Igbo culture is the sum-total of what we do as Igbo people; how we live our lives, how we eat our foods, what we wear on our bodies as clothes or accessories, what we are known for, the songs we sing to one another, the music we make to express ourselves, the belief system we hold dear to our hearts, and our collective behavior and attitude towards life.
It is by our culture that we, Igbos, are given our identity among comity of ethnicities all over the world, and that is why we, as Igbo people, collectively work together to preserve the Igbo culture and traditions. A tribe without a strong cultural base will go into extinction sooner than later. It is because we consciously and unconsciously socialize our children to live their individual lives in line with Igbo cultural leanings that we can safely claim that Igbo culture will survive the trend of globalization and the wiping away of national sovereignties and cultural identities in the information age that we’re part of.
Today, let’s highlight 5 of the most respected aspects of Igbo culture which are listed below in no particular order; Igbankwu, Omumu na Igu Aha, Echimechi, Akwamozu, and Mmanwu.
- Igbankwu (Igbo Traditional Marriage):
Marriage is a highly revered aspect of Igbo culture, because it is the means through which procreation and survival of the Igbo specie is facilitated. Procreation without marriage in Igbo land is considered illegitimate and unacceptable. Marriage is very much respected and important to our people. Take for instance, in times past; a man with many wives is considered rich and wealthy. While, a man that is married to only one wife is looked upon as a pauper. However, these days, we have changed that cultural perception. A man must no longer marry more than one woman to indicate he is rich.
- Omumu na Igu Aha (Childbirth and Naming):
This implies giving birth to a child and a naming the newborn. The significance of Omumu na Igu Aha is to bring forth a soul through childbirth and to make the child distinguishable and distinct from other members of the family by naming. Any name given to a child in Igbo land has a deep meaning behind it. Traditionally, a child’s first name in Igbo culture should reflect the activities, hopes, and experiences that occurred the day he/she was born.
- Echimechi (Chieftancy Title-taking):
Echimechi is a highly respected aspect of Igbo culture. In Igbo land, it is one of the ways our people let members of their respective communities know that they have attained greatness in certain areas of life, and as such are now competent to partake in the decision –making processes that concerns communal issues and affairs in their respective communities.. A title that reflects the area one has attained greatness is chosen and borne by one who desires to become a titled chief. Titled chiefs are the only persons expected to wear red caps in Igbo communities and must be respected by all and sundry.
- Akwamozu (Funeral rites):
We – Igbos – strongly believe in life after physical death. Akwamozu is one of the ways we express that strong belief. Akwamozu can be said to be the Igbo traditional funeral rite performed when an Igbo adult person dies in order to facilitate a smooth transition of the departed soul into the ethereal world or the world beyond our physical senses – the other side of life.
- Mmanwu (Masquerades):
In all parts of Igbo land, mmanwus are considered sacred entities, and as such are highly respected if not revered, because we consider them visitors from the ethereal world – the world beyond our physical senses. We don’t allow women and all those that have not undergone traditional initiations into mmanwu society in Igbo land to get too close to an mmanwu. Such persons are even prohibited from discussing mmanwu in public. No one is expected to fight an mmanwu in Igbo land. Also, nobody is expected to trespass any land, tree, or property occupied by an mmanwu either for rituals, worship or other purposes.