Maduena 1 Thomas Maduena Mrs. Aisola English 4 December 16, 2012 Unconventional Culture of the Ibo People in Nigeria The Ibo people, traditionally known as Igbo, are one of the largest and most significant ethnic groups of Southern Nigeria (Igboland). Their culture and traditions are so diverse because their group is fragmented into subgroups. Chinua Achebe explains the tough and cultural ways of the Ibo people in his novel Things Fall Apart.
Their customs can be compared but, nevertheless they have kept their traditions stayed the same throughout their history. Origin; Ibo people originated in the Kingdom of Nri. “Nri Kingdom in the Awka area is the cradle of Igbo civilization and culture” (destee. com) It is also one of the most oldest Nigerian kingdoms. Although Nri people were a different group, they influenced the traditional Igbo people with their customs and practices. “There is a little bit of Nri in all of us… Igbo is Nri and Nri is Igbo… you are Nri and Nri is you… ” (destee. om) The orgin of the Igbo people can be argued about, but no doubt the originated from the Nri People. Traditional Society; Although some ill-informed people would only see that the Ibo people are very primitive and barbaric, they had their own form of government, leadership, and economy. “The basic unit of Igbo life was the village group…family head” (qub. ac. uk) The “family head” or modern colloquial, the man of the house, would be the older male, In most cases the father. He settled all issues within and outside his family, and was the one to Maduena 2 talk to higher members of the clan or in the village. Social status is based on wealth, regardless of occupation. The Igbo distinguish between obgenye or mbi (the poor), dinkpa (the moderately prosperous), and nnukwu madu or ogaranya (the rich). “ (everyculture. com) Titles were a major role in every Nigerian tribe whether it be the Ibos, Yorubas, or Hausas. A title gave respect and honor to their family. “Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages… fame rested on solid personal achievements. ” (Things Fall Apart P. 1, Chinua Achebe) His title was earned throughout his life and solely on himself, which gave him a god reputation and being respected. There was a hierarchy of ascending titles that were to be taken in order, accompanied by an ascending scale of payments. ” (qub. ac. uk) Titles were not easy to come by and had an extensive process. Rituals were acquired and having a title gave the person a sense of success. Their villages are very dependent on one another. Any interference with their village would be taken up to the leader of the clan and if necessary brought up to the elders. Decisions would affect their entire village or town and need to be thoroughly checked with. Oracles played a key role for Ibo villages because of their consistency of being dependable.
In “Things Fall Apart” the Oracle was an important character in their decisions made. “And there were indeed occasions when the Oracle had forbidden Umuofia to wage a war. If the clan had disobeyed the Oracle they would surely have been beaten. ” (Things Fall Apart P. 11, Chinua Achebe) The Umuofia people are so superstitious that they will not make any major decisions without first consulting the gods through the Oracle. Their thought is that only the Gods can justify when the time to war is right. Government; The Igbo leaders of the village and the common people all work together to form a democracy.
They all participate to make their villages such a working Maduena 3 community. “Perhaps it was the small scale of their political institutions that made Igbo Land such a good example of what a democracy should be. Some of the first European visitors to this region were struck by the extent to which democracy was truly practiced. ” (qub. ac. uk) Igbo people are not the barbarians people think of them to be. They just have an unconventional way of having a stable society. Family and Marriage; Families would live in the village group, but all living in separate segments.
Males and elders would receive the outmost respect. The oldest male was usually the leader of the compound and there were many different groups in that compound. The rule of seniority was usually the placement where the person would be in their status. Marriage was ideal for every woman especially. “When a boy betroths a girl, the matter does not end there. The families of the contracting parties will embark on a series of investigations about the character, home training, lineage, health, clan relationship They needed a man to provide for them and their future children. (kwenu. com) Marriage was not as simple as it is modern days. Marriage requires thoroughly planning to get the best for their child, presumably their daughter. Polygamy was common and looked upon. If they were a successful man, they had as much wives as they could marry. Men would have multiple wives and several children. Wives were ranked according to the order in which they married the common husband. Seniority was also important in children. The first male and female children of the domestic group were more important than the next children to be born.
