Neighbourly Practices in Igbo Culture

Neighbourly practices by Toni Akose Ogobegwu

In Igboland, neighborliness is a common way of life. The entire fabric of the Igbo society is anchored on good neighborliness. Mothers could leave their children with their neighbors and be confident they are safe. Children could eat in their neighbor’s houses without any fear. Life in traditional Igboland was community-based, with one person’s child being every person’s child.

When an Igbo mother is cooking and finds out she is short of some ingredients; she could send one of her children to a neighbor’s house to collect the required components. This practice was usual, and this was one of the ways that the community was held together. Sadly, many of these community living ways are no longer practiced in most Igbo communities. The trust factor that made this type of community living possible is gradually eroding due to the rivalry between community members. 

Orphans and the community

An orphan in Igboland was taken care of by members of the family. The children of the dead, if their mother was not capable of taking care of them, were given to near relatives who were obligated to raise them as their children. If there are no close family relatives of the deceased, the mother becomes responsible for raising the children. Generally, it is in exceptional cases, but when it is, widowhood and being an orphan can be very difficult.

In some communities in Igboland, when an orphan is brilliant, the community takes responsibility for sending the child to school. This way, many orphans have made it to the top of government.