Igbo Land – The Socio-Religious Significance Of Kolanut

Igbo Land – The Socio-Religious Significance Of Kolanut

Igbo Land – The Socio-Religious Significance Of Kolanut

The Igbos found in the Eastern part of Nigeria with over twenty million of people is a friend race. In an orthodox Igbos setting, no person would come across another without exchange foreigner, are quickly to comprehend this common situational behavour of the people that becomes boiling though expressing genuine good will.

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Any neglect of this act constant salvation or greeting advertises one as an uncultured person. The only time one could ignore this tradition and yet one is understood is during moving period or at virtual situations. This expression of good will get to it’s climax on the presentation of kolanut to a guest Nwosu (2003).

However, Nwosu (2003) said that every responsible Igbo man is constantly and reasonably equipped at any time to dramatize, this expression of goodwill to visitors especially those who are known to be host and to others who are not familiar. In readiness for this expectation, he does posses in his home a wooden platter dish called (Okwa Oji) prepared and kept for the Sole purpose of Kolanut.

Whenever visitor comes, after brief exchange of greeting the host symbolically expresses his hospitality and companionship to the guest by presenting him with kolanut. The friend-ness open heartedness and love is manifested in the splitting of the kolanut into fragments according to tradition for the consumption of all. Also; for example, Jesus Christ were to be born in Igbo land physically, he would have used the kolanut as a covenant of this body as demonstrated on holy Thursday before his death on Good Friday that ushered in the salvation of men according to Christian belief of life after death.

Equally, Nwosu (2003) observed that some intellectual and academic are usually not at easy when their guest are not offered kolanut. Their confusion is neither the affordability nor the problem availability of the kolanut. Their problems rather centre on this society belief and value for the kolanut. Generally, they assumed to be people who are knowledgeable and therefore cannot fail common non-make mistakes in observing certain customs.

Unfortunately, some of these people do not know as we wrongly assume, especially, when it concerns kolanut customs, some defined their ignorance by saying “let us forget all these kolanut protocol, it is not important for now” some will try to impose their formulated kolanut customs on the entire people in order to live up to expectation. The few of them who try to impose their concepts then disagree with the hardcore traditionalist. Being highly regarded in the societal customs. This battle can last for hours and at times strains relationship.

Another situation can also be observed when a misconception is allowed to prevail in a given situation: either it was not challenged enough to correct the errors. The disciples of misconception support their belief with the recent reference. This misconception may indeed win again and yet the reality struggles to germinate. This research wets the ground for the ignorantly buried reality to germinate. It is important that every person picks and reads it in order to bring under control the kolanut “Palaver”. This research therefore tries to explain what the royal nut is and how it is presented, broken, and distributed to a guest in Igbo land.

The origin of kolanut in Igbo land from the cultural perspective, cannot be accurately determined, primarily due to the fact that kolanut has existed for several centuries or years before the advert of recorded history was mainly stories passes from generation to generation. Legends or stories handed as historical with their usual enrichments and deformities.

Nwosu (2003) observed that, the tradition at the origin of kolanut has various versions for different people and even for different places. The story has continued to move from one generation to another especially among the Igbo race in Nigeria. However, the basic fact remains that this Igbo race discovered the kolanut when they settled in the tropical forest of West Africa. Their stapled food then was made up of wild fruits plucked from flowering plants, or tress and animals killed in the forest.

It was during some of the exclusion for food that they discovered the fruit and look some of them and went back to their respective encampments. It was understood that various traditional food processes such as roasting, boiling, pounding, grinding etc. were carried out but it was finally realized that eating the fruit raw gives it better task than other forms experimented on. The royal or sacred position the shape, structure, and component parts of the kolanut that fascinated every person that came across the kolanut. This characteristic attracted special attention anywhere the kolanut was taken to, it was this phenomenon that created a special feeling around kolanut. The regularly encouraged attraction attentions and discussion among customers. On appearance of this kolanut, the immediately questions are ensued C. Onwukwe (1980). Which colour could the kolanut have if it is peeled? Can you guess? What do you think would be the shape or structure of the kolanuts? These types of questions and answers, which could waste some time, continued until they metamorphosed into an oral customary celebration based on the kolanut and thereafter turned to be an accepted tradition for the entire Igbo race. Through interactive activities within the social settings of Igbo tribe.

