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The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship - Culture - Nairaland

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The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by patrick89(m): 9:33am On Dec 09, 2015
By : Mr. Azuka Onwuka

I was in a bank last week and noticed that the person before me in the queue was a boy of about 12 years old. As he completed his transaction and left, a conversation started between the teller and me. As our chat progressed, the bank teller said that in spite of the boy’s size, he came to deposit N150,000. He exclaimed: “Igbo boys!”

He laughed and told him that soon the boy would be depositing one million naira or more. Some 15 years ago, when online/real-time banking was unavailable, these Igbo boys moved such huge amount of cash from Nnewi/Onitsha/Aba to Lagos/Kano/Port Harourt and vice versa, via buses, with all the attendant risk of armed robbery and road accidents.

One wonders why a 12-year-old boy should be trusted to go to a bank and deposit N150,000. What if he loses it? What if it is taken from him? What if he corners it and claims that it was stolen on his way? But that is part of the training of an Igbo apprentice. Before he could be trusted to handle N150,000, he might have been tried with N20,000. As he stepped out of the shop with the N150,000, the master might have sent a more senior apprentice to shadow him secretly to ensure that he went into the bank.

The result is that the boy of 12 years old matures financially faster than his mates even from wealthy homes. He understands how money comes in and how money goes out. He understands not just how to spend money but how to make money, how to save money and how to invest it. He understands how one can carry huge sums of money and go unnoticed. By the time he turns 18 or 20, while his age mates are still asking for pocket money, he has started giving pocket money to his siblings or parents or paying the school fees of his siblings and supporting his parents financially.

This apprenticeship is what has helped to spread wealth from the rich to the poor among the Igbo. It helped the Igbo to recover fast after the devastation of the Nigerian Civil War in which they lost virtually all their wealth and received the “ex gratia” payment of £20 irrespective of their deposits in the banks. It helped to spread the art of trading and money management among the Igbo. It helped to teach Igbo how to fish rather than give them fish.
How does it work? A man starts a motor spare parts business in Nnewi, Lagos or Kano. After a year or two, he goes home and takes a boy from a poor home to be his apprentice. He chooses from a poor family because a poor family may have about eight children that the parents cannot effectively cater for. Such families are more willing to release their sons. The boy may have just finished primary 6 or junior secondary school or his secondary school education and does not have any hope of someone paying for his university education or is not academically sound enough to make good scores to gain admission into the university. The boy may also be the first son from a poor family and believes that if he continues to the university, he may not be financially dependent in time to pay the school fees of his younger ones and support his parents. So he goes early into apprenticeship as a sacrifice for the family.
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Depending on his age and academic qualification, the apprenticeship period will be agreed upon to last from five to seven years. While with his master, he just does not mind only business issues. He is a servant to his master. If his master is a bachelor, he enjoys his stay more. He tidies up the home, washes clothes, cooks, etc. If his master is based in a town that is semi-urban, he may join in farming early in the morning or in the evening. He may hew wood or go to the stream to fetch water. He gets to the shop first, opens it, and closes last. He goes around the market to look for prospective buyers. After the customer is done buying, he packs the goods in cartons or bags for him, and if it is a big and regular customer, he may help the customer to carry the goods or get a cart pusher to take the goods to somewhere close-by where the customer can arrange for how to transport the goods to his location.
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Part of the training is that he will be able to endure all sorts of indignities from his master, his wife, his children and his relatives. If his skin is not tough, he may give up midway and leave. But if he endures, by the time he has spent about three or four years, he becomes a senior apprentice or “manager”. Even the master and his wife will treat him with more respect at this stage. His master may have brought in another apprentice. He may have been taught how to drive, so that he can take goods or the other apprentices in the company’s bus to and from the shop. Every two years, he may be allowed to travel home for Christmas and New Year to spend about two weeks with his own family. Some people can have up to eight apprentices at the same time.

At the end of the agreed period, the man takes his apprentice home to meet his parents. He then “settles” him by giving him any amount of money that he deems fit and prays for him. What the master gives to his boy during settlement matters but is not critical. It is what is learnt during those years of apprenticeship that matters. The apprentice learns the trade and all the intricacies involved as well as self-discipline and the management of customers. He gets to know customers who may become his soon after his freedom. Most times, once he opens his own shop, customers of his master, who liked the way he took care of them, would shift to him. If he gains their trust, they may even send him cash from Kano or Accra or Yaounde with a list of the goods they want and he will send the goods to them. One or two years after becoming his own boss, he goes home to get a boy to be his apprentice, and the cycle continues.

There is a different type of apprenticeship. It is done by people whose parents have the wherewithal to give them the capital to start off. They live with their parents but go to the shop of a man to learn the trade for a period of six months or one year. At the end of that period, they start their business. But the rate of success of such people is much lower than those who spent about six years under the roof of a master.

