Igbo Culture | Igbo Language


Firstly, I thank my dear wife for supporting me in writing this book and balancing my life.

Sincere gratitude goes to the DFID Project Fund and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) for supporting and sponsoring this book. Without their significant contribution, the writing and publishing of this book would not have been possible.

A further thanks goes to Jerome Iloh for making Igbo language and grammar easier for me to understand.

In addition, I have to extend my gratitude to the Enugu State government for my placement in the Community County Council project, which allowed me to travel extensively to all communities and many more villages in the state.

I want to thank especially Frank Nweke Jnr, the Community County Council State co-ordinator who not only allowed me to work as his programme and management advisor, but also invited my wife and me to his family in his village for Christmas and many other venues. I received information and advice from many other members of his team: Patrick Chidi, Williams Ugwu, Gerald Nwanji, Francis Ogbodo, Anthony I. Oko, Nicholas Igwesi, Chioma, Jonathan Eze, Hyacinth Anowo, Edith Agusiobo, Mike Igboanugo, Mbamalu Ogbonna, Ada Osadebe, Fred Okoli, Fred Onkwonko, Joseph Amah and many others involved.

Igbo Welcome
Igbo Welcome

Obviously, I should not forget my employer, Accenture, formerly known as Andersen Consulting, who allowed and supported me to take the sabbatical to work as a volunteer. Specifically, I want to mention Valentijn Bonger, Noel C. Mooney and Liam McErlane. Also, I want to acknowledge the friendship from Nick Macrae as our colleague, patient neighbour and proof-reader, Emile Wahid for his cooking abilities and (free) internet access, Mrs. Kalu for her liaison and contacts in Enugu, our neighbours in Obiöma Close, the Enugu Water State Corporation, all who made our life in Enugu a lot more comfortable.

During my interviews and discussions with many people in Enugu State, I found that Igboland customs and traditions are generally similar in belief, but there are many differences between villages. I have tried to generalise these customs and beliefs in this book, and to go in more details, would go beyond the scope of this book. You can refer to the books listed in the references to get more descriptive insights into Igboland’s culture, language and culture.

And last, but for sure not least, to get a feeling of how village life was in the olden days, many credited literature works are available in bookshops, most notably:

‘When things fall apart’, from Chinue Achebe and
‘The Concubine’, from Elechi Amadi.

The idea to convert this book to a website is from the author himself.
Special thanks goes to Douwe Kiela from Brainstorm IT who made this idea feasible which proves itself in this excellent website.

I apologise for anyone left out, but to anyone else who has helped me out, I send my grateful thanks.

Michael Widjaja
June 19th, 2001


ACHEBE, Chinue. When things fall apart, First Anchor Books, New York, 1994.

AMADI, Elechi. The Concubine, Heinemann, Ibadan, 1988

AMADIUME, Solomon. Igbo Tradition and Philosophy, Aritiz Communication Enugu, Enugu, 1998

ANORUE, J. C.; IBRAHIM, Abdullahim; SALAMI, Raimi. How to study English, Ibo, Hausa and Yoruba languages, Good-Way printing press, Onitsha

Department of Surveying, Geodesy and Photogrammetry, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. Tourist Guide Map Enugu and Environs, 1995

ECHERUO, Michael J.C. Igbo-English Dictionary, Longman, Ikeja, 2001

Enugu State Government. The Story of Untapped Potentials, brochure, 2000

IGWE, G.E.; GREEN, M. M. A short Igbo Grammar, University Press Limited in association with Oxford University Press, Ibadan, 1979

NASON, Ian. Enjoy Nigeria, Spectrum Books Limited, Ibadan, 1993

NNOLI, Okwudiba. Ethnic Politics in Nigeria, Fourth Dimension Publisher, Enugu, 1980

OGBALU, F. Chidozie. Igbo Mbü Maka Elementrï 2, University Publishing Co. and Nelson, Onitsha, 1981

OGBUKAGU, Ik. N. Traditional Igbo Beliefs and Practices, Novelty Industrial Enterprises Ltd., Owerri, 1997

Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province. Usoro emume nke Missa, Fidelity Educational Books Publishers Ltd., Onitsha, 1979

About the Author

Michael Widjaja grew up in the Netherlands where he also obtained his M.Sc. degree. He spent his time in Enugu as a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) volunteer and he worked as a management adviser for a poverty alleviation programme.

He has travelled extensively inside Enugu State, visiting most of the rural communities as part of his job, which provided a perfect opportunity for him to not only witness the culture and local traditions, but also to enjoy the variety in scenery this state has to offer. As part of his admiration for the culture and language in Igboland, he decided to write this guide. His keen interests in photography and graphic design are evidenced in the pictures and sketches provided in this book as well as on the cover. For this assignment, he took a sabbatical from his job in an international management consulting firm, to which he returned upon completion of his work.

He also authored "Spaanse Taal en Grammatica in Praktijk", a site about learning how to use Spanish Grammar for Dutch people.