The Igbo People of Nigeria

Africa is a culturally diverse continent, with thousands of distinct and unique tribes. One of the largest single ethnic groups in Africa is that of the Igbo people, numbering 20-30 million people. 

Also referred to as Ibo, most Igbo live in southeastern Nigeria, where they comprise about 17% of the population, Cameroon, and other African countries. In Nigeria, the area where Igbo people live is referred to as Igboland, which is divided into two sections by the Niger River. 

The Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War) from July 1967 to January 1970 devastated Igboland. Not only did the Igbo lose their savings, which were denied to them by the federal government, but they were discriminated against by other ethnic groups and the new government. It took more than 20 years for Igboland to be rebuilt and prosper, thanks to the rise of the petroleum industry that led to new factories opening in southern Nigeria (source). Both the transatlantic slave trade and the Nigerian Civil War have led Igbo to emigrate to other Nigerian cities and even other countries. 

Igbo speak a language of the same name, Igbo, but there are over 20 dialects. In terms of religion, many Igbo are now Christians, while some practice a mix between Christianity and indigenous beliefs related to deities and ancestors who protect their living descendents (source).

Traditionally, Igbos are farmers, craftsmen and traders. The Igbo export palm oil and palm kernels to Europe, while trading, local crafts and labor are also important to the Igbo economy. “A high literacy rate has helped many Igbo to become civil servants and business entrepreneurs in the decades after Nigeria gained independence. It is notable that Igbo women engage in trade and are influential in local politics,” the encyclopedia noted.

There’s so much to learn about the cultures of Africa, and the Igbo people are no exception. May they always thrive!

Photograph by Bedgepicture