Origin Of Igbo Land: The Ibo or Igbo people are found in southeastern Nigeria and have many interesting customs and traditions.
With a population of around 40 million throughout Nigeria, they are one of the biggest and most influential tribes. Igbos are well-known for their entrepreneurial endeavours, both within Nigeria and around the world.
Here’s everything you need to know.
The Igbo people are descended from Eri.
Eri as one of the sons of Gad (as mentioned in the book of Genesis in the Bible) who travelled down to establish the present-day Igboland.
Igbos inhabit an area referred to as Igboland, which is divided into two sections along the lower River Niger. They live in most or all parts of five states: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, as well as minor parts of Delta, Rivers and Benue states. Small Igbo communities are also found in parts of Cameroon and Equitorial Guinea.
As a result of the transatlantic slave trade, Igbos have migrated to other countries including Jamaica, Cuba, Barbados, Belize, the United States among others. Elements of Igbo culture have been found in Jamaican patois – for example the Igbo word ‘unu’ which means ‘you’ is still used, while ‘red Ibo‘ or ‘red eboe‘ describes a black person with fairer skin (a lighter skin tone is common among Igbos).
An area of Belize City is called Eboe Town after its Igbo-descended inhabitants. Since the late 20th century, many Nigeria immigrants have gone to the United States, and many of them are Igbos. It is estimated that more than 4,000,000 Igbos live in the United States.
The Kingdom of Nri was a religio-polity, a sort of theocratic state, that developed in the central heartland of the Igbo region. The Nri had seven types of taboos which included human (such as the birth of twins), animal (such as killing or eating of pythons).aThe rules regarding these taboos were used to educate and govern Nri’s subjects.
This meant that, while certain Igbo may have lived under different formal administration, all followers of the Igbo religion had to abide by the rules of the faith and obey its representative on earth, the Eze Nri.
Eri, the father of all Igbos, who hailed from Israel was the fifth son of Gad, the seventh son of Jacob (Genesis 46:15-18 and Numbers 26:16:18). He migrated from Egypt with a group of companions just before the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt many centuries ago.
They traveled by water and finally arrived at the confluence point of Ezu and Omambala (Anambra) Rivers known as Agbanabo, located in present-day Aguleri, where, according to oral tradition, it was spiritually or divinely revealed to Eri that Agbanabo (i.e the confluence point of Ezu and Omambala Rivers) was to be their final destination and settlement.
They moved into the hinterland and settled in the present-day Aguleri but the settlement wasn’t known as Aguleri at that time. Meanwhile, Eri lived and died at Aguleri.
Agulu was the eldest son of Eri who took over from his father after Eri’s demise.
As the population around Eri’s compound at Aguleri increased, and in combination with other factors, some children of Eri and their descendants left Aguleri and founded various other settlements that Igbos occupy today. However, Agulu, the first son, remained in their father’s home at Aguleri with his own descendants.
Agulu, fondly called Agulu-Nwa-Eri, appended the name of their father, Eri, to his name and founded Agulu-Eri (Aguleri) by calling the settlement where his father Eri died and he (Agulu) lived AGULERI.
Menri was one of Agulu’s siblings that left their father’s house. He (Menri) settled at a big forest, where he engaged in hunting and farming, while also performing his spiritual work like other Eri’s children. Menri called his settlement Agu-Ukwu (Nri).
When Menri was getting very old, he told his children to take him back to his ancestral home, as he would not want to die outside his father’s home. Menri was brought back to Aguleri, where he died and was buried. His grave is still marked at Okpu, in Ivite Aguleri, till this day. There is no other grave site of Menri, the founder of Nri, anywhere else in Igbo land, even in Nri itself, except in Aguleri.
It is also a known fact that, by tradition, no other Igbo man would break the kolanut where an Aguleri man is present, except with his permission. This is in deference to the fact that Agulu (Aguleri) was the eldest child Eri.