CHRISTMAS IN IGBO LAND

Picture of an Igbo bride in a traditional Igbo attire (aside the sandals)
Photo Credit: Patricia Eze

Good evening, coming from the time of the picture; but then good morning coming from the time of the post. Its 18th of December already and Christmas is seven days away but for the Igbo tribe of Nigeria, Christmas started since the tenth day of December.

Now, The Igbo tribe is one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. They are known for the civil war that rocked the nation for 30 months between July 1967 to January 1970. They were the secessionist group that felt they could no longer coexist in a northern dominated government. Asides the whole history part; The Igbo tribe are hugely known for their great love for money and hard work. The Igbos are many times sojourners, as they travel to anywhere in search of greener pastures. Though, if you ask the older ones they’ll tell you it all started after the civil war when they were given about 20 shillings each to make a living in the war depleted zone; so they had to leave in search of pastures anew.

In Nigeria, there are thirty six states; and out of the thirty six, there are five states that speak the Igbo language predominantly, namely: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states; all situated in the South-Eastern Part of the Country.

Many times, the Igbos never live in their place of origin. Most of them, their kids would even get lost in their so-called ‘place of origin’. They never go to their place except during festive period. The Igbos are mostly traditional worshippers or Christians. I don’t know how it happened that way, but you’d hardly see an Igbo that is also a Muslim. But almost all Christian events are Igbo events. The Easter, Christmas, August meetings, New Yam festival, are the festival that can drag most of the Igbos to their country side. But you see Christmas? That is the crème de la crème of all events in Igbo land. That’s when Ndi-Malay (an acronym coined for the Igbos residing in Malaysia, or overtly rich young men) seem to return.

In Igbo land, Christmas starts from the twelfth day of December down to the fifth day of January. There is never paucity of events to attend, ranging from weddings to burials, to ceremonies, to masquerade dance to even football matches. There is never a day for them without an event. But then, the Igbos are one of the tribes soaked in tribal prejudice. They feel comfortable marrying to a tribe that’s quite close. Before Christmas, if you’re a girl at about seventeen or eighteen years of age; then your Christmas is sure going to be eventful.

You find out that consciously or subconsciously, you are at almost every event. Your mom especially, fixes you up to these events; and if you attend any event with your parents, they do well to introduce you especially to a family with a suitable bachelor. They introduce you like you’re goods they’re advertising to a buyer. You’d hear things like, “She just finished from University of Lagos o, with a second class upper in Mathematics”, whilst touching you and smiling. If the family of the bachelor is an interested buyer, you are immediately tagged, “Nne”. For the Malaysian boys, their mom would have even sorted a suitable bride for him; whom they would send errands to him on purpose as to make him see her more often.

The Christmas for the Igbos are usually full of love. Even the burials they organise, are also filled with love. Most of them don’t even like fixing burial dates in the month of December. If you’re an Igbo and you don’t have money, you won’t want to travel. Its a time when everyone seem to be rich. You never get to find any poor Igbo person during the yuletide season. Even the Igbos in diaspora begin to feel nostalgic during the yuletide season; because, many times, its the only time when all members of the family get to unite. Cousins meet and greet distant cousins; brothers meet far brothers; second cousins meet second cousins. The yuletide season is actually a good time to be an Igbo.

Moreso, the Igbos have many tourist attractions that are unknown to the world. I feel they’re actually unwilling to share. I was promised a trip by a man to a cave that was invisible to the ordinary eye; according to him, it was their shelter during the Nigerian civil war. I pray he doesn’t call it off!

If you have a few things, I might have missed. Don’t sleep on it. Make use of the comments section. (Smiles) I really want to know more!

2 Replies to “CHRISTMAS IN IGBO LAND”

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