Africa as a continent has diverse and beautiful cultures. Fortunately for us, our unique differences have held us together in most cases over the years. Within the context of these beautiful cultures lies certain features or practices that promotes unity and collective growth. As we advocate for a united and very productive continent, we deem it appropriate to look at some of these home grown practices with reputable tendencies to drive a successful and united Africa. First, we take a dive into the beautiful Igbo culture.
One thing you cannot take away from the Igbo people of Nigeria is their ability to create and flaunt wealth; from displays at public events such as funerals, marriages, naming ceremonies, among others, the Igbo people demonstrate their affluence unapologetically.
The main question which rings in every mind is: how has the Igbo community sustained their culture of riches over the years? What method are they using to build such generational wealth? Well, the Igbo community owes majority of its success to the scheme called “Igba Boi.”
According to oral tradition and well-known history, “Igba Boi” is an age-long practice, where young people within the Igbo community, mainly boys, leave their family to live with and serve successful businessmen for some agreed period of time. Females on the other hand remain at home and learn from established businesses.
Apart from the fact that, this practice has chalked a great success for the Igbo community over the years by dealing with poverty, deviance and maintaining a culture of self-help whilst creating genuine wealth, it has the reputation of building well-respected people within the community.
Some prominent Nigerians including renowned auto manufacturer, Innocent Chukwu of the Innoson brand and Businessman and Philanthropist, Mr. Cosmos Maduka have been cited as typical examples of the Beneficiaries of this scheme. In an earlier interview, Mr. Maduka who is founder and chairman of Coscharis Group revealed how an amount of $1,500 given to him by his boss in 1976 boosted his success story.
The scheme is perceived by historical scholars as one which was built as a suitable method of dealing with the post-civil war economic crisis faced by the Igbo community. Its root has been traced to a social club called The Peoples Club which was formed in 1971. The club was built on the Igbo philosophy of “onye a hana nwanne ya” which translates as: “don’t leave your brother behind.”
According to Benedict Okoro, founder of the Odinala Cultural Heritage Foundation, “The Peoples Club was a social-cum-economic movement…[that] designed an economic template of how the Igbo could move out of the ruins of the war and began a new movement of survival…that is the genesis of the Igba Boi in Igbo cosmology.”
Till date, the Igbos are guided by this principle of helping each other succeed together in enterprise. The community has grown stronger in unity and in wealth. This spirit of collective growth is worth adopting as we move towards a united and productive continent. Watch out for the next episode which will take a good look into another beautiful culture. Stay tuned!