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What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? - Culture - Nairaland

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What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by ezeagu(m): 9:17pm On Jul 16, 2012
Tradition is defined as the beliefs and customs passed from generation to generation, customs can include anything from language to dress. Nigerians have the word 'traditional' in order to differentiate native customs from Europeanisation in Nigeria. We can assume that these traditions are passed down directly from an individuals ancestors, and may even undergo slight appropriation for the times. This is true for most ethnic groups in Nigeria, except the Igbo who do not necessarily get 'traditional' from their ancestors, which is why I ask what is 'traditional' in the Igbo world?

Igbo people today do not generally wear much clothing that is related to their ancestors. Igbo people sometimes copy others cultures and call it 'traditional', and I don't mean in an obviously natural way such as Ibibio influence on the communities on the east of their land. The languages are all being muddled up, and not in a 'standardised' and 'local' language sort of way, but in an 'Abia community using Ifeanyi' kind of way. You also have the issue of a generic Igbo culture arising, which is the Ibibio hat wearing, 'George' tying, mgbedike-mask dancing generic, to put it simple, something you'd find in a Nollywood 'traditional' movie. Nollywood seems to be a strong contribution of the muddling up of Igbo tradition and history, both internally and to the wider world (for example you'd get a Kenyan greeting you with 'igweeee' even though most communities do not have igwe).

If 'traditional' is something passed from ancestors and, in the modern Niger area, is meant to be as opposed to modern/foreign/European influence, then why is 'traditional' in Igboland undergoing massive modification? Some call this as positive or natural. I only understand cultural change when it is natural, what I'd say is natural would be if the changes were brought from the customs passed down (such as George Indian material woven by Akwete women 'in an Igbo fashion'), an evolution, or if the influence came directly from contact as was appropriated and care was taken not to trample on other traditions. The following examples are all Igbo 'traditional' events, and then there are older examples of tradition before major influence from others. The clothing is influenced by Islamic African cultures but none of these people are muslims. I've also noticed the trend of Igbo brides dressing in Bini coral shawls. This is only for example and no offence should be taken by those in the photos:

Today:

[img]http://web.njit.edu/~ma383/Images/Igbo%20bride2.jpeg[/img]

Early 20th Century:




Wedding/women before:




Related groups are similar (Ibibio):



How others are:
Japanese wedding then and now.


Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by odumchi: 3:07am On Jul 26, 2012
Ezeagu,

I am glad that people are realizing things like this. The thing is that we Igbo are (for the most part) quick to adapt to whatever new influence we may experience. We even sometimes take it a step further and try attempt to incorporate it within our identity. The truth is that there is no such thing as "Igbo tradition". The Igbo (like any other large ethnic group) are a collection of very similar peoples who have their own special traditions, norms, and practices.

Our individual cultures have always been influenced by those of our neighbors, and theirs, to an extent, by ours. For example, the Igbo in the Cross River Basin (like me) share aspects of their traditions with their Ibibio and Efik neighbors while the Igbo in extreme west of Igboland (like you) share pieces of tradition with their neighbors. One would naturally think that the Igbo in the center of Igboland are those whose traditions are "truly Igbo", but this is wrong since onweghi onye ka ibe ya abu Igbo.

What I'm saying is that there is no such thing as an "Igbo tradition" since no two subgroups in Igboland practice the exact same tradition. Aside from this, groups in different culture zones/regions dress differently and speak differently, therefore, there is no such thing as a true "Igbo dressing indentity".

However, with our newfound sense of self-awareness, combined with a growing pan-Igbo identity, people have come to consider the traditions of a handful of subgroups as that of the entire Igbo nation; Nollywood does this. In addition to this, it has also blended tradition from various peoples of Igboland in order to form an "Igbo identity".

If you watch pre-colonially themed Nollywood movies which are supposed to be set in the period before the Europeans ventured deep into Igboland, you'll see communities with Eze and Igwe monarchs (even though the concept of "Igwe" did not exist prior to the Europeans and even though, pre-colonially, ndi Eze were only present in Nri and the Cross-River basin) practicing Nri traditions, and speaking northern dialects.

