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, 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.
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Igbo, a people in Eastern Nigeria. Population, approximately 12 million (1972, estimate). The Ibo speak the Ibo language. Some Ibo still retain local traditional beliefs, while the remainder are Christians (chiefly Catholics). The chief occupation of the Ibo is farming (yam, cassava, rice, and vegetables). The fruits of the African oil palm are exported. New social relationships, associated with the development of the capitalist mode of production, are taking shape among the Ibo. The Ibo took an active part in the national liberation movement of Nigerian peoples. The proclamation in May 1967 of the so-called Republic of Biafra in the territory inhabited by the Ibo led to a civil war in Nigeria that ended in defeat for the separatists in January 1970.
REFERENCESIsmagilova, R. N. Narody Nigerii. Moscow, 1963.
Forde, D., and G. Y. Jones. The Ibo and Ibibio-speaking Peoples of South-Eastern Nigeria. London, 1950. (In the series Ethnographic Survey of Africa, part 3.)
Basden, G. T. Niger Ibos. London, 1938.
Igbo, the language of the Ibo people of Eastern Nigeria, which belongs to the Kwa group of the Congo-Kordofanian language family. Ibo speakers number approximately 10.7 million (1967, estimate). The rich consonant system of Ibo includes the bifocal obstruents kp and gb, palatalized, labialized, and aspirated consonants (voiced and voiceless), and nasal fricatives. Vowel harmony, based on the openness and closedness of vowels, operates within the word. Ibo has five phonologic tones. Case relations are signified by word order, a single preposition of place, and partly by tones in the noun. In the verb, the person and number of the subject are expressed in some forms by a pronominal prefix (“inseparable pronoun”) and in other forms by a pronoun (“separable pronoun”). Verbs are marked for aspectual-temporal forms, negation, and moods by prefixes and tones. Word formation is primarily prefixal. Ibo is a written language and is taught in schools.