Who Is Onye Igbo And Why Some Are Confused

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When I read some posts and comments from some of our Igbo people, I wonder why the modern Igbo do not teach their children the little of history that they know or even research to understand their roots. Who is an Igbo? What many of Ndigbo do not know is that there is no ethnic group or sub-group that referred to themselves as Igbo. At best, many Igbo sub-groups had adjectives that they used in describing themselves but definitely not Igbo. For instance, before the advent of the whiteman in my part of Igbo, our people referred to other Igbo regions around my place based on the sort of war party or regalia they adorned while going for battles. These are Ota Nchara and Ota Nzu. So clans that rubbed clay before battles were called Ota Nzu, while those that rubbed bronze were Ota Nchara. Now as to the matter of Igbo. No Igbo sub-group referred to themselves as Ndiigbo. It seems that this was not necessary since they knew they were all Igbo. However, when visitors from other clans, especially faraway clans came. Precolonial Igbos referred to such people as Onye Igbo, if such persons were an Igbo. There are basic traits with which Ndiigbo know themselves. These are our belief in ancestors, four market days of Eke, Orie, Afor, Nkwo, the Igbo language which has dialects and the centrality of Yam as a staple food and the ceremonies around it. Others are burial rites of passage, the Nze na Ozo title, an Eze Mmuo and a decentralized government structure in which every clan is governed by family heads. Also every Igbo family has an Obi. There could be more. Now, if you had all these in your community before the advent of the whiteman and speak Igbo but claim that you're not Igbo, it means that the Igbo nation conquered your people the same period the Arabs conquered Egypt and North Africa and destroyed your culture (language inclusive).

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