In order to fashion this "Pan Igbo identity", people borrowed from each other and began wearing things like; okpu agu, okpu uvivie (red cap), isi agu, and okpu agu. In addition to this, people also went as far as borrowing names from each other and mixing dialects, creating gray areas in tradition and culture.

What we have today is the finished product and this finished product has been heavily influenced by the traditions of the northern Igbo. Like you said, we have people in Abia and Rivers answering Ifeanyi; "Igbo attire" is now seen as what a typical northern Igbo would wear, whereas my own people's attire would be considered Efik (even though it is not); an Igboman is now seen as anyone who wears a red cap and Isu agu.

We Igbo have constructed a national dentity for ourselves. However, broken into subgroups, we all are still unique.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by ChinenyeN(m): 3:30am On Jul 26, 2012
odumchi: What we have today is the finished product and this finished product has been heavily influenced by the traditions of the northern Igbo. Like you said, we have people in Abia and Rivers answering Ifeanyi; "Igbo attire" is now seen as what a typical northern Igbo would wear, whereas my own people's attire would be considered Efik (even though it is not); an Igboman is now seen as anyone who wears a red cap and Isu agu.

That is basically how I would have summed it up. We can't speak about "Igbo tradition" unless we seriously stereotype it, since we're attempting to qualify something that technically does not exist (or does not exist as people proclaim it).

Even at that, if we go by the pictures Ezeagu posted, it seems clear that the thing we call "Igbo tradition", which we want to qualify as "typical northern Igbo" is even contrastingly different from what northern Igbo would have likely worn say a century ago. So it makes sense that such a thing would prompt someone to ask legitimate questions, as Ezeagu has done, concerning the authenticity of "Igbo tradition" itself and how it is qualified, or if it can even be seriously/authentically qualified in the first place.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by odumchi: 4:26am On Jul 26, 2012
ChinenyeN:

That is basically how I would have summed it up. We can't speak about "Igbo tradition" unless we seriously stereotype it, since we're attempting to qualify something that technically does not exist (or does not exist as people proclaim it).

Even at that, if we go by the pictures Ezeagu posted, it seems clear that the thing we call "Igbo tradition", which we want to qualify as "typical northern Igbo" is even contrastingly different from what northern Igbo would have likely worn say a century ago. So it makes sense that such a thing would prompt someone to ask legitimate questions, as Ezeagu has done, concerning the authenticity of "Igbo tradition" itself and how it is qualified, or if it can even be seriously/authentically qualified in the first place.

Exactly. We have inadvertantly assumed a fabricated identity for ourselves which we, as aware individuals, should question. We should celebrate our various traditions and styles rather than glorify those of a particular people and parade it off as that of the entire Igbo nation. I have vowed not to take part in this ideology. I will proudly wear the truly Igbo attire of my people and not the isi agu/red cap/agbada conflageration.

One thing that I have noticed is that Nollywood plays a part in this. Most (I would have said all, but I know there are no absolutes) traditional Nollywood films are rooted in the northern (especially Anambra) sub-cultural zone. I, personally, would love to see a traditional Nollywood film set in the the Cross-River zone, Ngwa country, or even Aboh.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by ChinenyeN(m): 5:29am On Jul 26, 2012
odumchi: Exactly. We have inadvertantly assumed a fabricated identity for ourselves which we, as aware individuals, should question. We should celebrate our various traditions and styles rather than glorify those of a particular people and parade it off as that of the entire Igbo nation. I have vowed not to take part in this ideology. I will proudly wear the truly Igbo attire of my people and not the isi agu/red cap/agbada conflageration.

One thing that I have noticed is that Nollywood plays a part in this. Most (I would have said all, but I know there are no absolutes) traditional Nollywood films are rooted in the northern (especially Anambra) sub-cultural zone. I, personally, would love to see a traditional Nollywood film set in the the Cross-River zone, Ngwa country, or even Aboh.

I share your understanding, as well as your interest in seeing films set in the Cross-River zone and Ngwa axis. That's partly my motivation for screenwriting, but that is beside the topic.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by odumchi: 6:53am On Jul 26, 2012
ChinenyeN:

I share your understanding, as well as your interest in seeing films set in the Cross-River zone and Ngwa axis. That's partly my motivation for screenwriting, but that is beside the topic.

I must be the first person to see the next film you write, lol. I'm sure that it will be a breath of fresh air and a relief from all of these Anambra-centric films.

