Creation Myth Essay
704 Words3 Pages
In the beginning…
There was only water and bare, empty land. In the center of this nothingness was a great mountain. This mountain stood tall and proud and it reached all the way into the heavens. At the very top of this mountain lived a pair of every kind of animal. In the center of this heaven grew a tree. This tree was not just any tree, it was the sacred tree of life, and it was not to be harmed in any way.
Among the diverse group of animals was a pair of giraffes. The female giraffe had grown tired of eating the same old leaves and fruits. Being strong-willed and stubborn she decided that she just had to try a fruit from the sacred tree. She convinced her husband to accompany her and to be one of the first ones…show more content…
Hoping that the Great One will grant them this one request they go to sleep that night.
When they Awake in the morning they find that they clay figure has come to life. That day this human proves to be very helpful and creates a wonderful paradise out of the barren land. That night there is another great storm. The man is stuck my lightening. He isn’t killed but he is split in half. This other half is slightly different from him and is therefore called a woman.
The land and life is flourishing. All the animals and both the man and woman are quite content. In the spring that woman births a baby boy. Nine months later she has another child, a girl. The brother and sister got along very well. They were the best of friends and did everything together. One day the girl convinces her brother to go with her to the great mountain and climb up to the heavens. The boy is against the idea, since the heavens were forbidden to visit ever since the banishment, but she finally persuades him to come. The reach the heavens and there stands the Great One. He tells them of his plans. That he had planned to give the animal and human life another chance, and to let them re-enter the heavens. This chance was never to be given though; the two children had lost it.
The children go back to the lands. The brother is mad at the sister and blames her for the loss of chances. Over the months he grows
"Ibo" redirects here. For other uses, see Ibo (disambiguation).
"Ndigbo" redirects here. For the pan-Igbo organization, see Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The Igbo people (English:; erroneously Ibo, formerly also Iboe, Ebo, Eboe,Eboans,Heebo; natively Ṇ́dị́ Ìgbò[ìɡ͡bò] ( listen)) are an ethnic group native to the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria. Geographically, the Igbo homeland is divided into two unequal sections by the Niger River – an eastern (which is the larger of the two) and a western section. The Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa.
The Igbo language is divided into numerous regional dialects, and somewhat mutually intelligible with the larger "Igboid" cluster. The Igbo homeland straddles the lower Niger River, east and south of the Edoid and Idomoid groups, and west of the Ibibioid (Cross River) cluster.
In rural Nigeria, Igbo people work mostly as craftsmen, farmers and traders. The most important crop is the yam. Other staple crops include cassava and taro. The Igbos are also highly urbanized, with some of the largest metropolitan areas, cities and towns in Igboland being Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Owerri, Orlu, Okigwe, Asaba, Awka, Nsukka, Nnewi, Umuahia, Abakaliki, Afikpo, Agbor and Arochukwu.
Before British colonial rule in the 20th century, the Igbo were a politically fragmented group, with a number of centralized chiefdoms such as Nri, Arochukwu, Agbor and Onitsha.Frederick Lugard introduced the Eze system of "Warrant Chiefs". Unaffected by the Islamic jihad sweeping Nigeria in the 19th century, they became overwhelmingly Christian under colonization. In the wake of decolonisation, the Igbo developed a strong sense of ethnic identity. During the Nigerian Civil War of 1967–1970 the Igbo territories seceded as the short-lived Republic of Biafra.MASSOB, a sectarian organization formed in 1999, continues a non-violent struggle for an independent Igbo state.
Small ethnic Igbo populations are found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, as well as outside Africa.
Definition and subgroups
"Igbo" as an ethnic identity developed comparatively recently, in the context of decolonisation and the Nigerian Civil War. The various Igbo-speaking communities were historically fragmented and decentralised; in the opinion of Chinua Achebe (2000), Igbo identity should be placed somewhere between a "tribe" and a "nation". Since the defeat of the Republic of Biafra in 1970, the Igbo are sometimes classed as a "stateless nation".
