Origin of the Igbos

Various attempts had been made to discover the origin of the Igbos but this attempt has not been able to yield fruit. Different school of thought have therefore resorted to analyze that since no prove had been made on the origin of the igbos, the thinking and belief of some scholars that the igbos are the original inhabitants of south eastern forest land could not be questioned.

These scholars went further to argue that since other groups came into Nigeria at a later date than Igbos, the discovery of the origin of the Igbos could be difficult except through archeological studies.

Till today, the origin of the Igbos is still a very big problem and some researchers are still working to come up with the truth.

The People of Eastern Nigeria

The eastern parts of Nigeria are occupied by the Igbos, Efik, Ijaws and Ibibio. On this region the Igbos are dominant group. It is estimated that about 70% of the inhabitants of the areas are Igbos.


The Igbos are known to be individualistic as the Tivs. The major feature of the Igbos was their social fragmentation, which is to say that the people were broken up into hundreds of small different units.

The Igbo traditional administrative system was based upon family groups whereby each family chooses its own leader who saw to the welfare of the members of the entire family by communicating frequently with the ancestors.

Two or more families with some link of relationship can join to make up a clan or village.

The village is headed by eldest son of the village, commonly called Okpara. But even at family level, the authority still lies with the Okpara of the family, clan or village.

It was the responsibility of the elder to perform rite and privileges especially those concerned with ancestors.

The family head, the village head or clan head are all Okpara at their respective level and performs similar functions at each level with the clan head such as being the custodian of the family, village or clan offor.

This elder is assisted by the council of chiefs made up of head of families.

There are Ozor titleholders in the village, unlike the Yoruba were the institution of Monarch was prominent or Fulani emirate in which institution of theocracy was noticeable.

The institution of chieftain never took a firm look in Igbo land.

In Igbo traditional administrative system, there was no central authority which wielded the people into political home like the Hausa, Yoruba and Ashanti Kingdom.

There was no paramount chief or organ of government common to the Igbos.

Families or lineages which belong to the same kindred usually associate and form what is called the village group.

The village group largely manages its affairs and was always headed by the most elderly person, whose duty was to be custodian of a staff (ofor) for the village and to perform some religious ceremonies such as appealing to god of ani, arusi and amadioha deities.

In any traditional gathering, the elder is given a conspicuous recognition that reflected leadership role.

Although chiefs maybe appointed by villages, such chief must be crowned by the eldest man in the village and such chief must receive his power from the eldest man in the area.

The village groups were held together by no central or coordinating authority. Each of them was linked not by political authority but social ties to the units around it.

Religious leaders, warriors, family heads and village heads combine to carryout administration in Igbo land.

Although there were no political authorities to wield the Igbos together, the Igbos are noted for their cooperative attitude and their enthusiasm.

This noted in the formation of various town union, age grade and social group etc, which is prevalent in most Igbo lands. This union provides loans and makes useful contribution in execution of community projects.

Finally, because there was no central authority as in the Hausa and Yoruba kingdom; the British colonial masters have to create warrant chiefs to perform some functions. The activities of the warrant chiefs were restricted.

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