Pre and Post Colonial Ibo Festivals/ Holidays Jennifer Noa, EMily RodrigueZ, Liliana Gonzalez, Stephanie Rojas, Jennifer Cruz, Amanda Morales

Pre-Colonial Nigeria

Largest group of people living in Southeastern Nigeria

Live in scattered groups of villages and all speak one language

Origin is unknown but are thought to have descended from either people who previously lived there or from those that migrated from the north and west

Post-Colonial Ibo Culture

1914: Nigeria was known as “Colonial Nigeria” and was mostly controlled by the British

The country was divided into 3 different regions: Northern, Eastern and Western

New forms of constitution and politics were developed

Ibos people were being bought and used as slaves

1950s-1960s: Nigeria finally won its independence from England

Festivals/ Holidays of the Ibo Culture

Means for peace and order and primarily used as law enforcement agents

They would expose bad habits, crimes or misbehaviors of individuals

Colorful robes and masks

Held in accordance with community native calendars

Associated with spiritual elements representing deities or dead relatives

New Yam Festival

“In spite of this incident the New Yam Festival was celebrated with great joy in Okonkwo’s household. Early that morning as he offered a sacrifice of the new yam and palm oil to his ancestors he asked them to protect them, his children and their mothers in the new year” (Achebe 39).

“The Feast of the New Yam was approaching and Umuofia was in festival mood. It was an occasion for giving thanks to Ani, the earth goddess and the source of all fertility” (Achebe 36).


Yam Crop Harvest

Old Yam Consumption & Descardation

Performance of Rites Practiced by the King or Eldest Man

Cultural Dances Practiced by The Women & Children

Annual cultural festival held at the end of rainy season in early August

Practiced throughout West Africa, other African countries and beyond

Symbolized conclusion of harvest and beginning of the next work law

Ties individual Ibo communities together as agrarian and dependent on yam

Week of Peace

Means of expressing gratitude and humility

Teaches people to be peaceful

Created to pay tribute to Ani, who is the Earth mother goddess

Followed by the gathering of crops

They believe that in order to have a goop there must be no physical abuse or harmful language

“In fact he recovered from his illness only a few days before the Week of Peace began. And that was also the year Okonkwo broke the peace, and was punished, as was the custom, by Ezeani, the priest of the earth goddess” (Achebe 29).

“No work was done during the Week of Peace. People called on their neighbours and drank palm-wine. This year they talked of nothing else but the nso-ani which Okonkwo had committed. It was the first time for many years that a man had broken the sacred peace” (Achebe 30).

Egwuwu Ceremony

Settle Disputes between families

Family Elders sit in rows of 9 people

Gong Sound makes 9 spirits come out of hut with masks

Oldest , the leader, receives the both conflicts

Consult in hut and inform crowd

“One of the greatest crimes a man could commit was to unmask an egwugwu in public, or to say or do anything which might reduce its immortal prestige in the eyes of the uninitiated. And this was what Enoch did. The annual worship of the earth goddess fell on a Sunday, and the masked spirits were abroad” (Achebe 85).

Colonist Festivals and Holidays

The British had much control over many aspects of the Igbo tribe including culture, regions, and religion. The British brought over their own festivals and holidays, much which include many of our own festivals and holidays. Some of these festivals and holidays are as follows:

  • Christmas
  • Halloween
  • Easter
  • Valentine's Day
  • Candlemas Day/ Feb. 2

This day marks the middle of the winter season - from the shortest day of the year to the Spring Equinox. This day also celebrates the cleansing of Mary.

  • St. George's Day (England's National Day)/ Apr. 23

Celebrating with parades, some people celebrate St. George who is said to have defeated a dragon. The day is celebrated with parades and parties and flags with "St. George's Cross" are flown.

  • May Day - May. 1

This day is celebrated beautifully with may poles and flowers. It is traditionally a celebration of spring and fertility.

  • Notting Hill Carnival - August

On this day, there is a street festival that millions go to see and participate in every year. The parade include colorful floats, bands and many other attractions.

Similarities between the cultures include their use of decorations, time with family, dancing, etc.

For instance:

  • The British and Igbo celebrate Christmas by hosting feasts, decorating their home, playing music, dancing with guests, and offering their servants gifts and no work.
  • The Colonists and the Igbo celebrate their cultures’ national holidays such as Nigerian Independence Day and St. George’s Day.

On the other hand they also share some differences:

Unlike the colonists, the Igbo culture celebrates the Weak of Peace.

  • The Weak of Peace is the unification of tribes and appeasement of the gods.
  • Failure to celebrate a holiday can have harsh consequences such as death.

Other different festivals incluce the Yam Festivals and Masquerades.

Impact of Colonists on Ibo Festivals

Before and After: Masquerades


In the precolonial times, only men wore the masks

Masks represented dead wives and maidens

If you broke the tradition you were publically humiliated and they would tell you what your bad habits were


Are mostly just celebration for entertainment

Are used for tourist attraction

Now the masks represents the spirits of the dead

Post-Colonial New Yam Festival

Similar to Thanksgiving

Thanking their ancestors for the harvest

Don't honor the Earth goddess as much after implementation of Christian religion

Animal sacrifices remained

How does this relate to the text?

The novel, “Things Fall Apart”, takes place in Nigeria around the turn of the 19th century. Around this time, Europeans began to invade Nigeria and influence the way that Nigerian tribes lived. In the novel, Okonkwo experiences the pre- and post- European imperialism which allows the reader to see how the Ibo tribe acted before and after British control. Throughout the novel, we see many examples of the holidays and festivals that the Ibo people celebrated and participated in, and how they changed due to British colonization. For example, the book talks about how Okonkwo and his family participated in the Weak of Peace, New Yam Festival and Feast, and ceremonial masquerades.

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