Market days in Igbo land are very significant so much so that the four market days I mentioned above are uniformly observed within every community in Igbo land. It was during the reign of Eze Nrijiofor I (1300-1390AD), the fifth Eze Nri in the line of succession that the Igbo tradition of four market days was instituted.
According to Igbo historical records, one day during the reign of Eze Nrijiofor I, four wise strangers came to visit him at his palace. When they arrived, these four men pretended to be deaf and dumb. They did not say their names or their mission to Nri kingdom.
Each of them carried nkata which literally means basket. They were taken to the visitors’ chamber by Adammathe king’s servant. Later in the evening, Eze Nrijiofor I went to see them, but they did not respond warmly to the Eze and did not acknowledge his greetings. Oji – kolanut was presented to them but they did not say anything in acceptance or rejection of the oji.
In the morning, the Eze Nrijiofor I went to the strangers’ room to greet them and to perform the oji ututu(morning kola nut rituals.) As Adamma broke the kola nuts and the king called each of the visitors by their names-‘Eke’ ‘Oye’ ‘Afo’ and ‘Nkwo.’ The visitors who were hitherto referred to as ‘Ndi bialu ije ekwu okwu’(visitors that do not talk) were astonished when they heard their names being mentioned by Eze NrijioforI. They asked for water to wash their hands and faces; and took the oji that were presented to them.
After chewing the oji, they gave the King ite ano (four earthen pots) and directed him to keep the pots in front of the Nri Menri shrine outside the obu (palace) with each pots facing the sun. Eke, who was the spokesman of the visiting wise strangers, told Eze Nrijiofor I that the first pot was owned by him, Eke, the second one by Oye, the third by Afor and the last by Nkwo. He told the Eze that the four pots were sent down from Chukwu (God Almighty.) He instructed Eze Nrijiofor I that he and his people whom he ruled should be observing those names daily as market days, during which they should be buying and selling. These market days are used in Igboland to count Izu (Igbo native week). Therefore, Eke, Oye, Afor and Nkwo (four market days) make one Izu(week) in Igbo calendar.
Eke also instructed Eze Nrijiofor I that the first name that should be given to their male and female children should contain either Eke, Oye, Afor or, Nkwo. That is why we have igbo names as Okeke or Nweke, Okoye or Nwoye, Okafor or Nwafor, and Okonkwo or Nwankwo. In the same order, female children should be given “Mgbeke’, ‘Mgboye’, ‘Mgbafor’ and ‘Mgbankwo’.
The message was preached throughout Igbo land by spiritual priests of Nri and rudimentary open market squares were set up in Igbo land. The four strangers later told Eze Nrijiofor I that they were messengers from God. Some foods were prepared for them but they did not eat them.
In the noon of that day, these wise men of Igbo tribe disappeared from the Eze Nrijiofor’s palace like angels. Their news subsequently spread throughout Igbo land and observed till date. Dunu Okigbo
Eri, the father of all Igbos, who hailed from Israel was the fifth son of Gad, the seventh son of Jacob (Genesis 46:15-18 and Numbers 26:16:18). He migrated from Egypt with a group of companions just before the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt many centuries ago. They traveled by water and finally arrived at the confluence point of Ezu and Omambala (Anambra) Rivers known as Agbanabo, located in present-day Aguleri, where, according to oral tradition, it was spiritually or divinely revealed to Eri that Agbanabo (i.e the confluence point of Ezu and Omambala Rivers) was to be their final destination and settlement. They moved into the hinterland and settled in the present-day Aguleri but the settlement wasn’t known as Aguleri at that time. Meanwhile, Eri lived and died at Aguleri.
Agulu was the eldest son of Eri who took over from his father after Eri’s demise.
As the population around Eri’s compound at Aguleri increased, and in combination with other factors, some children of Eri and their descendants left Aguleri and founded various other settlements that Igbos occupy today. However, Agulu, the first son, remained in their father’s home at Aguleri with his own descendants.
Agulu, fondly called Agulu-Nwa-Eri, appended the name of their father, Eri, to his name and founded Agulu-Eri (Aguleri) by calling the settlement where his father Eri died and he (Agulu) lived AGULERI.
Menri was one of Agulu’s siblings that left their father’s house. He (Menri) settled at a big forest, where he engaged in hunting and farming, while also performing his spiritual work like other Eri’s children. Menri called his settlement Agu-Ukwu (Nri).