The customs of the Igbo is informed to a great extent exception for a few slight variation in his application. Such important uniformity among the Igbos in Nigeria is, the use of kolanut for welcoming visitors as an expression of good will to them. This tradition has acquired so much significance generally accepted by the entire Igbo people’s world as their bread of sacramental communion (Oriko) or (Igbo), one observes that kolanut represents unity in diversity as reflected in it’s composition.

The kolaunt has various Lobes or pieces fused together without a physical force binding them together. The kolaunt remains like that unit an external force dismantles the lobes into pieces. The igbo word exactly manifested is lide manner as the kolanut. There are many speech in communities and yet they speak one language, many cultures exist and yet, Igbos have one tradition and also in marriage, yam festival, little taking, worship of one supreme being (God).

Oji is a three words representing three Igbo words;

According to Nwosu (2003) “O” is for “Omenala” (customs) “J” represents “Jikotara” (that unites) “I” depict “Igbo”. Thus oji refers to omenala, Jikotara, Igbo, meaning custom that unites the Igbo.


This point of view seeks to examine and explain the significance of kolanut in Igbos contemporary society as a principal case of study. Also efforts are made to highlight the meaning of the kolanut towards attending to guess in entire Igbos race, which includes to the extent has kolanut contributed economical to human need in the land. They have also been some contention between traditions religious on offering of fruit to the ancestor, there are series of negative effectively or attention by scholar on the significance of the kolanut in entire members of Igbos land.


Base on the point of view stated about the purpose of this study include:

 To find out the socio-religious significances of kolanut in Igbos land.

 To discovered the belief of the elite that kolanut is an old stuff and to find out whether there is any comparison with kolanut.

 To know the importance of inviting the especially quest of honour in occasion.


In view of problem above, this study suggest answers to the following questions.

What was the cause of the new fruit or negligence in entire Igbo land?

What are the most importance and efficient way of reducing cold attention by towards kolanut?

Did kolanut have any socio-religious significance in entire Igbos land?

What was the cause of celebration the new yam festival in Igbo land?

Why should the ancestors be invited during the consumption of kolanut in entire member of Igbo land?


The scope of this study shall include the assessment of the socio-religious remarkable important of the new yam festival in Igbo land and culture in western part of Nigeria. so also, more emphasis shall be laid on the view of some commitment in entire member of Igbo land about the new fruit and culture that is in Orumba North local government.

Review of Related Literature

The review of the related literature shall cover the followings.

Kolanut is Igbo culture.

What Is Culture?

The issues of culture remain imperative today in Igbo land and with it you can know or distinguish an individual from other people. To be precise, the Igbo’s value culture, and kolanut (Oji) is a well-known concept in Igbo land. Culture which have a powerful influence or impact on them.

However, we shall have a clear view of what some scholars explained about culture.

According to Tylor (1871), in his book, “primitive culture” He sees culture as that complex whole which contains, knowledge, belief, art, morals laws, customs and any other capabilities acquired by man as a member of a society.

Glenn (1966:20) also viewed culture as “the entire social heritage of man, a way of life of a group of people, their learn or acquired ways of behaving”. In summary, culture is the totality of the way of life of any group of people within a given environment. It is an acceptable organized pattern of behaviour.

Kolanut (Oji) occupies a unique position in the cultural life of Igbo people. Kolanut is the first thing served any visitor in an Igbo home. Oji is served before an important function begin, be it a marriage ceremony, settlement of family dispute, or entering into any type of agreement. It is used as a channel of communication with the creator who is known various names such as chineke, Chukwu Okike, Obasi di n’ elu and Chukwu Obioma, among the Igbos (Nwokocha 1959).

