The Western Igbo, also known as the people of Anioma, occupy the western part of the Lower Niger, one of the most important cultural and commercial gateways into the African interior. Relying on oral, anthropological, ethnographic, and published sources, the author traces the evolution of these communities—from migrations and settlement to farming and trading, from inter-group conflicts to mutual borrowing, from the overseas slave trade to the palm oil trade, and from anti-colonial wars to freedom. He describes the nature and significance of rituals, mechanisms of social control, patterns of warfare, economic life, class differentiation, gender relations, and leadership and authority among these people. Finally, he shows how these communities responded to the cultural, political, and economic expansion of Europe into the interior of Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Despite strong resistanc they failed to halt the transformations that came from abroad.
Ohadike’s study reveals a major paradox: On the one hand are very dynamic precolonial African societies, and on the other is European colonialism, a powerful agent of change that the Africans could not successfully ignore or resist.
Don C, Ohadike, assistant professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University, was educated in Nigeria and Birmingham, UK. He is originally from Anioma, southern Nigeria. More info →
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