When Menri was getting very old, he told his children to take him back to his ancestral home, as he would not want to die outside his father’s home. Menri was brought back to Aguleri, where he died and was buried. His grave is still marked at Okpu, in Ifite Aguleri, till this day. There is no other grave site of Menri, the founder of Nri, anywhere else in Igbo land, even in Nri itself, except in Aguleri.
It is also a known fact that, by tradition, no other Igbo man would break the kola nut where an Aguleri man is present, except with his permission. This is in deference to the fact that Agulu (Aguleri) was the eldest child Eri.
In fulfillment of the age-long traditional rites for kingship in certain Igbo communities like Nri, every Igwe-elect must visit Aguleri accompanied by a delegation from his community, all of whom will spend seven days in Aguleri visiting sacred places, paying homage and making sacrifices to certain deities/shrines.
Agbanabo, in the oral tradition of Eri clan, is not just any place ‘where two rivers meet’. It has great spiritual significance because it was at this point that Eri had a divine revelation that they had reached their ordained place of settlement. Members of Eri clan, therefore, have a strong spiritual attachment to Agbanabo. And this has made it an important and mandatory feature in the coronation rites of the people of Eri clan.
The visit an Igwe-elect, with his people to Aguleri, including the places he’ll go to, making sacrifices and paying homage to certain deities/shrines, can be well captured in a video coverage these days. All such videos are available in Aguleri archives for anyone who cares to see and is interested in knowing the truth. By Imanuel Jannah
Traditional Outfits Are Beautiful
The traditional Igbo wedding in an ethnic language is known as "igbankwu," and it is a beautiful ceremony of traditional customs and pageantry. The traditional wedding follows certain provisions like mode of behavior, customs, local cuisine, and the use of native outfits.
During Igbo traditional weddings, amazing high fashion and traditional outfits are worn that are fully representative of both families and friends. The guests, family members, the bride, and groom display different fabrics and designs.
The festive celebration full of joy, happiness, and fun is incomplete without the display of high fashion on such occasions.
Nigerian designers and tailors highlight their creative spins on the customary blouse, wrapper, skirts, dresses, and even head ties. The styles are ingenious, brightly colored, and full of endless variations that bestow nobility to the menfolk and flatter the female form.
The outfits worn by the women are eye-catching, elegant, regal, and thoughtfully designed. On such occasions, there usually is a dress code chosen by the bride and groom. In addition, there are many similarities in modern traditional wedding outfits between the Yoruba ethnic group and Igbo ethnic groups.
Both ethnic groups chose color codes, wear blouses, skirts, agbada, and wrappers and use lots of embroidery and accessories. The major difference is the ceremony and traditional requirements, which are different, yet serve the same purpose.
Beautiful Igbo woman
Same color code
Igbo traditional wedding guest often wear the same color code
The Color Code
Uniformity of propose and solidarity with the bride and groom dictates that the brides family and grooms family choose the color code for the event. The colors chosen by the bride’s family might be a different color to that of the groom's.
However, each color should represent the color theme for the occasion, like purple and gold. Even though the bride’s family, friends, and associates might choose to wear purple, the material is the same.
It applies to the grooms, friends, and family if they choose gold as their theme color. The same applies to the material chosen by the bride for her people called the "Aso-Ebi."
Although the selected Aso-Ebi is the same material and distributed to the family for the traditional wedding, the guests are able to create amazing designs using this uniform material. Sometimes they use a local fabric called tie and dye as a uniform outfit.
Igbo Marriage Dress Code
The dress code should have an ethnic design that complements the rich culture of the geographical area the bride heritage. The traditional outfits worn by the woman are usually blouse and wrapper, or a dress.
They have a large choice of material from silk, George, damask, print, machine print, lace, and any material the favor.
The top blouse could be sown as a short sleeve blouse, sleeveless blouse or long sleeve blouse. If the color choice is gold and blue, the blouse usually is gold and the skirt or wrapper blue.
The blouse comes in various designs with embroideries that add a more dramatic flair to the blouse. The embroidery can be only on the short sleeves, neck region, or the entire blouse depending on the brides' taste and preference.
The blouse can be, low or high bust line or moderately cut and should add to the woman’s beauty. A decorative piece as a brooch, flower, or rose increases the beauty of the blouse. If a decorative piece is not part of the blouse then a beautiful hand fan adds to the effect dramatically.
