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The Igbo Family: The Center of Village Life. Nick Chappelle Courtney Sampson Chris Jordan Gerald Munoz Christopher Excellent. The Importance of Family in the Igbo tribe. As a western civilization, we are accustomed to families having significance in society

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the igbo family the center of village life

The Igbo Family: The Center of Village Life

Nick Chappelle

Courtney Sampson

Chris Jordan

Gerald Munoz

Christopher Excellent

the importance of family in the igbo tribe
The Importance of Family in the Igbo tribe
  • As a western civilization, we are accustomed to families having significance in society
  • For example, in Britain there is a noble family
  • Is this present in Igbo society???
  • Let us take a look!
the place of family within the tribe
The place of family within the tribe
  • Unlike many other peoples, the Igbo people do not pay special recognition to families
  • No family possesses any special privileges or nobilit
  • No matter how many titles a father holds, his family never gains special importance
  • Elders rule not families
  • Polygamy is a practice found in many different cultures
  • Someone who practices polygamy takes more than spouse
  • Polygamy was practiced in Igbo society
  • It had a big influence on the family ranking
  • Let us take a look!
igbo family structure
Igbo Family Structure
  • Igbo families generally live in compounds.
  • Compounds are tiny clusters of huts built in the same area.
  • Groups of compounds are what make up a village.
igbo family structure1
Igbo Family Structure
  • Compounds contained one domestic group, or family.
  • The head of a compound in a village is generally the oldest male of the compound.
  • The head of each compound is responsible for each of its members.
marriage and polygamy in the village
Marriage and Polygamy in the Village
  • In an Igbo village, married life is the normal condition for adults.
  • Polygamy is very ideal for the men in the village.
  • Polygamy is also an important indication of status.
marriage and polygamy in the village1
Marriage and Polygamy in the Village
  • The wives of the common husband were ranked in the order in which they were married.
  • The children of the wives were also ranked according to their mother’s rank, as well as their seniority in age.
seniority in age in the village
Seniority in Age in the Village
  • In the Igbo village, seniority in age regulates social placement in the village.
  • In the family, being the oldest child brings great responsibility, as well as important social positions in the family.
the role of family
The role of family
  • Now that we have an idea of how the family is structured, let us look at the family and the roles of different members
  • All family structures have designated roles for the different members
  • Let us take a look!
ibo family
Ibo Family
  • Family is extremely important
  • Nuclear Family- man, women, and children
  • Extended family- not very important
  • Married life is normal condition
  • Polygamy is ideal for men. It can be considered a sign of status in the tribe
role of men
Role of Men
  • The oldest man was the head of each household
  • Responsible for all the members in his household
  • Responsibilities include: Settling family disputes

Controlling the communication with the ancestors

Building his obi and huts for wives

  • Ranked according to order in which they married the husband
  • Were responsible for:
  • Giving birth to many sons

Younger wives were expected to help older wives

Caring for children and head of house

  • As wives aged, they spent more time outside the household ( farming, craft making)
  • Required to be obedient to all adults
  • Never contradict parents
  • Children are not equal
  • Sons & daughters are ranked with the wives

