Have you ever heard of the Igbo People In Jamaica? Strange right but true, I came across this article and it is worth sharing.

The Igbo people in Jamaica were said to have originated primarily from the Bight of Biafra in West Africa.

History has it that Igbo people were taken in relatively high numbers to Jamaica as slaves, between 1790 and 1809 during the transatlantic slave trade. Besides Virginia, Jamaica was the second most common disembarkation point for slave ships arriving from Biafra.

During this period, the culture and language of the Igbos diffused into the Jamaican culture. One of the major results of this diffusion is the infusion of some Igbo words into the Jamaican Patois.

Some of these words include:

Unu– You people

Ima osu (Jamaica) Imu Oso (Igbo)- to hiss by sucking your teeth

Akara (Jamaica) Akàrà (Igbo)– bean cake

Soso (Jamaica) Sọsọ (Igbo)- only

Also, the yam festival, Jonkonnu, in Jamaica, was introduced by the Igbos. In Nigeria, it is simply called the New Yam Festival. Jonkonnu is a masquerade festival held in Jamaica which is attributed to the Njoku Ji or “yam-spirit cult”, Okonko and Ekpe of the Igbo. Natives also allege that Ibu Town is named after the Ibo slaves.

The Igbo also influenced the culture with actions such as “sucking-teeth” coming from the Igbo “ima osu” and “cutting-eye” from Igbo “iro anya”.

According to the Guardian, “From Jamaica’s history, the Igbos influenced the culture, music, the pouring of libation, the “ibo” style, idioms, language and way of life of the Jamaicans. The Jamaicans are so akin to the ways of the Igbos that it is not uncommon to see Jamaicans watch Igbo Nollywood movies. Some of their rural areas take after the Igbo’s in Eastern Nigeria.”

We cannot talk about Igbo slave history without talking about Olaudah Equiano, a freed Igbo slave who became literate and was one of the first to document his experiences in a book. He became an official and was very instrumental in maintaining law and order among the Igbos in Jamaica during the 1776 Mosquito Shore Scheme. He is also regarded as being one of the campaigners for the abolition of the slave trade.

Who would have thought, How amazing right?


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