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Igbo people

Posted by on 12/19/2005 11:40:55 AM |

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Igbo people

Igbo people

The Igbo sometimes (especially formerly) referred to as Ibo are one of the largest single ethnicities in Africa. Most Igbo speakers are based in southeast Nigeria, where they constitute an estimated 18% of the population, but there they can be found in significant numbers in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Their language is also called Igbo. The primary Igbo states in Nigeria are Anambra, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, and Enugu States. The Igbos also constitute more than 25% of the population in some Nigerian States like Delta State and Rivers State. Traces of the Igbo Culture and language could be found in Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States. Igbo language is predominant in such cities like Onitsha, Aba, Owerri, Enugu, Nsukka, Awka, Umuahia, and Asaba, amongst others.


Origins and Ancient History
Ndi Igbo ("the Igbo people") are a heterogeneous society, with its clans migrating to their current locations at different times. However, the core Igbo, from which most of the culture, traditions, and religion come from, can trace their origin to the village of Nri, located in present day Anambra State, which was founded by its progenitor, Eri, around 900 AD. From this village, Nri people spread all across what is now considered Igboland, mixing with its indigenous people and assimilating aspects of their culture.


The Igbo clans that trace their ancestry to Eri are the Umueri and Umunri (children of Nri or Eri). Igbo clans based in Onitsha, who trace their roots to the Kingdom of Benin, and the clan known as the Aros, based in Arochukwu, are among those that do not trace their lineage to Nri.


Traces of ancient Igbo civilization can be found in the village of Ukwu, near Onitsha. Discovered by a farmer in 1938, the artifacts give a few clues about early Igbo culture and way of life. Amongst the artifacts found include bronze castings which date back to approximately 900 AD. and that predate the bronzes of Ife by 300-400 years, making them the first of their kind in sub-Saharan Africa. These castings show a high degree of metal workmanship, and coupled with the fact that some of the materials used originated from Egypt also shows the presence of an advanced inter-Saharan trade.


Before the arrival of Europeans, the sense of a distinct cultural identity among the Igbo was much more diffuse: the Igbo did not have a centralized system of government and lived in small, democratically organized autonomous communities.



Post-Colonization
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.


Igbo Women's War of 1929
Main article: Igbo Women's War of 1929
In November of 1929, thousands of Igbo women from the Bende District and nearby Umuahia and Ngwa as well as other places traveled to the Oloko to protest against the Warrant Chiefs who were restricting the role of women in the government. [1]


Instability and Biafra succession
In 1966, a failed coup d'etat by Nigerian army officers led by an IgboŚMajor Kaduna NzeogwuŚresulted in the death of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, a prominent northern Nigerian of the Hausa ethnic group. Although the coup was foiled primarily by another Igbo, Colonel O. Ojukwu, the belief prevailed in northern Nigeria that Hausa leaders were singled out for death. This situation gave rise to a retaliatory pogrom in which tens of thousands of Igbo were murdered in northern Nigeria, which led to the headlong flight back to the Eastern Region of as many as two million Igbos.


Eventually, the crisis reached an apex in May 1967 with the secession of the Igbo-dominated Eastern Region from Nigeria to form the Republic of Biafra headed by the aforementioned Colonel Ojukwu. The secession quickly led to civil war after talks between former Army colleagues, Yakubu Gowon and Ojukwu broke down. The Republic of Biafra lasted only until January 1970 after a campaign of starvation by the Nigerian Army led to a decisive victory




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