Understanding The Trends In The Ancient Igbo Village And Now - Part 1
By Alvan Chinaka 5 months ago
Before European colonisation, the Igbo-speaking people were not united as single people, but lived in small-dispersed compounds in the rainforest, built up of clusters of huts belonging to the same patrilineage. The largest political unit was the village group averaging about 5,000 persons, who shared a common market, meeting place and common beliefs and cults. These village groups were ruled by a council of elder age grades, lineage heads and influential wealthy men.
For centuries, age grades have played (and still do) an important role in village life. Age grades are formed by people born within three to five years from each other, and are a means to create a peer group, foster unity and responsibility, acting mainly as a socio-cultural institution. Communities are segmented in different age grades, and with years passing by, the younger groups ascend the ladder and take over the role of older grades.
Age grades are initiated by youths at a certain age in their adulthood. They choose a well-respected elder as their patron to facilitate the recognition of their grade among the eldersRelated: Imo State Government Makes Igbo Language Compulsory In Schools
Only if the elder agree that the age grade has performed their task meaningfully with success, and the group is seen as a role model to the community, the group will be accepted to adulthood and is honoured with a name. With this name, the age grade will become part of the decision making process in the community and is seen as the protector of societal tradition and culture.
An older age grade can decide to retire, which is done upon completion and hand-over of a project to the community. This ceremony, called Igbo-Uche or Otomu, calls for a large celebration, marking the admission of its members to the elderhood. No labour can be assigned to them anymore and they become now the most influential and respected members of the community.
...to be continued