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Frequently asked questions about Igbo Race, Language, Biafra, treachery and slavery era


I was going through some sites for interesting issues when I stumbled on this piece written and posted on biafraland.com about everything you wish to know about the Igbo race, language and controversies. Hoping you will enjoy it…

Question: Is Southeast and Igboland the same thing? 
Not at all. Southeast is only about 3/5th of Igboland. Igboland covers
the whole of Southeast, parts of Rivers, Delta, Benue, and Akwa Ibom

Question: Why were we taught in school that Igbo people are easterners?
It is both an unfortunate parroting by teachers and careless adoption
by Igbo educated class. Igbo people come from Southern Nigeria and not
Eastern Nigeria. It may be correct to say that the Igbo are found
predominantly in eastern Nigeria. However, by saying that the Igbo are
easterners, the implication is that the Igbo in western Nigeria,
numbering about 2.5 million (Agbor, Ogwashi Ukwu, Ibuzo, Okpanam, Asaba,
Orimili, Ndokwa, Anioma, etc) are not Igbos. The best known Igbo 

anthropologist Professor Mike Onwuejeogwu is from the western part of
Nigeria, Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Dennis Osadebe, Okonkwo Adibe (the famous
musician), Sony Odogwu, etc. are all from the western part of Nigeria.
They are no less Igbo than those who live in the eastern part of
Nigeria. The correct answer to your question is “the Igbo come from
Southern Nigeria.”

Question: Why do some Igbo refer to themselves as “core Igbo?”

That is clearly arrant nonsense. Nobody is core and others peripheral.
All Igbo are the same. It is both arrogant, thoughtless and insensitive
for anybody to regard others as marginal.

Question: Is Igboland landlocked?
Not at all. Igboland stretches from Igwe Ocha (Port Harcourt) to Agbor.
The Atlantic ocean washes the shores of Igboland. Africa’s second
largest river – River Niger, traverses Igboland with one part of
Igboland in the east and another part in the west of Nigeria. Uguta Lake
has the potential of accommodating large ships and could be made a
navigable port. If Igboland is landlocked, then all Nigeria is

Question: Is there oil in Igboland? 

Yes, indeed. There is a lot of oil in Imo State, Abia, Ebonyi, Rivers
State and Delta States Igbo areas, and now in Anambra. Besides, Igboland
has many other natural resources, including coal, limestone, etc.

Question: Are the Igbo a nation or a tribe?
The Igbo are a nation, and a very large one. There are many tribes in
Igbo nation, just like you have many tribes within Israel.

Question: Why do some Ikwerre people say they are not Igbo?
First, it is not up to them to say what they are and what they are not.
When God created them, He did not ask them who they wanted to be. He
just created them Igbo. The only way you’ll know who belongs to what
ethnic group in Nigeria is the name and what language the name comes
from. Anybody whose name is Amadi or Onyeri, or Eke, or Odili, Wanodi
(Nwanodi),Adaeza,chibuike,uchenna does not need to tell you who he is.
He is Igbo, his politics notwithstanding.

Question: But they claim that their language is Ikwerre, not Igbo.
That is politics. Ikwerre is a dialect of Igbo language. Just like an
Ngwa man speaks Ngwa Igbo, Arochukwu speaks Arochukwu Igbo, etc.

Question: Some people say that Igbo language is not complete, is it true?
No language is complete. All languages borrow from each other. Igbo
language is very rich. It has inexhaustible and rich linguistic features
like idioms, proverbs, aphorisms, sayings, anecdotes, riddles,
folklores, etc. Igbo language is one of the major languages of the
world, being spoken by millions of people.

Question: How many are the Igbo?
The Igbo are very numerous. There is educated guess that if Nigeria’s
census is properly enumerated, the Igbo could easily be the largest
ethnic group in the country. They may number up between 50-60 million.
Everything right now, is speculation. Nobody knows the true
stratification or ethnic populations in Nigeria. The Igbo are the only
ethnic group found in large numbers everywhere in Nigeria, and foreign
countries more than any other ethnic group in Africa.

Question: Do the Igbo have a culture of their own?
Yes, indeed. Igbo culture is perhaps, one of the richest and
all-encompassing cultures in this world. Igbo culture always observes
the temporal and the spiritual aspects of cosmology. The study of Igbo
culture reveals that it is extremely deep and original.

Why do the Igbo wear Yoruba Agbada and Hausa babban riga but the Yoruba
and the Hausa do not ever wear Igbo national dress?
Answer: Unfortunately this is the case. The Igbo have very attractive and
resplendent national dresses. And they come in assortments that are
extremely dignifying. The Igbo take up foreign cultures more readily
than other Nigerians, and they seem not to care that nobody reciprocates
their carefree attitude to life. Most ethnics promote their cultures
and show off what makes them unique. Actually, it is still the same
so-called educated Igbo class who behave in such disgraceful and the
devil-may-care attitude.

Question: Why do the Igbo call themselves Biafrans?
Great question. Some people have the idea that Biafra originates from
the Bight of Biafra. But that is wrong. There was the Kingdom of Biafra
that ruled most of the ancient world about 50,000 years ago.
Unfortunately, nobody talks about it, for whatever reason, I do not
know. But, it is in the ancient maps of the world.

Question: Were the Igbo also taken into slavery during the slave trade?
Yes. The Igbo slaves themselves gave account of their travails in
slavery. Olauda Ekwuano an Igbo ex-slave who bought his freedom in
Britain was the first slave to write about his experience in slavery.
His book has become a classic. You ought to find it and read it. Also,
other Igbos who were brought to America revolted and some walked back on
water and were said to have returned to Africa. Several books have been
written about them. One of such books is “Ibo Landing.” It is available
in bookstores like Barnes & Noble. In Haiti, the Igbo settled there
and refused to be colonized by anybody. There are many places where the
Igbo left their mark or their signature.

