Igbo People And Culture


BEFORE CHRISTIANITY, there wasn’t a special day for Igbo people to come together and worship their God. There was no Sabbath day to be kept holy. Every Igbo man had his altar in his house and communicated directly with his personal God, Chi.

Just like the Jews called upon their ancestors—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Igbos believed that their ancestors, known as Ndiichie, were the intermediaries between them and the spiritual realm. Yet, the Igbo people did not consider all ancestors to be holy or qualified to serve as Ndiichie. Some factors qualified one to become a member of Ndiichie.


1. The person must have done something to help society while he was alive.

2. The person must have lived long enough. Longevity was perceived as a sign that a man finds favor before the Gods.

3. The person must have had a chieftaincy title. (Among the Igbo people of the old, taking a title was more than just a show of affluence. Since it comes with a lot of rules and regulations, titled men were seen as the most disciplined in the community.)

Whoever didn’t meet these 3 criteria wasn’t considered a member of Ndiichie. His direct descendants would rely on the efficacy of the existing ancestor in the family that was a member of Ndiichie.

Every Igbo man in the olden days desired to become a member of Ndiichie. Therefore, they did all they could to impact their community, pray to their Chi for a long life, and aspire to be honored with a chieftaincy title by the community.

With the advent of Christianity, all these have changed in Igbo land. However, some believe that the concept of Ndiichie would have deepened the Igbos’ connection to their root and history.

What do you think?

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Ozii Baba, a TedX Speaker, is an Onitsha-based storyteller and social entrepreneur. He works directly with children and young people.

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