Igbo people (From Wikipedia) The Igbo, sometimes (especially formerly) referred to as the Ibo/Ebo, are an ethnic group in West Africa numbering in the tens of millions. Most Igbo people live in southeastern Nigeria, who are one of the largest of the Nigeria's population; they can also be found in significant numbers in neighboring Cameroon and other African countries as well as in other countries outside of Africa. Their language is the Igbo language. Geography The Igbo in Nigeria are found in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, as well as in Delta and Rivers States. The Igbo language is predominant throughout this area, although English (the national language) is also spoken. Prominent towns in Igbo country include Aba, Abiriba, Awka, Abba, Nigeria, Owerri, Orlu, Nnewi, Mbaise, Nsukka, Enugu, Onitsha, Afikpo, Okigwe, Umuahia, Asaba, Ohafia, Arochukwu,Ngwo, Mbaitoli, Ikeduru and Ihiala amongst others. Igbo Beliefs and Religious Thought The Igbo believe in a benevolent creator or Chukwu (also known as Chineke) (i.e. Almighty God), that each individual is born with a spiritual assistant or guardian principle, Chi, unique to each individual, and that the individual's fate and destiny are determined by their Chi. Thus the Igbo say that siblings may come of the same mother but no two people have the same Chi. In addition to Igbo belief in a supreme deity, the Igbo traditional belief system also included other "lower-deities" and providences related to different aspects of Igbo cosmology. This was in consonance with African traditional belief systems including those of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Ethiopia (Kush) and it was on these belief systems that earlier civilizations such as the Greeks based their own belief systems. Early Western chroniclers such as Homer and Herodotus noted that the Ethiopians (the Ku****es, in present day Sudan) were the favorites of the gods and that Greek gods went to Kush to partake in their annual religious rites. The Ala spirit is the goddess or providence spirit of the Earth who is also the guardian spirit of living descendants and moral rectitude. The Igbo also believe in principal spirits of the sun (Anyanwu), the sky (Igwekaala) and thunder and lightening (Amadioha). There are numerous other deities related to rivers and streams, forests and sacred woods, agriculture, the days of the calendar which is structured around major and minor market days, the professions, and so on. Another principal Igbo deity is Njoku or Ajoku, guardian deity of the yam which in previous times was the major staple crop of the Igbo. In parts of Igbo land there are annual rituals in honor of the yam deity known as Ifejioku, and in other parts children who were dedicated to the service of the deity were named Njoku. As adults such children were expected to become prosperous yam farmers which made them into nobility. Among the Igbo each major deity has a priest in every town that honors it, and the priest is assisted by a group of acolytes and devotees. The Igbo world is divided into several interconnected realms, principal among them being the realm of the living, the realm of the dead or of the ancestors, and the realm of the unborn. Individuals who led an honorable life and received a proper burial proceed to the ancestral realm to take their place among the ancestors or Ndichie. From there they keep a watchful eye on the clan and visit their loved ones among the living with blessings such as fertility, good health, longevity and prosperity. In gratitude the living offer sacrifices to them at the family hearth, and seek their counsel. Children are considered the greatest blessing of all and this is reflected in popular names such as Nwakaego; a child is worth more than money or Akuakanwa; no wealth is worthier than a child, or Nwabuugwu; a child is the greatest honor. In many parts of Igboland, women who successfully deliver ten children are rewarded with special celebrations and rites that honor their hips. Infertility is considered a particularly harsh misfortune. The Igbo believe that it is children who perpetuate the race, and in order to do so children are expected to continue Igbo tradition and ways. The Igbo are known historically for their republicanism and the absence of monarchical or central political structures among them as a group. Igbo contempt for monarchies is conspicuously embedded in the popular saying and common name, Igboamaeze; the Igbo recognize no kings. This is so because the Igbo believe that there