First-born children were given specific and responsible positions in their family. Rite of Passage; Children are normally the ones to have significant events happen to them. Circumcision is common in present day around the world. Ibo people too believe in this. “The difference is they also circumcise girls. The rite of Circumcision, whereby a child Maduena 4 is initiated into his culture, occurs on the eighth day after birth, when he or she is circumcised. ” (kenwu. com) Another rite in Igbo culture would be Iru-mgbede (fattening of a girl before marriage).
Igbo people believed that if the mother were physically healthy, the child would be born healthy and able to survive. Igba Mgba (wrestling) was how one became a warrior or well known throughout the community. This was the way Okonkwo first started to build his reputation as a fine skilled warrior. “As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalizine the Cat. ” (Things Fall Apart P. 3 Chinua Achebe) Amalizine the Cat was an amazing wrestler whose back would never touch the ground, Okonkwo defeated him and with that gained his honor and respect. Every man wanted to be respected.
Culture and beliefs; Spirits, gods and the unknown were not something to be interfered with and the Igbo people greatly feared the supernatural. ” The darkness held a vague terror for these people…children were warned not to whistle at night for fear of evil spirits. ” (Things Fall Apart P. 9 Chinua Achebe) Night was deeply feared. Animals were thought to become more vicious at night. Moonlight however would bring tranquility. People would go out for walks and children would be playing. Most marriages and festivities would be held in the evening leading on to the night. One of the biggest celebrations was the Feast of New Yam.
Most West African countries celebrate this. The Feast of New Yam symbolized the end of a harvest and the beginning of the next work cycle. “…To honor the earth goddess and the ancestral spirits of the clan. New yams could not be eaten until some head first been offered to these powers. ” (Things Fall Apart P. 32 Chinua Achebe) They strongly believed in sacrifice and giving the their higher beings. Although beating their wives and children is looked upon as strength to keep things in order, many Maduena 5 African tribes including the Igbo culture practiced the Week of Peace.
Any disrespect towards traditions was dealt with the elders of the elders of the tribe. No work or violence should happen during to week of peace in order to pray for his or her future crop to grow. “Okonkwo broke the peace, and was punished… ” (Things Fall Apart P. 25 Chinua Achebe) His punishment was to sacrifice a female goat, a hen, a length of cloth, and one hundred cowries in order to keep from harvest turning out bad. Respect to their culture is mandatory for everyone in the tribe. Modern Igbo culture; Today, there are as many churches as well as mosques and traditional religion worship centers in Enugu State.
The state is predominantly made up of Christians, but also had many catholic and protestant churches in Enugu State. Much of the Igbo’s traditions are still celebrated, but things like abusing your children and wife is not kept. Monogamous relationships are much more common and they celebrate holidays because they are converted into Christians. ” One of the most important events in Igboland is Christmas and it signifies home return in the village…Igbo families consider their one and only real home their house in the village. It is the two weeks around Christmas which bring families back together to the village. (igboguide. org) Modern Ibo people are more focused in unity within their family and their villages. Unlike in Things Fall Apart, masculinity is not a major attribute, peace and affection has replaced it. Although the Ibo culture and religion has changed, the tough and rigidness is something they will always have. Ibo people are very spiritual, as shown in Things Fall Apart. Ibo people in nature show respect, if respect is shown towards them. Their customs have changed, but that will never change who they are at heart. Maduena 6 Figure 1 http://www. globalsecurity. rg/military/world/nigeria/maps. htm Figure 2 http://amaigboyouth. wordpress. com/maps/ Maduena 7 Work Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. London: William Heinemann Limited, part of Reed Consumer Books, 1959. Print. Advameg Inc. “Countries and Their Cultures. ” Economy. n. d. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. <http://www. everyculture. com/Africa-Middle-East/Igbo-Economy. html> Akbondu. “Black People : Nri Kingdom… the Cradle of Igbo Civilization. ” Black People Meet. . n. d. , 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 12 Dec. 012. <http://destee. com/index. php? threads/nri-kingdom-the-cradle-of-igbo- civilization. 59970/>. Froiland, Andrew. “African Tribes – Ibo – Igbo Culture. ” African Tribes – Ibo – Igbo Culture. Minnesota State University Mankato, n. d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. <http://www. africaguide. com/culture/tribes/ibo. htm>. Onyemaechi, Uzoma, and Ann Arboy. “Igbo Culture and Socialization. ” Igbo Culture. University of Michigan, n. d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. <http://www. kwenu. com/igbo/igbowebpages/Igbo. dir/Culture/culture_and_socialization. html>.
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