Okere, Linus Chukwuemeka. Socio-economic and cultural aspects of food and food habits in rural Igboland

Table of Contents

Publication Information


1. General Problem

2. The Case Of Igboland

Igbo Diet:

The Food Problem:

General Food Habits:

3. Methodology

4. Difficulties Experienced In Rural Diet Research

Part I The People, Their Country, Food Resources And Dietary Patterns

Chapter I The Igbo People: Their Environment And History

1. Physical Environment


Vegetation And Soil:


2. The Origin Of The Igbo People

Mode Of Life:

3. Traditional Igbo Agriculture

Shifting Cultivation: 3

4. The Evolution Of The Igbo Agricultural System

Change In Cropping Pattern:

Efforts To Introduce Changes:

Adaptation To Increasing Land Scarcity And To Changes In The Cropping System:


Chapter I

Chapter Ii The Igbo Household And Village Structure And The Principles Of Local/kinship Grouping

1. The Domestic Unit: Householding

2. Structure Of Households

3. The Igbo Village And Village Group: The Structure Of A Typical Village

Village Group (1)

Structure Of A Village Group: Nneorie

Village: (onuama, Ebo, Aba)

4. Igbo Kinship Network

The Agnates: (umunna):

The Mother's Agnates: (ndi-umune)

The “remote” Kinsmen:

Naming The Kin:


Chapter Ii

Chapter Iii Resource Base

1. Farm Sizes

2. Capital Equipment

3. The Livestock Economuy

How Livestock Is Acquired:

General Value Of Livestock:

1) As Financial Reserve:

2) Social And Cultural Importance:

3) Source Of Manure:

4) Conversion Of Non-marketable Products:

Incidence Of Livestock Disease And Distribution Of Risks:

Returns Of The Livestock Economy:

Livestock Population:

Attitude Towards Livestock:

4. Hunting (ichuohia)

Organized Hunting:

Single Hunters And Trappers:

The Paucity Of Animals:

Importance Of Bush Meat: (anu Ohia)

Traditional Method Of Meat Division During An Organized Hunt:

5. Fishing (igbuazu, Ituazu)

Local Equipment And Fishing Methods:


Storage Problem:

Stock Fish: (okporoko)

Fish Production And Consumption On The National Level:


Chapter Iii

Chapter Iv The Staple Foods And Their Relative Importance

1. The Yam

The Yam Zone:


The Food Value Of The Yam:


Maintenance And Harvest Of Yam:


The Yam Cult:

The New Yam Festival:

2. Cassava


Local Varieties:

Production Of Cassava:

The Importance Of Cassava Roots And Cassava Products:

3. Cocoyam

The Importance Of Cocoyams As Food:

4. Plantain

Local Varieties:

The Importance Of Plantain As Food:

Kola (oji) (cola Alumineta)


Chapter V The Igbo Diet

1. The Main Classes Of Food In The Igbo Diet

2. Nutritional Content

3. Tables And Their Significance

Part Ii Factors And Processes Of Food Production, Distribution And Consumption

Chapter Vi Land As A Factor Of Production, And The Significance Of Igbo Rural Markets In Food Allocation

1. Traditional Systems Of Land Tenure; Before And After The Colonial Administration

The State Of The Tenure System Prior To Colonial Administration:

Land Under Colonialism:

2. Land Tenure In Igboland: Land Use And The Land Use Decree

Disposal Of Rights To Land:

1. Inheritance:

2. Kola Tenancy:

3. Lease Hold:

4. Pledge: Ire Ala

5. Tenancy:

6. Exchange:

7. Reclaimed Land:

8. Eminent Domain:

9. Sale:

Land Use And The Land Use Decree By The Federal Nigerian Military Government:

3. Some Disturbing Factors In The Land Tenure System

Favorable Aspects Of Traditional Tenure:


4. The Role Of Trading And Marketing In Food Allocation

Trading: Ughala Ahia, Mgbagha Ahia

Markets And Marketing:

