Pre and Post Colonialism; Ibo Tribal Justice By: Aubrie Winkler, Jem Heath, Maria Granata

Who are the Ibo?

The Igbo Tribe is located in Southern Nigeria. With a whopping 5.5 million plus population, they are the second largest group in all of South Nigeria. Although there are many villages throughout their tribe, they all still manage to speak the same language ("Igbo"). European contact began with the Portuguese during the mid fifthteeth century. The Igbo people were traded within the global slave trade. In 1807, (when the slave trade ended) the British took control over Nigeria. It wasn't until 1960 that Nigeria became an independent country.

What part of Africa were the Ibo located?

A) West Africa

B) North Africa

C) South Africa

D) East Africa

Things Fall Apart

The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe tells about the Ibo tribe's culture and society. Achebe believed that many thought the African society was weird and backwards. "Unless Africans could tell their side of the story, the African experience would be mistold," says Achebe. He believes that other authors portray the African culture in a racist way. So he wanted to make a book about the African culture through his eyes.

Why did Achebe write Things Fall Apart ?

A) He was from the Ibo tribe

B) He thought other authors portrayed African culture in a rasist way

C) He wanted to make money

D) He wanted to learn more about the Ibo tribe

How was the Ibo's justice system prior to colonization?

During the pre-colonial years the Ibo's justice system was very vague and simple. Their law based decisions was based off of several different groups and agencies. This included the Mmanwu, which was one of the many community government agencies. Usually families settled minor disagreements within their household. If something major comes up the Council of Elders ("Amala") would step in. Then the final decision would be said by the Egwugwu. The Ala is another group that plays a major role in court decisions. Especially involving murder and suicide. The tribe does their best to hear both sides of the argument.

The Igbo's justice system was very complex.




Who were the Egwugwu?

The Egwugwu were mentioned multiple times in the novel "Things Fall Apart". You may have been wondering who they are. Well it just so happens that they played an important role within the Ibo's justice system. They were a symbol of the Ibo's culture and the independence of Umuofia. The Egwugwu were seen as ancestral gods. However, in reality they were just masked Umuofia elders. The Egwugwu served as respective judges in the Ibo community. For example, they listened to complaints of the people, prescribed punishments, and they decided conflicts.

Who really were the Egwugwu really?

A) Children

B) Elders

C) Animals

D) Chiefs

How was the Ibo's justice system after the colonialization?

After the British came the Ibo were subject to laws which were not their own. The new punishments had no purpose besides domination and public humiliation. Before the British came the Egwugwu and certain groups within the tribe were in control of their villages. However, when the British came that all changed. The way the British treated the Ibo plays a big role at the end of Things Fall Apart. Today the Ibo follow the Federation laws of Nigeria. These laws were created between the years 1990 and 2000 and they are still used to this day.

When the British took over who did they essentially replace?

A) Villagers

B) Egwugwu

C) Certain groups within the tribe

D) Elders

E) B and C

How did the Ibo's Justice system change and/or stay the same within pre and post-colonialism?

The Ibo's laws didn't change much before and after the British took over. The one thing that obviously changed was who their leaders were. Before they had the Egwugwu and other groups within the community. Then the Ibo had to listen to what the British said once they came to Nigeria. However, many laws have changed since then now that Nigeria is an independent country (as of 1960).

What year did Nigeria become an independent country?

A) 1986

B) 1950

C) 1960

D) 1966


In conclusion the fall of Igbo culture was heavily tied to the change in their own demise. They allowed the British to enter their homelands and even gave them partial ownership of the land itself, not even questioning their ulterior motives. Their justice system was heavily tied to their religion. The punishment for every crime had given significance to the Igbo people and their past. Having the British missionaries come and practically rip away that significance so that nothing has meaning or purpose makes the fall of their civilization all the more worth grieving over even if intentions were not as they appeared to be.

The Igbo allow the British to enter their homelands.





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