The Igbo Culture Area

The Igbo occupies most part of eastern Nigeria. Igbo language is predominantly spoken by the people, though with dialectical differences in different Igbo communities. Attempt have been made to develop a more central Igbo language, and the Onitsha dialect of igbo language blended with some common Igbo syllabus from other Igbo communities have been adopted as central igbo language for easy communication and writing.

The igbo language is also spoken by some of the neighbors of the igbos because of long period of inter-group relations among them which predated the period of European penetration in the area. The igbos never organized themselves into kingdoms or empires with feudal lords, they lived in what some writers described as democratic village republic.

This is evidenced in the amount of importance attached to village assembly which is a gathering of the whole community at which important issues affecting the community are discussed. Every man is allowed to air his view on any issue, even if his view contradicted those of the recognized elders.

The igbo neighbors in the eastern Nigeria such as the Efik and Ibibio shared the same acephalous system of political organization, with the exception of Ijaw ethnic group. The adoption of kingship institutions by the igbo and these neighbors is a relatively new development.

The igbo people share similar socio-cultural and economic ways of life. The igbo people practice African traditional religion before the coming of the European missionaries. The African traditional religion involves the worship of gods and goddesses. There were household gods, village deities and clan deities as well as earth goddesses.

The African traditional practices are becoming extinct because of the people wholesome acceptance of Christian faith introduced by the European missionaries. Some common cultural heritage exist among the people such as the practice of circumcision, similar marriage custom, naming ceremonies, moral laws and market days- Eke, Orie, Afor, Nkwo and the use of Kolanut to welcome visitors.

Some beliefs are common among the Igbos, they belief in the existence of supreme being called CHINEKE or CHUKWU who created all things and controls the universe. The Igbo word for God is CHINEKE or CHUKWU. Chineke means the creator while Chukwu means the highest God.

The igbos also believe in reincarnation or rebirth, ancestral spirits, law of karma which means every man must pay the price for the evil he committed. Traditional music and dance are hallmark of ceremonies like festivals, burials, rituals or initiation into age grade, Ozo-title holders and coronations.

The dance varies from one igbo community to another, but the popular igbo dance is the Atilogwu dance. The traditional music is mostly played with leather drum, pot with holes, flutes, metal gong, and wooden xylophone arranged on banana trunks.

The igbo are very enterprising, materialistic and individualistic. They place high premium on personal achievements. The igbos are the most travelled people in Nigeria. It is said by some social commentators that any city in Nigeria where you do not find the igbo man doing his business is essentially an evil place.

Although, the igbo society places emphasis on personal achievements, they still have regards for old age and other societal values. Agriculture, trade and industry are the major occupations of the people. The land is uncommonly rich and fruitful and produces all kinds of crops in great abundance.

Black smith and wooden carving were very common in the igbo society in the olden days. The Igboukwu and Akwa people were skillful craftsmen. They have produced famous bronze, ion materials and wooden carving of international standard some which were carted away during the colonial era.

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