Igbo is a vast community in Nigeria, contributing to the second largest group in Africa. Did you know the Igbo people have a calendar of their own? Well, surprisingly, they do. The calendar goes by the name Iguafo Igbo. It differs from the normal world calendar in that four days make a week. Seven weeks make a month, and thirteen months make a year. Quite interesting and unique. This indigenous group has grown to other parts of the world over time. In fact, there is a town in Belize city by the name Ebui. This name is a result of the settlement of the Igbo people in the region. Jamaica has itself welcomed this group, and the interactions resulted in the assimilation of the Igbo language. If a Jamaican ever refers to you as `Onu,` it simply means `you` in the Igbo language. Here is a little more on the history of this group.
History and Origin of Igbo people
Several theories attempt to explain the origin of this group. The common theories include the Israeli version. According to this theory, scholars speculate the Igbo people originate from Israel. The profound similarities between the Igbo and the ancient Hebrew culture affirm the speculation. The other common version is the Middle East version. Another group of scholars agrees that the Middle East marks the origin of the Igbo people. However, the mystery of the origin of this group stays on.
Geographically, the Igbo occupies the Southeastern region of Nigeria. It is further divided into two regions by the Niger river to have the Eastern and Western regions. Further subdivisions have taken root, and as a result, we have five cultural divisions among the Igbo. That is, the Northern, Southern, Western, Eastern, and Northeastern groups.
The Igbo culture
Igbo community is majorly known for its finger-licking traditionally made soups. It’s a special cuisine in Igboland that has caught the attention of many. The soups are very famous in Nigeria and are ecstacy to serve visitors. Apart from the soups, the natives of Igboland venture a lot in farming. They are majorly subsistence farmers, concentrating on Yams, Cassava, and Taro.
However, according to the community`s culture, Yams are cultivated by men. Additionally, they grow corn, melons, Okra, Pumpkins, and even beans. Livestock rearing is also a major activity for them. However, livestock plays a major role in being sacrifices compared to consumption purposes.
They are very active in trade. As earlier mentioned, drawing from their calendar, the Igbo people have four market days. Their major exports are palm oil and palm kernels. Women in the Igbo community contribute largely to trade activities.
Igbo dressing code
They are nothing short of entertainment dressed in their full traditional attire. Surprisingly, their flute is traditionally curved by themselves. The special flute is named Oja flute and serves great significance when it comes to their music.
Igbo dress code is awe to many Africans and even worldwide. Igbo women are praised much because they tie the wrapper, which serves as a skirt for them. Accompanied by a scarf on their head commonly known as gele in the Igbo language. The men wear the Isiagu dressing code. It consists of a top that resembles the dashiki design accompanied by a trouser and crowned by the agwu cap.
The Igbo believe in a supreme being and creator whom they call Chineke or Chukwu. They also have other supreme beings which they accord respect, like Ala, the earth goddess. Special worship places are in place to help maintain order. Moreover, there are strict rules to help Igbo people conduct prayers and live a life pleasing to their creator. Much of these rules have become norms, where others have become taboos.
Igbo people believe that disobedience yields anger from their creator. The consequences are, as a result, heavy on them. Misfortunes such as drought or hunger befall on them. However, due to influence from outside culture, several Igbo people are embracing the Christianity culture. Nonetheless, such external influence hasn’t affected those dedicated to protecting the traditions of the Igbo people.
5 common Taboos in Igbo
Thus, the community has laid out an entire set of taboos that they should refrain from to evade anger from their gods. They include;
The use of the left hand
Apparently, doing anything with your left hand in Igboland is taboo. This applies even to left-handed persons. If you are a left-handed person at all, you are mandatorily trained to use the right hand. According to the Igbo people, the left-hand display lack of respect and is unfortunate. The belief is not only accustomed to the Igbo people but also the Nigerians at large. So if you find yourself in Nigeria, make sure to be cautious about using your left hand.
Marriage in this Nigerian Igbo community definitely comes with a process like all other marriages. However, for this particular clan, there is a traditional norm that must be attempted by the groom. This practice must take place as it determines whether the marriage will take place or not.
The groom has to call his kinsmen and plan to take a calabash of palm wine to his future father-in-law. The calabash has to be carried on his head until he arrives at his father-in-law’s residence. However, if this calabash falls from his head, the wedding is not to take place. In fact, he should refrain from any attempts of marrying from that house.
Yes! Python the snake. Surprisingly, Pythons are neither killed nor consumed in Igboland. In fact, this reptile is a supreme being in Igboland. Igbo people believe that Python is a representation of their ancestors. Isn’t it shocking that the Python is designated as “Our Father” by this community? Moreover, it adds Ala to its name. Ala is the guardian of the land and underground. Be careful not to go hunting for Python in Igboland. You might not receive any welcome.
This is a taboo that even the world would largely agree with. Even among Christians, taking one’s life is a sin. Things are taken a notch higher in this community. If an individual commits suicide, he is cursed and send off to a forbidden forest. He doesn`t get the privilege of receiving a decent burial. The individual is believed to have been possessed with evil spirits leading him to take his life.
Marrying an Osu
Osu is an outcast in the caste system. For being an outcast, the individual is now in the hands of their gods. Marrying a person from this origin is taboo. That is why Igbo people must make a background check before tying the note with their partner. Failure to which the wedding is bound to be stopped.
Plantain is a plant that has faces similarities to the banana. Unlike the banana, plantain is consumed while raw. The thing about plantain in Igboland is that it should be separate. The latter symbolizes a bad omen. It symbolizes birthing conjoined twins. To evade such misfortune, it is important to separate it behind your back. In all you do, you should not separate the plantain with your bear eyes.
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