Many of the rich men in Igbo land like Mr Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors, Mr Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis Motors, Chief Chidi Anyaegbu of Chisco Motors, Chief Alex Chika Okafor of A-Z Petroleum/Chicason Group, etc, went through this apprenticeship scheme. Many of today’s rich Igbo men came from very poor families. This apprenticeship scheme gave them the foothold to rise to wealth, for their parents would have not been able to pay their school fees or give them the money required to start a business that has prospect.

The Igbo apprentice is not seen as a “servant” forever. Once he completes his apprenticeship and starts his own business, he becomes a “friend” to his former master. Anytime he visits his “Oga”, he sits down with him in his sitting room to share a drink. He may even marry his master’s daughter. If his master is doing a burial, he comes as a special guest with a cow. When he is doing his event, his master also comes as a special guest. If he becomes successful in business, his master uses him to boast and tells other apprentices to strive to emulate him. Some even later turn around to help their masters financially when they have become very rich and their master’s fortunes have dwindled.

Later in life when they have become financially successful, some decide to acquire that education they cut short earlier by getting a degree. But even those who don’t have any degree ensure that they marry women that have degrees, so as to help in the education of the children and take care of any issue that requires “long grammar.”

There may be drawbacks in this scheme like abuse of children, abandonment of education by boys, and other issues, but the Igbo apprenticeship scheme is a unique scheme that has benefited the Igbo a lot.

https://www.today.ng/opinion/48881/igbo-and-culture-of-apprenticeship

174 Likes 21 Shares

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by patrick89(m): 9:36am On Dec 09, 2015
The people that are saying igbos hate themselves, should come and read!
cc lalasticlala come and movee this to frontpage! not only bad things should make frontpage..

83 Likes 6 Shares

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by EasternActivist: 9:41am On Dec 09, 2015
All nah hardwork...

9 Likes 1 Share

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by patrick89(m): 9:48am On Dec 09, 2015
where are the people that say igbos hate themselves cc abagworo, beremx,NgeneUkwenu and other conquered igbos come and dispute this fact!

50 Likes 6 Shares

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by babyfaceafrica: 9:58am On Dec 09, 2015
Lolz....nice but nothing new
Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by redcap: 10:00am On Dec 09, 2015
I'm a proud product of this scheme, almost done with my OND program atm. cool cool

73 Likes 2 Shares

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by patrick89(m): 10:02am On Dec 09, 2015
babyfaceafrica:
Lolz....nice but cannot make frontpage...try harder!!!
why? because it's not against ndigbo abi? it doesn't rubbish igbo people?

45 Likes 1 Share

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Nobody: 10:03am On Dec 09, 2015
May God continue to bless my uncle. He has trained over 50 sussessful business men in auto parts biz since 1992.

153 Likes 8 Shares

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by babyfaceafrica: 10:05am On Dec 09, 2015
patrick89:
why? because it's not against ndigbo abi? it doesn't rubbish igbo people?
its nt news..everybody knows this

1 Like

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by patrick89(m): 10:09am On Dec 09, 2015
babyfaceafrica:
its nt news..everybody knows this
it's very bad of them then.. cool
babyfaceafrica:
its nt news..everybody knows this
it's very bad of them then..
Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Ezemust: 10:15am On Dec 09, 2015
that's why fayose send some ekiti youth to the east to learn that culture

65 Likes 1 Share

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by patrick89(m): 10:19am On Dec 09, 2015
NAIJASOM:
May God continue to bless my uncle. He has trained over 50 sussessful business men in auto parts biz since 1992.
my brother the thing is such a very wonderful and emotional story,
my uncle from maternal side, told me after the war, he went to onitsha with nothing, he only followed a very popular rich man in our village when he was still 12, the man then was into Beans and rice, the market was dominated by hausas then, later, igbos took over the market, my uncle then went to lagos at the age of 18 started small business around apapa port, where he sells on ordinary table along the street, he then, made, more money and started selling plumbing material, he brought forth many young boys from our village, about 4 of them,one of the those boys is now now a house hold name, he trains my uncle's children in school at all levels, my uncle is doing virtually nothing now, but the things those boys he trained bring to him make him appear like a king, .
They bought cars for him and his wife, his new home in lagos and village, they bring cows to him almost every year..
it's such a wonderful thing, though the thing is becoming very unpopular as everyone wants to go to school, it will be difficult to get someone that will be interested in that booyi again..

103 Likes 3 Shares

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by hopeforcharles(m): 10:28am On Dec 09, 2015
This is one of secret(s) of the great igbo people's success in business.




patrick89:
my brother the thing is such a very wonderful and emotional story,
my uncle from maternal side, told me after the war, he went to onitsha with nothing, he only followed a very popular rich man in our village when he was still 12, the man then was into Beans and rice, the market was dominated by hausas then, later, igbos took over the market, my uncle then went to lagos at the age of 18 started small business around apapa port, where he sells on ordinary table along the street, he then, made, more money and started selling plumbing material, he brought forth many young boys from our village, about 4 of them,one of the those boys is now now a house hold name, he trains my uncle's children in school at all levels, my uncle is doing virtually nothing now, but the things those boys he trained bring to him make him appear like a king, .
They bought cars for him and his wife, his new home in lagos and village, they bring cows to him almost every year..
it's such a wonderful thing, though the thing is becoming very unpopular as everyone wants to go to school, it will be difficult to get someone that will be interested in that booyi again..
nice story
But i disagree about the It will be difficult to get someone that will be interested in that booyi again, Reasons are thus= With the Unpopularity of white collar jobs and economic melt downs the most secured path now is agriculture and business, and igbo are business oriented and there are alot who now realize that School and its attendant learning is becoming overtly hyped in Nigeria esp when unemployment is staring even the best graduates in the face, therefore are encouraging business and apprentiship = booyi.
Long live Ndi igbo worldwide.