Uchendu (1964 Pg 47-50) Observed that “the importance which the Igbo attached to Oji can be illustrated by a legend which speaks of the visit of the founding fathers to the home of the gods where the gods asked the fruits in the archard to the gods”. The founding fathers chose (oji) as the king of all the fruits and because it came from the gods, it is used in communicating with gods. Because it is the king of all fruits (a sacred fruit from the gods) it is used in showing good will to visitors and for entering into bond.

Commensality and the kolanut in an Igbo community. Among the Igbo of Nigeria. Commensality or the sharing of food can be pursued in two district ways. The first refers to commensality, which must take place at set times of seasonally such meals are organized to reflect the social and economic needs of the farming community. Meals shared at set times are breakfast (in the morning) lunch (in the afternoon) and supper at might. Meals are expected to be served to a definite group normally the household units. Seasonal meals can be regarded as traditional festivals organized to make different cycles of farm work. They indicate the unity of the descent group or reunion with friends.

Anigbo (1980), Rules connected with the looking, serving and eating food on both occasion must be obeyed: for failure to respect them can arouse suspicious within the group and may become the means through an existing tension is communicated. But meals can still be served outside the set periods. These are the informal occasions marked be the arrival of a guest or a stranger at the door. But the Igbo makes no fuse about sharing food with anyone, especially those present when it is served Uchendu (1965), even where such are total strangers, however, there is a food item, namely the kolanut, the sharing of which has different kinds of commensall implications. In this research, the significance of commensality in the context of host/ stranger relationship is examined.

According to Meek (1957), kolanut serves many uses for the Igbo. It can constitute a system of recognizing rights; this is especially applicable to what he calls kola tenancies. Kola tenancy refers to the occupation and use of land conferred by linage or other land owing units by virtue of some token payments, which takes the form of ceremonial gifts of kolanuts by the grantee to the grantor. Rights to the use of such lands can be revoked, should the original owners require the land for their own use.

Kolanuts can be used to secure loans, whether of money, goods or services. The presentation of the kolanut can also indicate that peace and unity exists between friends. Nzekwu (1951) Summarized the Igbo feelings about the kolanut in the following lines “ among us, kolanut is a highly values and indispensable product has done. Though it is one of the commonest vegetable products seen in Nigeria, it represents, in our society, a vital symbol of friendship, the proper offering at meetings and religious occasions. Its presentation to a guest to passes any other sign of hospitability which any host among us can show, even though in some places it costs only a peny”. Nzekwu (1951).

A report from chief Ofomata has it that “A refuse to take kolanut is inductive of some grudge borne by one or two individuals present. The reason may never be demanded nor be given why Igbokwe or Okafor refused to eat kolanut part of which Beaten by or shared with some and so, but Okonkwo and Okoye are left in no doubt at all why a particular incident at the market square or to drinking party has strained relationship and Igbokwe and Okeke cannot now at least I, sit at communion together. This happens especially when a crisis of immense proportions fake place. Be it as may, kolanut is a revealer of hearts. And having revealed this state of relationship as a caveat, Oji pacifies in order to cement social cracks. That is, In spite of it’s revealing character, it integrates instead of disuniting. At this point. It can be asked whether kolanut as such is a symbol of hospitality or a ritualistic nut. To determine this question rests on two grounds. It depends on the place where and in the time when kolanut produced and offered the common answer is that it is both but with greater bias towards the later.

According to uchendu (1765), he observes that kolanut does not cut only a one-path to God. Often times a whole community or even a family may ride through a cut path to the presence of God ordinarily the kolanut is so small that it would appear not to matter but it is it’s value that matter it’s functional role is tremendous.

However, in view of the above, kolanut in the traditional Igbo society is a sure key to unlock the hearts of men and the gods. This when Oji is broken it is shared by all. Everyone takes part in the consumption of this unifying nut with this communion which is a preclude to any undertaking by the Igbo over. Serious deliberations can then take place.

