Equiano's life in his hometown of Essaka. Although the book was one of the first books published to include Igbo material, Geschichte der Mission der evangelischen Brüder auf den caraibischen Inseln St. Thomas
Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Saint Thomas is an island in the Caribbean Sea and with the islands of Saint John, Saint Croix, and Water Island a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands , an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of...

, St. Croix
Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Saint Croix is an island in the Caribbean Sea, and a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands , an unincorporated territory of the United States. Formerly the Danish West Indies, they were sold to the United States by Denmark in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies of...

 und S. Jan
, published in 1777, written by the German missionary C. G. A. Oldendorp, was the first book to publish any Igbo material. Perhaps the most popular and renowned novel that deals with the Igbo and their traditional life was the 1959 book by Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apartis a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African...

. The novel concerns influences of British colonialism and Christian missionaries
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 on a traditional Igbo community during an unspecified time in the late nineteenth or early 20th century. The bulk of the novel takes place in Umuofia, one of nine villages on the lower Niger.

Performing arts

The Igbo people have a musical style into which they incorporate various percussion instruments: the udu
Udu
for other uses see Udu The udu is an African drum originated by the Igbo people of Nigeria. In the Igbo language, udu means vessel. Actually being a water jug with an additional hole, it was played by women for ceremonial uses. Usually the udu is made of clay...

, which is essentially designed from a clay jug; an ekwe
Ekwe
An Ekwe is an Igbo traditional musical instrument. The ekwe is a type of drum with rectangular cavity slits in the hollowed out wooden interior. The ekwe is made out of wood and most commonly a tree trunk. The ekwe comes in a variety of sizes and designs and each size is determined by the purpose...

, which is formed from a hollowed log; and the ogene
Ogene
Ogene is a style of Igbo music consisting of, and taking its name from, the ogene instrument, which is a large metal bell. The Ogene instrument has historically been made by the Igbo people of Nigeria...

, a hand bell designed from forged iron. Other instruments include opi, a wind instrument similar to the flute, igba
Igba
The igba is a tom-tom that has a beating surface of the same approximate diameter as a bongo. An igba may be as small as 7 inches, or as tall as 3 feet. Traditionally, the deeper shelled igba are played with the hand, while the shorter drums are played with a curved stick. In an ensemble these...

, and ichaka. Another popular musical form among the Igbo is Highlife
Highlife
Highlife is a musical genre that originated in Ghana in the 1900s and spread to Sierra Leone, Nigeria and other West African countries by 1920...

. A widely popular musical genre in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

, Highlife is a fusion of jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 and traditional music. The modern Igbo Highlife is seen in the works of Dr Sir Warrior
Dr Sir Warrior
Christogonus Ezebuiro Obinna , the Ultimate Dr. Sir Warrior, was the leader of the Oriental Brothers International Band which ruled the Nigerian highlife music scene for several decades. He modernized highlife music. His style remains an epitome of defined music with meaning, direction, and purpose...

, Oliver De Coque
Oliver De Coque
Oliver De Coque is a well known name in Nigeria as well as the Nigerian music circle. Though many believe he was not a Nigerian owing to his popular name which has a French leaning, he had started music with Ekpili at the age of 17. Oliver De Coque was from Ezinifite, Nnewi South Local Government...

, Bright Chimezie
Bright Chimezie
Bright Chimezie , also known as Okoro Junior, is a Nigerian highlife musician. His type of music, popularly known as zzigima, became widely available in Nigeria from the early 80s.- References :...

, and Chief Osita Osadebe, who were among the most popular Igbo Highlife musicians of the 20th century.

Masking
Masquerade ceremony
A masquerade ceremony is a cultural or religious event involving the wearing of masks.Examples include the West African and African Diaspora masquerades, such as Egungun Masquerades, Northern Edo Masquerades, Caribbean Carnival and Jonkonnu.-External links:* - slideshow by Life magazine*...

 is one of the most common art styles in Igboland and is linked strongly with Igbo traditional music. A mask can be made of wood or fabric, along with other materials including iron and vegetation
Vegetation
Vegetation is a general term for the plant life of a region; it refers to the ground cover provided by plants. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader...

