The Igbo people popularly called Ibo by foreigners, live chiefly in the south-eastern part of Nigeria and speak the Igbo language, a language of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The Igbo may be grouped into the following main cultural divisions: northern, southern, western, eastern or Cross River, and northeastern. Before Britain colonized Nigeria, the Igbo people lived in autonomous local communities governed by the Eze’s and his cabinet members headed by the Onowu(special adviser to the king). Since the mid 20th century the Igbo people dominated Eastern region of Nigeria and have been trying since 1967 to leave Nigeria and be an independent nation of Biafra. As of 21st century the population of the Igbo people can be estimated to be about 20million.
The traditional occupation of the Igbo people has been subsistence farming, they cultivate majorly yam, cassava, potatoe, cocoyam, water yam, okro, maize (corn), pumpkin, beniseed, melon, rice and beans. Igbo men who involve in agriculture, grow majorly yam and a man’s wealth in some part of Igbo land is measured by the size of his yam ban, women grow other crops especially cassava. Land is owned communally by kinship groups and is made available to individuals for farming and building but in present day land is owned individually. Many Igbo men who are not farmers are hunters who go hunting alongside their intelligent dogs, every family keep livestock like; goat, ram, fowl e.t.c. for either consumption or for sacrifice. The principal exports are palm oil and palm kernels. Trading, local crafts, and wage labour also are part in the Igbo economy, and a high literacy rate has helped many Igbo become civil servants and business entrepreneurs in the decades after Nigeria gained independence. Igbo women are highly successful in trading and are influential in local politics.
Most Igbo occupy villages of dispersed compounds, in most areas villages are compact. The compound is typically a cluster of huts in the 20th century but presently are modernized houses juxtaposed to eat other, each of which constitutes a separate household. Traditionally, the village was usually occupied by a patrilineage called umunna.
Before the European colonization, the largest political unit in Igbo was the village group, a federation of villages averaging about 5,000 persons. Members of the group shared a common market and meeting place, a tutelary deity, and ancestral cults that supported a tradition of descent from a common ancestor or group of ancestors. Authority in the village group was vested in a council of lineage heads and influential and wealthy men but serious issues are taken to the Eze (king) to handle. In the eastern regions these groups tended to form larger political units, including centralized kingdoms and states.
Traditional Igbo is almost the same with Christianity and that is why it was easier for the colonial masters to lure them into Christianity, today Christianity dominates Igbo land, the Igbo traditional religion includes belief in a creator god called Chukwu (God almighty) or Chineke (God the creator), and the earth goddess called Ala, and a couple of other deities and spirits as well as a belief in ancestors who protect their living descendants. Revelation of the will of the god, goddess and deities is sought by divination and oracles headed by the chief priest called the Ezemmuo.
- Igbo people eat healthy diets: Most food consumed are completely agricultural products including fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains which contains the necessary nutrients required to keep the body healthy.
- Igbo people condemn smoking: Smoking generally, causes NCDs such as lung disease, heart disease and stroke. The Igbo culture condemns smoking.
- Igbo culture encourages male circumcision: It is in the culture of the Igbo people to circumcise every male child some weeks after birth. Circumcised men have less risk of urinary tract infections, a reduced risk of some sexually transmitted diseases in men, protection against penile cancer and a lower risk of cervical cancer in female sex partners. Some evidence proves there is a reduced risk of human papillomavirus, genital ulcers, herpes simplex virus type 2, syphilis, bacterial vaginosis, and T vaginalis in women whose partners are circumcised. This maybe to changes in the male partner’s anatomy, making transmission of an infection less likely.
- Proper breast feeding of a child: In the 20th century in most part of Igbo land a child is breast fed between 2yrs to 4yrs. Breast feeding is important for the baby to grow up healthy.
- Igbo culture encourages female genital mutilation: Between 18th and the early 21st century the Igbo people believe that by cutting some parts of the vagina a woman will stay faithful in her marriage. Most women who went through genital mutilation are still suffering it till date, SAY NO TO FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION.
- Spiritual remedy for a sickness: It is believed by the Igbo people that most diseases are spiritual so instead of looking for a cure sought to hear from the gods to decide. Based on research, it is observed that most people who are SS (sickle cell) were seen as Ogbanje (evil children) in the Igbo society, hence were taken to the chief priest to perform some rituals. Some of these people had some part of their body cut off for cleansing as the custom demands.