During my time working as management adviser to the Community County Council program, an Enugu State poverty alleviation initiative, I was able to visit most of the communities and villages in the state and experience first-hand the customs, culture and language in this part of Igboland. This opportunity provided me unforgettable memories of the various traditions, colourful masquerades, dances and festivals, not to mention the breath-taking panoramic views from the hills and lowlands spreading from north to south, east to west.
You might wonder what stimulated me to write this book. The reasons are twofold. First of all, I was not able to find a book that could explain me Igbo traditions and culture and at the same time provide me an insight into Igbo language. I have visited and worked in many other countries prior to my arrival to Nigeria, and I was always able to read about the country itself and understand the people, language and culture in more detail.
Secondly, I hope by publishing this book, that people not only of Nigeria but also in other countries of the world, discover the tourist potential of this part of West Africa. It is time that the Western world review their misperceptions of Nigeria, to which even I fell victim before having set any foot in Nigeria.
This book has been written not from an anthropological or linguistic perspective, but rather as a guide to the basic elements of Igbo culture and language. I believe that this book provides a base for anyone visiting Igboland as either an expatriate, development worker, volunteer, missionary and/or tourist. And although my experiences are mainly exposed to the state of Enugu, most of the content in this book applies to other parts of Igboland as well.
The book is divided in eleven chapters and each of the chapters is built up of three sections. The first section deals with various aspects of Enugu and Igboland’s culture. The next section highlights the Igbo language through informal day-to-day conversations. The last section goes in more detail through the various grammar topics. This structure makes the book comprehensive and easy-to-read and makes it ideal for purposes of self-study as well as for teaching. An up-to-date directory with over 40 hotels with facilities can be found at the end of the book. An Igbo-English and English–Igbo vocabulary completes the book.
If Martian visitors would come to Earth and land in Italy, would they not report back to their planet that Earth people talk with their hands, emphasising the gestures with their voice. And though the Martian observation may be right, I am sure the people in Italy would strongly disagree with this conclusion. I hope this does not apply to the observations described in this book and I hope as an external visitor, even after my numerous encounters, interviews and research in Igboland, the picture drawn up here is not very far from the truth. For sure, I hope I have not offended anyone.
Being a white-yellow man in Igboland feels like a Martian celebrity being chased by paparazzi. Instead of being followed by photographers, people will yell ‘onye öcha! onye öcha!’ with a big smile on their face. My apologies for the little kids who started to run for cover under their mother’s dress, probably seeing a ‘onye öcha’ for the very first time. I was delighted to be received with such a warm welcome by all people in the neighbourhood and in the state. Thank you very much!
May I say, happy reading, ‘Nnöö – You are welcome’.
19th June 2001, Enugu
This website was originally written as a book with chapters. Each chapter contained a cultural topic on the Igbo culture, a Igbo conversation with vocabulary and explanation on a grammar topic. You can access the topics directly by clicking on them below.Introduction
You can also find all grammar topics and conversations in the igbo grammar and conversation pages. You can access the conversations and specific grammar topcis by clicking on them directly below.Igbo Grammar
Language and PronunciationIgbo Conversations with audio clips
Present Tense and Imperative
Infinitives, Participles and Auxiliaries
Tense and Suffixes
Parts of the Body
Conversation: How is the weather?
Conversation: In the Chop House
Conversation: Where can I buy yam?
Conversation: Have a Safe Journey
Conversation: Let us Pray
Conversation: Going to School
Conversation: To the Hospital
Conversation: What time?
Conversation: Going to the Village
Conversation: Where is the Hotel?
Copyright © 2000-2011 Michael Widjaja