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Nzekwe Gerald Uchenna @NzekweGerald
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HISTORY -- With Nzekwe Gerald Uchenna



Traditionally, the Igbo people lived like a federated groups of villages with the head of the ranking village presiding...
Over general assemblies attended by all the males. Each Igbo Family is represented by the eldest Son in the family referred to an Okpara.
During the heyday of the slave trade in the eighteenth century, the major igbo villages grew into cities of 10,000 to 20,000 inhabitants.

The Igbo traditional religion is known Odinani. The supreme deity is called Chukwu ("great spirit"); Chukwu created the world and everything in it and is associated with all things on Earth.
The Igbo Tribes believe in the Cosmos that is divided into four complex parts:

1. Creation, known as Okike;

2. Supernatural forces or deities called Alusi; 

3. Mmuo, which are Dead Spirits;

4. and Uwa, the World.
Chukwu is the supreme deity in Odinani as he is the creator, and the Igbo people believe that all things come from him and that everything on earth, heaven and the rest of the spiritual world is under HIS control.

Among the Igbo Tribes in during Olden days, Igbo people trades in various types of farm produces like:
Yam (iji),
Rice (Osikampa),
Bean (Agwa)
Oil (Mmanu)
Palm wine (Mmanyi Ngwo),
Pepper (Ose),
Fish (Azu) etc
And also livestock (Chicken, Goats, Cow, Horses etc).
But, The most important of these livestocks were horses and cows. Both were used for funeral obsequies. Horses were very rare and costly. and Igala. Igbo people did not trade regularly in horses, except when somebody died.
For that reason whenever an Ozo Chief Or Wealthy man was seriously sick, his people often travelled far to buy these beasts beforehand.
On the other hand, if a wealthy man, or an elder, or an Ozo Chief die, he will not be buried until his people buys a Horse Or Cow.
In view of this, whenever the igbo people sees Horses being driven into their Town/Villages, they often reminded them that some important personality must have died, and they would start asking questions.
But this does not mean that horses were not sold to towns.
Igbo people do not eat horse meat. Not only is it rare and costly, but mainly because it was associated with the dead.

Cows are also very important. They were mostly used for taking Ozo chieftaincy titles and for burial purposes.
A man's wealth was measured by the number of Cow skulls he displayed in his obu.
Or the numbers of Tubbers of Yams he has in his yam barn.

The Igbo people also traded in ufie (camwood).
This ufie was gotten from a variety of trees, like aboshi, akpalata and even .ukpaka.
Dealers of this commodity often went about scraping the bark of these trees. the inner parts of these trees were scarlet, they were cut down and allowed to dry.
These trees, now completely red, were cut into different sizes and brought to market.
Ufie was a very costly commodity.
Ufie is used as a sort of pomade, by both young girls and elderly women, before the coming of the Europeans, and even after they established their presence.
Igbo people believe that, it not only made the body smooth but also acted as a blood tonic.
It was also used for burial purposes, especially in burying titled men and elders. The body of the deceased will be rubbed with ufie before burial, and after the burial, umu ada (his daughters) as well as his wives would continue to wear ufie for iu ili na ato (two months).
It was also rubbed in by nursing mothers, and any woman who wanted to perform the izu afia nwa (when a mother would come to the market to let people know she had a new child).
The woman would rub on this ufie and come out on Nkwo day(Market day), and people would give her gifts.
It was also used by wrestlers.People believed that it gave them blood and strength.
Hence,before a big wrestling match, young men would indulge in rubbing Ufie all over their body until the wrestling match was over.

Thus from all its uses, Ufie was a costly material in Igboland.

Even before the advent of White Slave Traders in Igbo land , Igbo people traded extensively in slaves. It was a dangerous trade, but very profitable. It was dangerous, because you must be strong enough to overpower your victim.
Also you must be prepared to risk your life, wresting children from their parents.
Infact, Slaves were obtained in various ways - by kidnapping, through wars, through Punishment for Crimes and breach of Taboos, To Settle Debts etc.
Also,Parents even sells their children for food.
There was a story about an igbo man who wanted an Ozo Chieftaincy title to be conferred on him, because members of his age Grade were deriding him because he had not taken an Ozo title.
This man had to sell two of his children in exchange for the Ozo title (Chieftaincy Title).
There was another episode when a man had so many children,and he had to ask them to buy one of his children in exchange for one cow.