Further information: Niger–Congo homeland
The Igboid languages form a cluster within the Volta–Niger phylum, most likely grouped with Yoruboid and Edoid. The greatest differentiation within the Igboid group is between the Ekpeye and the rest. Williamson (2002) argues that based on this pattern, proto-Igboid migration would have moved down the Niger from a more northern area in the savannah and first settled close to the delta, with a secondary center of Igbo proper more to the north, in the Awka area.
Pottery dated at around 2500 BCE showing similarities with later Igbo work was found at Nsukka in the 1970s, along with pottery and tools at nearby Ibagwa; the traditions of the Umueri clan have as their source the Anambra valley. In the 1970s the Owerri, Okigwe, Orlu, Awgu, Udi and Awka divisions were determined to constitute "an Igbo heartland" from the linguistic and cultural evidence.
Genetic studies have shown the Igbo to cluster most closely with other Niger-Congo-speaking peoples. The predominant Y-chromosmoal haplogroup is E-V38 (E1b1a).
Main article: Kingdom of Nri
The Nri people of Igbo land have a creation myth which is one of the many creation myths that exist in various parts of Igbo land. The Nri and Aguleri people are in the territory of the Umueri clan who trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure Eri. Eri's origins are unclear, though he has been described as a "sky being" sent by Chukwu (God). He has been characterized as having first given societal order to the people of Anambra. The historian Elizabeth Allo Isichei says "Nri and Aguleri and part of the Umueri clan, [are] a cluster of Igbo village groups which traces its origins to a sky being called Eri."
Archaeological evidence suggests that Nri hegemony in Igboland may go back as far as the 9th century, and royal burials have been unearthed dating to at least the 10th century. Eri, the god-like founder of Nri, is believed to have settled the region around 948 with other related Igbo cultures following after in the 13th century. The first Eze Nri (King of Nri) Ìfikuánim followed directly after him. According to Igbo oral tradition, his reign started in 1043. At least one historian puts Ìfikuánim's reign much later, around 1225 AD.
Each king traces his origin back to the founding ancestor, Eri. Each king is a ritual reproduction of Eri. The initiation rite of a new king shows that the ritual process of becoming Ezenri (Nri priest-king) follows closely the path traced by the hero in establishing the Nri kingdom.
E. Elochukwu Uzukwu
The Kingdom of Nri was a religio-polity, a sort of theocratic state, that developed in the central heartland of the Igbo region. The Nri had seven types of taboos which included human (such as the birth of twins), animal (such as killing or eating of pythons), object, temporal, behavioral, speech and place taboos. The rules regarding these taboos were used to educate and govern Nri's subjects. This meant that, while certain Igbo may have lived under different formal administration, all followers of the Igbo religion had to abide by the rules of the faith and obey its representative on earth, the Eze Nri.
Traditional Igbo political organization was based on a quasi-democratic republican system of government. In tight knit communities, this system guaranteed its citizens equality, as opposed to a feudalist system with a king ruling over subjects. This government system was witnessed by the Portuguese who first arrived and met with the Igbo people in the 15th century. With the exception of a few notable Igbo towns such as Onitsha, which had kings called Obi, and places like the Nri Kingdom and Arochukwu, which had priest kings; Igbo communities and area governments were overwhelmingly ruled solely by a republican consultative assembly of the common people. Communities were usually governed and administered by a council of elders.
Although title holders were respected because of their accomplishments and capabilities, they were never revered as kings, but often performed special functions given to them by such assemblies. This way of governing was immensely different from most other communities of Western Africa, and only shared by the Ewe of Ghana. Umunna are a form of patrilineage maintained by the Igbo. Law starts with the Umunna which is a male line of descent from a founding ancestor (who the line is sometimes named after) with groups of compounds containing closely related families headed by the eldest male member. The Umunna can be seen as the most important pillar of Igbo society.
