Igbo Association of Victoria President:
Luke Iwunze

Location: Igboland is the home of the Igbo people and it covers most of Southeast Nigeria.  Their population has presently grown to around thirty million people. The origins of the Igbo people have been the subject of much speculation, and it is only in the last fifty years that any real work has been carried out in this subject: ...like any group of people, they are anxious to discover their origin and reconstruct how they came to be how they are.

 

Whatever one's persuasion in the continuing debate over the origin of Igbos, there is little disagreement that Igbos are generally ambitious, industrious, energetic, and unacquainted with idleness. "We're all habituated to labour from our earliest years," Equiano wrote, "competitive, progressive, and proud." Inherent in Igbo tradition is the belief that a man is truly a man only if he can provide for and defend his family. Children, family, and community are the essence of Igbo traditional values.

 

Language: The Igbo have a very unique and distinctive language. It is said often to be one of the hardest to learn. The difficulty of the language often stems from the fact that it is not spoken anywhere else in the world. It is based a lot on pitch, vocal inflections, and context when defining the meaning of a word. A single word can have numerous meanings depending on these factors. Idioms and proverbs play an important role in the Ibo language. Someone who does not use them in speech is considered a novice at speaking the language.

 

Daily Life: Village life for the Igbo people is like many other villages in Africa, but still unique in an Igbo way. Igbos live in villages that have anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand people comprised of numerous extended families. A very interesting thing about these villages is that there is no single ruler or king that controls the population. Decisions are made by including almost everyone in the village. There are established institutions such as a council of elders (a group based on age), a council of chiefs, women’s associations, and secret societies. The Igbos simultaneously emphasise individual actions and community living. The Igbos are profoundly religious.

 

 

Kola-Nut -- Symbol of Hospitality: At any village function, the titled man or a village head is presented with kola-nuts, which play a very important social and ritual role in the Igbo culture. The kola-nuts are the highest symbol of Igbo hospitality. Whenever a kola-nut appeared in a gathering, the matter to be discussed at that particular time was regarded as very vital. The offering of drinks, food and meat are not regarded so important in Igbo culture as the offering of kola-nuts. When an important guest visits the community, kola-nuts are brought out and handed to the elder person or the priest. This symbol of Igbo hospitality has three steps and anyone who fails to follow these steps is penalised by the village elders.

 

The first step is the presentation of the kola-nuts

 

The second is the breaking of the kola.

 

The third is the distribution of the kola-nuts.

 

When the kola-nut is presented to a guest, the kola-nut travels around until finally it comes back to the host. The elder who is present at the ceremony holds the kola-nut up and says a prayer to the ancestors. Thus, such prayers are said often in Igbo ceremonial gatherings. The gods of the ancestors and all the friendly spirits are summoned together and offered the kola-nuts. The elder demands good health for the good people and ill health for their enemies and peace for all in the village.

 

Igbo Marriages: Marriage in Igbo land is an arrangement which enables individuals (man/woman) to live together and cooperate in an orderly social life. A marriage in Igbo land or any African country goes beyond sexual union. The type of family organization is the extended family, where one is his brother's keeper. The extended family takes the form of three or four generations of nuclear families of lineal descendants. 

There is much emphasis placed on compatibility of the couples and social standing within the kinship community. Generally, marriage is regarded as a family and clan affair. When a boy betroths a girl, the matter does not end there. The families of the contracting parties will embark on a series of investigations about the character, home training, lineage, health, clan relationship. Where all the requirements are satisfactory to both sides, approval is readily given for continuation of betrothal process, but if otherwise, any further relationship between the two youngsters will be discouraged.

 

Children are considered the greatest blessing of all and this is reflected in popular names such as Nwakaego; a child is worth more than money or Akuakanwa; no wealth is worthier than a child, or Nwabuugwu; a child is the greatest honour.

The Igbo believe that it is children who perpetuate the race, and in order to do so children are expected to continue Igbo tradition and ways.

