Search this Site and the Web

Friday, April 6, 2012


By Uchendu Chigbu (

The adage 'Igbo enwe eze' has always been deemed controversial due to the different schools of thoughts that are for and against its applicability within the context of today's Igbo socio-political meaning. This is because while some people accept that the adage represents the core life-style of the Igbo as a people without central leadership; others reject that notion based on the logic that a people cannot live without a leader and that the Igbo could not have been an exception to this norm. However, what seems to be generally acceptable to all of these schools of thoughts is the adage is a reference to the character traits of the Igbo. The most significant fallout from the concept of 'Igbo enwe eze' is the spirit of individualistic independence and self-reliance, which are perhaps the most noticeable character traits of the Igbo people.
Putting semantics aside, the saying 'Igbo enwe eze' means only one thing, that 'Igbo had no King.' Even people with very shallow understanding of the Igbo language know that the phrase 'Igbo enwe eze' is not unclear in its meaning.
As far as history supports, most of all Igbo traditional states governed themselves without giving power to any sort of king. They organized themselves into many independent village governments -with these village councils and assemblies meeting periodically, and could also be summoned as the need arose to discuss and take decisions on both internal and external affairs of the village. The councils might have been limited to certain age grades but the assemblies were for all and sundry, thus, the 'oha na eze'.

Although all people present at 'oha na eze' assemblies could have their say on all matters under discussion, no single person usually had his/her way and nobody had any special privilege because of birth, origin etc. Rather, what happened was that social hierarchies were created in the Igbo communities -for instance, social structures were created for age grades, free born, women groups, title-holders and elders; and certain traditional duties were reserved for them and therefore respected. Even the title-holders, who are adjudged to constitute a powerful group within Igbo communities were respected because of their achievements but not feared or revered like kings in certain communities. In traditional Igbo societies they performed specific functions given to them by the Peoples Assembly (oha na eze) or by the Council of Elders. So, the Igbo traditional system of government was purely republican in its structure and function. There was no sort of centralized political authority or kingdom. It is within this context that the popular adage, "Igbo Enwe Eze" was developed. The adage 'Igbo Enwe Eze' means 'Igbo had no King' and this is true since there was (and still there is) no central Igbo King.

The Igbo have been known to pride themselves on democracy and freedom where consensus is the norm rather than bowing to the commands or wishes of the "king". Olaudah Equino, a slave abolitionist who was Igbo but sold to slavery during his boyhood, confirmed this in his 1789 autobiography, titled 'Gustavus Vassa, the African.' It is generally known that the individualistic and freedom-loving nature of Igbo people does not support feudal or monarchical culture -this is incompatible with monarchical culture. Professor Onwumechili at the the 2000 Ahiajoku lecture for Igbos, asserted this fact when he said that "the pre-colonial traditional government of the Igbo without kings imbued in them the characteristic traits that prompt the saying that 'Igbo Enwe Eze' ".

So why are there still a lot of people out there who believe the Igbo have/had or should have a king? These pro-king schools of thought have always cited the Nri kingdom as a sign that Igbo had king. Well, the head of the Nri Kingdom was the Eze Nri (King of Nri), and it is believed there exists a record of all the kings who reigned in Nri with their burial sites well preserved -but that was in Nri, and not Igbo land - Nri is simply one state within the Igbo nation-states, from the Northern Igbo land. The fact or idea that the Nri or (also) the Aro had kings cannot be generally adopted for all Igbos. And just for the records, in places like Aro and Nri who were ruled by Ezes, these 'kings' were more priestly than kingly as the title tend to suggest in the English languages. Also, it is obvious that unlike the Yorubas and the Hausas (in Nigeria) who had powerful kings (Obas and Emirs respectively) who lived in gorgeous palaces in splendid ceremonial life-styles with bountiful availability of slaves, wives, palace guards, court officials, praise singers, drummers and slavish entertainers -the Nri and Aro 'kings' were not given such 'kingly niceties'. The Nri and Aro 'kings' were not regarded as sacred by their 'subjects' as is seen within the Yoruba and Hausa cases. These Nri and Aro 'kings' had no jurisdiction outside their own traditional states within the Igbo nation; they were not revered as kings by other parts of Igbo land. There was never a time in Igbo history when the Igbo were ruled by a king.

Mazi Mbonu Ojike, Nigerian statesman and an Aro man, in his 1946 book, "My Africa" accepted the fact that the Aro people had 'kings' whose area of authority was only restricted within the Aro people and never extended to other people of the Igbo land. Cronje (1972: p.2) popular for her book, "The world and Nigeria: A diplomatic history of the Biafran war, 1967-1970," expressly wrote that the "usual pattern" in Igbo land "is for public matters to be discussed at a general meeting at which every able-bodied male who is a full member of the community has the right to attend and speak if he so wishes… the community is not prepared to surrender its legislative authority to any chiefs, elders or other traditional office holders." Even Nigeria's Yoruba statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in his 1947 book 'Path to Nigerian Freedom.' wrote that the Igbo "… cannot tolerate anyone assuming the authority of a chieftain over them."

