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Igbo Culture | Igbo Language

Religion

Igboland’s traditional religion is based on the belief that there is one creator, God, also called Chineke or Chukwu. The creator can be approached through numerous other deities and spirits in the form of natural objects, most commonly through the god of thunder (Amadioha). There is also the belief that ancestors protect their living descendants and are responsible for rain, harvest, health and children. Shrines, called Mbari, are made in honour of the earth spirit and contain tableaux of painted earth. Other shrines keep wooden figures representing ancestors and patrons. The evidence of these shrines, oracle houses and traditional priest in the villages still emphasise people’s beliefs, though with the western influence, Christianity has taken a more dominant role in modern Igboland.

Nowadays, there are a large number of churches as well as mosques and traditional religion worship centres available in Enugu State. The state is predominantly made up of Christians (some argue that history has it that Igbos descended from Israel), and there is no acrimony between the adherents of the different religious beliefs.

igbo temple
Oracle House near Ama-Nkanu

There is almost an equal split between catholic and protestant churches in Enugu. The state hosts two catholic cathedrals: the Holy Ghost Cathedral can be found next to Ogbete Main Market in the city; the other Cathedral in Enugu State is located in Nsukka. Most people are very disciplined to attend church services and it is hard for them to believe in the existence of ‘free thinkers’, i.e. people who do not feel committed to any religion.

One of the most important events in Igboland is Christmas and it signifies home return in the village. Even though they live most of the time in the city or somewhere else in Nigeria, Igbo families consider their one and only real home their house in the village. It is the two weeks around Christmas which bring families back together to the village. It is the time to catch up with other family members on what has happened over the year and visit relatives and friends in the neighbourhood. You will find the cities empty during this period only preceded and followed by the traffic peaks caused by travelling back and forth between the village and the cities.

Easter is the other event, though smaller in scale, which provides Igboland a break for festivities. People tend to go to their villages but most of them stay around in the city to visit friends and relatives.

In line of this, Mother’s day is the last one I want to mention. On this Sunday the mothers prepare special food for the whole family, which is obviously a feast on its own.

Conversation: Let us Pray

♬ Click here to listen to this conversation.
- Bïa ka anyï gaa üka.Let us go to church.
Ka anyï kpe ekpere.Let us pray.
- Ï bü onye üka?Are you a christian?
- E-e, abü m onye üka.I am a christian.
- Olee üka ï na-ekpe?Which denomination do you pray at?
- Abü m onye Anglican/Catholic.I am Anglican/Catholic.
- Olee ebe ülö üka unu dï?Where is your church?
- Ö dï n’Obiöma Street.It is in Obioma Street.
Aga enwe üka üböchï üka na ütütü.There is a mass on Sunday morning.
- Ekele dili gï.Thank you very much.
- Chukwu gözie gï.God bless you.
 
Nna anyï nö n’eluigweOur Father
Nna anyï nö n’eluigwe, Our Father, who art in Heaven,
ka otito dïrï aha Gï, hallowed be your name.
ka ochïchï Gï bïa, Your kingdom come.
ka e mee uche Gï n’üwa ka e si eme ya n’eluigwe. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Nye anyï tata nri nke üböchï anyï. Give us this day our daily bread,
Gbaghara anyï mmehie anyï dika anyï si gbaghara ndï mehiere anyï. and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
E kwela ka anyï kwenye na nlanye, And lead us not into temptation,
Ma zöpüta anyi n’ajö ihe. but deliver us from evil.
AmenAmen

Vocabulary

ekpereprayer
ezigbo nwokegood man
añuli Ekeresimesimerry Christmas
Añuli arö öfüühappy new year
añuli Easterhappy Easter
o Chinekeo Lord
Jesu KristiJesus Christ
ükachurch
okwukwe denomination
üböchïday, daylight
kpeemake a plea (verb)
zöpüta save, rescue (verb)
nyegive, present (verb)
ezi okwutruth
ezigenuine

Igbo church
Anglican Church in Akpugo-Eze


Grammar: Adjectives

In Igbo, adjectives can immediately precede or follow the noun or pronoun to which it belongs. Most commonly used adjectives are:

ömagood, beautiful
öchawhite, clean
ojiblack
öjööugly, bad
ukwubig
obelesmall
niile/dumall, each, every

Examples:

ö bü akwükwö öchait is white paper
ewu dum nö ebeaall goats are here

If the adjective is not directly preceding the noun or pronoun, the noun form of the adjective is used:

adjectivenoun form
ömamma
öchaücha
öjöönjö

Examples:

akwükwö dï üchathe paper is white
ewu dum dï mmaall goats are good

The same principle as described above, applies to demonstrative adjectives, they can only follow or precede the noun immediately:

-athis, theseahüthat, those
ülöathis house, these housesülö ahüthat house, those houses

These adjectives also form the demonstrative pronouns:

nkeathisnke ahüthat
ndïathese (group)ndi ahüthose (group)
iheathis (thing)ihe ahüthat (thing)
ebeahere (place)ebe ahüthere

Examples:

nkea dï mmathis is good
nke ahü dï njöthat is bad
ndia di mmathese are good
ihe ahü dï njöthat (thing) is bad
ebe ahü dï njöthere is bad

Note:
The verb ‘to be’ can be translated by three different verbs: , and . The verb is most commonly used for ‘to be’; is used with a noun and not adjectives and indicates the quality or location of something ; is used for the presence of someone in a location:

ö dï mmait is fine
ö dï n’elu akpatiit is on top of the box
ö nö ya?is he in?
ö nö ebe ahu?is he there?