32 Likes 3 Shares

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by patrick89(m): 10:32am On Dec 09, 2015
Ezemust:
that's why fayose send some ekiti youth to the east to learn that culture
it's not going to be possible, they have different cultural background, imagine if a yoruba man brings someone from village that may not even have a father, the guy will be treated like a rag, call him names, if you try that to your fellow igbo man from same town, you will hear from umunna! so it will not work in yoruba land..
Did you know that you are not suppose to maltreat your booyi? if you do, the repercussions might be much, but yoruba can course you and abuse as your master and get away with it..
imagine igbo master tells his igbo servant that "your miserable father and mother that brought you to this world should take care of you" if you make a mistake? if the servant reports him to umunna, he will hear am!!

29 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by patrick89(m): 10:52am On Dec 09, 2015
hopeforcharles:
This is one of secret of the great igbo 's success
no ethnic group has the structure to make this happen!! iits not a secret thing!!
so mods have ignored this thread because it's not bashing igbo people!!! cc lalasticlala ishilove Afam4eva come and push this to frontpage..

22 Likes 1 Share

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by hopeforcharles(m): 11:30am On Dec 09, 2015
patrick89:

no ethnic group has the structure to make this happen!! iits not a secret thing!!
so mods have ignored this thread because it's not bashing igbo people!!! cc lalasticlala ishilove Afam4eva come and push this to frontpage..
its a secret, an opened one not the less, there is something been passed along in the process which an outsider can't comprehend.

11 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Living4christ(m): 1:18pm On Dec 09, 2015
hopeforcharles:

its a secret, an opened one not the less, there is something been passed along in the process which an outsider can't comprehend.

Front page ASAP. @ mods, wickedness in high places. sad

check my signature and give me feedback wen u com bk

2 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by ShakurM(m): 1:34pm On Dec 09, 2015
The bank teller should be sacked angry

7 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Chimaritoponcho: 1:34pm On Dec 09, 2015
proudly igbo boy
hit like if u are proud to be an #NWA'AFO IGBO

150 Likes 6 Shares

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by nnadychuks(m): 1:34pm On Dec 09, 2015
.criminals don't suspect that a boy of 12 years will be holding such amount of money.. Emm chidi biko bia ga na ulo ego,werre 2million ge ti na account mu.. Gawa osinso na!!

17 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Nobody: 1:34pm On Dec 09, 2015
Experience matters a lot in business. That is why some people from the West always accuse the igbo people for engaging in money ritual.
Know what you want to do and how to do it.

14 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Ibelong2God: 1:34pm On Dec 09, 2015
IGBO AMAKA

18 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Nobody: 1:34pm On Dec 09, 2015
same sh!t everyday .... anyway check my signature for money making.
Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by bastien: 1:35pm On Dec 09, 2015
Click like if u know say u no read am but u just feel like to comment due to boredom grin
Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by ChappyChase: 1:35pm On Dec 09, 2015
Funny enough this culture is going into extinction because every body wan go University!!

3 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by macaranta(m): 1:35pm On Dec 09, 2015
Chukwudi was recently settled by my friend's Dad. grin

That's after so many others.
Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Sweetlemon(f): 1:35pm On Dec 09, 2015
It's refreshing reading useful things like this about Igbos.

16 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Nobody: 1:35pm On Dec 09, 2015
smiley
Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Nobody: 1:36pm On Dec 09, 2015
good

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Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by Ralphlauren(m): 1:36pm On Dec 09, 2015
What about those that hit shortchanged by their "masters"?

It's a well known fact that many "masters" will wait until the 5th or 6th year of an agreed say for example 7 years "apprenticeship" and then come up with a frivolous allegation against the "servant" and hence refuse to set them up or settle them financially and then leaving them with nothing.

It's very RAMPANT with the ibos. This is they key reason why many of their boys and girls are no longer interested in the "scheme".

How can one spend 7 years with no formal education as a "houseboy", "shop attendant", "sales boy" or whatever duties the "master" comes up with and then get chased any with nothing to show for it - no shop, no money and no goods !

12 Likes 1 Share

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by dotna(m): 1:37pm On Dec 09, 2015
humility is a rare virtue

3 Likes

Re: The Igbo And Culture Of Apprenticeship by confamgist237: 1:37pm On Dec 09, 2015
grin grin grin grin grin

OR the The Biafra And Culture Of Apprenticeship tongue tongue

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