Home EDITORIAL Preserving Igbo identity

Preserving Igbo identity

by News Echo
4 minutes read

There are certain things for which people are known. This represents their identity. When the identity of one or groups of people is lost they in similar manner lose their essence or whom they are. ‘Ahamefula’ (literally speaking my name should not be lost) is an Igbo name and also captures an aspect of the Igbo philosophy which motivates them to hold their ground and stand to be counted in any venture or struggle.

In the effort to continually demonstrate the identity of the Igbo, the Igbo have made giant strides in contributing to advancing humanity nationwide and globally. A people can be identified through their culture. Culture elementarily defined is the total way of the life of a people, which includes their belief system, their language, food, music, dance, crafts, marital rites, ethics, and how they do every other thing.

Our culture is what distinguishes one ethnic group from the other groups and gives it the distinct identity that it enjoys. Culture we have learned is transmitted from a generation to another and parental roles are critical in preserving our way of life. The first education a child goes through in life starts from the home where he is guided through the norms and basic cultures of his people. The roles of parents at this point cannot be over emphasized. The culture of a people is derived from the way they have learned to solve their peculiar challenges.

Today can we in all sincerity beat our chest boldly to affirm that we have done excellently well in sustaining the legacy handed down by our forebears. If we sincerely search deeply everything that we need to advance ourselves as a people is embedded in our culture which we have pushed to the background. We have allowed the influence of religion and westernization to deal a death blow to who we are.

It should be borne in our mind that we are first a people who took root from somewhere and it is from this root that we are able to find our bearing before identifying with the factors or new culture which we have now embraced before abandoning our real selves. It must be stated clearly that no culture is superior to another though we appreciate the dynamic nature of culture to have influence on another.

Some of the soft culture of the Igbos encapsulated in their philosophy include their egalitarian nature, republicanism, doggedness, never say die spirit, competitive spirit, survival in the midst of all odds, identifying with their own, live and let live, (egbe bere ugo bere), being your brother’s keeper (onye agahala nwanne ya).
In so many ways Igbo culture has suffered severe reverses and it is feared it is already going into extinction if serious steps are not taken right now. As many up-coming generation of people have refused to identify with foreign cultures in preference to their own so will our culture continue to ebb away. We are worried that many of our young women today have lost touch with many things rooted in our culture that moulds them into great mothers to be proud of.

Many have become disoriented as a result of religious practices. They lose sight of the fact that religion too is the culture of other people. Many men have refused to take their children home in dread of one thing or another thereby turning them strangers in their own land. So many of these kids who have lost touch with base cannot identify some of the things that are peculiar to their environment. They may have heard of hoe but may have never held one talk more of using it.

News Echo wants to use this opportunity to call on the governments in the South East, the town unions, youth groups, age grades, and women associations etc to join efforts in preserving our traditional practices. There should be more enlightenment through government efforts and other groups to fee the minds of people who view our traditional practices as fetish.

The natural medicines and plants which many of us despise were things that our forebears lived on and sustained life. The medical and pharmaceutical institutions should evaluate opportunities of refining some of these products to suit modern trends and seek export opportunities. The Chinese medicines and teas imported into our land are products of their natural roots. We should also explore the opportunities of utilizing our crafts to create employment opportunities for our teeming unemployed youths.

It is never by chance that nature endowed us with all the resources. We should not for any reason despise God’s endowments.

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