The Igbo people are indigenous people from southern Nigeria and have around 32 million inhabitants, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. The vast majority live in the Igboland, which, while very ancient, has only recently become more unified in many instances, owing to tensions arising out of the earlier colonization of Nigeria. Igbo naming conventions are similar to many African ethnic groups. As a consequence, many names are unisexual, but many names still refer to men or women, mostly because of the importance of the name.
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The Igbo people of Northern Nigeria are believed to be the original inhabitants of this region. They came to the region centuries ago as traders during the time known as the "Saharan Trade Period" in West Africa. In the late 19th century, Igbo numbers began to increase rapidly. By the early 20th century, they were estimated at over twenty million. Most Igbo, in fact, are subsistence farmers, growing most of their food sources in their own small plots.
The Igbo people of Northern Nigeria are usually characterized by their deep voice, dark hair, beards, and traditional clothing. Although their clothing and jewelry may vary slightly from one Igbo to the next, they all share a common ancestry. Their most distinctive physical characteristic is the "khatu," which is a long flowing hair that is either black or brown in color. The traditional attire of the Igbo consists of long dresses that are decorated with beads, colorful scarves, and large headdresses. They often wear matching pants that are covered in thick leather. These garments can be purchased from local merchants and are usually sold at reasonable prices. Other items commonly seen on the attire of Igbo are hand-woven rugs, leather belts, brightly colored bangles, and colorful earrings.
Since the beginning of time, Igbo names have become very important to the people of Northern Nigeria. For generations, Igbo individuals have chosen their names based on a religious significance. There are several religions represented in Igbo culture; however, it is said that all religions are equally important. Igbo names are usually taken from the name of the village where the individual lived his life as well as his/her first and middle names. Other important names in the Igbo family are those of ancestors such as Muhammad, Abu, Zukan, Tijaniyye, and Azele. Most individuals who have an Igbo name are given a surname in Nigeria, though Igbo surnames are often more common than in many other cultures.