As for myself, I am working on a novel that is focused on the death of the Aro way of life during the fall of the Confederacy. I think what drove me to begin writing it is the same thing that drove Ezeagu to create this thread: the need for a change of perspective of the Igbo.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Antivirus92(m): 2:26pm On Jul 26, 2012
odumchi: Ezeagu,

I am glad that people are realizing things like this. The thing is that we Igbo are (for the most part) quick to adapt to whatever new influence we may experience. We even sometimes take it a step further and try attempt to incorporate it within our identity. The truth is that there is no such thing as "Igbo tradition". The Igbo (like any other large ethnic group) are a collection of very similar peoples who have their own special traditions, norms, and practices.

Our individual cultures have always been influenced by those of our neighbors, and theirs, to an extent, by ours. For example, the Igbo in the Cross River Basin (like me) share aspects of their traditions with their Ibibio and Efik neighbors while the Igbo in extreme west of Igboland (like you) share pieces of tradition with their neighbors. One would naturally think that the Igbo in the center of Igboland are those whose traditions are "truly Igbo", but this is wrong since onweghi onye ka ibe ya abu Igbo.

What I'm saying is that there is no such thing as an "Igbo tradition" since no two subgroups in Igboland practice the exact same tradition. Aside from this, groups in different culture zones/regions dress differently and speak differently, therefore, there is no such thing as a true "Igbo dressing indentity".

However, with our newfound sense of self-awareness, combined with a growing pan-Igbo identity, people have come to consider the traditions of a handful of subgroups as that of the entire Igbo nation; Nollywood does this. In addition to this, it has also blended tradition from various peoples of Igboland in order to form an "Igbo identity".

If you watch pre-colonially themed Nollywood movies which are supposed to be set in the period before the Europeans ventured deep into Igboland, you'll see communities with Eze and Igwe monarchs (even though the concept of "Igwe" did not exist prior to the Europeans and even though, pre-colonially, ndi Eze were only present in Nri and the Cross-River basin) practicing Nri traditions, and speaking northern dialects.

In order to fashion this "Pan Igbo identity", people borrowed from each other and began wearing things like; okpu agu, okpu uvivie (red cap), isi agu, and okpu agu. In addition to this, people also went as far as borrowing names from each other and mixing dialects, creating gray areas in tradition and culture.

What we have today is the finished product and this finished product has been heavily influenced by the traditions of the northern Igbo. Like you said, we have people in Abia and Rivers answering Ifeanyi; "Igbo attire" is now seen as what a typical northern Igbo would wear, whereas my own people's attire would be considered Efik (even though it is not); an Igboman is now seen as anyone who wears a red cap and Isu agu.

We Igbo have constructed a national dentity for ourselves. However, broken into subgroups, we all are still unique.
do you know that in the olden days prior to the coming of the europeans that cloth doesn't exist in africa. In those days people were wearing animal skin. On introd uction of cloth, different people chose a way of dressing that they feel have a relationship with their culture. Again igbo is not a collection of different people as u claim,igbo is a tribe.the igbos in the boundaries do mix their traditional language,culture and dressing with their non-igbo groups ,so don't say that there is nothing like igbo tradition. If u want to witness the true igbo tradition please come to the igbo areas that are sorrounded by fellow igbo communities and not using ur community in the boundary to judge the entire igbo tribe. I have been saying it all the time that the problem we have in igboland today are the igbos who share boarders with non-igbos,those people always use the influence of non-igbos around them to judge others.they will readily divide the igbo nation and always see themselves as different from some other igbo people far away from them. There is igbo tradition,custom,tradition!,yes they exist.

1 Like

Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by odumchi: 2:59pm On Jul 26, 2012
Antivirus92: do you know that in the olden days prior to the coming of the europeans that cloth doesn't exist in africa. In those days people were wearing animal skin. On introd uction of cloth, different people chose a way of dressing that they feel have a relationship with their culture. Again igbo is not a collection of different people as u claim,igbo is a tribe.the igbos in the boundaries do mix their traditional language,culture and dressing with their non-igbo groups ,so don't say that there is nothing like igbo tradition. If u want to witness the true igbo tradition please come to the igbo areas that are sorrounded by fellow igbo communities and not using ur community in the boundary to judge the entire igbo tribe. I have been saying it all the time that the problem we have in igboland today are the igbos who share boarders with non-igbos,those people always use the influence of non-igbos around them to judge others.they will readily divide the igbo nation and always see themselves as different from some other igbo people far away from them. There is igbo tradition,custom,tradition!,yes they exist.

