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Emergence of Igbo culture

The emergence of Igbo popular culture and the impact of globalization have had a significant impact on Igbo society and culture in recent decades. In the post-civil war period, the Igbo people have embraced new forms of popular culture, including music, film, and television, which have helped to spread Igbo culture to a wider audience. The rise of Igbo popular culture has been aided by the growth of technology and the increasing accessibility of media, which have made it easier for people to access and share Igbo cultural content.

In addition to the emergence of Igbo popular culture, the impact of globalization has also had a significant impact on Igbo society and culture. Globalization has brought many new opportunities and challenges for the Igbo people, as it has exposed them to new ideas and ways of life that are not necessarily in line with traditional Igbo practices. Globalization has also had an impact on the economy of southeastern Nigeria, as it has brought new investment and development to the region.

Overall, the emergence of Igbo popular culture and the impact of globalization have had a significant impact on Igbo society and culture. While these changes have brought many new opportunities and challenges, they have also helped to shape the Igbo society and culture that we know today.

Igbo people has a dynamic and fascinating cultural heritage that says lots about them, and most of the Igbo people are Christians. Their cultures are further divided into many groups, due to dialects and boundaries among the eastern states in particular and a good sample of this is their traditional way of welcoming visitors, which is usually offering kola to guests, even before they made their mission known.

Traditional Igbo Religion

The role of traditional Igbo religion

In Igbo culture including the worship of ancestral spirits and deities, Traditional Igbo religion plays an important role as it is deeply intertwined with the daily lives and worldview of the Igbo people. The traditional Igbo religion is based on the worship of a wide pantheon of deities, many of which are associated with specific natural phenomena, such as rivers, hills, and trees. Ancestor worship is also an important part of the traditional Igbo religion, and the Igbo people believe that the spirits of their ancestors continue to play an active role in their lives.

The Igbo people also believe in the existence of a wide range of deities, each of which is associated with a specific aspect of life or a particular natural phenomenon. For example, there are deities associated with the sky, the earth, rivers, mountains, and other natural features. There are also deities associated with specific human activities such as hunting, farming, and warfare. Many of these deities are revered as patrons or protectors of specific communities, lineages, or individual.

Ancestor worship is also an important part of traditional Igbo religion. The Igbo people believe that the spirits of their ancestors continue to play an active role in their lives and that these spirits can be invoked through ritual and sacrifice to bring good fortune, health, and protection to the living. Ancestors are also believed to be able to mediate between the living and the gods. Ancestral shrines, which are usually located in the family compound, are where people perform rituals to honor and communicate with their ancestors.


In traditional Igbo religion, the supreme being is known as "Chukwu" or "Chineke," which means "the creator" or "the supreme being." Chukwu is believed to be the creator of all things and the source of all life. The Igbo people believe that Chukwu is remote and unapproachable and is only communicated through intermediaries such as the lesser deities, known as "Alusi" or "Òsisi." The creator can be approached through numerous other deities and spirits in the form of natural objects, most commonly through the god of thunder (Amadioha). There is also the belief that ancestors protect their living descendants and are responsible for rain, harvest, health and children. Shrines, called Mbari, are made in honour of the earth spirit and contain tableaux of painted earth. Other shrines keep wooden figures representing ancestors and patrons. The evidence of these shrines, oracle houses and traditional priest in the villages still emphasise people’s beliefs, though with the western influence, Christianity has taken a more dominant role in modern Igboland.

Nowadays, there are a large number of churches as well as mosques and traditional religion worship centres available in Enugu State. The state is predominantly made up of Christians (some argue that history has it that Igbos descended from Israel), and there is no acrimony between the adherents of the different religious beliefs.

Igbo temple

Oracle House near Ama-Nkanu

There is almost an equal split between catholic and protestant churches in Enugu. The state hosts two catholic cathedrals: the Holy Ghost Cathedral can be found next to Ogbete Main Market in the city; the other Cathedral in Enugu State is located in Nsukka. Most people are very disciplined to attend church services and it is hard for them to believe in the existence of ‘free thinkers’, i.e. people who do not feel committed to any religion.