. Masks have a variety of uses, mainly in social satires, religious rituals, secret society initiations (such as the Ekpe society) and public festivals, which now include Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 time celebrations. Best known are the Agbogho Mmuo
Agbogho Mmuo
Agbogho Mmuo, or Maiden Spirits are masquerades performed annually during the dry season in the Nri-Awka area in the northern part of the Igbo peoples ethnic territory. These masks, strictly performed by men, imitate the character of an adolescent girl, exaggerating the girls' beauty and movements...

  masks of the Northern Igbo which represent the spirits of deceased maidens and their mothers with masks symbolizing beauty.

Other impressive masks include Northern Igbo Ijele masks. At 12 feet (3.7 m) high, Ijele masks consist of platforms 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter, supporting figures made of colored cloth and representing everyday scenes with objects such as leopards. Ijele masks are used for honoring the dead to ensure the continuity and well-being of the community and are only seen on rare occasions such as the death of a prominent figure in the community.

There are many Igbo dance styles, but perhaps, Igbo dance is best known for its Atilogwu
Atilogwu
Atilogwu is a traditionally spirited youth dance from the Igbo ethnic group of Nigeria that focuses on vigorous body movement and often includes acrobatics...

 dance troops. These performances include acrobatic stunts such as high kicks and cartwheel
Cartwheel (gymnastics)
In gymnastics, a cartwheel is a sideways rotary movement performed by bringing the hands to the ground while the body inverts and the legs travel over the body, coming down to a standing position.-Terminology:...

s, with each rhythm from the traditional instruments indicating a movement to the dancer.

Visual art and architecture

It is near impossible to describe a general Igbo art style because the Igbo are heavily fragmented. This has added to the development of a great variety of art styles and cultural practices. Igbo art is generally known for various types of masquerade
Masquerade ceremony
A masquerade ceremony is a cultural or religious event involving the wearing of masks.Examples include the West African and African Diaspora masquerades, such as Egungun Masquerades, Northern Edo Masquerades, Caribbean Carnival and Jonkonnu.-External links:* - slideshow by Life magazine*...

, masks and outfits symbolising people animals or abstract
Abstract art
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

 conceptions. Bronze castings found in the town of Igbo Ukwu
Archaeology of Igbo-Ukwu
Archaeology of Igbo-Ukwu started when bronzes dating from the 9th century were discovered in this Igbo town. The bronzes were found along with clay pots and glass beads. These objects had been made by Igbo Ukwu's citizens...

 from the 9th century, constitute the earliest sculptures discovered in Igboland. Here, the grave of a well established man of distinction and a ritual store, dating from the 9th century AD, contained both chased copper objects and elaborate castings of leaded bronze. Along with these bronzes were 165,000 glass beads said to have originated in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Some popular Igbo art styles include Uli
Uli (design)
Uli is the name given to the traditional designs drawn by the Igbo people of Nigeria. Uli drawings are strongly linear and do not have deep perspective; they do, however, balance positive and negative space. Designs are frequently asymmetrical, and are often painted spontaneously...

 designs. The majority of the Igbo carve and use masks, although the function of masks vary from community to community. Igbo art is also famous for Mbari architecture.

Mbari houses of the Owerri
Owerri
Owerri is the capital of Imo State in Nigeria, set in the heart of the Igboland. Owerri consists of three Local Govern Areas including Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West, it has an estimated population of about 400,000 as of 2006...

-Igbo, which are large opened-sided square planned shelters, are examples of Igbo architecture. They house many life-sized, painted figures (sculpted in mud to appease the Alusi
Alusi
Alusi, also known as Arusi or Arushi, are deities that are worshiped and served in the religion of the Igbo people. There are a list of many different Alusi and each has its own purpose...

