Nsibidi, the ancient Igbo system of communication

Obinwannem News Nsibidi, the ancient Igbo system of communication

Every indigenous people does have a distinct way of communication (writing) embedded in their culture. In that regard, every race on earth developed a form of writing. These writings are used to communicate, and persevere their culture and heritage. The ancient Israel has Hebrew, the Arab world has Arabic; not excluding the Chinese, even the Egyptians of Africa. Egypt was the first people to develop a system of writing.

Just like every other ancient race in the earth surface, the Igbo race are not left out. The Igbo people has a system of writing called the “Nsibidi”. Due to the diverse Igbo native dialect, it could be referred to as “Nsibiri,” “Nchibiddi,” or “Nchibiddy”.

Nsibidi has been described as a “fluid system” of communication. It is an ancient system of graphic communication indigenous to the Igbo, Efik, and Ejagham peoples of the old Eastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon in the Cross River region.

Nsibidi has lasted like the Igbo people itself, but was noticed before the colonial era in 1904, by T. D. Maxwell. It was divided into into sacred version and public version, a more decorative version which is used by women.

The people were taught about Nsibidi in the oral literature. The Igbo people used to teach, though the Western education, and the influx of Christian religion greatly affected the number of Nsibidi literate people. The English alphabet and a new version of the Igbo alphabet overtook the ancient Nsibidi.

Nsibidi was exported to various countries; in Cuba and Haiti, via the Atlantic slave trade, where it transformed into the “anaforuana” and “veve” symbols still in use till date.

Just like the ancient Chinese characters, Nsibidi has a wide vocabulary of signs. There are thousands of Nsibidi symbols, which about 500 has being officially recorded. It is usually imprinted on swords, gongs, buildings, calabashes, royal wares, even on human skin (tattoos). It could also be drawn in the air as gestures.

The Igbo people are a complete people throughout creation; in culture, tradition, language, and in every other aspects.

Ifesinachi Nnabugwu reporting, Obinwannem News

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