The Customs and Rituals of the Igbo Tribe

1. Introduction

The novel “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe is set in the late 19th century in the fictional village of Umuofia, Nigeria. The novel centers around the main character Okonkwo, who is a member of the Igbo tribe. The Igbo tribe has a rich culture and is known for their intricate customs and rituals. In this work, the author describes the various customs and rituals of the tribe and how they reflected its values, social structure, and spiritual beliefs.

2. The Customs and Rituals of the Tribe

The Igbos had many different customs and rituals that were an important part of their culture. Some of these customs and rituals included the birth of a child, the funeral of a loved one, and the week of peace.

2. 1. The Birth of Eznima

Ekwefi, Okonkwo’s wife, had given birth to a total of ten children but nine had died under mysterious circumstances. Enzima was the only child who survived. When Ekwefi was pregnant with Eznima, she had a complication because the medicine man had said that Ekwefi would deliver a wicked child. A wicked child was referred to as an Ogbanje. An Ogbanje was a child who was said to return to the womb of the mother after dying so that the child could be born again and then die again.

Chielo, the priestess of Agbala, the oracle of the earth goddess, took Ekwefi to see the oracle. Chielo told Ekwefi that she would have to give birth in the temple of Agbala. Ekwefi agreed and gave birth to Eznima in the temple. After she gave birth, Chielo took Eznima away and raised her as her own daughter.

2. 2 The Funeral of Ikemefuna

Ikemefuna was a young boy who was given to the tribe of Umuofia as a peace offering by another tribe. Okonkwo took Ikemefuna under his wing and treated him as if he were his own son. The other members of the tribe also grew to love Ikemefuna and he became like a brother to them.

One day, the Oracle of Agbala told the tribe that Ikemefuna must be sacrificed. The tribe was reluctant to sacrifice Ikemefuna but they knew that they had to obey the Oracle. Okonkwo took Ikemefuna out into the forest and killed him with his machete.

2. 3 The Week of Peace

The Week of Peace was a time when fighting and warfare were forbidden. This week was used for religious ceremonies and rituals. During this week, people would not leave their homes or villages, and they would not work on their farms. This week was also used for settling disputes and for mourning the dead.

3. Conclusion

The customs and rituals of the Igbo tribe were an important part of their culture. These customs and rituals reflected the values, social structure, and spiritual beliefs of the tribe.


Some of the customs and rituals mentioned in "Things Fall Apart" include those related to birth, death, marriage, and war.

These customs and rituals contribute to the novel's overall themes by helping to define the characters' roles within their society and by providing a context for their actions.

The characters' attitudes towards these customs and rituals change throughout the course of the novel as they come into contact with other cultures and as they experience personal loss.