Mathematics in indigenous Igbo society is evident in their calendar, banking system and strategic betting game called Okwe. In their indigenous calendar, a week had four days, a month consisted of seven weeks and 13 months made a year. In the last month, an extra day was added. This calendar is still used in indigenous Igbo villages and towns to determine market days. They settled law matters via mediators, and their banking system for loans and savings, called Isusu, is also still used. The Igbo new year, starting with the month Ọ́nwạ́ M̀bụ́ (Igbo: First Moon) occurs on the third week of February, although the traditional start of the year for many Igbo communities is around springtime in Ọ́nwạ́ Ágwụ́ (June). Used as a ceremonial script by secret societies, the Igbo have an indigenous ideographic set of symbols called Nsibidi, originating from the neighboring Ejagham people. Igbo people produced bronzes from as early as the 9th century, some of which have been found at the town of Igbo Ukwu, Anambra state.
A system of indentured servitude existed among the Igbo before and after the encounter with Europeans. Indentured service in Igbo areas was described by Olaudah Equiano in his memoir. He describes the conditions of the slaves in his community of Essaka, and points out the difference between the treatment of slaves under the Igbo in Essaka, and those in the custody of Europeans in West Indies:
…but how different was their condition from that of the slaves in the West Indies! With us, they do no more work than other members of the community,… even their master;… (except that they were not permitted to eat with those… free-born;) and there was scarce any other difference between them,… Some of these slaves have… slaves under them as their own property… for their own use.
The Niger coast was an area of contact between African and European traders from the years 1434–1807. The Portuguese were the first traders, then the Dutch and finally the British. Prior to European contact, Igbo trade routes stretched as far as Mecca, Medina and Jeddah on the continent.
Transatlantic slave trade and diaspora
Main article: The Igbo in the Atlantic slave trade
Chambers (2002) argued that many of the slaves taken from the Bight of Biafra across the Middle Passage would have been Igbo. These slaves were usually sold to Europeans by the Aro Confederacy, who kidnapped or bought slaves from Igbo villages in the hinterland. Most Igbo slaves were not victims of slave-raiding wars or expeditions, but were sometimes debtors and people who committed what their communities considered to be abominations or crimes. With the goal for freedom, enslaved Igbos were known to the British colonists as being rebellious and having a high rate of suicide to escape slavery. There is evidence that traders sought Igbo women. Igbo women were paired with Coromantee (Akan) men to subdue the men because of the belief that the women were bound to their first-born sons’ birthplace.
Contrary to common belief, European slave traders were fairly well informed about various African ethnicities, leading to slavers' targeting certain ethnic groups which plantation owners preferred. Particular desired ethnic groups consequently became fairly concentrated in certain parts of the Americas. The Igbo were dispersed to colonies such as Jamaica,Cuba,Saint-Domingue,Barbados, the United States,Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, among others.
Elements of Igbo culture can still be found in these places. For example, in Jamaican Patois, the Igbo word unu, meaning "you" plural, is still used. "Red Ibo" (or "red eboe") describes a black person with fair or "yellowish" skin. This term had originated from the reported prevalence of these skin tones among the Igbo but eastern Nigerian influences may not be strictly Igbo. The word Bim, a colloquial term for Barbados, was commonly used among enslaved Barbadians (Bajans). This word is said to have derived from bém in the Igbo language meaning 'my place or people', but may have other origins (see: Barbados etymology). A section of Belize City was named Eboe Town after its Igbo inhabitants. In the United States, the Igbo were imported most commonly to the Chesapeake Bay colonies and states of Maryland and Virginia, where they constituted the largest group of Africans. Since the late 20th century, a wave of Nigerian immigrants, mostly English and Igbo-speaking, have settled in Maryland, attracted to its strong professional job market.
Main article: Colonial Nigeria
The 19th-century British colonization effort in present-day Nigeria and increased encounters between the Igbo and other ethnicities near the Niger River led to a deepening sense of a distinct Igbo ethnic identity. The Igbo proved decisive and enthusiastic in their embrace of Christianity and Western education. Due to the incompatibility of the Igbo decentralized style of government and the centralized system including the appointment of warrant chiefs required for British indirect rule, British colonial rule was marked with open conflicts and much tension. 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.
Colonial rule transformed Igbo society, as portrayed in Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart. British rule brought about changes in culture, such as the introduction of Warrant Chiefs as Eze (indigenous rulers) where there were no such monarchies. Christian missionaries introduced aspects of European ideology into Igbo society and culture, sometimes shunning parts of the culture. The rumours that the Igbo women were being assessed for taxation sparked off the 1929 Igbo Women's War in Aba (also known as the 1929 Aba Riots), a massive revolt of women never encountered before in Igbo history.