is a king in every man, in other words that each person is a king unto themselves and master of their own affairs. Each Igbo community or clan is organized around age groups, social organizations, the revered and accomplished and family heads with a special place for the priest. Deference is paid to the eldest man in the clan, but each grown man has a say in the affairs of the community. Issues that affect the clan are publicly tabled and discussed and the opinion of each grown man is taken into consideration in order to reach consensus. Affairs that particularly affect women are discussed in women groups and accordingly decided and settled. In every community, the daughters of the clan or Umuada (also known as Umumgboto) occupy a particularly powerful place and could return from their different places of marriage to exercise the breaking vote in matters of grave consequence to the community. Individuals are accorded special rights in their maternal clan and may return to their mother's home town when threatened or banished from their own home towns. Highly accomplished men and women are admitted into orders for people of title such as Ndi Ozo or Ndi Nze. Such individuals receive certain insignia to show their stature. Membership in these orders is highly exclusive, and to qualify an individual needs more than mere material accomplishment or gallantry. They need to be highly regarded and well-spoken of in the community, and most importantly, they must be a person of the greatest integrity, truthfulness, and sanity. The slightest impeachment of character is enough to disqualify an individual from becoming a person of title and once admitted into the order, a person of title is forbidden to lie, cheat, climb a tree, covet or divest a neighbor of their belongings, or commit an abomination or crime. Modern religious distribution Some Igbo still practice traditional Igbo religion. Although the Igbo have been largely Christianized, indigenous beliefs retain some influence, particularly in the rural villages. As with most Christianized peoples, Christian Igbo incorporated many of the culture's indigenous values, customs and traditions in their own systems into Christian worship, merely deemphasizing their origins. Most Christian Igbo are Roman Catholics and Anglicans. History Origin The Igbo appear to have settled in their present area thousands of years ago possibly from Egypt/Sudan. The origin of the Igbo people is still a subject of speculation and debate. To give some directions in the issue, we must look at Nigeria's oldest Kingdom, the Nri Kingdom as well as oral tradition (through sometimes fragmentary) and genetics and linguistics. ...like any group of people, they are anxious to discover their origin and reconstruct how they came to be how they are. ...their experiences under colonialsim and since Nigeria's Independence have emphasized for them the reality of their group identity which they want to anchor into authenticated history. Analysis of the sources available has led researchers to the Nri Kingdom. The Nri Kingdom is the oldest Kingdom in what is now known as Nigeria today. Exact dating of its establishment is not known and made even more obscure since modern day popular dating of the Nri Kingdom, 900AD, conflicts with the establishment of another in Nigeria, the Benin Kingdom which is also popularly dated to 900AD. Via Igbo oral tradition and studies and anthropological evidences, the Nri Kingdom was founded by the progenitor Eri(or Eru). Nri (founder of the Nri-Clan) was the son of Eri. Speculation of the origin of the Igbo beings when one starts to trace the origin of Eri. By archeological account, in around 2345BC in Ancient Egypt, "M-Eru-ka (or Eru/Eri)" became a high priest to Pharaoh Teti. Because of this, the Egyptian origin of the Igbo people as many have insisted is also backed by linguistic evidences proving many Egyptian words survive in Igbo today and has led researchers to focus in this area. A small list of Ancient Egyptian words which survive in the Igbo language today are as follows: EGYPTIAN | IGBO (Onitsha and Uburu dialects used) KAKA(God) | Ka (greater, superior) Khu (to kill, death) | Nwu/Gbu (die/to kill) Em (smell) | Imi/Emi (nose, associated with smell) Bi (to become) | Bu (to become) un (living being) | Ndu (life) Feh (to go away) | Feh (to fly away) Budo (dwelling place) | Obodo/ubudo (country, dwelling place) Dudu (black image of Osiris) | Mmadu (person) Un (living person) | Ulo/Uno (living area, house) Beka (pray/confess) | Biko/Beko (to plead, please) Aru (mouth) | Onu (mouth) & kooh/Kwue (to speak) Dor (settlement) | Dor-Nor (sit down, settle) Ra -Shu (light after darkness) | La -Shu (sleep) Aru (rise) | Anu/Kulie (up, rise) Wu (rise) | KWu-ni/Kunie (rise) In- n (negation) nh-n (negation) Ma (to know) | Ma, Ma-li (to know) Se (to create) | Ke (to create) & Se (to draw) Hoo (rejoice) | Goo, ta-Goo (dance, rejoice) Omijener (deep water) | Ime-me (deep inside) Nen (the primeval water mother) | Nem (mother) Ro (talk) | Kwo (to talk) Penka (divide) Panje (break it) Ala (Land of) | Ala (Land of, ground, boundary) Amu (children) | Umu (children) Ani (ground land below) | Ani (ground land below) Ka (higher) | Ka (greater, higher, stronger, above) Pa (open) | Meghee (open) Isi (leader) | Isi (leader, head (body part), female name as in igbo: "Isioma") Oni (AE City) | Oni-tsha (Igbo City) Ikhenaten (name of a Pharaoh) | Ikh-em (Igbo name for a male representing high power) Au-nu (Crocodile) | Anu/Anu-Ma-nu (animal, beast) Miri (water) | Miri (water) Nahasu (other Blacks) | Ahasi/Ani-hasi (Evening, night) Ak (man) | Ok-a (man) Ehn/Hen (yes, nod head) | Eh (yes, nod head) Paa/Faa (fly) | Feeh/Faa (fly) Utcha (dawn) | Uchi-chi/Utchi-chi(night) MM (among) | Imme (inside, among) W (they) | Uwe (they, them) According to Eze Nri, Nri-Enwelana II, the "Nri Kingdom is the oldest Kingdom in Nigeria. It was founded around 900AD by the progenitor, Eri, the son of Gad. According to biblical accounts, Jacob had Leah as his wife who begot four sons for him. When Leah noticed she had passed child-bearing age, she gave her maid servant, Zilpah to Jacob to wife, and through Zilpah he had a son named Gad. Gad then bigot Eri, who later formed a clan known as Erites vide Genesis Chapter 30 verse 9; 46 verse 16 and Numbers chapter 26 verses 15-19. Eri was therefore amongst the twelve tribes of Israel via Gad." "During their stay in Egypt Eri became the high priest and spiritual adviser to Pharaoh Teti, the fifth dynastic king of Egypt around 2400 BC." "During the Exodus, which marked the beginning of the mass movement of the tribes of Israel, the tribe of Eri was amongst the tribe that left Egypt following the injunction from God to the Israelites (see Deuteronomy chapter 28 verses 58 68). Some of these tribes founded settlements in the southern part of Sudan, where they established the "Nok" culture, which is similar to that of other (sun Cult) culture, like Nri, Fiji, Samoa, and Jukun in the Northern part of Nigeria and elsewhere. But others who could not remain in the Southern Sudan traveled further South, some branched off to Jukun, in Northern part of Nigeria, others continued and arrived at the confluence of Rivers Niger and Anambara known as "Ezu-na-Ọmambala" and settled there while some veered off to the Island of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean. An intelligence report notes that the Fijians have the same sun culture with the people of Nri." "However, the Hebriac/Egyptian origins theory is the official account of the present Eze Nri, Nri-Enwelana II, who went further to trace Eri's origin to the biblical Eri (the son of Gad, the son of Jacob)." In addition to the pattern of evidences of migration from Egypt, other people also entered the Igbo territory in about the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. Many of these people still exhibit different characteristics from that of the traditional Igbo people for example geographical marginality, the institution of kingship, a hierarchical title system. The Igbo word "Igbo" is now used in three senses, to describe Igbo territory, to identify the Igbo people (whether they speak the Igbo language or not) and to Identify the language spoken by Igbo people.(see (A.E. Afigbo,1981: Ropes of Sand, Caxton Press,Ibadan. and T. Shaw:1970; "Igbo Ukwu: An Account of Archaeological Discoveries in Eastern Nigeria", Faber and Faber, pp. 268-285). Pre-colonial life Pre-colonial Igbo political organization was based on a quasi-democratic republican system of government that guaranteed equality of the citizenry as against a feudalist "dictator king" in tight knit communities as witnessed by the Portuguese who first arrived and met with the Igbo people in the 15th century. With the exception of a few Notable towns of the Igbo like Onitsha, which had kings called Obi, and places like Nri and Arochukwu, which had priest kings known as Eze; Igbo communities and area governments were overwhelmingly ruled solely by a republican consultative assembly of the