Are we Igbos or "Ibos"?

Special to IgboEvents
USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
TheBlack Business Journal

The "Ibo" misspelling of the south eastern Nigerian Igbo ethnicnation of almost 32 million people reflect, essentially, apost-colonial hangover of British and Euro-Caucasoid colonialmiseducation,misrepresentations, and (mis)pronounciation preference. It is/wasjust easier for the White man/woman to say 'Ibo' rather than'Igbo.' We must remember the late psychiatrist, pan-Africanscholar and activist Franz Fanon's mytho-poetic and insightful wordsin his 1952 book, Black Skin White Masks, that "A man who hasa language [consequently] possesses the world expressed andimplied by that language." Should Igbos and other Africannationalities, incrementally and foolishly give up the core of theircommunal and national identity on the discredited altars ofEuro-Caucasoid racist supremacy and colonial predations? I have twomodest answers: first is No; and second is No.
By Chido Nwangwu

(December 11, 2001): Regarding the use of the word "Ibo" asopposed to "Igbo" in the commentaries and recent announcements by oursome of our folks, may I make a few observations.

First, let's state the most important element of this languageadvisory: the erroneous, incorrect usage and blatant dislocation ofthe Igbo identity and name is the preference for the colonialspelling and reference, lazily spelled as "Ibo." Second, the "Ibo"misspelling reflects, essentially, a post-colonial hangover ofBritish and Euro-Caucasoid colonial miseducation, misrepresentations,incorrect spellings and (mis)pronounciation preference. It is/wasjust easier for the White man/woman to say 'Ibo' rather than'Igbo.'

Such language and cultural impositions which are fancifully andfarcically adopted by the colonized natives and the dispirited arestill evident across the African continent, south and central Asiaand parts of Latin America where colonialist predation was not onlyeconomic but a crude decapitation of the languages, mores, cultureand identities of the ethnic nations they invaded and colonized.

Third, and more important, the linguistic history, autography andanthropological identities of the almost 35 million citizens of theenterprising, vibrant, resourceful, unduly intra-antagonistic,capitalistic, religious, and republicanist communities and people whoform the Igbo nation show, credibly, that our language and ethnicnation should always be identified and spelt as Igbo.

Note the fact that there's an Igbo alphabet identified as "gb" asdistinguishable from "g" and "b"; same for "gw" as distinguishablefrom "g" and "w". For instance in Nwangwu, which many inattentivenon-Igbo, put forth a wrong, hurried misspelling: Nwangu.

Again, they remove the Igbo alphabet "gw". For the nation, Igbo,the 'gb' is the key.

Many Igbos and other people have mixed up the Igboidentity/name/language/people with this colonial misrepresentation as"Ibo(s)."

We must not dilute the correct spelling(s) of the Igbo nation andpeople; and in fact ours, individually. Otherwise, we should allgladly celebrate the backwater hatefulness encapsulated in themisspelling of Obigbo and Umumasi as (R)umuigbo and (R)umumasi. It'sthat important and basic, too.

We should not give up any Igbo alphabet and spellings, in thisregard, therefore. It is different from abbreviating a long surnameor first name.

Immediately after the birth on December 20, 1998, of the Houstonoctuplets, I believe one of the better things I've contributed toglobal Igbo interest was factually and materially causing the world'snumber 1 news agency AP through some of its news staff, especiallyMark Barbineck (bless him!) to change the reference to Igbos as"Ibos" as a minimum standard for me to do the interviews with AP(same standard was held up for any other media corporation during mypro-bono (free) international multimedia projection services and newsinterviews I offered to benefit the octuplets and their parents. Ithas become, thankfully, the AP standards as well as those of almost30,000 newspapers who take the AP and Reuters' news feed to refer tous as Igbo(s). If your local newspaper does the "Ibo" stuff, kindlywrite them and demand a correction.

I never heard/read the Azikiwes, Okparas, Ojukwus, Achebes,Nwangwus, Nzeogwus, Obis, Emeagwalis, Nwafors, Ogbalus, or Obicheresrefer to us as "Ibo(s)".

Hopefully, this modest language advisory will set the affirmative,conclusive identification on the issue of whether we are "Ibos" orIgbos. It is, for me, Igbos, sui generis, as a people, an identityand as a language.

We must remember the late psychiatrist, pan-African scholar andactivist Franz Fanon's mytho-poetic and insightful words in his 1952book, Black Skin White Masks, that "A man who has a language[consequently] possesses the world expressed and implied bythat language."

Should Igbos and other African nationalities, incrementally andfoolishly give up the core of their communal and national identity onthe discredited altars of Euro-Caucasoid racist supremacy andcolonial predations? My modest answer is No.

Before some demagogic and ill-informed "native" comes to thedefense of the Euro-Caucasian impositions, let's quickly note thatthis is not a debate about language accretion and/or addingconceptual properties and descriptive symbols to enrich our language,or any language, for that matter. For example, I argue we should addthe words Computer, Internet, etc to the Igbo language, and regardingsame in its contextualized Igbo meaning or word(s).

