The Distinguished People of Our Time
There is a land so large and vast, in the heart of Africa. This land has so many distinguished people who are respected all over the world. The land is located at the eastern part of Nigeria. The land is a tribe that consists presently of five (5) great States in the Federal Republic of Nigeria: Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi States. This land is located in the east of the Niger – one of the rivers that shaped the Nigerian nation. This land though vast, is inhabited by the most industrious, self sufficient, caring, loving, tolerable, accommodating and proud set of BEINGS. This tribe speaks a distinct language under the sun, without a boundary to any country of the world. This land is known as Igbo land.
The Igbo people of Nigeria have distinguished themselves as the most united and peace loving people anywhere they go. As a distinguished people, their government, trade, culture and tradition and dressing are well known and defined. The people in this region of Nigeria have been accepted and pronounced as one of the best, not only in Nigeria and Africa, but the world in general. They accommodate strangers and are ever responsible.
In Igbo land, political power is in the hands of the village heads, called “Ndi Oji-Ofo”. As such, family of Clan heads, and the family groups formed the basis of the Igbo political system. Each family has its own head selected by the members of that family. The family heads have certain privileges and responsibilities and they are respected by their people because they communicated with ancestors and represent the family in the village council. Laws are enforced by the family heads and cases involving members of a particular family was settled by their family heads.
The village council comprises of all the family heads in the village. Important issues affecting the people of the village are discussed. The Okpara (the first born son of a family) becomes the overall head after the father. Title holders play important roles in the political organization of the Igbo people.
The “Ozo” title holders preside over meetings of elders to try offenders. They give protection to fugitives who run to their homes for asylum, and lead their people in the performance of religious rites. An “Ozo” title costs a lot of money and so the “Ozo” title holders are respected in the account of their wealth or position. This enables them to wield some political powers or influence in their families and villages.
Oracles, Juju Priests and Diviners influence the people’s moral and social behaviours. They give sanctions, decisions and predictions. Certain oracles like those of Arochukwu and Igwe-ka-ala, etc., could declare a person accused or not accused of criminal offences (e.g. murder) innocent, and such a person declared innocent would be acquitted immediately. The age grades or groups are other institutions in the Igbo land. These age grades or groups perform useful functions. They carry out public works, punish offenders for misbehaving and help to execute the decisions of the council of elders. They also help to execute wars and act as police to arrest offenders.
The Igbo traditional society does not lack authority. It has been established that civilization and democracy started in Igbo land. I use to hear from people make declarations like this: “He that has no respect for democracy, has no respect for God, for He was the first democrat; so he that has no respect for the Igbo, has no respect for Nigeria and Africa, South of the Sahara”.
The first book of Moses Commonly called Genesis was said to be named in Igbo language (Jee n’isi isi) – “IN THE BEGINNING”. The corruption of the word brought about the word “GENESIS”. So, God would like us to further take more studies of this important people that found themselves in the eastern part of Nigeria. What made them distinguished among the rest of the people? Why are they important to all of us? This is what I will be unveiling in the subsequent write-ups as the Lord leads me. However, the Igbo people are quite an interesting people to know and interact with. As creative and industrious as they could be, they keep breaking through science and technology by constructing different types of cars, establishing cottage industries, building radio houses, aeroplanes, ships, motors and motorcycles and make their spare parts available for future use. This has earned them the sobriquet: the Japan of Africa!