The History Of Money In Igbo land

The History Of Money In Igbo land

History of Money In Igbo land- The Naira () is the official currency of nd Igbo, but did you know that nd Igbo and rest of Nigerians didnt start using Naira until 13 years after independence?

Before the advent of the British in Nigeria and the introduction of their currencies: Pounds, Shillings and Pence which preceded Naira and Kobo, there were several forms of local currencies used by indigenous peoples of Nigeria.

In Igboland, Eastern part of Nigeria, there were various forms and values of local currency used for means of trade and exchange. However, the two major forms of the local currency are known as Okpogho/Ego Igwe and Ego Ayoro.

1. Okpogho/Ego Igwe (Manilla): Okpogho/Ego Igwe, otherwise known as Manilla is a form of commodity money made of iron, bronze and copper. They are also known as iron currency. In the precolonial days, iron was a metal of high value cherished among the Igbos and thus when smithened into elaborate bars was used as a medium of exchange. Since, the Portuguese and the Dutch were the earliest Europeans to visit Nigeria, Okpogho was used in the trade of various goods and items such as cloths, gins, tobacco heads, beads, salt, palm oil and dry fish. Okpogho comes in various sizes and shapes such as bars, rings, hoes, spears axes. The value is inherent in its weight, intricate designs and shapes. Till date, when someone is wealthy or rich, Igbos will say: “O nwere Okpogho” or “O nwere Ego Igwe” which translates to that the person is extremely rich.

2. Ego Ayoro/Cowry: In precolonial Igboland, cowries were commonly used as a form of local currency. A cowry is a small, glossy olive-sized shell about a half inch long. In Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart,” cowries were used by the Umuofia People as a means of exchange and a payment of bride price. It has both monetary value and spiritual significance. Cowry shell has a universal status as various civilisations of the world used it for various reasons. The shells were also believed to possess the power of fertility which signifies prosperity. In recent years, cowries have been integrated into pop culture and modern fashion. Cowries can be woven into African braided hairstyles and headpieces.

3.The British introduced the first paper currency in Nigeria.

During Britains colonisation of Nigeria, the concept of money was introduced. Nigerians used Pounds, Pence and Shillings.
Ndi igbo used Pound Sterling until 1968

The Bank of Biafra was created under Decree No. 3 of 1967 in order to ensure the normal functioning of the newly independent Biafran state. The first Biafra Pound banknote was introduced to the public on January 29, 1968, in denominations of 5 shillings and also 1 pound. From January 29,1968, Biafra pound and shillings was rolled into the Biafra economy with bank noted and coins. The central bank of Biafra is in charge of distributing the Biafra pound.
Though the rest of the world didnt recognize the Biafran pound as a currency. However, following the states surrender to the Nigerian Federal Military Government, ndi Igbo Abandon Biafra pound to Nigeria pound.

In 1973,three years after the end of civil war, Naira was introduced
On January 1, 1973, Nd Igbo and other Nigerians started using their own New currency. It was named naira by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Naira and kobo was also rolled into the Nigerian economy with bank noted and coins. The central bank of Nigeria is in charge of distributing the Naira. It controls how much money flows into the economy. The official currency code for Naira is NGN

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