Who Are The Igbo People?



IGBO PEOPLE OF NIGERIA · 02 November 2017

The Igbo people, historically spelled "Ibo", are an ethnic group of southeastern Nigeria. They speak Igbo, which includes various Igbo languages and dialects. Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. In rural Nigeria, Igbo people work mostly as craftsmen, farmers and traders. The most important crop is the yam; celebrations take place annually to celebrate its harvesting. Other staple crops include cassava and taro.

Before British colonial rule, the Igbo were a politically fragmented group and have have no common traditional story of their origins. There were variations in culture such as in art styles, attire and religious practices. Various subgroups were organized by clan, lineage, village affiliation, and dialect. There were not many centralized chiefdoms, hereditary aristocracy, or kingship customs except in kingdoms such as those of the Nri, Arochukwu, Agbor and Onitsha. This political system changed significantly under British colonialism in the early 20th century; Frederick Lugard introduced Eze (kings) into most local communities as "Warrant Chiefs".

The Igbo became overwhelmingly Christian under colonization. Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is one of the most popular novels to depict Igbo culture and changes under colonialism.

European contact with the Igbo began with the arrival of the Portuguese in the mid-fifteenth century. At first the Europeans confined themselves to slave trade on the Niger Coast. At this point, the main item of commerce provided by the Igbo was slaves, many of whom were sent to the New World. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, British companies pushed beyond the coastal areas and aggressively pursued control of the interior. The Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, created in 1900, included Igboland.

By the mid-20th century, the Igbo people developed a strong sense of ethnic identity. Certain conflicts with other Nigerian ethnicities led to Igbo-dominated Eastern Nigeria seceding to create the independent state of Biafra. The Nigerian Civil War or the Nigerian-Biafran War (6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970) broke out shortly after. With their defeat, the Republic of Biafra once again was part of Nigeria. MASSOB, a sectarian organization formed in 1999, continues a non-violent struggle for an independent Igbo state.

Due to the effects of migration and the Atlantic slave trade, there are descendant ethnic Igbo populations in countries such as Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, as well as outside Africa. Their exact population outside Africa is unknown, but today many African Americans and Afro Caribbeans are of Igbo descent. According to Liberian historians the fifth president of Liberia Edward James Roye was of Igbo descent

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