(i.e.) first son of first wife is highest

extended family
Extended Family
  • Grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces, and in- laws
  • Always welcome to unannounced visits to the nuclear family
  • Extended family is created upon marriage
  • Expected to gives a bride- price to bride’s family upon Union
  • Lose importance after marriage
the rise from child to adult
The rise from child to adult
  • Many societies, if not all, have a coming of age ceremony
  • What is a coming of age ceremony?
  • A coming of age ceremony is a celebration, often times involving the person celebrated to do something in specific, where the boy or girl rises to adult hood. This rise from childhood to adulthood is very important in Igbo society
  • Let us take a look!
rite of passage
Rite of passage
  • Before you are considered even a part of the Igbo people you must go through a rite of passage
  • In Igbo society you are incorporated once you are circumcised
  • Female circumcision: cutting of clitoral hood (only type of “mutilation” considered to be circumcision)
  • Male circumcision: the foreskin is removed
  • Welcome to Igbo society!
coming of age i
Coming of Age I
  • Before colonialism destroyed this aspect of culture, it was a huge celebration
  • The initiates, typically young girls, would be primped up (washed with red cam wood, adorned with jewelry, and their hair would be plaited)
  • The mothers would teach them the facts of life and tell them what it meant to be beautiful (unfortunately, what it did mean has been lost to history)
  • The young girls would then go into the Village Square and would partake in the following: wrestling, preparing meals, trading tips, sharing meals, and having a good time
  • Bachelors would watch the festivities and soon after marriage would be in order
  • The actual coming of age ceremony for young males has been forgotten thanks to colonialism
coming of age ii
Coming of Age II
  • Today, there is still a ceremony for the Igbo people
  • Young male initiates spend a night with the Oto Umunne fathers
  • Young female initiates spend a night with Oto Umunne mothers
  • They are taught what the Igbo community expects of them and to understand how to make sound moral decisions
an igbo coming of age prayer
An Igbo Coming of Age Prayer
  • “We now send them into the world of freedom with the light of God. As we light the candles, we ask the Almighty Chukwu to guide and protect our young ones as they venture into the world. The only gifts we can offer them are our love and support. Their response is their pledge to conduct themselves in such a manner that will command respect for them, their families abroad in Igbo land, Nigeria, and to the American community in which they are a part. Most importantly, they pledge to conduct themselves in such a manner that gives glory to God.”
ceremonies for other parts of life
Ceremonies for other parts of life
  • As we know, the Igbo people choose a role in their society and the roles are celebrated
  • Iru-mgbede (fattening of a girl before marriage): the woman is seperated from household (symbolizing change in marital status), the women is fed under the belief that you must be healthy to bear healthy children, and they are seperated for a month from their spouse so that they may refresh themselves emotionally, physically, and intellectually
  • Itu Anya (the initiation of a Diviner): the initiation lasts eight days and introduces adolescents to the world of men and gives them the power to communicate with spirits (typically for adolescent males)
  • Igba Mgba (wrestling): wrestling is a special priviledge which allows a person to engage in a fight with an opponent. One becomes a warrior by winning a wrestling match. “The Igbo believe a man should fight with aggressors, human or spiritual, to the best of his ability. In igbo land, a man is said to be a man when he efficiently and effectively handles trying situations.”
the igbo culture withing the novel things fall apart
The Igbo culture withing the novel, Things Fall Apart
  • The novel was written in order to teach readers about the Igbo people
  • It is obvious that something as important as family to the Igbo people must be addressed in the novel
  • Let us take a look!
family structure and its relevance
Family Structure and its relevance
  • It is clear in the novel that the family is organized
  • Okonkwo is the head of the household
  • His wives are ranked in importance and this impacts how he treats his children
  • Nwoye, being the first son, must inherit many responsibilities and the family name
  • Tabboo to custom: Ezinma is the daughter of Ekweki, Okonkwo’s second wife, and is given special attention
the roles of family members and its relevance
The roles of family members and its relevance
  • Family members live up to their expectations in the novel
  • Okonkwo is the head of the household
  • Okonkwo’s wives raised the children and fufilled role as house wife
  • Nwoye is expected by Okonkwo to be the greatest of his sons and to truly inherit his name and live it out
  • Ezinma is expected to be a young woman and act as so, so that she can be married
polygamy and its relevance
Polygamy and its relevance
  • Polygamy is practiced in the novel
  • Okonkwo has three wives
  • Recall that the amount of wives you have says something about your status
  • With the above point in mind, Nwakibie, the man who lent Okonkwo yams, had many wives
  • Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, had one wife
coming of age and its relevance
Coming of age and its relevance
  • Coming of age celebrations are not mentioned in the novel
  • Some rites of passage are mentioned though, such as marriage (Obireika’s daughter was married) and wrestling (Obireika’s son won the match and received much praise)
the place of family in the tribe and its relevance
The place of family in the tribe and its relevance
  • As we can see in the novel, no family is given higher recognition than others
  • There is no sign of any family having more say or power than others
  • The council rules society
  • No matter how powerful the father may be, his family is not given special recognition within the tribe
  • Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Evanston: McDougall. 2002
  • Robinson, B.A. “Religious Tolerance” Tolerance.” June 06, 2004.