A PHILOSOPHICAL APPRAISAL ON THE IGBO TRADITIONAL SYSTEM OF CHILD
UPBRINGING, VIS-À-VIS THE CONTEMPORARY SYSTEM
There seems to be universal law of preservation and conservation in
nature. Rock, seas, minerals, plants,
animals and man; all endure because of this universal law of nature. For instance, animals of both higher and
lower species that breach this natural law risk extinction, as the other
animals will prey on them. Hence, all
species, genus, genders, classes and families preserve their own. In man (the higher animal), this law is
particularly fundamental because it is tied to the conservation of his own
existence and physical well-being. The
care of his offspring is a basic inclination natural to man and is a divine
commission. Therefore, the first law of
nature is self-preservation and the society preserves itself by ‘preserving’
and training the children, for without them, society is as good as dead. And as such, any society that negates or in
any way impede the progress of child raising, likewise the family, is carrying
in its womb the bomb for its destruction, for the growth of the society is
founded on the growth of families. Parents in larger proportion owe to the
society and indeed to mankind, the duty of raising up their children properly,
because members of society work mutually to promote its progress and so safeguard
the common good.1 Proper raising up of children is a way of
maintaining the continued existence or preservation of human species. As a result of this, proper attention should
be paid towards it, lest humankind is extinct.
task of raising children in my own view is the greatest responsibility on
earth, and therefore, should not be left for the parents alone. It should be a joint project that includes
every person. In Igbo culture, child is referred to as ‘Our child’ – ‘Nwa
anyi’, ‘Nwa ora’, and meaning community child.
Therefore, child up bringing is neither the sole responsibility of the
parents, the maids, nannies, nor the school teachers. Rather, it is a collective affair, since the
child is: ‘Nwa ora’ – community child”2. In Igbo society, as well as in
African communities, the birth of a child brings joy and celebration to the
community. This celebration is
community-based, not family-based. This
shows that not only the immediate family of a child that thinks good of the
child, the community as well thinks.
Community, together with the parents preserves itself from extinction
through importing good moral values, cultures and ethos into the child who will
in turn do same to his/her on-coming progeny.
deep into the dimensions of this topic, we shall do so under five chapters.
Chapter one will treat the statement of the problem, the scope of the study,
the purpose of the study and the significance of this research. Chapter two will concentrate on raising up
children in the Igbo traditional society; then chapter three treats puberty
rites and formal training of a child in the traditional Igbo society. In
chapter four, we deal with raising up children in the contemporary
society. Chapter five takes care of all
the deliberations arrived at, in the chapter two, three and four, in the form
of juxtaposition. Then, we summarize and
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
are identified through their culture, likewise any nation or people that
compromises its culture or ways of life runs the risk of being misplaced with
other nationalities. It is on this line
of thought that the researcher envisages the future of some African tribes and
nationalities, whose cultures had been adulterated, and cannot be distinctly
distinguished from others. This has been
as a result of the contact with the Western-American culture and civilization.
speaking, going through Igbo cultures, one would testify to the fact that many
of these Igbo cultures are far better than those of the foreign. At least a review of Igbo traditional way of
raising up children will say it all. But
the Igbo people, after many years of colonialism and absorption of the foreign
cultures, hook, line and sinker, now arrived at a conclusion with the whites
that their ways of life are crude, barbaric and devilish. They (the Igbos) take the white’s cultures as
superior, and oblivious of the truism that as environment and climate differ,
so also do people and their culture differ.
The culture one people cherishes, may not be cherished by the
other. Both the Igbo traditional way of
raising up children and the contemporary forms are good, but there should be a
boundary where the influence of each on the other will stop.
1.3 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
research will cover all Igbo speaking regions, the people who share a common
language known as ‘Igbo’ and a common culture known as ‘omenala’. These two features distinguish the Igbos from
any other ethnic group in Nigeria. The
Igbos, occupy an area of some 15, 800 square miles and are found between
latitudes 5 to 7 degrees north and longitudes 6 to 8 degrees east. They lie in the tropics and as such have a
tropical type of climate3
1982, the population of Igbo people was about 10.13 million people and they
occupy the heart of southeast Nigeria, though some can also be found in the
south like in Rivers, Etche, Asaba and Agbor.
In this study, we shall approximately articulate the views of all these
people on child upbringing in Igbo traditional way, and compare them with those
of the present society.
1.4 THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The emergence of
Western cum American cultures had brought a great change in the cultures of the
Africans especially the Igbos. These
Western and American ways of life have permeated all the nooks and crannies of
Igbo culture and ways of life. The Igbos
are now ‘copy cats’. In this project
therefore, we are using the method of raising up children as a case study. Through this, we will be able to evaluate the
Igbo traditional method and the contemporary.
The culture of
the Igbo is in the crossroad. They
(Igbo) take themselves as inferiors to the white in all things. They now dress, laugh, speak, and train their
children like the whites do. The women
neither breast-feed their children, carry them on their back, sleep with their
children nor inculcate in their children those ethoses which Igbos are known
for. These corrosion and erosion of Igbo
culture and tradition have made it completely difficult to distinguish Igbo
culture from the White culture. The
Igbos have lost their culture and are in a social mess. They are not truly Igbos; they are not truly
Whites. In this regard therefore, something must be done and quickly too, to
revive the bastardized old Igbo culture and the tradition of the Igbo nation,
especially as they pertain raising up children.
1.5 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of
this study will go a long way into enhancing the life of mankind as it involves
imbibing other people’s cultures, just as the Africans especifically the Igbo
people had done. This will make the
Igbos to cherish with jealousy, their traditional culture and thereby stop
imitating the White in all areas.
government in its policy and adjustment to foreign cultures will then consider
the culture of the individual nations under its jurisdiction, and this will
open the eyes of the government concerning the positive sides of the peoples’
traditional culture. The church in her
campaign for ecumenism will equally know how to mediate with peoples’ ways of
life and the Church teachings. It will
equally juxtapose and strike a balance between Igbo traditional culture and the
contemporary from the stand point of raising up children.
1 S.C. Ilo, Child Upbringing, (Enugu: Asomog
Press, 1994), p. 46.
3 A.E. Onyeocha, Family
Apostolate in Igbo land, (Rome: Academia Alfonsianae,1983), p. 9.
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