 (deity) and Ala
Ala (mythology)
Ala is the female Alusi of the earth, morality, death, and fertility in Odinani. She is the most important Alusi in the Igbo pantheon. In Odinani, Ala rules over the underworld which holds the deceased ancestors in her womb...

, the earth goddess, with other deities of thunder and water). Other sculptures are of officials, craftsmen, foreigners (mainly Europeans), animals, legendary creature
Legendary creature
A legendary creature is a mythological or folkloric creature.-Origin:Some mythical creatures have their origin in traditional mythology and have been believed to be real creatures, for example the dragon, the unicorn, and griffin...

s and ancestors. Mbari houses take years to build and building them is regarded as sacred, therefore new ones are constructed and old ones are left to decay. Everyday houses were made of mud and thatched roofs with bare earth floors with carved design doors. Some houses had elaborate designs both in the interior and exterior. These designs could include Uli art designed by Igbo women.

One of the unique structures of Igbo culture was the Nsude Pyramids, at the Nigerian town of Nsude, in Abaja, northern Igboland. Ten pyramidal structures were built of clay/mud. The first base section was 60 ft. in circumference and 3 ft. in height. The next stack was 45 ft. in circumference. Circular stacks continued, till it reached the top. The structures were temples for the god Ala/Uto
Uto
Uto may refer to:* Uto, Kumamoto, a city in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan* Uto District, Kumamoto, a district in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan* Untrioctium, , an unsynthesized chemical element with atomic number 138...

, who was believed to reside at the top. A
stick was placed at the top to represent the god's residence. The structures were laid in
groups of five parallel to each other. Because it was built of clay/mud like the Deffufa of Nubia, time has taken its toll requiring periodic reconstruction.

Religion and rites of passage

Today, the majority of the Igbo people are Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, well over half of whom are Roman Catholics. There are a small population of Igbo Jews
Igbo Jews
The Igbo Jews are members of the Igbo people of Nigeria who claim descent from Mediterranean Israelite migrants into Nigeria.-Argument for the Historical Migration of the Igbo Jews:...

. The ancient Igbo religion and traditions are known as Odinani. In Igbo mythology, which is part of their ancient religion, the supreme God is called Chukwu
Chukwu
Chukwu is the infinitely powerful, undefinable, indefinable, absolute supreme deity encompassing everything in space and space itself, in traditional Igbo spiritual belief system and Igbo mythology. Linguistic studies suggest that the name "Chukwu" is a portmanteau of the Igbo words "Chi" and "Ukwu"...

 ("great spirit"); Chukwu created the world and everything in it and is associated with all things on Earth. Chukwu is a solar deity
Solar deity
A solar deity is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms...

. To the ancient Igbo, the Cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

 was divided into four complex parts: creation, known as Okike; supernatural forces or deities called Alusi
Alusi
Alusi, also known as Arusi or Arushi, are deities that are worshiped and served in the religion of the Igbo people. There are a list of many different Alusi and each has its own purpose...

; Mmuo, which are spirits; and Uwa, the world.

Chukwu
Chukwu
Chukwu is the infinitely powerful, undefinable, indefinable, absolute supreme deity encompassing everything in space and space itself, in traditional Igbo spiritual belief system and Igbo mythology. Linguistic studies suggest that the name "Chukwu" is a portmanteau of the Igbo words "Chi" and "Ukwu"...

 is the supreme deity in Odinani as he is the creator in their pantheon and the Igbo people believe that all things come from him and that everything on earth, heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 and the rest of the spiritual world is under his control. Linguistic studies of the Igbo language suggests the name Chukwu is a portmanteau of the Igbo words: Chi (spiritual being) and Ukwu (great in size). Alusi
Alusi
Alusi, also known as Arusi or Arushi, are deities that are worshiped and served in the religion of the Igbo people. There are a list of many different Alusi and each has its own purpose...

, alternatively known as Arusi or Arushi (depending on dialect), are minor deities
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 that are worshiped and served in Odinani. There are a list of many different Alusi and each has its own purpose. When an individual deity is no longer needed, or becomes too violent, it is discarded.

