Igbo

Igbo (ĭgˈbō) [key] or Ibo ēˈbō, one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria, deriving mainly from SE Nigeria, numbering around 15 million. Originally settled in many autonomous villages, the Igbo nevertheless had a sense of cultural unity and the ability to unite for political action. They were receptive to Christianity and education under British colonialism and missionary influence. The Igbo became heavily represented in professional, managerial, technical, and commercial occupations, and many migrated to other regions of Nigeria. They played a major role in securing Nigerian independence from Britain in 1960. During the political conflict in 1966, thousands of Igbo immigrants were killed in the northern region, home of the Muslim Hausa and Fulani. Many Igbo fled to their eastern homeland, which seceded from Nigeria in 1967, calling itself the Republic of Biafra. Civil war followed, and, by 1970, Biafra was defeated.

See G. Basden, Among the Igbos of Nigeria (1921, repr. 1966); A. C. Smock, Igbo Politics (1971); S. Ottenberg, Boyhood Rituals in an African Society (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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