Cool Igbo Word of the Week


Ndebe Script:

Syllables: Da-Da-Li-Da

Type: Adverb

Meaning: Daily

Usage: N na je afia dadalida

Ndebe Script:
Translation: I go to the market daily (every day)

Source (where I discovered it): Pre-colonial missionary diary circa 1874 (Dude named Basden)

In case you’re wondering: I made a font for the Ndebe Script to make it easier to type up the lessons for the blog. The blockish look of the font is deliberate. I designed it that way. Usually the script is cursive but I decided to make a very square looking font to demonstrate the versatility of the script. And just because… =]

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  1. SHE

    I like what you’re doing on this blog.

    May I ask, what is the traditional outfit for unmarried Ibo ladies? I know that the double wrapper is for married women. No?

  2. sugabelly

    @She: Unmarried women wore much shorter wrappers around their waists and one shouldered, halter-necked (lol – Igbos invented the halter neck) or regular half-tops (tops that expose the stomach/torso region)if they were upper class. The halter necked tops in particular were used to support the breasts and stop them from sagging – I should find a diagram of this stuff- drat!

    i.e. If you’re an unmarried WOMAN (above 16/17) then you wear the short (mid-thigh or shorter) wrapper with nothing on top (not counting jewelry). If you’re an upper class or wealthy unmarried woman, you may wear a top along with your wrapper.

    If you’re an unmarried GIRL (15 and younger) then you don’t wear anything (not counting ogodo and jewelry)

    BOTH unmarried women and girls wear NJA – many coiled anklets that extend from ankle to knee.

    Married women NEVER wear Nja. Traditionally married Igbo women receive an ivory wedding anklet from their husband as a sign of their union (this has now been replaced by the European custom of exchanging metal rings). Married women are expected to wear these anklets for life just as one would wear her wedding ring for life.
    Also, married women are expected to wear longer wrappers since traditionally cloth is considered a sign of maturity (hence married = mature = more cloth and vice versa).

    Covering the breasts is optional so they might wear a long wrapper from chest to ankle fastened with a fibula and cinched in at the waist with a leather belt, or they might not wear the belt or they might use a fabric belt.

    Married women also wore blouses made from Akwete, and everyone (married or not) wore trousers when riding – which wasn’t very often since trypanomiasis often killed off most of the horses in Igboland anyway.

    Something you should also realise, that I think many Nigerians, and in fact most people don’t even think about period is that there is no ONE fixed traditional outfit for any tribe.

    People forget that clothing is often occupational and people had lots of different styles of clothes for lots of different things.

    Take the trousers for example. Lots of people probably can’t imagine ancient Igbo women wearing trousers, but they did. Anyone who has ever ridden a horse will tell you that attempting to ride a horse for an extended period of time without trousers of some sort is a death wish.

    The same goes for boots. Lots of people probably think that Europeans introduced boots to Africans, but this is also untrue. Yorubas, Hausas, and to a lesser extent, Igbos often wore thick leather boots especially when riding or when trekking through the bush to protect them from all the prickly grass and thorns.

    There are actually a pair of Yoruba (i believe) boots in a museum here recovered from the late 1700s. Will find pics if I can.

    Omg, this totally turned into an epistle.

    Sorry. But thanks for asking me,I think I’m going to do a post on the Ndebe blog completely dedicated to traditional clothing and make some detailed illustrations or find pictures or something.

    I hope this answered your question.

    If you’re wondering about modern day Igbo dress, there really is no distinction anymore, people just wear whatever they want.

  3. lucidlilith

    This is so effing kool!!!! Can I tweet this? Are you on twitter???? Okay I did not just sound like a crazy chick now did I?

    Btw – I did not know we had a written language. I was taught Igbo was oral and not written until post colonial times…wow. I need more of this…

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