The Igbo believe in reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

. People are believed to reincarnate into families that they were part of while alive. Before a relative dies, it is said that the soon to be deceased relative sometimes give clues of who they will reincarnate as in the family. Once a child is born, he or she is believed to give signs of who they have reincarnated from. This can be through behavior, physical traits and statements by the child. A diviner can help in detecting who the child has reincarnated from. It is considered an insult if a male is said to have reincarnated as a female.

Children are not allowed to call elders by their names without using an honorific
Honorific
An honorific is a word or expression with connotations conveying esteem or respect when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term is used not quite correctly to refer to an honorary title...

 (as this is considered disrespectful). Children are required to greet elders when seeing them for the first time in the day as a sign of respect. Children usually add the Igbo honorifics Mazi or Dede before an elder's name when addressing them.

Burials

After a death, the body of a prominent member of society is placed on a stool in a sitting posture and is clothed in the deceased's finest garments. Animal sacrifices may be offered to them and they can be well perfumed. Burial usually follows within 24 hours of death. The head of a home is usually buried beneath the floor of his house. Different types of deaths warrant different types of burials. This is affected by an individual's age, gender and status in society. For example, children are buried in hiding and out of sight, their burials usually take place in the early mornings and late nights. A simple untitled man is buried in front of his house and a simple mother is buried in her place of origin in a garden or a farm-area that belonged to her father. Presently, a majority of the Igbo bury their dead in the western way, although it is not uncommon for burials to be practiced in the traditional Igbo ways.

Marriage




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. Sometimes marriages had been arranged from birth through negotiation of the two families.
In the past, many Igbo men practiced polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

. The polygamous family is made up of a man and his wives and all their children. Men sometimes married multiple wives for economic reasons so as to have more people in the family, including children, to help on farms. Christian and civil marriages have changed the Igbo family since colonization
Colonial Nigeria
Colonial Nigeria ran from 1800 till October 1, 1960 when it gained independence. Up until the amalgamation of 1914, the country's constituting parts existed as separate British protectorates.-Abolition of the Slave Trade:...

. Igbo people now tend to enter monogamous
Monogamy
Monogamy /Gr. μονός+γάμος - one+marriage/ a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any one time. In current usage monogamy often refers to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or reproduction...

 courtship
Courtship
Courtship is the period in a couple's relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. In courtship, a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement...

s and create nuclear families
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

, mainly because of Western influence. Adopted Western marriage customs, such as wedding in church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

, are sometimes accompanied by a traditional wedding.

Attire

Traditionally, the attire of the Igbo generally consisted of little clothing as the purpose of clothing originally was to conceal private parts, although elders were fully clothed. Children were usually nude from birth until they reach puberty
Puberty
Puberty is the process of physical changes by which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of reproduction, as initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads; the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a boy...

 status (the time when they were considered to have something to hide) but sometimes ornaments such as beads were worn around the waist for spiritual reasons. Uli
Uli (design)
Uli is the name given to the traditional designs drawn by the Igbo people of Nigeria. Uli drawings are strongly linear and do not have deep perspective; they do, however, balance positive and negative space. Designs are frequently asymmetrical, and are often painted spontaneously...

 body art was used to decorate both men and women in the form of lines forming patterns and shapes on the body.

Women traditionally carry their babies on their backs with a strip of clothing binding the two with a knot at her chest, a practice used by many ethnic groups across Africa. This method has been modernized in the form of the child carrier. In most cases Igbo women did not cover their breast areas. Maidens usually wore a short wrapper with beads around their waist and other ornaments such as necklaces and beads. Both men and women wore wrappers. Men would wear loin cloths that wrapped round 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.

In Olaudah Equiano's narrative
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, first published in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano.-Plot introduction:...

