Igbo calendar

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The Igbo calendar (Igbo: Ògụ́àfọ̀ Ị̀gbò) is the traditional calendar system of the Igbo people which has 13 months in a year (aro), 7 weeks in a month (onwa), and 4 days in a week (izu) (in the same way as the Yoruba and Urhobo calendar) plus an extra day at the end of the year, in the last month.[1] The calendar has its roots steeped in ritualism and symbolism; many parts of the Igbo calendar are named or dedicated to certain spirits (Igbo: Mmuo) and deities (Igbo: Alusi) in the Igbo mythology. Some of the spirits and deities were believed to have given the Igbo people knowledge of time. The days, also known as market day, also correspond to the four cardinal points, north, south, east, west.

Although worship and spirit honoring was a very big part in the creation and development of the Igbo calendar system, commerce also played a major role in creating the Igbo calendar. This was emphasized in Igbo mythology itself. An example of this is the Igbo market days of which each community has a day assigned to open its markets, this way the Igbo calendar is still in use.

Some Igbo communities have tried to adjust the thirteen month calendar to twelve months, in line with the Gregorian calendar.[2] The calendar is neither universal nor synchronized, so various groups will be at different stages of the week, or even year. Nonetheless the four-eight day cycle serves to synchronize the inter-village market days, and substantial parts (for example the Nri kingdom) do share the same year-start.

System[edit]

In the traditional Igbo calendar a week (Igbo: Izu) has 4 days (Igbo: Ubochi) (Eke, Orie, Afọ, Nkwọ), seven weeks make one month (Igbo: Ọnwa), a month has 28 days and there are 13 months a year. In the last month, an extra day is added.[clarification needed] The traditional time keepers in Igboland are the priests or Dibia.[3]

No. Months (Ọnwa) Gregorian equivalent
1 Ọnwa Mbụ (February–March)
2 Ọnwa Abụo (March–April)
3 Ọnwa Ife Eke (April–May)
4 Ọnwa Anọ (May–June)
5 Ọnwa Agwụ (June–July)
6 Ọnwa Ifejiọkụ (July–August)
7 Ọnwa Alọm Chi (August to early September)
8 Ọnwa Ilo Mmụọ (Late September)
9 Ọnwa Ana (October)
10 Ọnwa Okike (Early November)
11 Ọnwa Ajana (Late November)
12 Ọnwa Ede Ajana (Late November to December)
13 Ọnwa Ụzọ Alụsị (January to early February)[4]

The names of the days have their roots in the mythology of the Kingdom of Nri. Eri, the sky-descended founder of the Nri kingdom, had gone on to break the mystery of time and on his journey he had saluted and counted the four days by the names of the spirits that governed them, hence the names of the spirits eke, orie, afọ and nkwọ became those of the days of the week. The days also correspond to the four cardinal points, Afọ corresponds to north, Nkwọ to south, Eke to east, and Orie to west.[5] These spirits, who were fishmongers, were sent down by Chukwu (Great God) in order to establish markets throughout Igboland which they did by selling fish.[3]

While there are four days, they come in alternate cycles of "major" and "minor", giving a longer eight day cycle.[6]

An example of a month: Ọnwa Mbụ

Eke Orie Afọ Nkwọ
1 2
3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26
27 28

Use[edit]

The Igbo calendar is not universal, and is described as "not something written down and followed ... rather it is observed in the mind of the people."[7]

Naming after dates[edit]

Newborn babies are sometimes named after the day they were born on, though this is no longer commonly used. Names such as Mgbeke (maiden [born] on the day of Eke), Mgborie (maiden [born] on the Orie day) and so on were common among the Igbo people. For males Mgbo is replaced by Oko (Igbo: Male child [of]) or Nwa (Igbo: Child [of]). An example of this is Nwankwo Kanu, a popular footballer.[3][8]


Months and meanings[edit]

The following months are in reference to the Nri-Igbo calendar of the Nri kingdom which may differ from other Igbo calendars in terms of naming, rituals, and ceremonies surrounding the months.