Nwosu observes that kolanut is very important in an entertainment to the extent that it’s absence clearly represent a lack of goodwill towards him by his host (meaning that he was not accepted).

One often hears the statement – we ate and drank in his house but he did not give us kolanut. A host offers or can be offered kola as gift. Priests elders and titled men at village meeting (even at the village markets) can offer kolanut to people guest at any time of the day. But he could excuse himself at night by this common saying. This night has taken away the kolanut” (abali ewerela eji). Some hosts are selective in the choice of kolanuts they offer to guests Nwosu (2003).

To Nwokocha, “kolanut is an Excellency’ and therefore has a royal way of appearance, presentation, celebration and consumption”.

The kolanut is associated with various forms of conventions which must be obligation observed most of these traditional conventions are un-written with the advent of western civilization. Confused Africans are not able to articulate the now adulterated conventions. With time, some of those who could say something about these conventions passed away without recording them. The effect in the controversies that have surrounded the royal and authoritatively claim that kolanut by nature is controversial without understanding that it is our Ignorance that is controversial and not the kolanut whose convention have been clearly stipulated by tradition before the coming of the white-men Nwokocha (1959).

The Igbos generally believed on the fact that kolanut has male and female Lobes. And these lobes signify a lot to the Igbos. The great men (Ndi dike na ndi kara aka) on trying to select their choices isolate the male lobe from the female ones. They normally go for the male lobes because they cannot take this female lobes because of it’s feminine nature and structure. This female lobes signify fertility, love, care, growth and rituals of prospect Nwosu (2003).

According to Uchendu (1964) kolanut (Oji) signifies clean mind, pure intention. Its shape resembles the heart as though. It is its nature to be and speaks man’s mind. A visitor or arrival. Watches his host’s countenance: Is he, the visitor welcome or is he a person a non granta? He soon finds for himself when his host presents or fails to present or even offers him kolanut in a particular manner.

“God the creator please accept the kolanut, our ancestors come and eat kolanut, who am I before you? No amount of feeding will make the fly grow as big as the cow.

Let my visitors not bring me ill luck, and when they will leaves me may they do so in peace. The woodpecker does not peck word because of its strength.

It is natural for this flood to cut it’s way, may the spirits not offend men and may this man not offend the spirits.

He who runs after chickens should expects a fall. He who plans a confrontation with me should go to bed before the chicks.

The above form of prayer established innocence before God and man.

Kolanut is a nut content of a pod. Produced by a free called (Oji) or (kola) acuminate. A pod contains one or more nut interlaced in their setting, depending in this sin of the nut, the tree grows extensively in the forest zone of west Africa. It yield it’s fruits kolanuts. Almost at all reasons. Kola acuminate or a trophera is distinguish from kola alba or even kola nitida which the Igbos called Oji Awusa (Hausa kola). Among the Igbos. Kola a trophora or a acuminate as distinct from these others is used according to tradition, for rituals for manage, ceremonies, the takings offering of prayers, at traditional ceremonies. To welcome visitors and to introduce very important discussions and request. What the Igbo kola Oji awusa or indeed any other kind of kola other than the Igbo kola is broken and eating but is never use for forms of rituals. In other words, kolanut excepting the Oji Igbo with more than two cotledons is not ritualistic it is though to be a mere substitute. It is like (ebelebe na eme amara mkpuru oji ma ejighi ya ago mawuo). Ebelebe Though a substitute for kolanut cannot be used for rituals. It is pertinent to make this distinction as the Igbos most often use substitutes like oji Awusa, dried fish, meat, afufa, to entertain visitors. This is mainly due to the scarcity of oji Igbo, which because of it’s preciousness is in very high demand.