, Equiano describes fragrances that were used by the Igbo in the community of Essaka;

Our principal luxury is in perfumes; one sort of these is an odoriferous wood of delicious fragrance: the other a kind of earth; a small portion of which thrown into the fire diffuses a most powerful odor. We beat this wood into powder, and mix it with palm oil
Palm oil
Palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are edible plant oils derived from the fruits of palm trees. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis; palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel of the oil palm and coconut oil is derived from the kernel of the...

; with which both men and women perfume themselves.

Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa, was a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade. His autobiography depicted the horrors of slavery and helped influence British lawmakers to abolish the slave trade through the Slave Trade Act of 1807...



In the same era as the rise of colonial forces in Nigeria, the way the Igbo dressed changed. These changes made the Igbo adopt Westernized
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 clothing such as shirts and trousers. Clothing worn before colonialism became "traditional" and worn on special occasions. The traditional clothing itself became westernized with the introduction of various types of Western clothing including shoes, hats, trousers, etc. Modern Igbo traditional attire, for men, is generally made up of the Isiagu
Isiagu
The Isiagu, also called Chieftaincy, is a pullover shirt similar to the dashiki that is worn by Igbo people. It is usually worn on special occasions like weddings. The shirt may be long or short sleeved. Some shirts have gold buttons that are linked by a chain. There is usually a breast pocket...

 top which resembles the Dashiki
Dashiki
The dashiki is a colorful men's garment widely worn in West Africa that covers the top half of the body. It has formal and informal versions and varies from simple draped clothing to fully tailored suits. Traditional female attire is called a caftan, or kaftan...

 worn by other African groups. Isiagu (or Ishi agu) is usually patterned with lions heads embroidered over the clothing and can be a plain color. It is worn with trousers and can be worn with either a traditional title holders hat or with the traditional Igbo striped men's hat known as Okpu Agwu. For women, a puffed sleeve blouse
Blouse
A blouse is a loose-fitting upper garment that was formerly worn by workmen, peasants, artists, women and children. It is typically gathered at the waist so that it hangs loosely over the wearer's body. Today, the word most commonly refers to a woman's shirt but can also refer to a man's shirt if...

 (influenced by European attire) along with two wrappers and a head tie are worn.

Cuisine

The yam
Yam (vegetable)
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea . These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania...

 is very important to the Igbo as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival  which are held for the harvesting of the yam. During the festival yam is eaten throughout the communities as celebration. Yam tubers are shown off by individuals as a sign of success and wealth. Rice has replaced yam for ceremonial occasions. Other foods include cassava, garri
Garri
Garri is a popular West African food made from cassava tubers. The spelling 'garri' is mainly used in Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and 'gari' in Ghana....

, maize and plantains. Soups or stews are included in a typical meal, prepared with a vegetable (such as okra
Okra
Okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins...

, of which the word derives from the Igbo language, Okwuru) to which pieces of fish, chicken, beef, or goat meat are added. Jollof rice
Jollof rice
Jollof rice, also called 'Benachin' meaning one pot in the Wolof language, is a popular dish all over West Africa. It is thought to have originated in The Gambia but has since spread to the whole of West Africa, especially Nigeria and Ghana amongst members of the Wolof ethnic group.There are many...

 is popular throughout West Africa. Palm wine
Palm wine
Palm wine also called Palm Toddy also called "Kallu" written in Malayalam and கள்ளு in Tamil or simply Toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, and coconut palms...

 is a popular alcoholic beverage among the Igbo.

Demographics

The Igbo in Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 are found in Abia
Abia State
Abia State is a state in southeastern Nigeria. The capital is Umuahia, although the major commercial city is Aba, formerly a British colonial government outpost. The state was created in 1991 from part of Imo State and its citizens are predominantly Igbo people...

, Anambra
Anambra State
Anambra is a state in south-eastern Nigeria. Its name is an anglicized version of the original 'Oma Mbala', the native name of the Anambra River. The Capital and the Seat of Government is Awka. Onitsha and Nnewi are the biggest commercial and industrial cities, respectively. The state's theme is...

