The Igbo Spirit -by Peter Alexander Egom

I am of the Igbo stock from Ukala-Okpunor in Oshimili North LGA of Delta State. I am 61 years of age and have from late 1965, during my undergraduate days at Downing College, Cambridge, England, been fascinated by my people, the Igbo, and specifically by what makes them such a pulsating enigma of a people.

It was, indeed, a chance remark by the late and distinguished scholar in Social Anthropology at Cambridge, Professor Meyer Fortes, which set me on my lifelong journey of private enquiry into the ethno-spiritual makeup of the Igbo. My then larger-than-life and boon companion was my fellow undergraduate at the Cambridge University faculty for Archaeology and Anthropology, Mallam Ibrahim Tahir of BBC Bush House fame.

As was our wont, we were on this particular autumn afternoon having tea at a teashop that was just across Ibrahim’s King’s College when our Professor in Social Anthropology, Meyer Fortes, walked in and sat with us for a chat. One thing led to another and we soon found ourselves discussing ethno-types in Africa.

Professor Fortes had been one of the bright lights in Lord Bailey’s team of Africanists that did the regular tome of Africa Survey for the British Foreign and Colonial Office. And Professor Fortes told us that, according to Lord Bailey, the Igbo, out of the legion of African ethnic groups they studied, were the least encumbered with any cultural baggage. Continue reading