Ironically, these children were always not told that they had been sold.
Their parents would ask them to help their family friends convey their...
goods to the market. These children will be pampered until they get to the market, in Ubulu, where slaves were sold openly.

when these Children arrive in this market, they will be asked to look after few goods,Then Slave dealers would pretend that they were pricing those goods,.
while they were really surveying the children.
a price would be fixed with exchange of some items of European goods.

But those who committed crimes, Or breaches of taboos,were carried off by the agbridu people (law enforcement officers) and sold at Ifite Nibo market, near Awka.

Many people today believe that it was the Europeans that first initiated the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade but that simply is not the truth! There was another race of people that actually started selling Africans/Hebrew slaves ...
and that race of people are the Arabs.
The Europeans jumped on the band wagon eventually causing the worst type of slavery ever to be.

Trans Saharan Slave Trade was pioneered by Arabs,they were responsible for selling Africans/Hebrew Israelites into slavery to European traders.
There were over 112 million casualties of the Hebrew slaves by the hands of the "Islamic slave trade".
It was said that between 10 and 18 million Africans were enslaved by Arab slave traders and taken across the Red Sea, Indian Ocean,and Sahara desert between the 650s and 1900's.
That is why there is a staggering number of lives lost during this era, about 80% of the African slaves died before they could make it to the slave markets.

In 1442, the desire for Glory and Profit from Trade, Missionary Zeal, and Considerations of Global Strategy was what brought Portuguese navigators to the Coast of West African.
Locked in a seemingly interminable crusading war with Arab/ Muslim Moroccans, the Portuguese conceived of a plan whereby Maritime expansion might bypass the Islamic world and open new markets that would result in commercial gain.
They hoped to tap the fabled Saharan Gold Trade, establish a Sea Route around Africa to India,and link up with the Mysterious Christian kingdom of Prester John.

The Portuguese achieved all these Goals.
They obtained access to the Gold Trade by trading along the Gulf of Guinea,..
establishing a base at Elmina on the Gold Coast (Ghana), and they made their way into the Indian Ocean, militarily securing a monopoly of the Spice Trade.
Even the Christian kingdom turned out to be real; it was Ethiopia, although Portuguese adventures there turned sour quickly.
Portugal's lasting legacy for Nigeria, however, was its initiation of the transatlantic slave trade.

By 1471 Portuguese ships had reconnoitered the West African coast south as far as the Niger Delta, although they did not know that it was the Delta,..
and in 1481 emissaries from the king of Portugal visited the court of the oba of Benin. For a time, Portugal and Benin maintained close relations. Portuguese soldiers aided Benin in its wars; Portuguese even came to be spoken at the oba's court.
Gwatto, the port of Benin, became the depot to handle the peppers, ivory, and increasing numbers of slaves offered by the oba in exchange for coral beads; textile imports from India; European-manufactured articles, including tools and Weapon;
and Manillas (brass and bronze bracelets that were used as currency and also were melted down for objects d'art).
The Portuguese were also said to have been the first European power to import cowrie shells, which were the currency of the far interior part of Delta (Igbo Tribe)
The Benin Empire profited immensely from its close ties with the Portuguese and exploited the firearms bought from them to tighten its hold on the lower Niger area.
However, Two factors check-mated the spread of Portuguese influence and the continued expansion of Benin.
First, Portugal stopped buying pepper because of the availability of other spices in the Indian Ocean region.
Second, Benin placed an embargo on the export of slaves,thereby isolating itself from the growth of what was to become the major export from Nigerian coast for 300 years
Benin continued to capture slaves but employs them in its domestic economy,
Although,Benin remained unique among for refusing to participate in the transatlantic trade.
Reason why, In the long run, Benin became relatively isolated from the major changes along the Nigerian Coast.
The Portuguese initially bought slaves for resale on the Gold Coast, where slaves were traded for gold.
For this reason, the southwestern coast of Nigeria and neighboring parts of the present-day Republic of Benin (Not the Benin Kingdom) became known as the "Slave Coast."
When the African coast began to supply slaves to the Americas in the last third of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese continued to look to the Bight of Benin as one of its sources of supply. By then they were concentrating activities on the Angolan coast,..
which supplied roughly 40 percent of all slaves shipped to the Americas throughout the duration of the transatlantic trade, but they always maintained a presence on the Nigerian Coast.
At the End of 16th Century, The Portuguese Monopoly on West African Trade was broken, when Portugal's influence was challenged by the rising Naval Power of the Netherlands.
The Dutch took over Portuguese trading station's on the Coast that were the source of Slaves for Americas.
French and English competition later undermined the Dutch position. Although slave ports from Lagos to Calabar would see the flags of many other European maritime countries (including Denmark, Sweden, and Brandenburg) and the North American colonies,...
In the 18th Century, Britain later became the Dominant Slave Trading Super Power.
British ships handled two-fifths of the Transatlantic Slave Trafficker during the century. The Portuguese and French were responsible for another two-fifths.
After the middle of 17th Century, Nigeria kept its important position in the slave trade market throughout the great expansion of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
And By the 18th Century, more slaves came from the Nigerian Coast than from Angola and all Africa Countries combined,..
By 19t Century, 65% of all slaves sent across the Atlantic came from Nigeria.
Over the period of the whole trade,more than 3.5 million slaves were shipped from Nigeria to the Americas.
Most of these slaves were Igbos, Significant number of Yorubas, Ibibio,and other ethnic groups.