Presentation Of Kolanut

There is the usual handshake immediately a visitor comes in. This is the first demonstration of good will with the palm open and fingers stretched one announces as it were: “I have not hidden on my person any object that will harm you. A visitor is given a seat and with some seconds. There is an air of confidently which makes the visitor feel at home. Soon a kolanut is brought. (Enwerem oji) I have gotten kolanut. (Oji abiala) kolanut has come”. This pattern at served as simple receptions. Two kolanuts may be and to be a titled man one is broken and shared. others is taken home in fulfillment of the Igbo that (Oji rue ulo , Okwue onye nyere ya), a kolanut brought home says who offered it. It is not customary to present three kolanuts at a time. For kolanut or multiples of four are served at big gathering such as the fixing of bride price or at Ozo title taking. Incidentally, kolanut is not served in five and six compositions. Seven kolanuts and other requisites in multiples of seven may be served during an important ceremony like (Igbu ewu ndi ichie) killing a goat for the ancestral gods. Eight kolanut normal for marriage that is when the bride is to leave her abode for that of her husband’s house. one kolanut is normally served even where there are many people. After all an Igbo proverb says: If kolanut does go round when shared, then there are no finger to break it up to the required number customary ceremonies, as well as at the ceremonial slaughter of cows, goats and cocks. Who offers or is presented kolanut is determined by factors culturally discriminable. A host offers or can be offered kolanuts as a gift. Priests, elders, and titled men at village meetings or even at the village market can offer kolanut to people who call on them for advice. The Igbo man offers kolanut to guests any time of the day. But at night, he could excuse himself simply by this common saying: (anyasi ewerela Oji) The night has taken the kolanut away. Some are selective in the choice of kolanuts they offer to guest (oji ugo) champion kola may be carefully selected for presentation to a particular dignitary or it may just happen that a chance served the recipient is always held highly as implied in the Igbo statement (oji Ugo ana echere nwaeze) the princely kola which is offered to a prince. Oji Ugo (a champion kolanut is symbolic of royalty and purity). It attracts blessings and luck on the parties. Nwosu (2003).

Breaking Of Kolanut

Usually it is the privilege of the elders man in a group to offer prayers and thanksgiving when the kolanut is about to be broken and shares. In some parts of Igbo society. The youngest breaks the kolanuts, investigations show that in some other areas, the youngest one shares out the kolanut as a service though the eldest man still pray for the well being of all present. A grandson cannot break kolanut in the presence of his grandfather and maternal uncles however young or may be, because it is held that he has no effective prayers to offer for them. It is they who will pray for his good health posterity and progress in life. One cannot also break kolanut in the presence of one’s in-law. This is because it is also held that only one’s in-law can effectively pray for the fruitful marriage between the man and their daughter. Women do not break kolanut in the presence of men, though they can do so when it is all women gathering, if a man is present, he will be called upon to break the kolanut. This obtains because women do not offer rituals in Igbo tradition.

Kolanut is held by the majority of Igbo people to be secured. Hence women who because of their monthly period are regarded as impure, are barred from breaking kolanut in order to avoid it’s defilement. It is even held that women should not climb kolanut tree as this could result in the tree going banes. An old women herbalist however has a privilege to break kolanuts. She should nevertheless proceed this operation by an act of self purification. This she does by waving seven seeds of alligator paper over the head. One after the other, and throw each of them away. Ukaegbu (1991).

Significance f The Cotyledons Is Formed By A Kolanut

Emphasis is laid on the number of cotyledons in a kolanut. Igbo kolanut usually have more than two cotyledons. An Igbo kolanut with two cotyledons is malformed and so have to be cast away. It is neither eaten by any titled man – (Nze) nor a human. A three cotyledons kolanut for tells good omen. It is (Ikenga oji) kolanut for men who have distinguished themselves in noble deals. A four cotyledonous kolanut is considered most acceptable and approval of the gathering by the goods of the four market days-eke, orie, Afor and Nkwo. A kolanut of five cotyledons is symbolic of productivity and wealth. All assembled are happy when it is announced, (oji nka gbara ize). This kolanut has five cotyledon. All chuckles to themselves as though the children and wealth promised by this sign have already been realized Okafor (1979).