Origins Of Rural Markets:

Food Economics And Local Markets:

The Social Functions Of The Market Place:

5. The Market Place; The Market Peace; The Market Ring; Price Determination

Rural Markets:

Role Of Women:

Price Determination:



Chapter Vi

Chapter Vii Organization Of Work And Methods Of Food Cultivation

1. The Labor Economy

2. Sexual Division Of Labor

Division Of Labor On Other Bases:

3. The Basic Work Group

Family Labor:

Hired Labor:

4. Labor And Cooked Food

5. Organized Forms Of Labor

Other Economic Activities:

6. The Use Of Time

Distribution Of Farm Work Throughout The Year:

7. Economic Returns And Use Of Cash

8. Igbo Methods Of Food Cultivation

General Characteristics:

Low Productivity:

Subsistence Production:

National And State Neglect:

Commercial Agriculture And Cash Crop Production:

Internal Market For Food Crops:


9. Basic Methods Of Food Cultivation

Clearing And Burning:





Chapter Viii The Domestic Unit Of Food Preparation And Distribution

1. The Household Food Activities

2. Igbo Cooking Patterns (ishi Nri)

Food Preparation:

Yam Porridge (mmiri Ji, Obaji):

Fried Yam (ji, Eghere, Eghe):

Yam Cake Or Yam Balls (akara Ji):

Mashed Yam (baby Food) (ji Ebiejara Ebieja):

Boiled Yam (eghuru, Eghu Ji):

Toasted Or Roasted Yam:

Cassava (akpu) : Cassava Foods:

Cassava Fufuu Or Fufu (utara Akpu):

Kpokpo Garri:

Cassava Cake (akara Akpu):

Cassava Chips (mpataka, Eberebe Jiapu):

Corn (oka):

Boiled Corn On The Cob (ighu Oka):

Cornstarch Porridge (agidi):

Cornstarch Gruel (akamu):

Steamed Corn (usuoka):

Corn Salad (agworo—agwo Oka):

Cocoyam (ede):

Boiled Cocoyam (ede Eghuru Eghu):

Roasted Cocoyam (ede Ahuru—ahu):

Oil Seeds, Vegetables And Mushrooms:

Steamed Melon Loaf (mkpuru Usu, Mgbam):

Oil Bean (ugba, Ukpaka):

3. Food Distribution And Consumption

Untitled Section: ...

Behaviour At Meals:


4. Baby Food:

5. Igbo Hospitality (ime Odo)

Principles Of Hospitality:

Forms Of Food Hospitality:

6. The Division Of Special Foods On Ritual Occasions.

Kola Hospitality (ita Oji):

The Division Of Meat:

Source Of Meat:

Division Of Meat During Funeral Rites:


Chapter Viii

Part Iii Traditional Theories Of Food And Drink And Problems Of Food Supply

Chapter Ix Native Theories Of Food: Their Function And Symbolism

1. Food Habits In Igbo Culture.

2. Food Choice, Classification And Symbolism

Food Choice:

Food Classification:

Cultural Superfood:

Yam As Fufuu — The Superfood: The Perfect Meal:

3. Igbo Views And Attitudes On Food And Drink.

Food As A Center Of Interest:

4. The Functions Of Food:

Food Symbolism And Biological Security:

Food, Tradition And Prestige:

Food For Safety And Health Benefits:

Food And Emotional Security:

Conditioned Responses To Food:

Food As Emotional Weapon, Reward, Symbol Of Union, Means Of Communication:

Food As A Reward:

As A Symbol Of Union And Means Of Communication:

Food And Religion:


Notes Chapter Ix

Chapter X The Problem Of Food Supply

1. Food Supply Problem On The National Level



Food Imports:

2. Seasonal Variations In Food Consumption In Igboland

Possible Causes:

Characteristics Of Food Consumption During The Hungry Season:

Alternative Food Resources Used To Avert Hunger:

