The Value of Male Circumcision (Ibi Ugwu) in Igbo culture

Obinwannem News The Value of Male Circumcision (Ibi Ugwu) in Igbo culture

In Igboland circumcision is actually carried out on male folks, unlike in the time past where female circumcision was upheld, today that ideology is no more practised.

In the course of this article, i would like to share with you the significance of “Ibi Ugwu” of male folks as a tradition mostly embraced by the Igbos.

Firstly, male circumcision is the removal of the foreskin covering the head of a penis. It is an ancient Igbo tradition .

The Igbos in time past circumcised both male and female children, most parents circumcised their sons for cultural reasons.

For some male newborns, ibi ugwu is done on the 3rd day after birth. While, for others, male ibi ugwu is performed on the 8th day after birth, which incidentally is same as two weeks in Igbo calendar. But, in some Igbo settlements outside the shores of Nigeria, male circumcision is postponed until adulthood as a sign that one is now a man ripe for marriage and the responsibilities of life.

However, we are mainly known (among comity of ethnic tribes and nationalities in Nigeria) for circumcising our sons on the 8th day after birth.

During circumcision in Igbo land, the foreskin of a male penis is freed from the head, and the excess foreskin is clipped off. If done in the newborn period, the procedure takes about five to 10 minutes. Adult ibi ugwu takes about one hour. Ibi ugwu generally heals in five to seven days.

Our forefathers recommended ibi ugwu to prevent and treat the inability to retract the foreskin of the penis or to treat an infection of the penis in older boys and men.

There is evidence that ibi ugwu has some health benefits which include:

  1. A decreased risk of urinary tract infections.
  2. A reduced risk of some sexually transmitted diseases in men.
  3. Protection against penile cancer and a reduced risk of cervical cancer in female sex partners.
  4. Prevention of inflammation of the head of the penis and the foreskin
  5. Prevention of the inability to retract the foreskin and to return the foreskin to its original location.

Ibi ugwu also makes it easier to keep the end of the penis clean.

Like most Igbo cultural procedures, there are risks associated with circumcision. However, this risk is low.
Problems associated with ibi ugwu include:

  1. Pain
    Risk of bleeding and infection at the site of the circumcision
  2. Irritation of the head of the penis Increased risk of inflammation of the
  3. 3. opening of the penis Risk of injury to the penis

By and large, It is shameful for a male to be uncircumcised in Igbo land.

The tradition of circumcision practiced by Igbos is one major reason they are known to be the descendants of the Jews.

According to the former Igbo slave Olaudah Equiano said, “We practice circumcision like the Jews and made offerings and feasts on theta occasion in the same manner they did”.

However, There are approximately 18 million Igbos at home and abroad, all of them are circumcised making them the largest population of people outside Israel that are circumcised.

Most Igbos have their naming ceremony (Iba afa na ana Igbo) after circumcision. which takes place 8 days after birth like the Jews or anytime after the birth of the child.

Lolo Ijeoma Njoku, Obinwannem News writer / Oct 20, 2021

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