The Wrapper or Skirt
The wrapper are usually a different color to the blouse and might be plain, have folds, frills, embroidery, or overlaps depending on the woman’s taste. The wrappers are tied waist high, and in modern wrappers, they can be held firm with extensions or rubber bands.
The wrappers can be a single- or double-piece depending on the choice of the wearer. Therefore, if the color code is pink and purple, then the blouse is pink and the wrapper is purple. The skirts can be expressive and either long, flowing, knee-length items or flirtier ones for the young women.
The designer can virtually do anything with the skirt, even adding pieces of other materials to add to the dramatic flair. Young women and bridesmaids prefer skirts to wrappers, while married women both young and old prefer the elegant wrappers.
George wrappers are usually the first choice materials favored for such traditional weddings.
Traditional Coral Beads
Traditional coral beads on a bride
The total outfit is not complete without accessories to bring the attire alive; one of the most important accessories is the orange coral beads around the neck. The coral beads are usually large and prominent, giving balance to the whole ensemble.
On the wrist, the bride might chose to wear ivory wristbands, bracelets, bangles, or silver and gold chains. Female gusts can chose slightly understated coral beads worn on the neck and wrists or crystal beads and a brooch.
The handbag should be small and match either the blouse or wrapper to have uniformity. Large bags are not ideal, but are useful in carrying gifts for the bride and groom. It also applies to footwear because footwear should also match the color combination, especially the color of the blouse.
Low-heeled shoes are ideal for such occasions because of social dancing and other vigorous activities. A heavy brooch is introduced into the coral beads and a rose can be placed on the shoulder of the blouse for dramatic effect.
Which accessory is common to the Igbo bride
Many Westernised Africans before the 20th century regarded West African history and culture as inadequate for countering the Western narrative of African inferiority. European imperial powers relied on the bible as a historic and scientific source and drew from it the Hamitic theory, the theory of conquering Asiatic white people who left their traces among ‘darker races,’ in order to legitimise their conquest. Europeans at the time searched for any tenuous links that could be made between African cultures and the Levant to find ‘Judaic influence’ in a particular area, without any evidence from indigenous history itself.
The Hamitic theory, in the minds of Westernised Africans, proved to be a literal redemption for Africans and their history. The newly Christianised black people, living during and after the abolishment of slavery in Britain, looked towards the ‘racial uplift’ of black people in order to challenge the characterisation of black people as a savage race without a history. Many people who followed this movement adopted the Hamitic theory and in line with European perceptions, they regarded contemporary Africans as existing in a degraded state, contrasting with their past glory in Asia. Olaudah Equiano alluded to this in “The Interesting Narrative… ,” an 18th century slave narrative and abolitionist piece, when he compared the ‘Eboe’ (Igbo) to the Jews. He writes on page 7 of “The Interesting Narrative…” of 1794 “[a]s to the difference of colour between the Eboan Africans and the modern Jews, I shall not presume to account for it. It is a subject which has engaged the pens of men of both genius and learning, and is far above my strength.” As can be gleaned from his last statement, his comparison of the Jews and ‘Eboans’ came from a source which was likely connected to Western scholarship at the time. Olaudah Equiano’s views on Igbo Israel could not be articulated from the little Igbo folklore that he managed to salvage, for example.
Philip S. Zachernuk writes: “The Hamitic model was attractive because it was authorized by imperial writing, and because it could support an historical identity acceptable to an aspirant colonial élite. … [Africanus] Horton [or James Beale, a medical surgeon of the British Army from a prominent Krio family of Igbo descent in Freetown, Sierra Leone] squares off against … proponents of … African inferiority, … he argues that the Igbos' religion showed clearly that they were one of Israel's lost tribes. This fact vouched for their potential. …”
Westernised Africans used Western and Asian cultures as a barometer for success and potential, African cultures’ value in their minds was not based on an evaluation of their ethics and achievements, but by their proximity to civilisations held in high esteem by Westerners. The view of African cultures on their own however, Philip S. Zachernuk writes: “... like his African-American and European peers, Horton believes that West Africa's history added little to his defence of his race. … West Africans [according to Africanus Horton] had until recent European contact lived generally in a state of 'utter darkness' and 'barbarism'. They had no history since their migration because without a written language 'events once out of sight are for ever lost; they pass away like spectres in a phantasmagoria, leaving no other trace behind them than a dreamy collection of some distant circumstances that had taken place’."
