Meek, Charles Kingsley, 1885-. Law and authority in a Nigerian tribe: a study in indirect rule

Table of Contents

Publication Information

I The Ibo. Their History And Environment



Ii The Sacred Sanction

A. Gods And Godlings

Iii The Sacred Sanction (continued)

B. Ghosts And Secret Societies

The Cult Of Ancestors.

Witchcraft, Doctors, And Medicines.

Iv The Social And Political Structure

The Forms Of Social Grouping

The Kindred.

The Village-group Or Small Clan.

The Large Clan.

The Sub-tribe.

Family, Village, And Clan Organization (owerri Division)

The Village-group.

The Local Group And Kinship.

The Household.

Land Tenure.

The Okpara. 2

Other Leaders Of Society.

V The Social And Political Structure (continued)

Family, Village, And Clan Organization (awgu Division)

The Kinship Group.

The Local Or Village-group.

Vi The Social And Political Structure (continued)

Family, Village, And Clan Organization (nsukka Division)

Family Organization.

Local-group Government.


Vii Titles

Viii Kingship 1

Ix Age-grades

X Law And Its Administration

Homicide. 1





Incest And Other Sexual Offences.

Other ‘abominable’ Offences.

Black Magic And Witchcraft.




Insulting Behaviour.


Oaths. 1

A Trial.

The Law Of Warfare.


Xi The Law Of Marriage


Endogamy And Exogamy.

Types Of Marriage.

Matrimonial Disputes.

Dissolution Of Marriage.

Remarriage Of Widows.

Xii Birth And The Training Of Children




The Purification.

The Naming Ceremony.

Xiii Death And Inheritance

Burial Rites.

Mourning Regulations.

The Final Funeral Rites.


Xiv Practical Conclusions

The Future And Wider Outlook.

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information


Title: Law and authority in a Nigerian tribe: a study in indirect rule

Published By: New York: Barnes & Noble, [1970]. xvi, 372 p.: ill., maps

By line: by C. K. Meek ; With a foreword by Lord Lugard

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 2003. Computer File

Culture: Igbo (FF26)

Subjects: Government institutions (640); Death (760); Law (670); Age stratification (561); Cultural participation (184); Offenses and sanctions (680); Marriage (580); Justice (690); Reproduction (840); History and culture change (170); Infancy and childhood (850);

Abstract: As the result of the violent and widespread women's riot in 1929, which caught the British Colonial Administration in Nigeria by surprise, a commission of inquiry was established to look into the causes of the disturbances. After interviewing hundreds of witnesses, a report was produced containing some of the most interesting commentaries on colonial administration produced in recent times. This report indicated that the riots were triggered primarily by an unfounded fear that females were soon to be taxed (as male members of the community already were) coupled with a scarcity of money as the result of a heavy fall in the price of palm products. In addition, there was clear evidence that the Igbo people were generally discontent with the system of Native Administration established by the British. To rectify this situation, the government proceeded to undertake an intensive campaign of inquiry into the indigenous social and political organization of the peoples of South-Eastern Nigeria (including the Igbo area) with a view to establishing a Native Administration more in accordance with the institutions and wishes of the people -- the so-called 'indirect rule' which established pre-existing native institutions in a form of self-government on more progressive lines. Meek, as government anthropologist and a senior administrative officer, was asked to assist in this preliminary investigation. The material which he gathered for this report and later published, originally in 1937, dealing with Igbo systems of government and law, makes up the major portion of this source. The author notes that his material does not pretend to be a complete corpus of Igbo jurisprudence, but serves rather as a general guide to ascertaining the general principles by which Igbo communities govern themselves (p. xii). In addition to the major theme of Igbo jurisprudence and law, the source also contains interesting data on culture history and environment, religion, social and political structure (primarily in the Owerri, Awgu and Nsukka divisions), titles, kinship, age grades, marriage, childbirth and child rearing, and death and inheritance.

Document Number: 8

Document ID: ff26-008

Document Type: Monograph

Language: English

Note: Reprint of the 1937 ed.. Includes bibliographical references and index

Field Date: 1929-1932

Evaluation: Ethnologist, Government Official-4,5

Analyst: John Beierle ; 1981

Coverage Date: 1929-1932

Coverage Place: southeastern Nigeria

LCSH: Igbo (African people)


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