There are over 500 different tribes and three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Igbo tribe, which is made up of approximately 32 million people is one of them. The Igbo are made up of one of the most illustrious and industrious people in Nigeria. Today, I’ll be debunking some of the common misconceptions associated with this tribe, things shared in common with other tribes and other great things you don’t know about the Igbo culture.
1. It is not “the Igbos”.
You don’t say “the Englishs” or “the Frenchs” do you? Exactly. So saying the Igbos is wrong. Simply say “Ndi Igbo” or “the Igbo” or “the Igbo people”.
2. Some of us who have never left the shores of Nigeria still speak good English.
Yes, this is true. Each tribe has a unique accent, rather than try to change it, everybody should own their accents and be proud of it.
3. All the Igbo do not prefer business to education.
That there is a generalisation; the believe that all the Igbo people do is chase money. Yes it’s true that a lot of young boys learn apprenticeship work from their ogas and go on to start their own businesses. But if you look at it logically, isn’t that education in itself? They know how to read and write and do mathematics (calculating daily earnings and expenditure), which is more than can be said for those that were in the four walls of a school. But moving on, we do love education and progresion and can be found in all career fields. Some of the best African writers are Igbo. *hint* *hint* Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Flora Nwapa, Chika Unigwe… I could go on and on.
4. Ndi Igbo do not eat human flesh.
5. Igbo people have not fully recovered from the effects of the civil war.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Half of a Yellow Sun deals with this. Their are adults that are known as Biafra’s lost children who will never reconnect with their families because of the war.
6. Not every Igbo wants Biafra to secede from Nigeria.
As bad as the country is right now. and with all the brouhaha that’s been happening, most Igbo people see secession as a disaster. Especially those who are aware of what happened in the Nigerian-Biafran civil war. Nobody wants a repeat of that.
7. The Igbo love money.
This is like the most common thing all Igbo people hear. I’d like to ask, who doesn’t like money? Be truthful. But some will say that the Igbo people love money more than other tribes and will go to any length to get it. Like sacrificing their family members. Nollywood movies are to blame for that.
8. Igbo people do not perform human rituals.
Again, blame bloody Nollywood. Most people say ndi Igbo are ritualists because Okija. But contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t money rituals that took place there, but a place where the bodies of those who messed with the gods were dumped.
9. Igbo people do marry people from other tribes.
Another fallacy is that Igbo people don’t marry outside their tribe. All tribes have this problem. Most parents from any Nigerian or African tribe want intratribal marriages for their kids. But what is even more important is that most young people are following their heart, because marrying from the same tribe isn’t an important determining factor? Tribe isn’t important in this kind of thing.
10. Igbo people are not stingy.
Again, I don’t know why that is classified by tribe. Stinginess is a human nature, not Igbo nature. And if you think Igbo people are stingy, then you definitely haven’t been to an Igbo wedding.
11. Bride prices are not always ridiculously expensive.
Most people believe that the bride price attached to marrying an Igbo woman is hefty. But this isn’t common across all the Igbo people. It is peculiar to some places. Also, the price is negotiable. So, if you love the girl, you’ll definitely talk your way into being a member of her family.
12. Igbo people are not disrespectful.
Just because we don’t prostrate and kiss the floor doesn’t mean we don’t respect our elders. If that is an important criterium or actually yielded something important, the whole world would be doing it.
13. Igbo people greatly appreciate good music.
A lot of Nigerias music legends, both dead or alive are Igbo. E.g: Osita Osadebe, Oliver de Coque, Phyno, Flavour.
14. Yam is the lifeblood of the Igbo.
Which is why, the New Yam Festival (Iwaji), an annual celebration, is held to celebrate the yam harvest. During the festival, people show off their yam tubers as a sign of success and wealth.
15. Some school of thought believe that the Igbo, Yoruba, Nupe, Edo, Idoma all share a common ancestor.
How true is that? We don’t know.