There is even another pro-king group of people who posit that it is not quite true to say that the Igbo have no king. Their argument is being that, if the Igbo had no king -what then constitutes a reasonable explanation for presence of the word 'eze' in the Igbo vocabulary? Well, lets face a simple reality, although the word 'eze' was neither borrowed from any other language, nor invented as a fashion to enrich the Igbo language, it does not mean 'king' in the context of kingliness as being used by European Monarchs. "Eze," within the contexts of Igbo social-cultural life connotes three things -"Chief Priest", "King" and "God." The term "Eze" is used in the political sense to refer to Chukwu (King of all or God), the only King of the Igbo -this is why the general assembly of the Igbo, 'oha na eze' (meaning, the general public and God) is referred to as the supreme authority of the Igbo. The only king the generality of Igbo accept and recognize is 'God'. So, from a purely human perspective it is erroneous to say that the Igbo have King.

The search to create a king for the Igbo was a project the colonialists embarked upon with the hope of creating a centralized leadership that could help champion their imperialists' ambitions. According to professor Afigbo (2000: p.32) in his work 'Obi Ikenga: the case of a Pan-Igbo Centre for Igbo Studies,' exposed that "… during the phase of colonization, the colonial government invested so much human and material resources into finding out who the traditional authorities in Igbo land were, what were their symbol of office (ofo or alo?), and whether in the absence of territorial chiefs, the Aro influence through their oracle and alliance with the Abam could be converted to a paramount authority over a large section of the Igbo." This ploy by the colonialist was not successfull. Central leadership of the Igbo does not and has never existed.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a national and international leader at different fronts and responsibilities but at the Igbo-front, he was a simply a chief -as Owelle of Onitsha, he was an acclaimed Igbo leader, but never was the Igbo leader. Actually there was no central leadership or kingdom in Igbo land, and that was why the then Nigerian colonial government attempted to create one in order to further their imperialists' objectives. Professor Afigbo (1986: p.16) in his work, 'An Outline of Igbo History,' he wrote that "the idea of rationalised and centralised authority led to the creation of artificial chiefs, chosen in all sorts of arbitrary ways, and popularly known amongst the people and in official records as the warrant chiefs" was a ploy by the colonialists to restructure the existing traditional socio-political platform that was in Igbo land. Well, the colonialists succeeded in creating chiefs and village leaders all over the Igbo land -and this is probably why some people argue that Igbo must have had a king. As Professor Achebe (1983: p.47) put it in his book, 'the trouble with Nigeria,' "…Beyond town or village the Igbo has no compelling traditional loyalty" to anyone.
Even the former Biafran leader, Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1969: p.11) emphasized in his Ahiara declaration, that "…Those who aspire to lead must bear in mind the fact that they are servants and as such cannot ever be greater than the people, their masters ." The implication of this statement is, from Odumegwu-Ojukwu's perspective, is that the 'leader' is never the king to the Igbo, but only the 'people' are the 'king.' This reflects the direct ideology behind why the Igbo have no king.

Whether the Igbo have a king is not a debatable issue because there is no such thing as "king of Igbo land or Igbos" but it can become highly contentious depending from what perspective one is making the argument. Based on the facts available, and as Chigbu (2008: p.4) had once, written, the saying, 'Igbo enwe eze' "should not be taken literally as total denial that any king ever existed within one of the Igbo regions or States. However, what the Igbo never had was a central king wielding power and authority over all Igbo land". Different parts of the Igbo land may have had a sort of leader or 'king' (as found in Nri, Aro, etc) but it should be made clear that the entirety of the Igbo nation is and was culturally subjected only to a republican system of government termed 'oha na eze' -long before the theories, principles and practices of democracy were discovered by the western world. So, in general, the Igbo have no king, they respect age but do not accept servitude to one central figure. This is something the Igbo should be very proud and should not be apologetic in any way for inheriting such a unique culture

Achebe, C. (1983): The trouble with Nigeria. Heinemann, Oxford, England.
Afigbo, A. E. (2000): Obi Ikenga: The case of a Pan-Igbo Centre for Igbo Studies. Abia State University Press, Uturu, Nigeria
Afigbo, A. E. (1986): An Outline of Igbo History. RADA publishing company, Owerri, Nigeria
Awolowo, O. (1947): Path to Nigerian Freedom. Farber and Farber. London, England.
Chigbu, U. (2008): The Igbo person - the Igbo people. IN: Igbo catholic Community Magazine, Munich, Germany.
Cronje, S. (1972): The world and Nigeria: A diplomatic history of the Biafran war, 1967-1970. Sidgwick and Jackson; London, England.
Equiano, O. (1789): The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. London; Vol.1
Odumegwu-Ojukwu, E. (1969): The Ahiara declaration: the principles of Biafran revolution. Markpress, Geneva, Switzerland.
Ojike, M. (1946): My Africa. John Day Publications, United States of America.
Onwumechili, C. A. (2000): Igbo Enwe Eze: The Igbo have no kings. The 2000 Ahiajoku lecture.
Mr. Chigbu is the author of 'Beyond Sight and Beyond Sound' - a book of ideas expressed in poetry. This can be accessed via

No comments:


I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


Biafra Videos: Explosive secret about Biafra...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Featured Post


Topics: Mindset of the enemy. Yoruba were in world's best universities when Usman dan fodio was still learning to ride a horse Th...