common people. Although title holders were respected because of their accomplishments and capabilities, they were never revered as kings, but often performed special functions given to them by such assemblies. This way of governing was immensely different from most other communities of Western Africa, and only shared by the Ewe of Ghana. Igbo secret societies also had a ceremonial script called Nsibidi. The Igbo had and still have their indigenous ancient calendar in which a week has four days. A month consisted of seven weeks and thirteen months made a year. In the last month, an extra day was added. This calendar is still in use in villages and towns to determine the market days. They also had mathematics called Mkpisi and Okwe used for counting, measurements and a form an ancient strategic Igbo game also called "Okew". The Igbo have had a banking system for saving and loans called Isusu which is still in use today. Many Igbo people carried this system with them during the trans-Atlantic slavery to Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, United States, Brazil, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and others. They settled law matters via mediators. Colonial period The arrival of the British in the 1870s and increased encounters between the Igbo and other Nigerians led to a deepening sense of a distinct Igbo ethnic identity. The Igbo also proved remarkably decisive and enthusiastic in their embrace of Christianity and Western education. Under British colonial rule, the diversity within each of Nigeria's major ethnic groups slowly decreased and distinctions between the Igbo and other large ethnic groups, such as the Hausa and the Yoruba became sharper. Nigerian Civil War Main article: Nigerian Civil War Following a campaign of genocide against the Igbo and other peoples of Eastern Nigeria living in other parts of the country between 1966 and 1967, and the assassination of the Nigerian military head of state General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi by Northern Nigerian elements in the army, as well as the failure of peace talks between the military government that deposed Ironsi and the regional government of Eastern Nigeria at the Aburi Talks in Ghana in 1967, a regional council of the peoples of Eastern Nigeria decided that the region should secede and proclaimed the Republic of Biafra. A civil war, after which the federal government reabsorbed Biafra into Nigeria, stretched from 1967 until 1970. Several million Eastern Nigerians, especially Igbo, are believed to have died between the pogroms and the end of the civil war. In their brave but brief struggle for self-determination, the people of Biafra earned the respect of the world and were hailed by diverse great 20th century figures such as Jean Paul Sartre and John Lennon who returned his British Knighthood in protest against British collusion in the Nigeria-Biafra war. In July 2007, former Biafra leader General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu renewed calls for the seccesation of the Biafran state as a sovereign entity. He reaffirmed that "the only alternative is a separate existence" and went further to say that "what upsets the Igbo population is we are not equally Nigerian as the others".  This short section requires expansion. The Igbo diaspora See also: Nigerian American After the Nigerian Civil War, many Igbo People emigrated out of the traditional Igbo homeland in southeastern Nigeria due to an absence of federal presence, lack of jobs, and poor infrastructure. Not only have the Igbo people moved to such Nigerian cities as Lagos and Abuja, but have also moved to other countries such as Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Togo, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Prominent Igbo communities outside Africa include those of London in the United Kingdom and Houston, California, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. in the United States. In the 2003 PBS program African American Lives, Bishop T.D. Jakes had his DNA analyzed; his Y chromosome showed that he is descended from the Igbo. Modern Igbo society After the Nigerian Civil War, Igboland was severely devastated. Many hospitals, schools, and homes had been completely destroyed in the brutal war. In addition to the loss of their savings, many Igbo people found themselves discriminated against by other ethnic groups and the new non-Igbo federal government. Due to the discrimination of employers, many Igbo had trouble finding employment, and the Igbo