Repost: A Look at Pre-Contact Igbo Society

This is from a good friend of mine, a young Black guy I am mentoring. We have all sorts of great discussions. As you can see, I am such a horrible racist that I mentor young Black guys! How many racists do that? This also looks like a pretty well structured society, which seems to belie the myth that these people were complete savages pre-contact. They actually had a fairly elaborate system of social and political organization.

My few Afrocentrist readers like Hucipher might be especially interested in this:

The Social Order of Pre-contact Igbo Society

Negro Major – This could either refer to the King Priest or the Judge Priest depending on which Igbo system you are talking about. The King Priest would be the only real political figure in centralized Igbo society, possibly playing the role of “Loyal Patron” or “Grand Manipulator.” In the case of the Awka, the major Igbo tribe who sold slaves, he was probably the latter; with the Nri, a tribe where slaves ran to be free, the former.

Judge Priest – The Judge Priest of decentralized Igbo society was closer to what we would call a judge or priest in our own societies. While he was seen as a man of power, he didn’t hold an executive role.

Negro Concilium – These would be the heads of village families who participated as a council. Not only did their political role make their organization democratic, but throughout the status system, this group was the focal point where things were kept “egalitarian yet complex,” possibly the best way to describe this system.

In order to retain this status, one must have good communication skills, be what we might call “fluent speakers”, and had to maintain discipline in their administrative role.

Negro Plebeian – These would be the various tradesmen who were disciplined in their crafts and developed a hard work ethic.

Negro Minor – Younger members who were fodder for the other roles.

Negro Vulgus – Murderers, thieves, and possibly rapists who broke the laws of their societies. These were actually looked down upon in Black societies that had an active system law enforcement, such as the Ashanti or the Igbo, and the Malians under Ibn Battuta who developed a system of law and order due to a religious culture. However, domestic abuse probably evoked little concern.

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