 I'll state, without fear of contradiction that no language,today, is clinically restricted and strictly reflective of itsnational borders. None! Not even the Talibans in their tunnel visionof the world, and cultural phillistinism.

May God continue to enrich the Igbo nation as we protect, projectand defend our heritage and identity into the new millennium. I'llclose with the wise words of the same, late African warrior FranzFanon who wrote, "Each generation must discover its mission, fulfillit, or betray it." On whose and which side areyou?

ChidoNwangwu, recipient ofthe Journalism Excellence award (1997), is Founder and Publisher African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to bepublished on the internet), USAfrica The Newspaper, NigeriaCentral.comand TheBlack Business Journal. He serves as an adviser tothe Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa), has appearedas an analyst on the CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC newsaffiliates, and South Africa Broadcasting Corporation, SABC.
The commentary, above, is copyrighted by;therefore, archiving on any other web site or newspaper isunauthorized except with a written approval by USAfricaonline.comFounder (December 11, 2001)

Igbo traditional life, culture and literature
By Prof. Emmanuel Obiechina

Monday, June 17, 2002
Re: Are we Igbos or "Ibos"? By Chido Nwangwu

In a book co-edited by Michael J.C.Echeruo and myself in 1971, I devoted considerable space dealing with this question of the correct naming of
Ndi-Igbo, the ethnic nationality, the language, and the identity, in a fairly lengthy "Introduction." I commend this discussion to your audience.
The book is titled Igbo Traditional Life, Culture and Literature and was published by Conch Magazine Press in New Paltz, New York.

It is now out of print, after a number of reprints, but it is available in major libraries in the United States. An interesting aspect of this question is that it has been deliberately and intelligently dealt with by James Africanus Beale Horton, a Sierra Leonean intellectual whose parents were Igbo, in the nineteenth century.

From all available evidence, it is obvious that from deepest antiquity, the people have always known themselves and their language as "Igbo."
Prof. Obiechina, a leading scholar on English, literature and African sociology, teaches at Harvard University. He was a deputy vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Igbo or Ibos essay offers excellent insight
By Ndiribe A. A. Ndiribe

Tuesday, December 11, 2001
Re: Are we Igbos or "Ibos"? By Chido Nwangwu

Chido, (you've written) an excellent insight. Please continue thegood work of educating our kith and kin who swallow foreign rubbish,hook, line and sink(er)!
I once told one racist that I care less what he decides to answersince he cares less how my own name is pronounced. I cannot struggleto pronounce McPherson with all the tonal accents when the Caucasiandoes not care a heck how Chukwudi is pronounced.
Ndiribe is a Professor of International Relations at Seton HallUniversity in New Jersey.

Only walking museums still refer to the Igboas "Ibo"
By Dr. Chidiebere Nwaubani

Wednesday June 12, 2002
Re: Are we Igbos or "Ibos"?

I salute Chido Nwangwu for a well-articulated position. It isbaffling that in the year 2002, some segments of the Western worldstill need to be educated that we are Igbo not "Ibo." These guys mustbe tone-deaf. The earliest Europeans who wandered into our lands wereincapable of pronouncing "Igbo" (and didn't bother to learn how topronounce it).

They found it more convenient to refer to our forebears as"Heebo," "Eboe," and "Ebo" -- as evidenced in the accounts of thoseof them who visited the Lower Niger in the 19th century (e.g. M.Laird, R. A. K. Oldfield, W. Allen, T. R. H. Thomson, Richard andJohn Lander, William Baike). By the turn of the 20th century, theEuropeans had settled on "Ibo" -- and for quite a while some of ourWesternized kinsmen and women went along with them in thisregard.

The "consensus," over the past 20 years, has been to abandon thecolonialist corruption of our collective identity (Ibo) andre-instate the original and true usage (Igbo). Today, only walkingmuseums of the European muddling of African languages still refer tothe Igbo as "Ibo." Incidentally, this is an elaboration of lines Ihad written in December 2000
Nwaubani teaches at the Department of History, University ofColorado at Boulder.

This issue is food for thought....
By C . Ukachukwu <>
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
Re: Are we Igbos or "Ibos"? By Chido Nwangwu

This happens to be a pet peeve of mine: Ndigbo who addressthemselves as "Ibos". Simply because it was good enough for thewhiteman doesn't mean it ought to be good enough for nwa afo Igbo.This goes to the core of one's identity. We are Ndi Igbo.

Contrary to popular belief, we shouldn't view mangling our ownidentity as cute. I've called people's phones at work (and sometimeseven at home!) to hear their imitation of Americans imitating theFrench (or whoever) trying to pronounce their own Igbo names. "Hello,you have reached Nu-wa-nko's desk,..."(he means Nwankwo!) How aboutthis: "Sorry The Yoo-Bah family cannot take your call right now..."(Yoo-Bah is for Uba). I can go on. If one voluntarily validates thewrong identity erroneously hung on one by an unwitting associatewhere does one eventually stand to get it right? This food forthought by Mr. Nwangwu is worth a sober digestion.

Thursday June 13, 2002
Re: Are we Igbos or "Ibos"? By ChidoNwangwu

Thanks for the correction.... Thanks for yourgreat work.
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