What is often overlooked in these sources proposing an Igbo-Israel link is the extreme racism and stereotypes that are often the core beliefs of the writers, whether Westernised-black or white. This includes the allusion to Igbo culture being a ‘negrofied’ and, hence, degraded version of Hebraic customs. Some contemporary proponents of the Igbo-Israel link accept these racist views and point out that ‘barbaric’ customs that link the Igbo people with their neighbours is as a result of the original (white) Hebrews ’soiling’ themselves, their customs and their heritage by intermingling with Africans and borrowing their customs, and therefore breaking a covenant with the Hebrew supreme deity which has led to the misfortunes (slavery, war) that has befallen the Igbo people.
Anthropologists and missionaries who alluded to a supposed Jewish link with the Igbo people were going along with the prevailing European colonial narrative at the time, Britain and other European nations were happy to see evidence of past ‘Eurasian’ influence on ‘darker peoples’ because it validated and reaffirmed their presence as part of an ancient rule of conquering white people from Eurasia. Philip S. Zachernuk:
G. T. Basden, writing as a missionary who 'enjoyed the privilege' of the Igbos' 'intimate confidence and friendship', … suggested like Horton that their favoured groups had racial affinities with ancient Hebrews … insisting that their West African groups were not remote primitives but vestiges of a higher culture.The flag of colonial Nigeria notably has a hexagram similar to the Star of David which may be a hint to the Hamitic theory of civilising white Asiatics. The area that is now Nigeria has been under this speculation by Europeans for centuries, in a 1710 map by Herman Moll, the annotation for Guinea, which today is the area between Ivory Coast and Cameroon, reads: “I am credibly informed, that ye Country about hundred Leagues North of the Coast of Guinea is inhabited by white Men, or at least a different kind of People from the Blacks, who wear Cloaths, and they have ye use of Letters, make Silk, & that some of them keep the Christian Sabbath.”
The work of Olaudah Equiano, Horton and so on were, at their time, with their understanding, their way of improving the image of African people, an image which at the time of Equiano meant the difference between the continuity of the emptying out of Africa of people for European colonial plantations, or abolition. For Horton, his separation from his parents culture and his patriclan and the lack of any material countering Eurocentric views no doubt influenced his view about Africans; Igbo society, for example, is structured and therefore dependent on not only the knowledge of generations of ancestors, but also the history of how each family came to be in the community which in turn affects their standing as a voice in the community. Today there is enough evidence from different sources including Africans living in their culture today to show that West African cultures, including the Igbo culture, are capable of standing on their own as a testament to African ingenuity, sophistication, and humanity.
See: Philip S. Zachernuk (1994). Of Origins and Colonial Order: Southern Nigerian Historians and the 'Hamitic Hypothesis' C. 1870-1970. pp. 444, 436, 453.
Igbo culture is the sum total of what we do as Igbo people; how we live our lives, how we eat our foods, what we wear on our bodies as clothes or accessories, what we are known for, the songs we sing to one another, the music we make to express ourselves, the belief system we hold dear to our hearts, and our collective behavior and attitude towards life.
It is by our culture that we, Igbos, are given our identity among the comity of ethnicities all over the world, and that is why we, as Igbo people, collectively work together to preserve the Igbo culture and traditions. A tribe without a strong cultural base will go into extinction sooner than later. It is because we consciously and unconsciously socialize our children to live their individual lives in line with Igbo cultural leanings that we can safely claim that Igbo culture will survive the trend of globalization and the wiping away of national sovereignties and cultural identities in the information age that we’re part of.
Today, let’s highlight 5 of the most respected aspects of Igbo culture which are listed below in no particular order; Igbankwu, Omumu na Igu Aha, Echimechi, Akwamozu, and Mmanwu.
- Igbankwu (Igbo Traditional Marriage):
Marriage is a highly revered aspect of Igbo culture, because it is the means through which procreation and survival of the Igbo specie is facilitated. Procreation without marriage in Igbo land is considered illegitimate and unacceptable. Marriage is very much respected and important to our people. Take for instance, in times past; a man with many wives is considered rich and wealthy. While, a man that is married to only one wife is looked upon as a pauper. However, these days, we have changed that cultural perception. A man must no longer marry more than one woman to indicate he is rich.