During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Igbo Tribes were one of the most badly affect people. Most of the Igbo slaves were betrayed and sold out to the Whites by their fellow Clans just for a piece of Mirror, Dry Gin..
Or even gun. The whites supplied them weapons to provide more of their own brothers.
And This, many Igbos did.
This slaves as earlier discussed were either Kidnapped, Children Sold, offenders of Tradition, Villagers attacked by Slave Traders etc
The Igbos during the Atlantic slave trade became one of the main ethnic groups enslaved in the era lasting 16th and late 19th century.
Located near indigenous Igbo territory,the Bight of Biafra (also known as the Bight of Bonny), became the main area of obtaining Igbo slaves.
The Bight’s major slave trading Ports were located in Bonny and Calabar.

All the Slaves, kidnapped Or bought from fellow Igbos who were themselves Igbos, were taken to Europe and Americas by European slave Traders.
An estimated 14.6% of slaves were taken from the Bight of Biafra between 1650 and 1900, the third greatest percentage in the era of the Transatlantic slave trade.
Some Ethnic groups were scattered in certain parts of Americas because of Farmers preferences for certain African peoples.
The Igbo were dispersed to Colonies such as Jamaica,Cuba, Haiti, Barbados, the Colonies in future United States, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago among others.
Even till this day, Elements of Igbo Culture,Tradition and even Language can still be found in some of these places.

In the United States the Igbo were commonly found in the states of Maryland and Virginia.

The slave trade in this region really started to take off with the appearance of the first Portuguese Ships. There were multiple different ways that people were gathered or taken to be sold off to the Europeans.
Most of the Slaves that were taken were from the Igbo and the Ibibio peoples,as well as some of the smaller groups in the surrounding area. While some people were taken during raids and wars, it was not the most common way for people to become enslaves,Contrary to popular belief.
One of the more common ways for people to become enslaved were to be sold off. For example, if a thief was caught in a village, the person would be sold to the slave traders by the elders. The elders would then use the money for the betterment of the community.
Another example is for people who were unfaithful to their spouse. Women who had committed adultery could be sold off by their husbands. Another common way to be brought into slavery was to be sold, or "pawned" to settle debts. Children were often used to settle these debts.
Kidnapping is also a common way to be forced into slavery. Slave traders would often seek out children who were alone, or small groups of people who were traveling and ambush them. This forced people to have to travel in rather large, armed, groups to protect themselves.
Children who were home alone while their parents were working were especially easy targets for the slave traders.

Adults were the most common ones taken, amounting to roughly 85% of the total slave trade from this region, children only made up about 15%.
The main reason for this was because adults were already capable of performing hard labor, and had better chances of surviving the grueling journey across the sea.

After Capturing Or Purchasing the Igbo slaves, they'll all be bounded together and match to shore to a slave ship.

It is estimated that a total of 1.4 million Igbo people were transported (via European ships) across the Atlantic in the era of Atlantic slave trade. Most of these ships were British.

Some recorded Populations of people of African descent on Caribbean islands recorded 2,863 Igbo on Trinidad & Tobago in 1813 Census;
In 1815, Saint Lucia Census 894 igbos
In 1817, Saint Kitts and Nevis Census 440 igbos.
In 1819, Guayana Census 111 igbos

The Igbo were dispersed to Barbados in large numbers. Olaudah Equiano, a famous Igbo author, abolitionist and ex-slave, was dropped off there after being kidnapped from his hometown near the Bight of Biafra.
After arriving in Barbados he was promptly shipped to Virginia. At his time, 44 percent of the 90,000 Africans disembarking on the island (between 1751 and 1775) were from the bight. These Africans were therefore mainly of Igbo origin.
The links between Barbados and the Bight of Biafra had begun in the mid-seventeenth century, with half of the African captives arriving on the island originating from there..