A combination of six cotyledons spells bad omen (Isii na esi ihe) six dulls up things, it is bad luck just what is to the English. One cotyledon is thrown away and the remaining cotyledons is eaten. A kolanut with seven or eight cotyledon is very rare but highly valued whenever found. In some Igbo areas, the householder pays some money to buy out some of the supposedly wraped up in the seven or eight cotyledon formation. The money is used to feast the member present. As kolanut is bitter, especially the unripped ones, the Igbos eat kolanut with ground paper mixed with oil and this mixture acts like a stimulant. Kolanut paste cab be carefully prepared with paper, Crayfish, groundunt, melon, dried fish and meant for big occasions (Nwakocha (1959:50 – 51)

Kolanut Sharing Order

This Igbos have maintained some dignified posture around kolanut. Maintains this dignity It imposes a duty on him who shares the broken kolanut. Having made sure that the eldest man who broke the kolanut has with his fingernails and serves the pieces to the people present, starting by order of seniority of age and from the right side. Some think, perhaps ignorantly, that one can begin from any side to share out kolanut. The Igbos adore their right land- their Ikenga. Even where an Igbo man’s right foot trips over objects, this is taken to signify food omen. One of the oddities of behaviour in most Igbo communities is to dance left to right, to distribute even kolanut from left to right. This is thought clumsy. Kolanut and it’s presentation expresses a lot, they expose an imbecile who cannot even share out already broken nut and he is simply as the Igbos say (ekete ekete okike na aburu olu)-“spare the embarrassment of climbing and tapping. He cannot even share out wine”. Equally, it is unusual to find a man who is at a loss for once to say the revenant ritual prayers over a kolanut presented to an individual or groups.

The last that picks is the youngest person who probably broke the nut and distributed it. The particular lobe picked by the handler is termed the handler by the old man as it is confusingly called. The nut collected by the old man after blessing is referred to as “(aka igo oji)” handle of blessing (Nwosu (2003).

Kolanut is a nut content of a pod, produced by a free called oji or kola acuminate. A pod contains one or more nuts interlaced in their setting, depending on the size of the nuts. The tree grows extensively in the forest zone of west Africa. It yield it’s fruits kolanuts, almost at all seasons. Kola acuminate or atrophora is distinguished from kola alba, or even kola nitida which the Igbo call oji Awusa (Hausa kola). Among the Igbos, kola atrophora or a acuminate as distinct from these others is used according to traditional for rituals, for marriage ceremonies, title takings offering of prayers at traditional ceremonies, to welcome visitors and to introduce very important discussions and requests. What the Igbos call oji Awusa or indeed any other kind of kola other than the less complicated because it deals with various concepts including the stranger, which has many shades of meaning. Moreover, even for the Igbo who live together people can still behaved to each other as strangers in a specific situation the concise English Dictionary for Example, explains the word stranger as “foreigner” a person in a country or from or company that he does not belong to, a person entirely unaccustomed to some fillings or practice or experience.

In Nanka, Orumba North Local Government, there are many categories of residents, some of them officially designated strangers. This research is not concerned with them. But the focus of this research work is on the “commensality, the kolanut and this stranger is Igbo land.

Here the implication of having to share the kolanut with different kinds of strangers in a specific situation is examined whom, the stranger is, it can be known in this process of sharing the kolanut for the Igbos, any one who has left his village and walked a distance beyond which he cannot make a return joinery the same day before he is overtaken by darkness thereby becomes a traveler, (prothero, 1957).

When travelers are referred to as (ndi ije), it can mean that they are total strangers unknown to the speaker and not related to his either by ties of friendship or kingship. Relatives who have been absent from home for a long time can also be termed “(ndi iji)” when they came home. Important guests visiting their old friends can also classified as (ndi iji). What determines the difference between those categories of travelers is the reaction of the people they are meeting in the house. Through certain commensal processes they demonstrate, the worth of the traveler in an actual situation.

With the conclusion of kolanut hospitality, the host may go on to serve other food or drinks. If food is cooked already. It is served first, because the Igbo do not like drinking in an empty stomach. A guest refuse the food tasted by a woman. Similarly, a man cannot present the kolanut to a woman. He can bring it out, break it and offer it to hers but not present it to her formally. (Uchendu 1965).

