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Home ✔Life & style ✔Culture Igbo People: History, Culture, Religion, Clothes, Food, Women, & Facts

Igbo People: History, Culture, Religion, Clothes, Food, Women, & Facts

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The Igbo people are located in the south eastern geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Here you’ll discover interesting information regarding the Igbo people — including information on the Igbo culture, history, religion, clothes, and several other intriguing facts.

The Igbos stand out in many ways in a country of over 400 languages. In typical sense, they are regarded as one of the 3 major languages in Nigeria. The other two being Yoruba and Hausa.

Igbo History

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It is not known explicitly were the Igbos hail from, as there are no official documentations and evidence to back certain claims.

However, Williamson (2002) argues that proto-Igboid migration would have moved down the Niger from a more northern area in the savannah and first settled close to the delta.

Pottery found in Nsukka, which bears a remarkable resemblance with modern day Igbo pottery, dated as far back as 2500BC. This proves that the language has existed for several centuries.

Igbo Language (location & Basic Info)

The language belongs to the Volta-Nigeria branch of the Niger-Congo group of languages. According to research, it is spoken by over 18 million people.

As a matter of fact, the Igbo language, or Ásụ̀sụ̀ Ị̀gbò (in native pronunciation), can be traced and heard in virtually any part of the world. However, they are native settlers mainly in Nigeria and The Equatorial Guinea.

In Nigeria, they settle predominantly within the southeastern states — namely Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Imo, and Anambra States. And the towns and villages located within those five states are often referred to as Igboland.

The major towns and cities found in Igboland are: Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Owerri, Orlu, Okigwe, Port Harcourt, Asaba, Awka, Nsukka, Nnewi, Umuahia, Abakaliki, Afikpo, Agbor and Arochukwu.

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Towns and villages within Igboland make use of varying dialects; however, the general igbo — which can be traced to Owerri and Umuahia — has been in use since 1962.

Also, the standard Igbo text is based on the same dialect traced to Owerri and Umuahia.

Igbo language is fairly difficult to learn because of the huge number of dialects, its richness in prefixes and suffixes, and its heavy intonation.

Igbo People (Occupation & Religion)

Igbo people, or Ṇ́dị́ Ìgbò (in native language), located in rural settlements work mostly as craftsmen, farmers and trader.

The ones living in diaspora are, however, mostly traders. And they are known to be highly skilled merchants.

Before British colonial rule, the Igbo were a politically fragmented group, with a number of centralized chiefdoms such as Nri, Arochukwu, Agbor and Onitsha.

Lord Frederick Lugard is credited for introducing the Eze system of “Warrant Chiefs”.

Igbos are predominantly Christians, mainly because they were unaffected by the Jiahad war led by Usman Danfodio in the 19th century.

The British colonial masters also play a key-role in their choice of religion.

Meanwhile, many Igbos settled in rural areas remain faithful followers of their native traditional religion, known as Odinani.

Odianani believes in a supreme deity called Chukwu (“great spirit”). According to Odinani, Chukwu created the world and everything in it and is associated with all things on Earth.

The native religion also believes that the Cosmos is divided into four complex parts: Okike, Akusi Mmuo and Uwa. Those words translate to English as: creation, supernatural forces or deities, Spirits, and the world respectively.

As a result of the Nigerian Civil War, many Igbos migrated into several parts of the world. But prior to that, they were victims of many years of slave trade that saw them scatter all over the world.

Based on DNA sample and research, prominent Americans with traces to the Igbo land include:
Bishop T.D. Jakes, Forest Whitaker, Paul Robeson, and Blair Underwood.

Igbo Food, Clothes, Culture, Ceremonies & Festivals

The Igbos are culturally rich and diverse in nature. There are various customs, practices and traditions associated with them.

There diversity in culture is arguably as a result of eastern and mid-western regions being divided by the Niger River.


The traditional atire for Igbo men is isiagu (robe), along with a befiting okpu agu (hat). In the past, and to commensurate traditional occasions maidens wear a short wrapper with beads around their waist and other ornaments such as necklaces and beads.

Women, on the other hand, wear wrappers and most times wear another shorter colorful material around their waist.


Popular delicacies among the Igbos include Ofe Onugbo (bitter leaf soup), Ofe Okazi (Okazi soup), Abacha, Ugba (Oil bean) Ofe Oha/Ora (Oha soup), among others.

Igbo Yam pottage: Image credit wikimedia.

Generally, yam plays an important role in Igbo cuisines. Other indigenous foods are gotten mainly from cassava, maize and plantains.

On top of all that, a typical Igbo man loves palm-wine. It remains the most popular alcoholic beverage among natives.


One of the most popular festival is Iwaji (new yam festival). It is usually held during the harvesting seasons of yam.

Aside from Iwaji, other festivals include:

  • Ofala
  • Mmanwu
  • Iwa Akwa
  • Igu Aro
  • Ekpe
  • Inne
  • Odo, and hosts of others.


Igbos are known to celebrate burial and marriages graciously. Especially burials of aged dead or dignitaries.

In typical sense, the weddings are conducted, the man seek the young woman’s consent. After which, upon the agreement of the lady, he is introduced to her family.

Polygamy was widely practiced in the past; but in recent times most Igbo families practice monogamy. Major reason for this is the predominant christian religion, which forbids 2 wives.

Read also:

Article was inspected and verified on Wikipedia to ensure coherence.

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