The Igbo people, also known as the Ibo, are an ethnic group in Nigeria. They are primarily located in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States, with significant populations in Delta and Rivers States as well.
However, their influence extends beyond Nigeria as Igbo populations can be found in Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.
The origins of the Igbo people have long been a subject of speculation and mystery.
While much remains unknown, it is believed that the Igbo homeland is divided into two sections by the Niger River – an eastern and a western section.
Geographically, the Igbo homeland is bordered by the Edoid and Idomoid groups to the north, and the Ibibioid (Cross River) cluster to the east.
Before the arrival of British colonial rule, the Igbo people were politically fragmented, with various chiefdoms such as Nri, Aro Confederacy, Agbor, and Onitsha.
However, the introduction of the Eze system by Frederick Lugard brought a centralized leadership structure.
Unlike many other ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Igbo people were largely unaffected by the spread of Islam during the Fulani War in the 19th century.
Instead, they embraced Christianity under colonization, which had a significant impact on their cultural and religious identity.
During the Nigerian Civil War of 1967–1970, the Igbo territories declared independence as the Republic of Biafra.
Although the secession was short-lived, it further solidified the Igbo people’s sense of ethnic identity.
In recent years, two sectarian organizations, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), have emerged advocating for an independent Igbo state.
These organizations continue to pursue their goals through non-violent means.
This article was updated 1 month ago