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In: Education & Learning

The Igbo Political system was ‘acephalous’ in nature, which means it is decentralized, with no leader or no chief. It was completely democratic and civil society, as everyone in the village has the power to contribute to decisions taken in the community or village (before the invasion).

Every Igbo village comprises closely related families, who have the same beliefs and they were viewed as a political unit (before colonialism).

Igbo (Asụsụ Igbo), or Ibo, one of the biggest languages of West Africa, is believed to be spoken by 18 million people in Nigeria. The language is guessed to have originated around the 9th century AD in the area near the convergence of the Niger and Benue rivers and then spread over a wide region of south-eastern Nigeria. The Igbos are socially and culturally distinct, comprising of many subgroups. Although they dwell in scattered groups of villages, they all speak the same language. The Igbos have no widespread traditional story of their origins.

In the late 19th century, Igboland became a fraction of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate of the British Empire and was amalgamated into modern-day Nigeria in 1914. Nigeria gained its independence in 1960. Immediately afterward, Igboland was involved in its biggest war during Biafra’s trend for secession.

The Igbo language is owned by the Niger-Congo language family. It is a fraction of the Kwa subfamily. A difficult system of high and low tones reflects differences in understanding and grammatical connections. There are a wide variety of languages.

The Igbos have a scheme of folk beliefs that explains how everything in the world came into existence. It further explains what functions the heavenly and earthly bodies possess and offers guidance on how to behave towards gods, spirits, and ancestors.

The Igbos believe the world is guarded by invisible and visible forces by the living, the dead, and the yet to be born. Reincarnation to them is perceived as a bridge between the living and the dead.

The Igbo religion are shared by all Igbo-speaking people. However, many of its processes are locally organized, with the most effective unit of religious worship being the extended family. Occasional rituals and ceremonies may activate the ancestry (larger kinship unit) or the village, which is the largest political community.

The Igbos believe in an ultimate God who keeps watching over his creatures from afar. He hardly interferes in the affairs of human beings. No sacrifices are rendered directly to him. However, he is recognized as the ultimate receiver of sacrifices made to the minor gods. To differentiate him from the minor gods, he is addressed as Chukwu the great or the high God. As the creator of everything, he is referred to as Chukwu Abiama.

There are also minor gods, who are generally subject to human fascinations and shortcomings. They may be kind, receptive, and tireless; at other times they are dangerous, unmerciful, and jealous. These minor gods include Alaa, the goddess of the earth. She is attributed with fertility, both of human beings and of the land. Anyanwu is the god of the sun who makes crops and trees grow. Igwe is the god of the sky the source of rain.

In addition to these gods, the Igbos recognize other varieties of spirits whose good depends solely on treating them well. Forests and rivers at the edge of cultivated lands are said to be inhabited by these spirits. Mbataku and Agwo are minor gods associated with the spirits of wealth and abundance. While others included are Aha Njoku (the yam spirit) appeased during the yam festival and Ikoro (the drum spirit).

The Igbo behaviour towards their deities and spirits is not one of panic but one of friendship.

The Igbos have a number of wind and stringed musical devices. The Oja is a whistle that is made of wood, Alo a metal gong, Ogene similar gong-like-bell shape and smaller, Udu pot from clay, Ekwe drum carved from wood, etc. Possibly the most fascinating of the Igbo instruments is the urban-Akala, a kind of guitar. It has a triangular trunk formed by three pieces of softwood fastened together. It is usually played by strolling musicians in the evenings. Igbo performers improvise as the song plays on and show tremendous skill in fitting words to the song’s rhythm and melody.

Dancing is one of the great Igbo pastimes, exercised by everybody. There are particular dances for boys, girls, men, women, and mixed groups. Group dance is related to religious ceremonies and festivals. The traditional Igbo Economy depends on root crop farming operations. And the division of labor is observed according to gender. The traditional recreation of the Igbos includes rituals, storytelling, wrestling, fetching of water from the river, dancing, and music.

Carving is a skilled occupation practiced by Igbo men. They produce stools, dancing masks, and boxes. Another craft they value much is that of the blacksmith. While women’s crafts include pottery making, spinning, weaving of baskets, and grass plaiting used as local doors. In schools and other higher institutions of learning, the Igbo language is studied as a subject as it’s the medium for communication. A number of broadcast stations also read news in the Igbo language across the globe. Like BBC, VOA, and VON.

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