- Omumu na Igu Aha (Childbirth and Naming):
This implies giving birth to a child and a naming the newborn. The significance of Omumu na Igu Aha is to bring forth a soul through childbirth and to make the child distinguishable and distinct from other members of the family by name. Any name given to a child in Igbo land has a deep meaning behind it. Traditionally, a child’s first name in Igbo culture should reflect the activities, hopes, and experiences that occurred the day he/she was born.
- Echimechi (Chieftancy Title-taking):
Echimechi is a highly respected aspect of Igbo culture. In Igbo land, it is one of the ways our people let members of their respective communities know that they have attained greatness in certain areas of life, and as such are now competent to partake in the decision –making processes that concern communal issues and affairs in their respective communities. A title that reflects the area one has attained greatness is chosen and borne by one who desires to become a titled chief. Titled chiefs are the only persons expected to wear red caps in Igbo communities and must be respected by all and sundry.
- Akwamozu (Funeral rites):
We – Igbos – strongly believe in life after physical death. Akwamozu is one of the ways we express that strong belief. Akwamozu can be said to be the Igbo traditional funeral rite performed when an Igbo adult person dies in order to facilitate a smooth transition of the departed soul into the ethereal world or the world beyond our physical senses – the other side of life.
- Mmanwu (Masquerades):
In all parts of Igbo land, mmanwus are considered sacred entities, and as such are highly respected if not revered because we consider them visitors from the ethereal world – the world beyond our physical senses. We don’t allow women and all those that have not undergone traditional initiations into mmanwusociety in Igbo land to get too close to an mmanwu. Such persons are even prohibited from discussing mmanwu in public. No one is expected to fight an mmanwu in Igbo land. Also, nobody is expected to trespass any land, tree, or property occupied by an mmanwu either for rituals, worship or other purposes. OKIgbo
Before the incursion of Europeans(British colonialist) into Igbo land, we naturally cultivated and practiced customs and traditions that were adapted to our own soil, our own climate and our own blood. The Igbo customs and traditions we developed helped us, at that time, to actualize our fullest potentials as a people. They were what every Igbo man or woman was known for.
Igbos thought with one mind, we spoke with one voice and performed diverse but similar deeds through the common customs and traditions we shared amongst us. We were held as one by Omenaala (the Igbo traditional religion). We flourished and enjoyed the true beauty and progress our minds and souls attained.
But things changed in the 19th-century when British colonization effort in Sub-saharan Africa spread to Igbo land and increased the encounters between us and other ethnicities near the Niger River. We proved decisive and enthusiastic in our embrace of British colonization because of the increased encounters between us and other ethnicities boosted our commercial activities.
But then, during the colonization of our land, It was not only commercial activities that the British expressed strong interest in. They were also interested in our administrative system and religious lives. While we enjoyed the wealth and power that came to our people through the colonization process, the religious imperialism the colonialist engineered upon our collective psyche was not-so-good.
At first, the British missionaries penetrated the hinterlands of the Igbo nation and established all sorts of church denominations each with a handful of ardent followers and converts. The churches struggled for a footing in our traditional society which was, at that time, bounded by strong age-long traditions, taboos, and expectations. As a result of that early struggle of the churches, the European missionaries aimed at yanking off the cultural traditions and customs of Ndigbo with a view to supplanting it with both logical and illogical church doctrines and rituals.
The British missionaries were clever. They came quietly and peaceably into Igbo land – our land – with the Christian religion. We, the Igbos, were amused at their “foolishness” and allowed them to stay. But not-so-long afterward, the European missionaries put a knife on the things that held us together (our revered Igbo culture and traditions), and yanked off as many of them as hindered their ulterior motives, which made the center of our cultural existence no longer able to hold together as one, and things indeed fell apart for all of us. This same idea was echoed in Chinua Achebe’s classic novel; “Things Fall Apart.”
The missionaries won over our brothers to their side through evangelism and indulgence, and ever since, the Igbo nation could no longer act like one. Omenaala was fought hard and fast by the colonialists who used both schools and churches as effective platforms for socially controlling and Influencing the minds of our people and twisting it to support their whims and caprices.
Following that “negative” success engineered by the missionaries against our cultural psyche, the God-willed beauty of our Igbo nation became a mighty pipe-dream. As long as the leaders of our people try to force upon us foreign clothing, and foreign architectural styles in the illusion that this makes for the progress of the Igbo people, our cultural and spiritual beauty and dignity will remain lost. Imitation is not uplifting.
I am reminding those of us that argue that we’re in the information age and as such, the media has shrunken the world into a global village, know nit today that there is no personal cultural achievement for Igbo people in the uniformity of the world through copying other cultures at the expense of our own.