Question: How did the Igbo know days and years?

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The Igbo invented an accurate, if not the most accurate calendar called
“Iguafo Igbo (Igbo Calendar).” In Igbo calendar, there are four market
days – Eke, Afor, Nkwo, Orie that make one week. Four days make one
week, seven weeks make one month, and thirteen months make one year.
There are 28 days for each month, with the last month having 29 days.
Each month starts the same day as the previous. Igbo calendar forms the
perfect astronomical alignment with the cosmos, and regulates the
seasons, agriculture, navigation, astrology, geography, mathematics,
travel, etc.

Question: Did the Igbo have their own alphabets?

Answer: Yes, indeed. It is called “Nsibidi.”

Question: How about mathematics; did the Igbo know mathematics?
Answer: Yes, indeed. There are such inventions as “Okwe” and “Mkpisi” which the Igbo used to resolve figures.

Question: Did the Igbo know anything about banking?
Yes. Igbo banking was more in the nature of Savings and Loans. The
authentic Igbo savings and loans invention called “Isusu’ in which
contributions are pooled each week and one person, who has the need,
collects, is still in practice. Igbo slaves took this invention to the
Caribbean Islands where they still practise it and call it “Sue Sue.”

Some people say that Igboland is too small for the Igbo, that they have
no alternative than to live as Nigerians: is this true?
False. Igboland is a large country. Do every Igbo need to stay and work
in Igboland? No. Everywhere in the world, some will stay home while
others venture abroad in search of opportunities. Igboland is large
enough for the Igbo. And it is a very rich and hospitable part of the
world. It has rich soil for agriculture, abundant rainfall, good
sunshine, and table land in many parts. Its land space and population
are more than that of over half of the present countries in the world.

Question: Where did the Igbo come from?

That question is still being asked. There are very intriguing theories
or histories now being studied. You may have heard of the Jewish angle,
the Egypt angle, and the Origin of man angle. This twenty-first century,
hopefully, will resolve the mystery.

Question: Why do people say that the Igbo are not united?
Those who say so, do so out of ignorance. The Igbo are famous for their
unity. In the colonial period and the First Republic of Nigeria, the
Igbo were always envied for their unity. Under Igbo Union, they
accomplished many things. They were feared by others for this. Since
after the war, the Igbo are gradually recovering and getting rid of the
individualism they developed brought about by their war experience which
enabled them to survive as a disinherited people. Now, there are
vigorous efforts to reunite them and return them to their old glory
which served them well in the past.

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Question: Some people say
that the Igbo are susceptible to being bought by some other Nigerians,
and that they “sell” the Igbo in the bargain; is this true?

The same parroting and recycling of unfounded talk. When you hear such a
talk, challenge the one who is mouthing it to give you evidence, or to
cite an example of such an Igbo person. He is likely to say “what of Jim
Nwobodo?” Tell him that the Igbo number about 40 million, if it would
be fair for the action of one person to represent the integrity of the
other 3.99.9 million. The truth is that an Igbo is like any other human
being, when he sees where he can take advantage of a situation, he goes
for it. It has nothing to do with “selling.” Were we not told that fish
clusters where the river was deepest or that the dog follows he who has
crumbs? Not long ago in the history of Nigeria, other Nigerians were
also running after the Igbo for crumbs because the Igbo were in position
to call the shots. Things will not remain as they are today. In fact,
things are changing fast.

Question: Why are other Nigerians always persecuting the Igbo?
I have always tried to know myself. I am one of those who believe that
the Igbo are among the most peaceful people on earth. But, because of
the fact that they are very hardworking, ambitious, and not afraid to
live anywhere, or take up any task, they tend to be resented by their
less ambitious and successful neighbors or hosts. When you confront a
non-Igbo to say what specific offense the Igbo have committed against
them, oftentimes they draw blank, or engage in fabrications, which they
insist must stand for a fact. The Igbo believe in live-and-let-live. It
is virtually impossible for any Igbo to rise against their guests or
hosts. It has never happened in Nigeria, or elsewhere. It is an
abomination in Igboland for a host to cause his guest harm. Instead, a
guest is considered metaphysically and physically under the protection
of the host. All Igbo deities forbid doing harm to a guest. The Igbo are
accused of “loving money.” I suppose the charge is based on the fact
that they work hard and acquire money in the bargain. One would like to
believe that the outcome of hardwork is good harvest and hopefully
prosperity. If anybody takes offense at the prosperity of a hardworking
person, then the Igbo or for that matter any other person or persons,
have no apologies to render.

Question: Do the Igbo have their own system of jurisprudence before the arrival of the white man?
Yes. The Igbo had a system of resolving conflicts. The elders were
presented with cases that could not be satisfactorily settled within the
family or kindred. Matters where veracity must be ascertained, the Igbo
resort to spirituality. Oath-taking is a matter left to the spirits to
settle. Those who swear falsely were expected to be killed by the
spirits within a given period. After the period, he is acquitted and he
could celebrate with public merry-making. The Igbo did not have any
prisons, but they could ostracise a culprit, exile him, or send him into
slavery or to serve to a deity.

Question: Why don’t the Igbo teach these things you are telling me to their children?

In the pursuit of what they taught was the “new way” either from
Europeans or o Christianity, the Igbo began to distance themselves from
their heritage, and in the process became lost in the wilderness of a
world they hardly understand. They have learned their lesson the hard
way. The twenty-first century will lead them back home.
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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.