Across the river Niger in the Eastern part of Nigeria is a tribe which practiced the earliest form of democracy in Africa. They are known as the Igbo people or the Igbos.
The Igbos are among one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria with a population of approximately 40 million people. The family is the most important setup of the Igbo community. Members of this tribe wake at cockcrow to say prayers to their ancestors who are buried in their front yard, and to their gods who are hand crafted and placed at the barn. After saying these prayers, greetings are shared from the youngest to the eldest which is typical of many African societies.
Colonialism brought Christianity and education to the Igbo people. The Igbos quickly evolved through European styled education and apprenticeship to become masters of industry and commerce. Most notable of them was Sir Louis Odumegwu who was a wealthy Igbo man whose Rolls Royce was used to convey the Queen of England on her visit to Nigeria in 1956.
The discovery of coal brought much wealth to the Igbos. Industrialization and the development of the cities led to a mass migration of the people from the rural areas to the urban parts of Igbo land and beyond. Defiling the language barrier, the Igbo tribe became a true federalist and unifier of Nigeria.
Chukwudi Obi, a Junior majoring in Biology at Alcorn State University (ASU) and a member of the tribe spoke about politics saying, “The Aba’s women riot of the 20s and a host of many other events resurrected the political consciousness of the Igbo people.” He also added, “The Igbo tribe produced the first President of the Independent Nigeria and the first military Head of State.” Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first president of Nigeria. He is a graduate of two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Lincoln University, Class of 1932 and Howard University, Class of 1934. He helped Nigeria gain independence from the British.
It hasn’t always been rosy for the Igbos as a coup d’état ironically organized by Igbo soldiers in 1966 toppled Nigeria’s first democratically elected government. This singular action sent feelings and passions of hate amongst some ethnic groups in Nigeria which led to massacres of the Igbo people in large numbers across the country and a state of turmoil in the North. The Igbo’s migrated back to the East and declared an independent state which led to the Nigerian Civil War.
In its defeat, the efforts of the Nigerian government to reconcile and reconstruct proved abortive. Notwithstanding, in modern times, the bombarded cities of Igbo land are the most prosperous, hosting the highest number of Nigeria’s millionaires with the lowest poverty rate in the entire country. Some notable Igbo people include Pastor TD Jakes, Tyler the Creator, Jidenna, etc.