For an individual to present the kolanut to his host can signify all sorts of things. This is mainly because the standard pattern of using. The nut is for a host to present it to his quests a sign that they are really welcome. But wherever this rule is reversed it demands some explanations. It does not matter who reverses the rule whether the reversal is act of a brother or a friends or even an enemy, they must have some reason to justify the conduct. Such reversal automatically declares the donor a type of stranger in a specific context. What it implies is that the donor has something in mind, which he must communicate to his host. In other words, the kolanut represents an idea in the mind, which has not yet been communicated. In such a situation, the kolanut cannot be shares until the idea, which it represents, is disclosed.

Among the Igbo, marriage is not an individual affair and different kinds of questions must be raised and settled objectively and satisfactory before real negotiations can even be started, such questions concern the status of the man and woman as well as their identity within the general scheme of descent links in the society as a whole.

Therefore (oji ajuju) can be presented, but sharing it refused. Where (oji ajuju) is presented and sharing refused can means at least one of three things. It can means that the possible bride and groom are linked somewhere by blood relationship. In that case refusal to share the kolanut in the context means unity and agreement. Everyone in the group is satisfied that the relationship is so close that marriage should not be allowed to result. But it can also happen that those involved have examined the issue, found that a certain amount of linkage exists and decide to do something about it. This is the case where the elders have judged that marriage can take place despite the clear case of blood relationship. Normally when this obtains, certain forms of sacrifice, the kolanut can be exchanged. Here sharing the kolanut marks unity, agreement as well as division or segmentation. (Nzekwe, (1951).

From the few cases of refusals observed following the presentation of the kolanut in marriage contexts, one learns that it can be grossly inadequate to attach only one meaning to a word in commensality. Refusal can mean unity, avoidance, and rejection depending on the context in the marriage. This shows the usefulness of commensality in being able to apply to different aspect of social life. Social behaviour is variable and cannot be committed to memory or made to conform to a mathematical formular.

Forms Of Prayers For Kolanut Breaking

What prayers are said over kolanut to be broken very much depends on the occasion. Kolanut for (ndi chie) attracts a different form of prayers. That for a casual visitors asks Eke, orie,, Afor and Nkwo to partaker of the kolanut. He asks God, the gods and spirits for good health, for protection against evil, for good harvest and fecundity among the female folk. This is manifest in the following Igbo prayers.

A kolanut is received with a remark – (onye wetara oji wetara ndu, ndi takwara ya tara ndu) he who brings kolanut brings along life and those who eat it, eat life. May they live. The significance of this prayer exposes the value which the Igbos place on kolanut with kolanut one prays, one placates gods and men; this is rolled up and amplified in the form of the prayers that follows:

Our creator please accept this kolanut.

God the creator of man eats kolanut in whole ordinary human beings eat kolanut in bits God please look at our stomach. Because we do not know what the head ate that made it grow fat.

The above incantation paints the Igbo well. It depicts him submitting himself to God. He recognizes and accepts God as the Almighty who caters for man’s well being. He knows God as the sources of life. He wants this life, good life perhaps external life and he persuades God to look away from his fat round head to his flat belly. By presenting his flat belly to God, the Igbo hopes to persuade God into providing him with his daily bread. But when this hopes failed to materialize, the Igbo, pensive and armed with a kolanut queries that same God he admits is his supreme power. (A sirim, uka anyi kara gbo gbo na ukuru osisi uru na ukwu osisi uhi. Obu uru rughaghari ya ka obu uhi highariri ya?) I ask, that our discussion under nut tree and uhi tree – is it uru that attered it or uhi that twisted it? This style of early morning prayers is indicative of expectations that have failed to materialize. It is a disappointment, which has kept the Igbo man, in daily direct contact with his God. He believes in pairing with his God for achievement. His life is chaptered for better yield and everyday opens up with a thanksgiving, a review or a recrimination on a chapter, which ends with the passing of each day. This obviously calls for consultations with God during which God is informed about one’s plans and intentions for the day. For the weak (ahona aho). A daily review is necessary because (onweghi onye mara nga mmiri si banye na opi ugboguru) nbody knows how water entered into the pumkin and (onye n’ amaghi nga mmiri si mawa ya agaghi ama nga ono nyako ahu).