Aspects of Igbo culture such as construction of houses, education and religion changed following colonialism. The tradition of building houses out of mud walls and thatched roofs ended as the people shifted to materials such as cement blocks for houses and zinc roofs. Roads for vehicles were built. Buildings such as hospitals and schools were erected in many parts of Igboland. Along with these changes, electricity and running water were installed in the early 20th century. With electricity, new technology such as radios and televisions were adopted, and have become commonplace in most Igbo households.
Main article: Nigerian Civil War
A series of ethnic clashes between Northern Muslims and the Igbo, and other ethnic groups of Eastern Nigeria Region living in Northern Nigeria took place between 1966 and 1967. Elements in the army had assassinated the Nigerian military head of state General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (29 July 1966) and peace negotiations failed between the military government that deposed Ironsi and the regional government of Eastern Nigeria at the Aburi Talks in Ghana in 1967. These events led to a regional council of the peoples of Eastern Nigeria deciding that the region should secede and proclaim the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967. Late General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu made this declaration and became the Head of state of the new republic. The resultant war, which became known as the Nigerian Civil War or the Nigerian-Biafran War, lasted from July 6, 1967 until January 15, 1970, after which the federal government re-absorbed Biafra into Nigeria. Several million Eastern Nigerians died from the pogroms against them, such as the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom where between 10,000 and 30,000 Igbo people were killed. In their struggle, the people of Biafra earned the respect of figures such as Jean-Paul Sartre and John Lennon, who returned his British honor, MBE, partly in protest against British collusion in the Nigeria-Biafra war. In July 2007 the former President of Biafra, Late General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, renewed calls for the secession of the Biafran state as a sovereign entity.
Recent history (1970 to present)
The Nigerian–Biafran War left Igboland devastated. Fighting had completely destroyed many hospitals, schools, and homes. In addition to the loss of their savings, many Igbo people faced discrimination from other ethnic groups and from the new non-Igbo federal government. Some Igbo subgroups, such as the Ikwerre, started dissociating themselves from the larger Igbo population after the war. In the post-war era, people of eastern Nigeria changed the names of both people and places to non-Igbo-sounding words. For instance, the town of Igbuzo was anglicized to Ibusa. Due to discrimination, many Igbo had trouble finding employment, and during the early 1970s, the Igbo became one of the poorest ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Igboland was gradually rebuilt by its citizens and some contribution from the Nigerian government over a period of twenty years and the economy prospered again due to the rise of the petroleum industry in the adjacent Niger Delta region. This led to the establishment of new factories in southern Nigeria. Many Igbo people eventually took government positions, although many were engaged in private business. Since the early 21st century, there has been a wave of Nigerian Igbo immigration to other African countries, Europe, and the Americas.
Archives A series of black and white, silent films about the Igbo people made by George Basden in the 1920s and 1930s are held in the British Empire and Commonwealth Collection at Bristol Archives (Ref. 2006/070) (online catalogue).
The 1930s saw the rise of Igbo unions in the cities of Lagos and Port Harcourt. Later, the Ibo Federal Union (renamed the Ibo State Union in 1948) emerged as an umbrella pan-ethnic organization. Headed by Nnamdi Azikiwe, it was closely associated with the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), which he co-founded with Herbert Macaulay. The aim of the organization was the improvement and advancement (such as in education) of the Igbo and their indigenous land and included an Igbo "national anthem" with a plan for an Igbo bank.
In 1978 after Olusegun Obasanjo's military regime lifted the ban on independent political activity, the Ohaneze Ndi Igbo organization was formed, an elite umbrella organization which speaks on behalf of the Igbo people. Their main concerns are the marginalization of the Igbo people in Nigerian politics and the neglect of indigenous Igbo territory in social amenities and development of infrastructure. Other groups which protest the perceived marginalization of the Igbo people are the Igbo Peoples Congress (IPC). Even before the 20th century there were numerous Igbo unions and organizations existing around the world, such as the Igbo union in Bathurst, Gambia in 1842, founded by a prominent Igbo trader and ex-soldier named Thomas Refell. Another was the union founded by the Igbo community in Freetown, Sierra Leone by 1860, of which Africanus Horton, a surgeon, scientist and soldier, was an active member.