 

AFTER the Nigerian Civil War, Igboland had been severely devastated. Many hospitals, schools, and homes had been completely destroyed in the brutal war. The Federal Government of Nigeria denied the Igbo people access to all the hard currencies, such as pound sterling they had saved in Nigerian banks before the civil war, and only allowed them a minuscule compensation of £20 per adult bank account holder. For example, a man who had over £450,000.00 savings in one or several bank accounts could only receive £20.00 following this policy.

 

In addition to the loss of their savings, many Igbo people found themselves discriminated against by other ethnic groups and the new non-Igbo Federal Government. Due to the discrimination of employers, many Igbo had trouble finding employment and the Igbo became one of the poorest ethnic groups in Nigeria during the early 1970s. Igboland was gradually rebuilt over a period of 20 years and the economy was again prospering due to the rise of the petroleum industry in the adjacent Niger Delta, which led to new factories being set up in Southern Nigeria. Many Igbo eventually regained government positions.

 

The Igbo, however, continue to face many problems and challenges. Even today, Igbo people have sometimes continued to face discrimination from other ethnic groups. Also, because the traditional Igbo homeland was becoming too small for its growing population, many Igbo have emigrated out of Igboland.

 

What then are the attributes of the Igbo spirit?

 

One, it is God-fearing and God loving.

Two, it is democratic to the core. And

Three, it is private enterprise write large.

 

The Igbo puts God Almighty at the center of his sociopolitical and economic life and this is what explains why he is so fiercely democratic and so competitively entrepreneurial but so passionately communal to the core.

 

So, the Igbo spirit is not about the ethnic subjugation of one group by the other. Rather, it is about the opening up of equal vents of opportunities for the small as for the medium size and for the big, for the weak as for the half-weak and the strong.

 

The Igbo spirit is not a conquering spirit, an imperial spirit or an exploiting spirit. The Igbo spirit is an Afro centric spirit, a competitive spirit, a liberating spirit and a spirit that restores. In fact, the Igbo spirit is the quintessential Christian spirit of the common good as one finds in the holy Bible. Thus, the Igbo spirit thrives and lives by the democratic ethic of one for all and all for one. Onye biri ibe ya biri; Egbe bere, ugo bere, nke si ibe ya ebele, nku wka ya.

 

We celebrate our eminent Igbos in Victoria who have excelled in many fields namely; medical, legal, entrepreneur, academically and in social services, church leaders and educators. They are contributing immensely to the economic, wellness and welfare of this state. People like;

 

Dr. Chigozie Agbarakwe of Total Care Medical Centre and Arrowhead medical Centre.

 

Dr. Emmanuel and Dr. Vivian Ndukwe of Central West Medical Centre.

 

Dr. Ike and Dr. Adaeze Emezie of Brimbank Medical Centre.

 

Dr. Ekegiuba Uzoho of Netcare Medical Centre

 

Dr. Uche Menakaya of Junic Specialist Imaging and Women’s Centre

 

Mr and Mrs Azubuike and Ngozi Azubuike of Radskill Imaging.

 

Barrister Ngozi Nwankwo of Goz Chambers Lawyers

 

Barrister Ikenna Nwokolo 

 

Mr. Henry Ezenwa of Eze Global Enterprises P/L

 

Mr. Linus Kenelo of Busy Bee Cleaning Services

 

The aim of this association is to educate our people the rich heritage of Igbo culture and contribute to the diversity of our adopted country Australia and Victoria in particular. This event marks the beginning of establishing a centre for cultural learning and promotion of Igbo language. We appeal to all our illustrious sons and daughters and the government to support our vision to teach our next generation the Igbo language and culture.

 

In simple language; We want to have our Igbo House here in Victoria as soon as possible!

 

I look forward to the progress of our community and the impact we will make to other communities at large!

Igwe bu ike!

 

 

Luke Iwunze