IBO / IGBO (NIGERIA) (2,2,2,3,-,4;-,2)



IndexAfricaNigeria → Ibo


Featured: Badjju, Nupe, Hausa, Kadara, Kagoro, Efik, Tiv, Kanuri, Ijaw/ Ijo, Bini, Marghi, Jekri, Lala, Kofjar, Ibibio, Woodabe Fulani, Borroro Fulani, Ibo [ Afikpo Igbo, Asaba Ibo], Rukuba, Irigwe, Yakoe, Igbira, Igala, Orri, Dakarkaki



O’Donnell[1]: “There is no particular sex instruction [at the Okolobia, where “the young man comes” “seemingly no moral instruction if given”], but also there is no particular hiding. The facts are learned by the young just naturally. […] Among the unmarried pagan young, sex conditions seem to be fairly good [?], though by no means ideal. Among the Christianized youth of both sexes, conditions are quite good” (p58). Thomas (1913 [1969, I:p70])[2] stated that for the unmarried, whether betrothed or not, “regular relations begin at the age of 13 or 14; if her suitor has paid the whole of the bride price, she may go to his house earlier. A girl begins her sexual life with a boy of 15 or 16, who takes two shillings to her mother and says he wants to be friends with her […]”. “Girls are generally married soon after their first menstruation, but if they are not fully or well developed it is postponed” (Talbot (1969 [III]:p441). Basden (1921 [1966:p67])[3] states that Ibo laxity in child discipline “does not improve their morals, and there are incidents of child life which are said to contemplate”. Thus, little attempt is made to correct the children and it is quite a new experience for them to come under school discipline. Nzimiro (1962:p254-5)[4] noted separation at puberty, and sexual knowledge being acquired informally.


Obi ([1970])[5]:


“[Male] initiation […] takes place years after coming to the age of reason (10-15yrs). […] Before marriage, a young man who loves a girl would speak to his parents about her. The parents will examine not only her physical beauty, but also her physical, mental and moral fitness, then her resourcefulness, graceful temper, smartness and general ability to work well. Her parental background must also be investigated. This is as it should be for "Such a tree, such a fruit" tel père, tel fils" as the saying goes, or "by their fruits you shall know them". Parents inquire very meticulously vices like murder, theft, lying, obstinate disobedience, wanton violence and other undesirable qualities would be introduced into their family. If the girl's mother is known to have been lazy, idle, gossipy, quarrelsome, way-ward, insubordinate to her husband, it may be concluded that the daughter would have these vices. This conclusion is based, for what it is worth, on the assertion that daughters usually take after their mothers. "All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his". It is necessary to note that the inquiry is done by both parties - that is, the family of the girl and that of the young man”.



Additional reading:


§         Adinma, J. I. B. (1998) Current status of female circumcision among Nigerian Igbos, West African J Med 16,4:227-31

§         Anuforo, Prisca O.; Lola Oyedele, and Dula F. Pacquiao (2004) Comparative Study of Meanings, Beliefs, and Practices of Female Circumcision Among Three Nigerian Tribes in the United States and Nigeria, J Transcult Nurs 15:103-13

§         Megafu, U. (1983) Female ritual circumcision in Africa: an investigation of the presumed benefits among Ibos of Nigeria, East African Medical J 60,11:793-800

§         Victor Manfredi (1997) Igbo initiation. Phallus vs umbiculus?, Cahiers d'études africaines, 145,  http://etudesafricaines.revues.org/document932.html





Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Nov 2005



[1] O’Donnell, W. E. (1931) Religion and morality among the Ibo of Southern Nigeria, Anthropol Quart 4,1/4:54-60

[2] Thomas, N. W. ([1969]) Anthropological Report on the Ibo-Speaking Peoples of Nigeria. New York: Negro Universities Press. Vol. I, orig. 1913

[3] Basden, G. T. ([1966]) Among the Ibos of Nigeria. London: Cass. Orig. ed. 1921

[4] Nzimiro, I. (1962) Family and Kinship in Ibo Land. Kölk: Wasmund. Dissertation

[5] Obi, C. A. ([1970]) Marriage among the Igbo of Nigeria [Unconfirmed, allegedly from an unpublished doctoral thesis submitted to Pontifical Urban University, Rome [http://www.afrikaworld.net/afrel/igbo-marriage.htm]