Decades after the Nigerian-Biafran war, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), a secessionist group, was founded in September 1999 by Ralph Uwazurike for the goal of an independent Igbo state. Since its creation, there have been several conflicts between its members and the Nigerian government, resulting in the death of members. After the 2015 Nigerian general elections a group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) became the most prominent vocal group for the agitation of the creation of an independent state of Biafra through a radio station named Radio Biafra. For the promotion of the Igbo language and culture, the Society for Promoting Igbo Language and Culture (SPILC) was founded in 1949 by Frederick Chidozie Ogbalu, and has since created a standard dialect for Igbo.
Main article: Igbo culture
Igbo culture includes the various customs, practices and traditions of the people. It comprises archaic practices as well as new concepts added into the Igbo culture either through evolution or outside influences. These customs and traditions include the Igbo people's visual art, use of language, music and dance forms, as well as their attire, cuisine and language dialects. Because of their various subgroups, the variety of their culture is heightened further.
Language and literature
Main article: Igbo language
The Igbo language was used by John Goldsmith as an example to justify deviating from the classical linear model of phonology as laid out in The Sound Pattern of English. It is written in the Roman script as well as the Nsibidi formalized ideograms, which is used by the Ekpe society and Okonko fraternity, but is no longer widely used. Nsibidi ideography existed among the Igbo before the 16th century, but died out after it became popular among secret societies, who made Nsibidi a secret form of communication. Igbo language is difficult because of the huge number of dialects, its richness in prefixes and suffixes and its heavy intonation. Igbo is a tonal language and there are hundreds of different Igbo dialects and Igboid languages, such as the Ikwerre and Ekpeye languages. In 1939, Dr. Ida C. Ward led a research expedition on Igbo dialects which could possibly be used as a basis of a standard Igbo dialect, also known as Central Igbo. This dialect included that of the Owerri and Umuahia groups, including the Ohuhu dialect. This proposed dialect was gradually accepted by missionaries, writers, publishers, and Cambridge University.
In 1789, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano was published in London, England, written by Olaudah Equiano, a former slave. The book featured 79 Igbo words. In the first and second chapter, the book illustrates various aspects of Igbo life based on Olaudah Equiano's life in his hometown of Essaka. Although the book was one of the first books published to include Igbo material, Geschichte der Mission der evangelischen Brüder auf den caraibischen Inseln St. Thomas, St. Croix und S. Jan (German: History of the Evangelical Brothers' Mission in the Caribbean Islands St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John), published in 1777, written by the German missionary C. G. A. Oldendorp, was the first book to publish any Igbo material.
Perhaps the most popular and renowned novel that deals with the Igbo and their traditional life was the 1959 book by Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. The novel concerns influences of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on a traditional Igbo community during an unspecified time in the late nineteenth or early 20th century. Most of the novel is set in Umuofia, one of nine villages on the lower Niger.
Further information: Igbo music
The Igbo people have a musical style into which they incorporate various percussion instruments: the udu, which is essentially designed from a clay jug; an ekwe, which is formed from a hollowed log; and the ogene, a hand bell designed from forged iron. Other instruments include opi, a wind instrument similar to the flute, igba, and ichaka. Another popular musical form among the Igbo is Highlife. A widely popular musical genre in West Africa, Highlife is a fusion of jazz and traditional music. The modern Igbo highlife is seen in the works of Dr Sir Warrior, Oliver De Coque, Bright Chimezie and Chief Osita Osadebe, who were among the most popular Igbo highlife musicians of the 20th century.
Masking is one of the most common art styles in Igboland and is linked strongly with Igbo traditional music. A mask can be made of wood or fabric, along with other materials including iron and vegetation. Masks have a variety of uses, mainly in social satires, religious rituals, secret society initiations (such as the Ekpe society) and public festivals, which now include Christmas time celebrations. Some of the best known include the Agbogho Mmuo (Igbo: Maiden spirit) masks of the Northern Igbo which represent the spirits of deceased maidens and their mothers with masks symbolizing beauty and Ijele.
