13 Popular Gods of Igbo Culture
More than 1,000 gods but these popular are prime to the culture of the Igbo people.
Igbo People and Culture
Igbo people living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria, The Igbo may be grouped into the following main cultural divisions: northern, southern, western, eastern or Cross River, and northeastern. Before European colonization, the Igbo were not united as a single people but lived in autonomous local communities. By the mid-20th century, however, a sense of ethnic identity was strongly developed, and the Igbo-dominated Eastern region of Nigeria tried to unilaterally secede from Nigeria in 1967 as the independent nation of Biafra. By the turn of the 21st century, the Igbo numbered some 20 million.
Most Igbo traditionally have been subsistence farmers, their staples being yams, cassava, and taro. The other crops they grow include corn (maize), melons, okra, pumpkins, and beans. Among those still engaged in agriculture, men are chiefly responsible for yam cultivation, women for other crops. Land is owned communally by kinship groups and is made available to individuals for farming and building. Some livestock, important as a source of prestige and for use in sacrifices, is kept. The principal exports are palm oil and palm kernels. Trading, local crafts, and wage labour also are important in the Igbo economy, and a high literacy rate has helped many Igbo to become civil servants and business entrepreneurs in the decades after Nigeria gained independence. It is notable that Igbo women engage in trade and are influential in local politics.
Except for the northeastern groups, the Igbo live in rainforest country. Most Igbo occupy villages of dispersed compounds, but in some areas villages are compact. The compound is typically a cluster of huts, each of which constitutes a separate household. Traditionally, the village was usually occupied by a patrilineage (umunna).
Before the advent of colonial administration, the largest political unit was the village group, a federation of villages averaging about 5,000 persons. Members of the group shared a common market and meeting place, a tutelary deity, and ancestral cults that supported a tradition of descent from a common ancestor or group of ancestors. Authority in the village group was vested in a council of lineage heads and influential and wealthy men. In the eastern regions these groups tended to form larger political units, including centralized kingdoms and states.
Traditional Igbo religion includes belief in a creator god (Chukwu or Chineke), an earth goddess (Ala), and numerous other deities and spirits as well as a belief in ancestors who protect their living descendants. Revelation of the will of the deities is sought by divination and oracles. Many Igbo are now Christians, some practicing a syncretic version of Christianity intermingled with indigenous beliefs.
The Various Gods of Igbo Culture
Scholarly discussion on gods and goddesses has raised a number of issues. One question has to do with the relation between gods and human society. Even though the goddesses and gods of a particular society necessarily reflect the values and traditions of that society, one cannot assume direct correspondences between the mythological divine world and humans. Just because a society emphasizes a mother goddess does not mean that it was originally a matriarchy, for example.
It seems that myths about the gods and goddesses cannot be taken as direct reflections of human historical experiences. At the same time, careful study of the changing visions of the divine beings may suggest some facets of the dynamics of social change within a particular community of people. For example, a change in dominance from one god or goddess to another may reflect the rising power of a particular group within the society with its mythological concerns. Or a change in a particular goddess or gods function could conceivably reflect new needs and concerns on the part of the people.
There are more than a 100 gods, both small and large in Igbo Culture but there are 9 popular gods (Alusi). Here are an outlined list of gods in Igbo culture:
1. Ala (Ani, Ana):
5. Agwu Nsi:
8. Njoku Ji:
12. Chi Chi:
Will shall be looking into the explanation of the various gods next.