May 24, 2011

Ibo Culture of Inheritance

The Ibo is a tribe found in the southeastern part of Nigeria and happened to be among Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups, the others been Yorubas and Hausas. The land area of Nigeria that constitutes Iboland is abysmally undersized for a tribe of their population. It explains why Iboland has one of the largest population densities in Africa. The implication is that land is most expensive than elsewhere in Nigeria and as a result one of most valuable assets that a man can own.

The Ibos are luckily adventurous people who love to travel widely for trade, their primary occupation. They are found to be trading in nearly every nation in Africa and have one of the largest young entrepreneurs on the continent. Thus the Ibos are by tradition, wealth creators outside of their ancestral home. This has worked to reduce the pressure on land resource back home.

Essentially, tradition in Iboland demands that when a man dies, what he owns in the land of his ancestors belongs to his first son. Whatever he owns elsewhere belongs to his younger children. If the father never owned anything outside of his village, the first son is still the primary inheritor and gives to the others as he deems fit.

Greedy elder brothers are known to give miserably smaller pieces of land to their younger siblings regardless of how big the land they inherited. It is the reason why the younger ones sometimes resort to begin their elder ones, with symbolic wine offered at times.

In contrast to what tradition demands however, a father has the prerogative to take decision that deviates from common practice. A father can for instance feel that every son is entitled to a fair share of what he owns. Furthermore, the first son can fell out of favor with his father for certain reasons. In some situations some fathers are themselves biased and choose the son they love the most as their major heir.

Tradition in Iboland demands that female children don’t inherit properties. This is because they are expected to marry outside the village and cannot take the property of the family to foreign lands. Extremely rare situations do arise, however, where a man is blessed with female children only. In that circumstance, his properties go to relations. Interestingly, the first daughter can decide to sacrifice marriage in view of so much wealth that would be left to sometimes, undeserving relations. She gets pregnant out of wedlock. Her male child now inherits the properties of his late grandfather. As weird as this may seem however, it is culturally acceptable.

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