Ọnwa Mbụ[edit]

The first month starts from the third week of February making it the Igbo new year. The Nri-Igbo calendar year corresponding to the Gregorian year of 2012 was initially slated to begin with the annual year-counting festival known as Igu Aro on February 18 (an Nkwọ day on the third week of February), but was postponed to March 10 due to local government elections in Anambra State where the Nri kingdom is located. The Igu Aro festival which was held in March marked the lunar year as the 1013th recorded year of the Nri calendar.[9]

Ọnwa Abụo[edit]

This month is dedicated to cleaning and farming.

Ọnwa Ife Eke[edit]

Is described as the hunger period.

Ọnwa Anọ[edit]

Ọnwa Anọ is when the planting of seed yams start.

Ọnwa Agwụ[edit]

Ịgọchi na mmanwụ come out in this month which are adult masquerades. Ọnwa Agwu is the traditional start of the year.[10][11] The Alusi Agwu, of which the month is named after is venerated by the Dibia (priests), of which Agwu is specifically worshipped by, in this month.

Ọnwa Ifejiọkụ[edit]

This month is dedicated to the yam deity ifejioku and Njoku Ji and yam rituals are performed in this month for the New Yam Festival.

Ọnwa Alọm Chi[edit]

This month sees the harvesting of the yam.

Ọnwa Ilo Mmụọ[edit]

A festival called Önwa Asatọ (Igbo: Eighth Month) is held in this month.

Ọnwa Ana[edit]

Ana (or Ala) is the Igbo earth goddess and rituals for this deity commence in this month, hence it is named after her.

Ọnwa Okike[edit]

Okike ritual takes place in this month.

Ọnwa Ajana[edit]

Okike ritual also takes place in Ọnwa Ajana.

Ọnwa Ede Ajana[edit]

Ritual Ends

Ọnwa Ụzọ Alụsị[edit]

The last month sees the offering to the Alusi.

Festivals[edit]

Two major festivals are the new year festival (Igu Aro), due around 18 February, the planting season when the king, the Eze Nri in the Nri area, tells the Igbo to go and sow their seed after the next rainfall, and the Harvest festival (Emume Ọnwa-asatọ) in the eighth month.[12]

The Nri-Igbo yearly counting festival known as Igu Aro marked 10 March 2012 as the beginning of the 1013th year of the Nri calendar. The festival was delayed due to other events.

Imöka is celebrated on the 20th day of the second month.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Angelicus M. B. Onasanya, DBA (2009). The Urgency of Now!: Building a True Nigerian Nation. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781465324528. 
  2. ^ Jọn Ọfọegbu Ụkaegbu (1991). Igbo Identity and Personality Vis-à-vis Igbo Cultural Symbols. Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, Facultad de Filosofia. 
  3. ^ a b c Udeani, Chibueze C. (2007). Inculturation as dialogue: Igbo culture and the message of Christ. Rodopi. pp. 28–29. ISBN 90-420-2229-9. 
  4. ^ Onwuejeogwu, M. Angulu (1981). An Igbo civilization: Nri kingdom & hegemony. Ethnographica. ISBN 978-123-105-X. 
  5. ^ Isichei, Elizabeth Allo (1997). A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press. p. 247. ISBN 0-521-45599-5. 
  6. ^ "Aṅụ Magazine" (1). {Cultural Division, Ministry of Education and Information}. 1979. pp. 79,104. ISSN 0331-1937. LCCN 88659506. 
  7. ^ Sylvanus Nnamdi Onuigbo (2001). The history of Ntuegbe Nese: A Five-town Clan. Afro-Orbus Publishing Company, Limited. ISBN 9789783525368. 
  8. ^ "Naming practice guide UK 2006". March 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  9. ^ "Day MASSOB Took Over Nri Kingdom". Thenigerianvoice.com. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  10. ^ Aguwa, Jude C. U. (1995). The Agwu deity in Igbo religion. Fourth Dimension Publishing Co., Ltd. p. 29. ISBN 978-156-399-0. 
  11. ^ Hammer, Jill (2006). The Jewish book of days: a companion for all seasons. Jewish Publication Society. p. 224. ISBN 0-8276-0831-4. 
  12. ^ Godwin Boswell Akubue (1 January 2013). Cow Without Tail, Book 1. Dorrance Publishing. ISBN 9781434915399. 
  13. ^ Emmanuel Kaanene Anizoba (2010). Ngü Arö Öka: The Öka Lunar Calendar, 2010-2021. Demercury Bright Printing & Publishing. 

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