The Igbo nation can only progress through the upward development of what culture, customs, traditions, and language we already possess. In so doing, we can find and regain the beauty and dignity of our culture which was lost through the not-so-noble efforts of the missionaries during the colonial era. We can never achieve that by adopting a culture and religion that is borrowed. Taking something over is not progress, for progress shows itself in the improvement of what already exists.
Let me conclude by saying once again that true progress for our people – the Igbo people – lies solely in the development of our own culture which is naturally adapted to the Igbo soil, Igbo climate, and Igbo blood. We must all become indigenous in the purest sense of the word, if we ever wish to develop our cultural and spiritual beings as well as expect help from Chukwu.
To be rooted in our native soil and all its nuances is a basic condition, and it, alone, guarantees that we can regain the cultural beauty and dignity we’ve lost to British colonialism. If we ever succeed in achieving that, we can expect only peace, unity, robust health, strength, beauty, and spiritual maturity for our people.
New yam festival is one of the most prominent annual celebrations in Igbo land. It began in Arochukwu community several centuries ago.
In the past, the new yam festival must be celebrated before any adult of Igbo origin will eat a new yam. This means the event must precede the eating of water-yam.
The traditional name for Igbo new yam festival is “IKE JI” which literally means the “Strength inherent in Yams.” However, the actual occurrence of the festival is known as “IRI JI OHURU.” That is, “Eating new yam.”
The idea of four market days (Eke, Orie, Afor, Nkwo) that make up the four days of the week in Igbo culture emanated from the four days that our ancestors typically celebrated the new yam festival.
Eke market day is the first day of the new yam festival and also the first day of the week in Igbo culture. It is the day the new yams to be used for the festivity are harvested. The Eke markets are expected to overflow with buyers and sellers who meet to trade a variety of items such as kola-nuts, new yams, rice, cocks, goats, fishes and host of other local condiments.
The Eke day of the new yam festival usually gets children excited due to the anticipated merriment that will take place in the days that follow. On this day, women and children are charged with the responsibility of sanitizing the entire environment around the home, and in the night of the same day, all women are expected to have communion and offer sacrifices to their Chi i.e spirit guides.
Orie Market day is the second day of the new yam festival and also the second day of the week in Igbo culture. It is the day of the new yam festival proper. Palm wine tappers make a huge killing in sales as palm wine is freely bought, shared, and enjoyed by friends and family both male and female.
On the Orie Market day, every animal tagged for use during the new yam festival is butchered with the belief that the animal will die to avert impending sicknesses and deaths that may occur in individual families and the entire community as a whole. This day is called the “Ubochi Ori Anu” which literally means “day of he that eats meat.” It is typically assumed that all the animals that were butchered are sick, even when they are certified healthy and strong.
Orie day of the new yam festival is a day of great merriment – eating of new yams prepared in various forms (roasted, cooked as pottage, pounded, fried etc) drinking, dancing, and socialization. It is permitted in Igbo land that masquerades parade the nooks and crannies of the community soliciting yams and money from people on this day. Women are expected to appear beautiful with local removable tattoos on the faces and skin. At night, the moonlight play (Egwu Onwa) takes place at the community square and lasts till dawn.
Afor market day is the third day of the new yam festival and the third day of the week in Igbo culture. On this day, certain sacred parts (such as: blood, head, intestines etc) of the animals butchered on Orie day are brought to the house of the eldest male member of every clan for prayers, preparation and consumption by all members of the clan.
The ancestors of the clan represented by sculpted figures or pictorial images are brought out of the traditional chapel where prayers and other spiritual rituals take place, and offered new yams, meat and alcoholic drinks in libation. In fact, it is a day of special thanksgiving to God through the ancestors for a successful yam planting and harvesting season.
Nkwo market day is the last day of the new yam festival and the last day of the week in Igbo culture. On this day, the sculpted figurines that represent the images of the ancestors are returned to the traditional chapels. It is also the day all Igbos who returned home (Igbo land) for the new yam festival are allowed to go back to their places of residence within and outside Nigeria.
That was how the new yam festival used to be celebrated in Igbo land many decades ago. But, these days, the culture of new yam festival seems to be done in reverse. For instance, the Arondizuogu now celebrate the new yam festival in the month of March when yam seedlings are sowed instead of August when new yams are harvested.