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Friday, May 31, 2013

How stigmatisation promotes baby factories in Igboland

By  Azuka Onwuka(

Azuka Onwuka
Three incidents regarding teenage pregnancy in Yorubaland remain evergreen in my memory. Some 19 years ago, on being told that I was posted to a mixed secondary school in the South-West for the one-year National Youth Service Corps scheme, a relative (but born and bred in Yorubaland) warned me with all seriousness: "Be careful! Yoruba girls are very fertile." I laughed at such a ridiculous statement, asking her if fertility had anything to do with race or ethnicity.

A few months later, while discussing with a Yoruba friend on our small street (a close in which almost all of us knew one another), one of the teenage girls on the street passed by with a protruded stomach. I was shocked at her pregnancy. My friend sneered at her and told me that two other girls of her age on the street were also pregnant. Given my background as someone who grew up in the South-East, it was strange to me, but I kept quiet to avoid being accused of bigotry. The Yoruba friend asked me with surprise: "Why is it that I have never seen a pregnant Igbo girl? Is it that they don't do what other girls do?" I laughed heartily but knowingly.

Some years later, my landlady at that time sent some snacks to me, saying that her unmarried and unemployed son had had a baby. I was surprised. Shortly after, the young mother arrived with her son. I thought the young man had married her. No. She stayed a few months to nurse the baby, and when the baby was weaned, she departed, leaving the baby behind with his father. I was shocked. But I sought an explanation. I saw myself as a baby in kindergarten, being schooled in a different culture. I learnt that the Yoruba never wish that their unmarried daughters get pregnant, but if such a pregnancy occurs, so long as the man claims responsibility, the parents' anger and disappointment will be lessened. There is little or no stigma on the girl, the man, the baby, as well as both parents, once the man has claimed responsibility and the child has an identifiable father. No doubt, this worldview has its drawbacks, but that is not our focus now.

Contrast that with the practice in Igboland, where I was born and bred. When a teenage girl gets pregnant, it is most likely that the man or boy responsible will deny ever touching her. He may even disappear from the community, never to be seen again, especially if he is not an indigene. The Igbo tradition holds that the baby belongs to the girl's family, because no bride price has been paid, even though these days some individuals and families go against that tradition. But the bottom line is that the girl's parents will feel utterly disappointed and ashamed of her. People will make snide remarks about them not training their daughter properly. Some parents go to the extreme of sending such a girl away. Her school will rusticate her. If she is a member of the church choir, Block Rosary, Girls' Guide/Brigade, Red Cross, etc, in her local church, other girls will be warned by such a church society never to be like "the prodigal daughter."

To avoid public odium, she will stay indoors throughout the pregnancy. Her chances of marriage are drastically reduced, as every prospective suitor who hears that she is a single mother will change his mind (unless she becomes successful later in life). If she eventually finds a husband, it may be as a second wife: to a man whose first wife has not had a child or son, a widower, a man her father's age, or a man below her dreams of a husband. She may never return to school to avoid ridicule, and her dreams to become a doctor or lawyer dies.
On the contrary, if she miscarries, aborts the pregnancy, or loses her baby during delivery or shortly after, she becomes "a good girl again," and can walk about with more confidence, even though some may still sneer at her silently for a year or two.

So, in response to my friend who said he had never seen a pregnant Igbo spinster, this is the reason. It has nothing to do with Igbo girls being more chaste than other girls in Nigeria. In the distant past, the Igbo society had no respect for a girl who was not a virgin during marriage. Today, virginity before marriage is no longer an issue. The unspoken law is: Thou shall not be caught pregnant before marriage. An Igbo proverb describes this mindset aptly: All dogs eat faeces, but it is only the one that bears the remnants on its snout that is calledFaeces Eater. Consequently, Igbo girls are more exposed to sex education and contraceptives. When those two fail, they resort to abortion, commonly called D & C (dilatation and curettage). But if the baby is born, some resort to dumping of such babies in a pit toilet or a bush, where they may die or be found by someone else.
However, while teenage girls don't need their babies, there are some women who need children desperately: Married women with no child or no male child. Such women are most times put under intense pressure by their mothers-in-law or husbands. They are constantly threatened with divorce or a second wife, or they are branded witches or "men". To make matters worse, there seems to have been a rise in childlessness among married couples in recent times.

Furthermore, in most Igbo communities, adoption still has a stigma. An adopted child is seen as not a "real son/daughter of the soil." Everyone wants a child that society will believe is a biological child.
And so "demand" meets "supply." Some smart alecs discovered this and took advantage of the situation by setting up baby factories under different guises. Childless women are given some special "herbs" that make them have a false sense of pregnancy. They look bloated like pregnant women and feel some sensation in their wombs. They are warned never to visit any other hospital or do any scan, to avoid losing the baby. They are told to come in and live in the so-called maternities from the fifth or sixth month of "pregnancy" for special attention. So they travel from the big cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, etc, to these remote villages in the South-East to "deliver."
Meanwhile, the so-called midwife that administers the special herbs has a baby factory where pregnant girls are housed. Some of these girls were kicked out by their parents; some ran away from home to avoid the heavy consequences; some are lured in from poor homes with a promise to be handsomely rewarded if they could take in. Any day one of these girls in their custody is delivered of a baby, the woman with a fake pregnancy is given an injection that makes her feel she is in labour. When she wakes up, she is presented with "her" baby. She pays between N400,000 and N600,000, depending on the sex of the child, believing she actually delivered a child, unless a future DNA or blood test comes up. Even if she suspects that she did not actually deliver any child, she keeps it a secret and raises "her child". She organises a big thanksgiving in her church with a soul-lifting testimony of "divine visitation and favour" after 15 years of marriage, with a lot to eat and drink at home after the church service. The pressure on her from family and society eases off, because now she has a child, who will keep her husband's lineage alive.

The real teenage mother of the child is paid off with an amount that is less than N100,000. She is not much bothered because her burden and stigma have been removed. She returns to her family and education and continues her normal life as "a good girl."
So from one Igbo state to another, baby factories and baby thieves are discovered regularly. During interrogation by the police, one point runs through their stories: they are rendering a service to society by ensuring that children are raised by those who have the financial capacity to take care of them. There is no sign of remorse in them for being involved in a heinous crime. As far as they are concerned, they are making the world a happier place.
Therefore, it is not enough for fellow Igbo people to feel mortified that such baby factories and baby-stealing stories are emanating from different parts of Igboland. The time has come for Igbo families and communities to stop treating pregnant teenagers as the worst sinners on earth. Pregnancy before marriage should not be encouraged, but if a girl makes such a mistake, she should not be treated like an outcast for life. Such stigmatisation does not discourage girls from having pre-marital sex. What it does is to make them devise means - no matter how atrocious - to ensure that they are not single mothers.

The sad truth is that most teenagers get pregnant because of naivety rather than promiscuity. The girls who are really sexually hyper-active never get pregnant! And even when they do, such pregnancies are terminated in a matter of weeks before anyone can notice.
In the same vein, the pressure on married women to have children or male children as well as the stigma associated with adoption makes many women undergo emotional trauma and also resort to illegal ways of having children that society will call their biological children. Action usually begets reaction. We must not cling to a vacuous moral high ground that drives people to worse crimes in their bid to be seen as chaste or well-trained.

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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...”


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