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Strange Cultural Practices of the Nigerian South-Eastern Igbos

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Some cultural practices among the Igbo tribe of south eastern Nigeria has long surpassed its relevance and should be removed from the traditional practices. Some of those practices are the focus of this article.

The Igbo people are one of the three major tribes in the Nigerian state. The south eastern Igbos are rich in cultural heritage and are worth considering when it comes to Nigerian culture. Some of these cultural practices are strange and archaic; while others are just plain amusing.

We will consider some of these cultural practices.

Strange Cultural Practices of the Igbos

Just like any other tribe in Nigeria, the Igbos boast of a number of cultural practices and norms. Some of these practices have been a part of the people from time immemorial; dating back as far as biblical times.

Below are some of these cultural practices and how they affect the average Igbo man.

• The Osu Caste System

This is one of the most noticeable and strange cultural practices of the Igbo people of the south eastern Nigeria. An Osu is someone who has been dedicated to an idol, along with his generation. It is an accursed system that discriminates against the so-labeled Osu.

An Osu and his family is usually exempted from most of the activities within the community and they are not allowed to marry the free born. If a free born defies tradition and marries an Osu, such a person automatically becomes an Osu.

Despite the advent of Christianity, the Osu Caste system is still quite prevalent and adhered to. Some have damned the consequences and gone ahead with consorting with the Osu but most people avoid such union because of the discrimination and social stigma associated with such an act.

• The Igbo Marriage Rites

The marriage rites of the Igbos is not only an elaborate and colorful ceremony, but quite an expensive one as well. Unless you are well-to-do, you would keep away from getting married to women from some certain tribes in the South-eastern part of Nigeria; such tribes as the Mbaino and Mbaise of Imo state.

The groom is usually tasked to the maximum, by both the bride’s parents and community. The more educated the woman is, the more expensive and elaborate her traditional wedding would be. It is not uncommon for the bride price of a female medical doctor to go as high as a million naira ($6, 600). This is different all other expenses that that groom-to-be would be mandated to make. Aside the bride price, the groom to be would be required to buy assorted expensive clothing and food materials for the Umuada, the elderly recognized female members of the tribe. This strange custom and practice scares most men from getting married to the women from these tribes.

• The Servicehood or Nwaboy Phenomenon

To those from the western world, the servicehood or Nwaboy custom might sound strange but not so among the Igbos. The Nwaboy dates back to the biblical times when Jacob served Laban for more than a decade to get married to Leah and more than another decade to get married to Rachel. The Igbos seems to believe that they are the original descendants of Jacob and so still practice this belief.

Albeit, instead of a wife, the Nwaboy or servant serves the master in return for settlement, often in the form of an automobile spare part shop; electronics or super market. During this period, the Nwaboy stays under the masters’ tutelage to learn the ropes of the business.

This practice is still wide spread among the Igbos and is still being practiced since they prefer it to western education.

There are several other strange cultural practices among the proud, hardworking and noble Igbo people that space and time would not allow to elucidate on these pages.

Suffice to say that while these practices could be interesting, it is sometimes not advantageous to those bearing the brunt.

 

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+Paulose
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A. Smith

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