Importance Of Semi-wild And Wild Plants As Dietary Supplements During Food Shortage:

3. Storage Methods

Traditional Methods Of Storage:

Improved Storage And Its Contribution To Food Supplies In Igboland:

Storage Losses:

Causes Of Losses:

4. Water Supply

Rural Water Supply:

5. The Role Of Common Edible Wild And Semi-wild Woody Plants In The Traditional Diet Of Igboland: A Model For The Nutritional Ecology Of Wild Resource Use

The Dietary Importance Of Edible Wild Woody Plants:



Chapter X

Part Iv New Problems Arising From Recent Population Growth And Changing Food Habits

Chapter Xi Food And The Population Problem In Igboland

1. The Relationship Between Food And Production

2. Population Estimates And Hunger Gaps

The Population Problem In Igboland:

Igbo Population Density:

The Consequences Of High Population Density On Igbo Food Production:

Overpopulation And Overfarming:

3. Food Deficit Areas Of Igboland


Conditions Leading To Food Deficiency:

Measures Of Food Deficit:

How Do They Pay For The Food Imports?

4. Migrant Tenant Farming And Wage Labor In Igboland

The Migrant Tenant Farmer:

Source Regions Of Migrant Tenant Farmers:

Wage Labor:



Chapter Xi

Chapter Xii Changing Food Habits And Nutritional Problems

1. The Relationship Between Diet And The Cultural/environmental Factors

2. The Problem Of Changing Food Habits

3. The Rural Igbo Food Habits

Orientation From Subsistence Farming To Cash Crop Farming:

4. Urban Influence On Rural Igbo Food Habits

Food Habits And Urbanization:

5. The Dynamics Of Food Habits And Induced Change

6. The Main Agents Of Induced Change Of Food Habits

7. Some Guiding Principles


Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information The main body of the Publication Information page contains all the metadata that HRAF holds for that document.

Author: Author's name as listed in Library of Congress records

Title: Socio-economic and cultural aspects of food and food habits in rural Igboland

Published By: Original publisher Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms. 1979 [1980 copy]. 3, 10, 465 leaves ill., maps

By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication Linus Chukwuemeka Okere

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files, 2003. Computer File

Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis. Igbo (FF26)

Subjects: Document-level OCM identifiers given by the anthropology subject indexers at HRAF Diet (262); Food preparation (252); Nutrition (146); External trade (439); Tillage (241); Land use (311); Production and supply (433); Gratification and control of hunger (261); Domesticated animals (231);

Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document This is an exceptionally thorough treatment of the relations of production and consumption of food among the Igbo. The author deals with land tenure and use, investment resources available to farmers, plant ecology, labor organization, migration and marketing patterns, nutrition, cooking methods, and the social and symbolic contexts of eating and drinking. He seeks a better understanding of kinds of changes which would be both desirable and achievable in a developing economy which requires a larger, more reliable and less seasonal food supply.

Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents 29

Document ID: HRAF's unique document identifier. The first part is the OWC identifier and the second part is the document number in three digits. ff26-029

Document Type: May include journal articles, essays, collections of essays, monographs or chapters/parts of monographs. Monograph

Language: Language that the document is written in English

Note: UM8005698 Thesis (Ph.D.) -- State University of New York at Buffalo, 1979 Includes bibliographical references (p. 432-465)

Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document 1934-1979

Evaluation: In this alphanumeric code, the first part designates the type of person writing the document, e.g. Ethnographer, Missionary, Archaeologist, Folklorist, Linguist, Indigene, and so on. The second part is a ranking done by HRAF anthropologists based on the strength of the source material on a scale of 1 to 5, as follows: 1 - poor; 2 - fair; 3 - good, useful data, but not uniformly excellent; 4 - excellent secondary data; 5 - excellent primary data Ethnologist-5

Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection. Jan Simpson ; 1981

Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date). not specified

Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site) Owerri Division, Imo State, southeastern Nigeria

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings Igbo (African people)


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