Collection Description

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Culture Description

The Igbo are located on both sides of the River Niger and occupy most of southeastern Nigeria. Igbo languages are part of the Kwa Subgroup of the Niger-Congo language family. Igbo-speaking peoples can be divided into five geographically based subcultures: Northern Igbo, Southern Igbo, Western Igbo, Eastern Igbo, and Northeastern Igbo. Each of these five can be further divided into subgroups based on specific locations and names. The Igbo are mostly subsistence farmers. Palm products are the main cash crops. Trading, local crafts, and wage labor are also important in the Igbo economy. Women dominate rural retail-market trade. High literacy rates among the Igbo have helped them obtain jobs as civil servants and business entrepreneurs since Nigeria gained independence in 1960.


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Africa --Western Africa



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

There are 37 documents in the eHRAF Collection of Ethnography Igbo collection. Basden has written the most comprehensive ethnography of the Igbo based on 15 years work in the field (Basden 1966 [1921], no. 6; 1966 [1938], no. 7). Forde (1950, document no. 1) wrote a general survey of the Igbo sub-groups. Thomas reported on the Igbo sub-groups from the Awka District (Thomas 1913, no. 19) and the Asaba District (Thomas 1914, no. 20). Jones examined the social structure and age organization of the Northeastern and Cross River Igbo (Jones 1961, no. 25; 1962, no. 26.) Nzimiro (1967, no. 10) examines the social and political structure of the riverine Igbo "city-states," Abo, Onitsha, Osomari, and Oguta. Onitsha is the setting of Bastian's studies of markets (1992, no. 46; 1998, no. 44), twin killing (2001, no. 43), and personality disorders (1997, no. 45). Achebe (1986. no. 37) has also written about personality disorders. Richard Henderson wrote a history of Onitsha socio-political structure (1972, no. 22) and a study of Onitsha child rearing and socialization (1966, no. 27). The Ottenbergs have written extensively on the Afikpo Igbo, including a general ethnography (Ottenberg, P. 1965, no. 2) and on specific subjects, such as family and marriage (Ottenberg, P. 1958, no. 16), boyhood rituals (Ottenberg, S. 1989,no. 50), double-descent (Ottenberg, S. 1968, no. 11), leadership structure (Ottenberg, S. 1971, no. 12), and masks (Ottenberg, S. 1975, no. 30). The Woman's Riots of 1929 got a lot of attention (Leith-Ross 1934, no. 5; Bastian 2001, no. 42; Green, 1964, no. 3; Meek 1970 [1937], no. 8) and prompted studies of women's roles and power (Amadiume 1987, no. 39; 1987, no. 40; Henderson, Helen 1970, no. 28; Okonjo 1976, no. 21.) Other Igbo scholars have written about their culture's social organization (Uchendu 1965, no. 4), food production and consumption (Okere 1979, no. 29), social history (Ohadike 1994, no. 49), agricultural production (Igwebuike 1975, no. 18), and the historical Igbo (Afigbo 1981, no. 38.) McCall (2000, no. 48) writes on the history of the Igbo through their song and dance. Anafulu (1981, no. 41) has compiled a bibliography.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in the collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

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