This is exactly what I'm saying.

So, according to you, the traditions of groups in the fringes of Igboland is "not as Igbo" as those of interior groups?

In my eyes, that is the essence of Igbo. The variety within us is what makes each and every one of us Igbo. That being said, it doesn't do any of us justice if a sterotypical image is used to represent us all. "Igbo tradition" doesn't exist because there is no true stock image for what it means to be Igbo. However, recently, the northern groups have created that stock image and have used the media to make themselves the definition of Igbo.

Besides, I never used the influence of non-Igbo to judge anyone, rather you are the one that's doing so. Besides, I am glad that my people don't take part in this isi agu and red cap business.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by odumchi: 3:05pm On Jul 26, 2012
odumchi:
However, recently, the northern groups have created that stock image and have used the media to make themselves the definition of Igbo.

This is the reasoning that you are employing by saying:

If u want to witness the true igbo tradition please come to the igbo areas that are sorrounded by fellow igbo communities and not using ur community in the boundary to judge the entire igbo tribe

If everyone thought this way, I would be considered Efik or Ibibio but, thankfully, not everyone does.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by ezeagu(m): 3:44pm On Jul 26, 2012
I didn't even know this thread showed up since it banned me from positing while I was editing it.

Antivirus92: do you know that in the olden days prior to the coming of the europeans that cloth doesn't exist in africa. In those days people were wearing animal skin. On introd uction of cloth, different people chose a way of dressing that they feel have a relationship with their culture. Again igbo is not a collection of different people as u claim,igbo is a tribe.the igbos in the boundaries do mix their traditional language,culture and dressing with their non-igbo groups ,so don't say that there is nothing like igbo tradition. If u want to witness the true igbo tradition please come to the igbo areas that are sorrounded by fellow igbo communities and not using ur community in the boundary to judge the entire igbo tribe. I have been saying it all the time that the problem we have in igboland today are the igbos who share boarders with non-igbos,those people always use the influence of non-igbos around them to judge others.they will readily divide the igbo nation and always see themselves as different from some other igbo people far away from them. There is igbo tradition,custom,tradition!,yes they exist.

I've seen this myth of Africans not having textiles before Europeans in Nollywood. The oldest woven material was found in Igbo-Ukwu dating from 300 to 1000 AD. Check the other thread on this section for Igbo clothing.

Also a tribe is more a close knot family, one that can trace blood lines, most Igbo villages are more like tribes than the whole Igbo.

Onitsha does not share borders with any other non-Igbo group, but they told the first Europeans they were from Benin, but this isn't what this thread is about.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Antivirus92(m): 4:27pm On Jul 26, 2012
ezeagu: I didn't even know this thread showed up since it banned me from positing while I was editing it.



I've seen this myth of Africans not having textiles before Europeans in Nollywood. The oldest woven material was found in Igbo-Ukwu dating from 300 to 1000 AD. Check the other thread on this section for Igbo clothing.

Also a tribe is more a close knot family, one that can trace blood lines, most Igbo villages are more like tribes than the whole Igbo.

Onitsha does not share borders with any other non-Igbo group, but they told the first Europeans they were from Benin, but this isn't what this thread is about.
that's their (onitsha)business, know it that onitsha people share boundaries with delta people of which most of them also claim benin,igala descent. Have u for once asked urself why onitsha neighbours inside anambra like obosi,ogidi,nkpor,ogbunike never claim benin anscentry and why some(not every onitsha man) decided to trace their origin across the bridge despite no trace of benin language and tradition among them.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Antivirus92(m): 4:27pm On Jul 26, 2012
ezeagu: I didn't even know this thread showed up since it banned me from positing while I was editing it.



I've seen this myth of Africans not having textiles before Europeans in Nollywood. The oldest woven material was found in Igbo-Ukwu dating from 300 to 1000 AD. Check the other thread on this section for Igbo clothing.