became one of the poorest ethnic groups in Nigeria during the early 1970s. Igboland was gradually rebuilt over a period of twenty years and the economy was again prospering due to the rise of the petroleum industry in the adjacent Niger Delta, which led to new factories being set up in southern Nigeria. Many Igbo people eventually took government positions. The Igbo, however, continue to face many problems and challenges. Even today, Igbo people have sometimes continued to face discrimination from other ethnic groups. Also, because the traditional Igbo homeland was becoming too small for its growing population, many Igbo have emigrated out of Igboland. Igbo language Main article: Igbo language The Igbo people largely speak the Igbo language. The language was used by John Goldsmith as an example to justify deviating from the classical linear model of phonology as laid out in The Sound Pattern of English. It is written in the Roman script. Igbo is a tonal language, like Yoruba and Chinese. Culture Igbo music The Igbo people have a melodic music style, into which they incorporate various percussion instruments: the udu, which is essentially designed from a clay jug; an ekwe, which is formed from a hollowed log; and the ogene, a hand bell designed from forged iron. Other instruments include opi, a wind instrument similar to the flute, igba, and ichaka. They also have a style of music called Ikorodo which involves a vocal performance accompanied by several musical instruments. Igbo music includes a lot of drums. Another popular musical form among the Igbo is Highlife, which is a fusion of jazz and traditional music and widely popular in West Africa. Notes ^ Sources vary widely about the population. Mushanga, p. 166, says "over 20 million"; Nzewi (quoted in Agawu), p. 31, says "about 15 million"; Okafor, p. 86, says "about twenty-five million"; Okpala, p. 21, says "around 30 million"; and Smith, p. 508, says "approximately 20 million". ^ Nwoga, Donatus Ibe. The Supreme God as Stranger in Igbo Religious Thought, Hawk Press, 1984, and Achebe, Chinua, 'Chi in Igbo Cosmology' in Morning Yet on Creation Day, New York, Anchor Press, 1976 ^ Afigbo, A.E.. Prolegomena to the study of the culture history of the Igbo-Speaking Peoples of Nigeria', Igbo Language and Culture, Oxford University Press, 1975. 28. ^ Njoku, Onwuka N. (2002) Pre-colonial economic history of Nigeria Ethiope Publishing Corporation, Benin City, Nigeria, ISBN 978-2979-36-8 ; ^ Kalu, Ogbu (1992) "Education and Change in Igboland 1857-1966" in Afigbo A. E. (ed.) (1992) Groundwork of Igbo history Vista Books, Lagos, ISBN 978-134-400-8 pages 522-541; ^ "Call for Biafra to leave Nigeria" BBC. ^ COMMENTARY; Reclaiming black heritage by using DNA ^ EthnicLoft - Sharing and celebrating the treasures of our heritage and culture ^ Olisa, Michael S. O. (1992) "Igbo politics and governance" in Afigbo A. E. (ed.) (1992) Groundwork of Igbo history Vista Books, Lagos, ISBN 978-134-400-8 pages 161-177; References Agawu, Kofi (2003). African Music: Postcolonial Notes, Queries, Positions. Routledge. Forde, Cyril Daryll and Jones, G. I. (1950) The Ibo and Ibibio-Speaking Peoples of South-Eastern Nigeria International African Institute by Oxford University Press, London. Mushanga, Tibamanya mwene (2001). "Social and Political Aspects of Violence in Africa". Social Problems in Africa: New Visions. Praeger/Greenwood. Njoku, John Eberegbulam (1990) The Igbos of Nigeria: Ancient Rites, Changes, and Survival E. Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY, ISBN 0-88946-173-2. Okafor, Clement (2004). "Igbo Cosmology and the Parameters of Individual Accomplishments in Things Fall Apart". Emerging Perspectives on Chinua Achebe. Volume 1: Omenka the Master Artist: Critical Perspectives on Achebe's Fiction. Okpala, Benneth (2003). Toasting the Bride: Memoirs of Milestones to Manhood, 2nd ed. Trafford Publishing. Smith, David Jordan (2004). "Igbo". Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Men and Women in the World's Cultures. Volume I: Topics and Cultures AK. Springer. Smock, Audrey C. (1971) Ibo Politics: The Role Of Ethnic Unions In Eastern Nigeria Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, ISBN 0-674-44025-0. Uchendu, Victor Chikezie (1965) The Igbo Of Southeast Nigeria Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York. See also Yoruba people Kingdom of Benin External links Igboguide.org - An insight guide to Igboland's Culture and Language Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igbo_people"