Ndigbo Nwere MmaduNdigbo - Who we are
Ndi Anyị bụ
The greatest strength of the Igbos aside from education is now commerce and business. With only £20 given to any Igbo with an account in the bank irrespective of the bank balance after the civil war, in 50 years, the Igbos have been able to rise from the ashes of the civil war to dominate commerce in Nigerian and indeed West Africa. This singular achievement was made possible by the Igbo apprenticeship scheme which is a unique wealth transfer system created and practiced by the Igbos. The practice enables young Igbo children to “serve” as an apprentice or trainee to his “master” (boss) for a period between 5 – 7 years. During the period, the apprentice learns every aspect of the trade or business. At graduation, the master will “settle” him/her by renting a shop for him/her, stock the shop with goods or in alternative, give him/her money enough to rent a shop and purchase goods to stock his shop to enable him to start his/her own business. Depending on the relationship between the apprentice and the master, the master may be allowing him/her good worth millions of Naira on credit to him/her sell, make profit and pay back the principal to his/her master. The master also provides mentorship to the graduated apprentice until he/she is able to stand firm on his/her own. The apprentice now master takes in an apprentice of his own and groom the person through the same process. This is called “onye aghala nwanneya” (no one left behind) in Igboland. The Igbo apprenticeship scheme is being studied and researched in many research and academic institutions all over the world. This apprenticeship system has created many millionaires and billionaires in Igboland and has improved the standard of living of Ndigbo. Though the Igbos may not account for the top 10 multi-billionaires in Nigerian, they can boast of producing more millionaires and billionaires than any other ethnic group in Nigeria. This has set up as a middle-class egalitarian society. The Igbos have a knack for business and are always looking for opportunities to fill a need that others may not recognize.
While other ethnic groups in Nigeria concentrate their investment in their geographical ethnic regions, the Igbo businesses are spread all over Nigeria assisting and leading developments in communities where they reside “ebe onye bi ka ona awachi” (where you live is where you develop) is a common saying in Igboland. This is why the Igbos are the second-largest residents in any part of Nigeria behind the indigene. Igbo entrepreneurial spirit, business successes and opulence have earned them the envy and jealousy of other ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Igbos and their properties are always the targets when there is crisis in any part of Nigeria even when the issues have nothing to do with them or even things that happened outside Nigeria.
The Igbos have a unique culture that they love and cherish tremendeously. Igbo culture is present in every facet of Igbo life. The Igbo week is made of four market days Orie, Afor, Nkwo and Eke. Each Igbo market opens and operations on a specific day of the market days. Most Igbos names are obtained by prefixing Igbo words to the market days for example Nwaorie or Mbgorie (somebody born on Orie market day), Nwafor or Mgbofor, Nwankwo or Mgbokwo and Nweke or Mgbeke. There are so many other prefixes to the market days to form an Igbo name. God is central in the life of an average Igbo. The Igbos idolize the awesomeness of God in different reverential citations for example Chukwu Abiama, Obasi dinelu, Chukwu Okike Abiama etc. Long before the advent of the colonialists, the Igbos were highly educated. They have their writing symbol called Nsibiri. This is a graphical language that the Igbos used to communicate. This was destroyed by the colonialists as they could not understand it and replaced it with western education. The Igbos are highly religious, believe in their culture and tradition. To an Igbo, family is next after God and closely followed by community spirit. That is why they celebrate all their traditional events by travelling to their various villages. Holidays are not left out as it is an opportunity to visit the village and interact with extended families and community members. Igbo culture is deep and varied that it cannot be covered in a space like this. Igbo culture cannot be complete no matter how small without a mention of Ikeji (New Yam Festival). This annual event is a celebration and thanksgiving to God for abundant farm harvest in the past farming season and supplication for more harvest in future. It is spiced with cultural dances, merrymaking, marriages, social activities, meetings to name but a few.