Also a tribe is more a close knot family, one that can trace blood lines, most Igbo villages are more like tribes than the whole Igbo.

Onitsha does not share borders with any other non-Igbo group, but they told the first Europeans they were from Benin, but this isn't what this thread is about.
that's their (onitsha)business, know it that onitsha people share boundaries with delta people of which most of them also claim benin,igala descent. Have u for once asked urself why onitsha neighbours inside anambra like obosi,ogidi,nkpor,ogbunike never claim benin anscentry and why some(not every onitsha man) decided to trace their origin across the bridge despite no trace of benin language and tradition among them.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by ezeagu(m): 10:32pm On Dec 13, 2012
Maybe others have something to contribute.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Crayola1: 1:32am On Dec 14, 2012
So what would be a traditional outfit for today? smiley
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Nobody: 2:16am On Dec 14, 2012
Antivirus92: do you know that in the olden days prior to the coming of the europeans that cloth doesn't exist in africa. In those days people were wearing animal skin.

You can't be older than twenty and your post shows how ignorant and unintelligent you're...

Read a book and stop posting ignorance everywhere...

BTW, Europeans didn't bring clothes to Africa - Africans were wearing clothes when Europeans were savages...
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Nobody: 2:16am On Dec 14, 2012
Interesting thread... cool
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Nobody: 6:28am On Dec 14, 2012
I don't think Igbo women's clothing is far off from this. We just added a blouse to the ensemble, lol. Although with fashion comes variety on the type of material you want to use for your wrapper. So ezeagu, are you saying we stick to one material like the akwaete?

Igbo women in the 60's in akwaete.

I think this is the template for Igbo women clothing presently. Double wrapper, a blouse and a head scarf.

Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by adabeke12(f): 10:23am On Dec 16, 2012
interesting
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Antivirus92(m): 11:14am On Dec 16, 2012
shymexx:

You can't be older than twenty and your post shows how ignorant and unintelligent you're...

Read a book and stop posting ignorance everywhere...

BTW, Europeans didn't bring clothes to Africa - Africans were wearing clothes when Europeans were savages...
tanx mr book and history. I don't have ur time.
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by Ihuomadinihu: 6:05pm On Apr 29, 2015
Lol,at the people that believe that Igbo tradition does not exist. What is Igbo tradition? I believe igbo tradition is embedded in diversity. The differences in our way of life is what keeps igbo culture going, just because my people don't recognize the red cap does not mean the red cap or Okpu agu are not authentically igbo. We should celebrate our diversity not debate what we feel is traditional or not.
In terms of attire,i want to believe that West Africans/Igbos displaced the knowlegde of making clothes because apart from Akwaete,Akwa ocha,Ukara cloth and a few local textiles,the other wrappers we use today are manufactured in india.
In movies,i agree that most of our producers water down the igbo tradition because they are always produced/written from the northern igbo viewpoint. There are still diverse igbo tradtions that are yet to be covered esp the regions that do not have Igwe/Nze/Ozo/Eze/Lolo.
Diversity is a beautiful thing,just rep whatever part of Igboland you come from. Cheers!
Re: What Is 'traditional' To The Igbo? | Gịnị Bụ Omẹnàlà Na Ányá Ńdí Ìgbò? by ezeagu(m): 10:39am On Sep 30, 2015
Ihuomadinihu:
Lol,at the people that believe that Igbo tradition does not exist. What is Igbo tradition? I believe igbo tradition is embedded in diversity. The differences in our way of life is what keeps igbo culture going, just because my people don't recognize the red cap does not mean the red cap or Okpu agu are not authentically igbo. We should celebrate our diversity not debate what we feel is traditional or not.
In terms of attire,i want to believe that West Africans/Igbos displaced the knowlegde of making clothes because apart from Akwaete,Akwa ocha,Ukara cloth and a few local textiles,the other wrappers we use today are manufactured in india.
In movies,i agree that most of our producers water down the igbo tradition because they are always produced/written from the northern igbo viewpoint. There are still diverse igbo tradtions that are yet to be covered esp the regions that do not have Igwe/Nze/Ozo/Eze/Lolo.
Diversity is a beautiful thing,just rep whatever part of Igboland you come from. Cheers!

What did you mean by displaced the knowledge of making clothes?

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