4/12/2011

The Culture Of Ndigbo - part 2

Marriage

 

The process of marrying usually involves asking the young woman's consent, introducing the woman to the man's family and the same for the man to the woman's family, testing the bride's character, checking the woman's family background and paying the brides wealth. Sometimes marriages had been arranged from birth through negotiation of the two families.
In the past, many Igbo men practiced polygamy but not very popular. The polygamous family is made up of a man and his wives and all their children.  Men sometimes married multiple wives for economic reasons so as to have more people in the family, including children, to help on farms.
Christian and civil marriages have changed the Igbo family since colonization. Igbo people now tend to enter monogamous courtships and create nuclear families with fewer children, mainly because of Western influence. Adopted Western marriage customs, such as wedding in church, are sometimes accompanied by a traditional wedding.
There are special circumstances where a marriage occurs even though, no living man abound is allowed, such as when a woman has no child and the husband dies.


Attire




Traditionally, the attire of the Igbo generally consisted of little clothing as the purpose of clothing originally was to conceal private parts, although elders were fully clothed. Children were usually unclothed from birth till their adolescence (the time when they were considered to have something to hide) but sometimes ornaments such as beads were worn around the waist for spiritual reasons. Uli (Tattoo) body art was used to decorate both men and women in the form of lines forming patterns and shapes on the body.

Women traditionally carry their babies on their backs with a strip of clothing binding the two with a knot at her chest, a practice used by many ethnic groups across Africa. This method has been modernized in the form of the child carrier. In most cases Igbo women did not cover their bosom areas. Maidens usually wore a short wrapper with beads around their waist and other ornaments such as necklaces and beads.  Both men and women wore wrappers.
Men would wear loin cloths that wrapped round their waist and between their legs to be fastened at their back, the type of clothing appropriate for the intense heat as well as jobs such as farming.

In Olaudah Equiano's narrative, Equiano describes fragrances that were used by the Igbo in the community of Isseke;
Our principal luxury is in perfumes; one sort of these is an odoriferous wood of delicious fragrance: the other a kind of earth; a small portion of which thrown into the fire diffuses a most powerful odor. We beat this wood into powder, and mix it with palm oil; with which both men and women perfume themselves.


  
In the same era as the rise of colonial forces in Nigeria, the way the Igbo dressed changed. These changes made the Igbo adopt Westernized clothing such as shirts and trousers. Clothing worn before colonialism became "traditional" and worn on special occasions. The traditional clothing itself became westernized with the introduction of various types of Western clothing including shoes, hats, trousers, etc. Modern Igbo traditional attire, for men, is generally made up of the Isiagu top which resembles the Dashiki worn by other African groups. Isiagu (or Ishi agu) is usually patterned with lions heads embroidered over the clothing and can be a plain color.
It is worn with trousers and can be worn with either a traditional title holder’s hat or with the traditional Igbo stripped men's hat. For women, a puffed sleeve blouse (influenced by European attire) along with two wrappers and a head tie are worn.

Cuisine

The yam is very important to the Igbo as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iwaji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. During the festival yam is eaten throughout the communities as celebration. Yam tubers are shown off by individuals as a sign of success and wealth.
Rice has replaced yam for ceremonial occasions. Other foods include cassava, garri, maize and plantains. Soups or stews are included in a typical meal, prepared with a vegetable (such as okra, of which the word derives from the Igbo language, Okwuru to which pieces of fish, chicken, beef, or goat meat are added. Jollof rice is popular throughout West Africa.
Palm wine is a popular alcoholic beverage among the Igbo.



Demographics

The Igbo in Nigeria are found in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Delta and Rivers State, Cross River ad Benue States. The Igbo language is predominant throughout these areas, although English (the national language) is spoken as well. Prominent towns and cities in Igboland include Aba, Owerri, Enugu, Onitsha, Abakaliki, Afikpo, Agbor, Orlu, Okigwe, Umuahia, Asaba and Port Harcourt, Nnewi, Awka among others.
There is a significant number of Igbo people found in other parts of Nigeria by migration, such as in the city of Lagos.
The official population count of ethnic groups in Nigeria has remained controversial as a majority of these groups have claimed that the government deliberately deflates the official population of one group, to give the other numerical superiority.  The CIA World Fact book puts the Igbo population between 38 and 45 million, which includes the various subgroups of the Igbo.
Southeastern Nigeria, which is inhabited primarily by the Igbo, is the most densely populated area in Nigeria, and possibly in all of Africa. Most ethnicities that inhabit southeastern Nigeria, such as the closely related Efik and Ibibio people, are sometimes regarded as Igbo by other Nigerians and ethnographers who are not well informed about the southeast.

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