, Ebonyi
Ebonyi State
Ebonyi State is a mainland south-eastern state of Nigeria, inhabited and populated primarily by Igbo of south eastern Nigeria. Its capital and largest city is Abakaliki. Afikpo is the second largest city. Other major towns are EDDA, Mgbo, Onueke, Ezzamgbo, Nkalagu, Uburu, Onicha, Ishiagu , Ukawu,...

, Enugu
Enugu State
Enugu State is a mainland state in southeastern Nigeria. Its capital is Enugu, from which the state - created in 1991 from the old Anambra State - derives its name. The principal cities in the state are Enugu, Agbani, Awgu, Udi, Oji, and Nsukka....

, Imo
Imo State
Imo State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria and lies to the south of Nigeria with Owerri as its capital and largest city.-History:Imo State came into existence in 1976 along with other new states created under the leadership of the late military ruler of Nigeria, Murtala Muhammad, having been...

, Delta
Delta State
Delta State may refer to:*Delta State, a state in southern Nigeria.*Delta State , a Canadian animated television series.*Delta State University, a public university located in the U.S. state of Mississippi....

 and Rivers State
Rivers State
Rivers State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria. Its capital is Port Harcourt. It is bounded on the South by the Atlantic Ocean, to the North by Imo, Abia and Anambra States, to the East by Akwa Ibom State and to the West by Bayelsa and Delta states...

. The Igbo language is predominant throughout these areas, although English (the national language) is spoken as well. Prominent towns and cities in Igboland include Aba
Aba, Nigeria
Aba is a city and a big trading center in Abia State, southern Nigeria, located on the Aba River. Aba was established by the Igbo People of Nigeria as a market town and then later a military post was placed there by the British colonial administration in 1901...

, Owerri
Owerri
Owerri is the capital of Imo State in Nigeria, set in the heart of the Igboland. Owerri consists of three Local Govern Areas including Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West, it has an estimated population of about 400,000 as of 2006...

, Enugu
Enugu
Enugu is the capital of Enugu State in Nigeria. It is located in the southeastern area of Nigeria and is largely populated by members of the Igbo ethnic group. The city has a population of 722,664 according to the 2006 Nigerian census. The name Enugu is derived from the two Igbo words Enu Ugwu...

 (considered the 'Igbo capital'), Onitsha
Onitsha
Onitsha is a city, a commercial, educational, and religious center and river port on the eastern bank of the Niger river in Anambra State, southeastern Nigeria....

, Abakaliki
Abakaliki
Abakaliki is the capital city of the present-day Ebonyi State in southeastern Nigeria. The inhabitants are primarily members of the Igbo nation. It used to be the headquarters of the old Abakaliki zone in the Old Anambra and Enugu state before the creation of Ebonyi State in 1996. Abakaliki is made...

, Afikpo
Afikpo
Afikpo is the second largest city in Ebonyi State of Nigeria. Until recently it was the home Local Government Area of the late Eze Akanu Ibiam, who hailed from the village of Unwana. Dr...

, Agbor
Agbor
Agbor, also known as Agbor Boji Boji, is a town in Delta state, Nigeria. The indigenes of Agbor town are of Ika descent, an Igbo group with heavy Bini influence. Agbor was originally named Agbon a Bini word for "land", until the British anglicized it to Agbor. The people of Agbor have traditionally...

, Nsukka
Nsukka
Nsukka is a town and Local Government Area in South-East Nigeria in Enugu State. Other towns that share common border with Nsukka, such as Enugu Ezike, Orba and Obollo-Afor , Ede-Oballa, Uzo Uwani and Mkpologwu, now also claim the name Nsukka, hence they all collectively fall into the political...

, Orlu
Orlu
Orlu is the third largest city in Southeast Nigeria's Imo State with an estimated population of 220,000. It has a long history and has played a critical role as the headquarters for humanitarian relief agencies during the Nigerian civil war....

, Okigwe
Okigwe
-See also:Roman Catholic Diocese of Okigwe...