Other impressive masks include Northern Igbo Ijele masks. At 12 feet (3.7 m) high, Ijele masks consist of platforms 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter, supporting figures made of coloured cloth and representing everyday scenes with objects such as leopards. Ijele masks are used for honoring the dead to ensure the continuity and well-being of the community and are only seen on rare occasions such as the death of a prominent figure in the community.
There are many Igbo dance styles, but perhaps, Igbo dance is best known for its Atilogwu dance troops. These performances include acrobatic stunts such as high kicks and cartwheels, with each rhythm from the indigenous instruments indicating a movement to the dancer.
Visual art and architecture
Main article: Igbo art
There is such variety among Igbo groups that it is not possible to define a general Igbo art style. Igbo art is known for various types of masquerade, masks and outfits symbolising people, animals, or abstract conceptions. Bronze castings found in the town of Igbo Ukwu from the 9th century, constitute the earliest sculptures discovered in Igboland. Here, the grave of a well-established man of distinction and a ritual store, dating from the 9th century AD, contained both chased copper objects and elaborate castings of leaded bronze. Along with these bronzes were 165,000 glass beads said to have originated in Egypt, Venice and India. Some popular Igbo art styles include Uli designs. The majority of the Igbo carve and use masks, although the function of masks vary from community to community.
Igbo art is noted for Mbari architecture.
Mbari houses of the Owerri-Igbo are large opened-sided square planned shelters. They house many life-sized, painted figures (sculpted in mud to appease the Alusi (deity) and Ala, the earth goddess, with other deities of thunder and water). Other sculptures are of officials, craftsmen, foreigners (mainly Europeans), animals, legendary creatures and ancestors. Mbari houses take years to build in what is regarded as a sacred process. When new ones are constructed, old ones are left to decay. Everyday houses were made of mud and thatched roofs with bare earth floors with carved design doors. Some houses had elaborate designs both in the interior and exterior. These designs could include Uli art designed by Igbo women.
One of the unique structures of Igbo culture was the Nsude Pyramids, at the town of Nsude, in Abaja, northern Igboland. Ten pyramidal structures were built of clay/mud. The first base section was 60 ft. in circumference and 3 ft. in height. The next stack was 45 ft. in circumference. Circular stacks continued, till it reached the top. The structures were temples for the god Ala/Uto, who was believed to reside at the top. A stick was placed at the top to represent the god's residence. The structures were laid in groups of five parallel to each other. Because it was built of clay/mud like the Deffufa of Nubia, time has taken its toll requiring periodic reconstruction.
Religion and rites of passage
Main article: Odinani
See also: Religion in Nigeria
Most Igbo are Christian; confessional groups are estimated at 56% Roman Catholic and 43% Protestant/Evangelical.
The Igbos were unaffected by the Islamic jihad waged in Nigeria in the 19th century, but a small minority has been converted to Islam in the 20th century  There is also a small population of Igbo Jews,[self-published source] some of whom merely identifying as Jews, while others having converted to Judaism. These draw their inspiration from Olaudah Equiano, a Christian-educated freed slave who remarked in his autobiography of 1789 on "the strong analogy which... appears to prevail in the manners and customs of my countrymen and those of the Jews, before they reached the Land of Promise, and particularly the patriarchs while they were yet in that pastoral state which is described in Genesis—an analogy, which alone would induce me to think that the one people had sprung from the other." Equiano's speculation has given rise to a great debate on the origins of the Igbo.
The Igbo traditional religion is known Odinani. The supreme deity is called Chukwu ("great spirit"); Chukwu created the world and everything in it and is associated with all things on Earth. They believe the Cosmos is divided into four complex parts: creation, known as Okike; supernatural forces or deities called Alusi; Mmuo, which are spirits; and Uwa, the world.
Chukwu is the supreme deity in Odinani as he is the creator, and the Igbo people believe that all things come from him and that everything on earth, heaven