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Quick Facts

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Quick Facts about Igbo Land and the Igbos


Who Are the Igbos?

The Igbo make up the second largest group of people in southern Nigeria. They are a socially and culturally diverse population, living in the southeastern part of the country. The Igbo consist of many subgroups, all speaking one language [1], called Igbo.


In Nigeria today, Igboland is roughly made up of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Northern Delta and Rivers states, and small parts of Akwa Ibom. More than 30 million people inhabit Igboland and with a population density ranging from 140 to 390 inhabitants per square kilometre (350 to 1,000/sq mi). Altogether Igboland has an area of some 40,900 to 41,400 km2 (15,800 to 16,000 sq mi) [2]


Igboland is surrounded on all sides by large rivers, and other southern and central Nigeria indigenous tribes, namely Bini, Urhobo-Isoko, Ijaw, Ogoni, Igala, Tiv, Yako, Idoma and Ibibio. [2]

Igbo Land and Climate

Igboland has a tropical climate. The average annual temperature is about 27°c (80°f), with an annual range of 5 to 10 degrees. The rainy and dry seasons are well marked. the former begins in April and lasts until October, when the dry season starts. Rainfall is heavier in the south than in the north. Important in the seasonal cycle are the southwest monsoon winds that bring rain and the northeast winds that are dry, dusty, and cold. These dry winds are known as the “harmattan.” [3]



The Igbos - Traditional Setting

Most Igbo traditionally have been subsistence farmers, their staples being yams, cassava, and taro. The other crops they grow include corn (maize), melons, okra, pumpkins, and beans. Among those still engaged in agriculture, men are chiefly responsible for yam cultivation, women for other crops. Land is owned communally by kinship groups and is made available to individuals for farming and building. Some livestock, important as a source of prestige and for use in sacrifices, is kept. The principal exports are palm oil and palm kernels. Trading, local crafts, and wage labour also are important in the Igbo economy, and a high literacy rate has helped many Igbo to become civil servants and business entrepreneurs in the decades after Nigeria gained independence. It is notable that Igbo women engage in trade and are influential in local politics. [4]

Except for the northeastern groups, the Igbo live in rainforest country. Most Igbo occupy villages of dispersed compounds, but in some areas villages are compact. The compound is typically a cluster of huts, each of which constitutes a separate household. Traditionally the village was usually occupied by a patrilineage. [4]

The Igbo are a politically fragmented group, with numerous divisions resulting from geographic differences. There are also various subgroups delineated in accordance with clan, lineage, and village affiliations. They have no centralized chieftaincy, hereditary aristocracy, or kingship customs, as can be found among their neighbors. Instead, the responsibility of leadership has traditionally been left to the village councils, which include the heads of lineages, elders, titled men, and men who have established themselves economically within the community. It is possible for an Igbo man, through personal success, to become the nominal leader of the council. [5]

(Above Image's Source: ID 64248555 © Rainer Lesniewski | Dreamstime.com)

Religion

Today, the majority of the Igbo people are Christian, well over half of whom are Roman Catholics. [6]

The Igbo Culture

Igbo culture includes the various customs, 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, their cultural practices vary. [7]

Igbo Traditional Marriage

Note: Due to cultural differences among the Igbos, there are some variations to the below typical marriage process Marriage in Igboland is not just an affair between the future husband and wife but also involves the parents, the extended family and villages. First the groom asks his potential partner to marry him. Assuming that this is affirmative, the groom will visit the bride's residence accompanied by his father. The groom's father will introduce himself and his son and explain the purpose of his visit. [8] This is typically called Iku aka

The bride's father welcomes the guests, invites his daughter to come and asks her if she knows the groom. Her confirmation shows that she agrees with the proposal. [8]

Then the bride's price settlement starts with the groom accompanied by his father and elders visiting the bride's compound on another evening. They bring wine and kola nuts with them, which are presented to the bride's father. After they have been served with a meal, the bride's price will be negotiated between the fathers. Another evening is spent for the payment of the bride's price at the bride's compound when the groom's family hands over the money and other agreed prerequisites. The money and goods are counted, while relatives and friends are served drinks and food in the bride's compound . After all is settled, the traditional wedding day is planned. [8] This ceremony is typically called ime ego


The wedding (Igbankwu) is again at the bride's compound, where the guests welcome the couple and invite them in front of the families. First the bride's father fills a wooden cup (Iko) with palm wine and passes it on to the girl while the groom finds a place between the guests.

It is the custom for her to look for her husband while being distracted by the invitees. Only after she has found the groom, offered the cup to him and he has sipped the wine that the couple is married traditionally.

During this ceremony, there is also the nuptial dance where the couple dances, while guests wish the newly weds prosperity by throwing money around them or putting bills on their forehead.

Nowadays, church wedding follows traditional marriage. [8]


REFERENCES


1. Igbo. Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/anthropology-and-archaeology/people/igbo. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2020


2. Igboland. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igboland. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2020


3. Igbo. Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/anthropology-and-archaeology/people/igbo. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2020


4. Igbo People. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Igbo


5. Igbo. The University of IOWA - Art and Life In Africa, https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Igbo.


6. Igbo Religion. Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/igbo-religion. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2020


7. Igbo Culture. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igbo_culture


8. Traditional Family Ceremonies. IgboGuide.org, https://www.igboguide.org/HT-chapter11.htm




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