, Umuahia
Umuahia
Umuahia is the capital of Abia State in southeastern Nigeria. Umuahia is located along the rail road that lies between Port Harcourt to Umuahia's south and Enugu city to its north. Umuahia has a population of 359,230 according to the 2006 Nigerian census. Umuahia's indigenous ethnic group are the...

, Asaba
Asaba, Nigeria
Asaba is the capital of Nigeria's Delta State, and has an estimated population of 149,603 .- Etymology :Ahaba in Igbo is from 'Ahabagom', meaning I have chosen well, a quote from the founding father of Asaba.- Geography :...

 and Port Harcourt among others. There is a significant number of Igbo people found in other parts of Nigeria by migration, such as in the city of Lagos
Lagos
Lagos is a port and the most populous conurbation in Nigeria. With a population of 7,937,932, it is currently the third most populous city in Africa after Cairo and Kinshasa, and currently estimated to be the second fastest growing city in Africa...

.

The official population count of ethnic groups in Nigeria has remained controversial as a majority of these groups have claimed that the government deliberately deflates the official population of one group, to give the other numerical superiority. The CIA World Factbook puts the Igbo population (including the various subgroups of the Igbo) at 18% of a total population of 152 million, or approximately 27 million. Southeastern Nigeria
Southeastern Nigeria
Southeastern Nigeria consists of present Abia State, Akwa Ibom State, Anambra State, Bayelsa State, Cross River State, Ebonyi State, Enugu State, Imo State, and Rivers State of Nigeria.-"Precolonial" era:...

, which is inhabited primarily by the Igbo, is the most densely populated area in Nigeria, and possibly in all of Africa. Most ethnicities that inhabit southeastern Nigeria, such as the closely related Efik and Ibibio people
Ibibio people
The Ibibio are a people of southeastern Nigeria. They are related to the Anaang and the Efik peoples. During colonial period in Nigeria, the Ibibio Union asked for recognition by the British as a sovereign nation . The Annang, Efik, Ekid, Oron and Ibeno share personal names, culture, and traditions...

, are sometimes regarded as Igbo by other Nigerians and ethnographers who are not well informed about the southeast.

Diaspora

After the Nigerian-Biafran War, many Igbo people emigrated out of the traditional Igbo homeland in southeastern Nigeria due to an absence of federal presence, lack of jobs, and poor infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

. 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
Lagos
Lagos is a port and the most populous conurbation in Nigeria. With a population of 7,937,932, it is currently the third most populous city in Africa after Cairo and Kinshasa, and currently estimated to be the second fastest growing city in Africa...

 and Abuja
Abuja
Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria. It is located in the centre of Nigeria, within the Federal Capital Territory . Abuja is a planned city, and was built mainly in the 1980s. It officially became Nigeria's capital on 12 December 1991, replacing Lagos...

, and other countries such as Gabon
Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the United Kingdom
Nigerian British
British Nigerian is a term sometimes used to describe British people of Nigerian descent. Many Nigerians and their British-born descendents live in South London.- History :...

 and the United States
Nigerian American
Nigerian Americans are citizens of the United States of America who are or descend from immigrants from Nigeria. Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, approximately one million Nigerians have immigrated in to the United States....

. Prominent Igbo communities outside Africa include those of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in the United Kingdom and Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 in the United States.

With genealogy tracing by means of DNA testing, the roots of the African diaspora
African diaspora
The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world—predominantly to the Americas also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe...

 is being uncovered by descendants of the victims of the atlantic slave trade who are researching their family history. In the 2003 PBS program African American Lives
African American Lives
African American Lives is a PBS television miniseries hosted by historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., focusing on African American genealogical research...

, Bishop T.D. Jakes had his DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 analyzed; his Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 showed that he is descended from the Igbo. American actors Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker
Forest Steven Whitaker is an American actor, producer, and director. He has earned a reputation for intensive character study work for films such as Bird and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and for his recurring role as ex-LAPD Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh on the gritty, award-winning television...

, Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
Paul Leroy Robeson was an American concert singer , recording artist, actor, athlete, scholar who was an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement in the first half of the twentieth century...