One of the most important events in Igboland is Christmas and it signifies home return in the village. Even though they live most of the time in the city or somewhere else in Nigeria, Igbo families consider their one and only real home their house in the village. It is the two weeks around Christmas which bring families back together to the village. It is the time to catch up with other family members on what has happened over the year and visit relatives and friends in the neighbourhood. You will find the cities empty during this period only preceded and followed by the traffic peaks caused by travelling back and forth between the village and the cities.

Easter is the other event, though smaller in scale, which provides Igboland a break for festivities. People tend to go to their villages but most of them stay around in the city to visit friends and relatives.

In line of this, Mother’s day is the last one I want to mention. On this Sunday the mothers prepare special food for the whole family, which is obviously a feast on its own.

Religious Beliefs

Although many Igbo people are now Christians, traditional Igbo religious practices still abound. The traditional Igbo religion includes an uncontested general reverence for Ala or Ana, the earth goddess, and beliefs and rituals related to numerous other male and female deities, spirits, and ancestors, who protect their living descendants. Revelation of the will of certain deities is sought through oracles and divination. The claim that the Igbo acknowledge a creator God or Supreme Being, Chukwu or Chineka, is, however, contested. Some see it as historical within the context of centralized political formations, borrowings from Islam and Christianity, and the invention of sky (Igwe) gods. The primordial earth goddess and other deified spirits have shrines and temples of worship and affect the living in very real and direct ways, but there are none dedicated to Chukwu. Ala encapsulates both politics and religion in Igbo society by fusing together space, custom, and ethics ( omenala); some refer to Ala as the constitutional deity of the Igbo. The Igbo concept of personhood and the dialectic between individual choice/freedom and destiny or fate is embodied in the notion of chi, variously interpreted as spirit double, guardian angel, personal deity, personality soul, or divine nature. Igbo have varied accounts of myths of origin because there are many gods and goddesses. According to one Igbo worldview, Chukwu created the visible universe, uwa. The universe is divided into two levels: the natural level, uwa, or human world, and the spiritual level of spirits, which include Anyanwu, the sun; Igwe, the sky; Andala (or Ana), the earth; women's water spirits/goddesses, and forest spirits. Through taboos, the Igbo forge a mediatory category of relations with nature and certain animals such as pythons, crocodiles, tigers, tortoises, and fish.

Religious Practitioners

There are two different kinds of priests: the hereditary lineage priests and priests who are chosen by particular deities for their service. Diviners and priests—those empowered with ofo, the symbol of authority, truth, and justice—interpret the wishes of the spirits, who bless and favor devotees as well as punish social offenders and those who unwittingly infringe their privileges, and placate the spirits with ceremonial sacrifices.

Death and Afterlife

The living, the dead, and the unborn form part of a continuum. Enshrined ancestors are those who lived their lives well and died in a socially acceptable manner (i.e., were given the proper burial rites). These ancestors live in one of the worlds of the dead that mirrors the world of the living. The living pay tribute to their ancestors by honoring them through sacrifices. The dance Iduu Akpo dance performance is an annual performance from a primodial era till present day, If they are invited to accompany their host to a condolence visit, they lead their host into the arena with music in a moderate tempo. The host and his friends take the lead followed by the instrumentalists and then the dancers. After presenting the condolence items, the group is given an opportunity to perform. Most times, during funeral ceremonies the group is not allowed to display all the four segments of their dance. There used to be lineup of sympathizers or in-laws waiting to be ushered in to perform their funeral rites. When such is the case, each group is given limited time to display what they have. Due to the nature of the dance, the group has never at any time performed in a hall, their performance has always been in an open space.

It's worth noting that the traditional Igbo religion has undergone significant changes over time, especially as a result of European colonialism and the spread of Christianity. Today, many Igbo people practice a syncretic form of Christianity, which blends elements of traditional Igbo religion with Christianity. In addition, while traditional religion is still practised by many Igbo people, its importance has diminished over the years and many of the traditional religious practices are not as prevalent as they once were.

In any case, traditional religion remains an important part of Igbo culture and identity, influencing their customs, values, and world view.

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