Some slaves arriving in Haiti included Igbo people who were considered suicidal and therefore unwanted by plantation owners. According to Adiele Afigbo there is still the Creole saying of Igbos pend'cor'a yo (the Ibo hang themselves).
Aspects of Haitian culture that exhibit this can be seen in the Ibo loa, a Haitian loa (or deity) created by the Igbo in the Vodun religion.

Igbo land, Bonny and Calabar emerged as major embarkation points of enslaved West Africans destined for Jamaica's slave markets in 18th century.
Dominated by Bristol and Liverpool slave ships, these ports were used primarily for the supply of slaves ..
to British colonies in the Americas. In Jamaica, the bulk of Igbo slaves arrived relatively later than the rest of other arrivals of Africans on the Island in the period after the 1750s.
There was a general rise in the number of enslaved people arriving to the Americas, particularly British Colonies, from the Bight of Biafra in the 18th century; the heaviest of these forced migrations occurred between 1790 and 1807.
The result of such slaving patterns made Jamaica, after Virginia, the second most common destination for slaves arriving from the Bight of Biafra; as the Igbo formed the majority from the bight, they became largely represented in Jamaica in the 18th and 19th century.

In the United States the Igbo slaves were known for being rebellious. In some states such as Georgia, the Igbo had a high suicide rate.
 Igbo slaves were most numerous in the states of Maryland and Virginia,
In the 19th century the state of Virginia received around 37,000 slaves from Calabar of which 30,000 were Igbo according to Douglas B. Chambers.
 The Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia estimates around 38% of captives taken to Virginia were from the Bight of Biafra.
Igbo peoples constituted the majority of enslaved Africans in Maryland. Chambers has been quoted saying "My research suggests that perhaps 60 percent of black Americans have at least one Igbo ancestor.

In May 1803 A group of 75 Igbo slaves On board of a Ship heading to Georgia in U.S, Committed Mass suicide in opposition to slavery in the United States.
What Happened?

During the year 1803, a shipload of captive Slave, upon surviving the middle passage, were landed by U.S. Paid Captors in Savannah by Slave Ship, to be auctioned off at one of the local Slave market.The ship's enslaved passengers included a number of Igbo Slaves.
The Igbo were known by planters and slavers of Americans for being fiercely independent and resistant to chattel slavery.
A group of 75 Igbo slaves were bought by agents of John Couper and Thomas Spalding for forced labor on their plantations in St. Simons Island for $100 each.
The chained slaves were packed under the deck of a small vessel named The Schooner York to be shipped to the island (other sources say the voyage took place aboard The Morovia.
During this voyage the Igbo slaves rose up in rebellion, taking control of the ship and drowning their captors in the process causing the grounding of the Morovia in Dunbar Creek at the site now locally known as Igbo Landing.
After taking Control of the Ship and got to shore, the Igbo Slaves decided to Swim back to Africa their home, rather than subjecting their selves to endless torture, Pains and inhuman treatment by the whites Slave masters.
So as if being Possessed by a Strong Force, the 75 Igbo Slaves, faced the Atlantic Ocean, While Singing a local igbo Song, all walked straight into the Atlantic Ocean: Committing Suicide.

Another Story has it that, they all turned to a Vulture and Flew back home to Africa.
And until this day, People still claim to hear Ghost Voices at the Site were those 75 Igbo Slaves drowned themselves.

American Musician Beyoncé's even had to shot her Music Lemonade Video in Honor of the Bravery of those 75 Igbo Landing Slaves.
To learn more about the Igbo Landing Story, Read the Thread i did On it this April 2018.


Statistics has it that Over 60% of the Black Americans, has their root from Igbo.
The likes of Bishop T.D Jakes, Quincy Jones etc, has all traced their Lineage to the Igbos.
But, the Igbos are not the Only ones that were Sold in Nigeria during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The Yorubas as well as some other tribes too Suffered same fate.

We will Consider the Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Among the Yoruba People Next.
And also how the Slave Trade Business Affected other Part of the Country (Hausa land, Efik, Ibibio etc)

Sources : NGU Library Collection, Wikipedia, History Ville, Elizabeth Isichei,

#Nzekwe Gerald Uchenna (NGU)
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