, and Blair Underwood
Blair Underwood
Blair Underwood is an American television and film actor. He is perhaps best known as headstrong attorney Jonathan Rollins from the NBC legal drama L.A. Law, a role he portrayed for seven years. He has gained critical acclaim throughout his career, receiving numerous Golden Globe Award...

 have traced their genealogy back to the Igbo people.

Organizations

The 1930s saw the rise of Igbo unions in the cities of Lagos and Port Harcourt. Later, the Ibo Federal Union (renamed the Ibo State Union in 1948) emerged as an umbrella pan-ethnic
Panethnicity
Panethnicity is the grouping together, and collective labeling, of various independently distinguishable, self-identified and self-sustained ethnicities into one all-encompassing group of people.Often labels of panethnicity group together people of different nationalities and/or ethnicities that...

 organization. Headed by Nnamdi Azikiwe
Nnamdi Azikiwe
Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe , usually referred to as Nnamdi Azikiwe and popularly known as "Zik", was one of the leading figures of modern Nigerian nationalism who became the first President of Nigeria after Nigeria secured its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 October 1960; holding the...

, it was closely associated with the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons
National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons
National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons , was a Nigerian political party from 1944 to 1966. The name included 'Cameroons' because Cameroon had become an administrative part of Nigeria in 1945. Cameroon had been a colonial territory of Germany...

 (NCNC), which he co-founded with Herbert Macaulay
Herbert Macaulay
Herbert Samuel Heelas Macaulay was a Nigerian nationalist, politician, engineer, journalist, and musician and considered by many Nigerians as the founder of Nigerian nationalism.- Early life :...

. The aim of the organization was the improvement and advancement (such as in education) of the Igbo and their indigenous land and included an Igbo "national anthem" with a plan for an Igbo bank.

In 1978 after Olusegun Obasanjo's military regime lifted the ban on independent political activity, the Ohaneze Ndi Igbo organization was formed, an elite umbrella organization which speaks on behalf of the Igbo people. Their main concerns are the marginalization of the Igbo people in Nigerian politics and the neglect of indigenous Igbo territory in social amenities and development of infrastructure. Other groups which protest the perceived marginalization of the Igbo people are the Igbo Peoples Congress (IPC). Even before the 20th century there were numerous Igbo unions and organizations existing around the world, such as the Igbo union in Bathurst, Gambia
Banjul
-Transport:Ferries sail from Banjul to Barra. The city is served by the Banjul International Airport. Banjul is on the Trans–West African Coastal Highway connecting it to Dakar and Bissau, and will eventually provide a paved highway link to 11 other nations of ECOWAS.Banjul International Airport...

 in 1842, founded by a prominent Igbo trader and ex-soldier named Thomas Refell. Another was the union founded by the Igbo community in Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

, Sierra Leone by 1860, of which Africanus Horton
Africanus Horton
Africanus Horton , also known as James Beale, was a Creole African nationalist writer and an esteemed Medical Surgeon in the British Army from Freetown, Sierra Leone....

, a surgeon, scientist and soldier, was an active member.

Decades after the Nigerian-Biafran war
Nigerian Civil War
The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War, 6 July 1967–15 January 1970, was a political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra...

, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra
Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra
The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra is a secessionist movement with the aim of securing the resurgence of the defunct state of Biafra from Nigeria...

 (MASSOB), a secessionist group, was founded in September 1999 by Ralph Uwazurike for the goal of an independent Igbo state. Since its creation, there have been several conflicts between its members and the Nigerian government, resulting in the death of members. For the promotion of the Igbo language and culture, the Society for Promoting Igbo Language and Culture
Society for Promoting Igbo Language and Culture
The Society for Promoting Igbo Language and Culture was founded in 1949 by Frederick Chidozie Ogbalu for the promotion of the Igbo language and culture and has since created a standard dialect for Igbo....

(SPILC) was founded in 1949 by Frederick Chidozie Ogbalu, and has since created a standard dialect for Igbo.

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