Kolanut has a growing economic value because of it’s social significance. Economically it costs little or nothing. It is small in size. However, its size is completely irrelevant in determining it’s price without begging the issue. It’s price value derives from the ritualistic value attached to it. It is normal for a broken kolanut of four or five cotyledons to be shared by up to twenty people (unless there are no finger nails). As food, it’s quantitative value is very minimal. It’s quantitative value is doubtful too. What Holy communion is for the Christians, could transubstantiation have taken place when kolanut is offered to gods in prayers. But what then makes oji so important that a guest whose host inadvertently failed to offer a kolanut but who was lavishly, entertained returned home to say nonetheless, that he was not even welcome by his host, (I makwa obunachi oji nkiti onyehim, osaradu usa) do you kwon what He failed to give me even kolanut and he did not even apologized for not offering me one. What a poor host and he is dealing with ruthlessly. He is portrayed as a selfish, stingy, unsociable vulture. He may, however, hear this caustic remark, and the whole matter is resolved and fortten as soon as he offers a wholesome kolanut for pacification. And he will be forgiven for nobody knows why he failed to offer kolanut.

(Awo a dighi agba oso chichie na nkiti) – the toad does not run in the day light without a cause.

Where a man is about to marry, in Igbo land, it is for the members of the man’s lineage to go out in search of a potential wife. Kolanut must be used for this, where, therefore, an outsider presents the kolanut to a man who has an unmarried daughter, that act can be analysed as seeking agreement on a vital issue of marriage whether the party of this potentials bride lives next door to the potential groom does not cancel the use of the kolanut in the way specified. In that context, the kolanut is known as (oji ajuju)- meaning the kolanut that ask so many questions.

Oji ajuju is an important social institution for the Igbo. It provides some safe guards against possible unions between individuals who may be related by consanguinity. This it can be upheld that the kolanut (oji ajuju) signifies a means of identification in certain situations.


Relevance of the study

Change we know today is the most constant situation in life. The complexities of modern living demands that people continue to improve socially in order to exist comfortably within their environment. The stress and strain of modern life has greatly altered our natural living conditions. In most situations, it leads to the phasing out of some of our cherished traditional values and cultures. However, this study is really out to justify and correct some of these obnoxious believe on our tradition, which is as a result of modern life.

The seeming lack of knowledge of and respect for kolanut conventions among intellectual in Igbo land who constitutes the new elite class in the society is a cultural sacrilege, which this study frowns at. It should be seen that these “inabilities” of the intellectuals and academics have created several misconceptions taking root among the younger generations who are misled by their assured elder statesmen. This study however lays credence in educating our people on the significance of kolanut in our society. It could be related to this biblical saying “Due to lack of knowledge my people perish”.

Culture the say is the way people generally live. Any society without a culture can hardly be identified or known by other people. The Igbo’s perse cannot do without culture and kolanut, hence this work stresses on the importance of culture in our society. More so, they say that no knowledge is a waste. The knowledge however, gained in this work is important in putting the Igbos right or back to their cultural observance.


The socio-religious significance of kolanut in Igbo land have divers effect both on our culture and the general perception of elects towards our culture prior to now, they regard the kolanut convention as an old stuff. This led to a total negligence on our culture and traditions.

More so, the implication or effect of this study is that some of us don’t know how to really entertain visitors in the normal traditions as culture demands. Kolanut is a fruit which can be used for every occasion without it Igbo tradition or culture cannot stand.


From the foregoing discussion, the socio-religious significance of kolanut in Igbo land, it should be notes that culture remains imperative today in Igbo land and with it you can know or distinguish an individual from other people. To be precise, the Igbos value culture and kolanut in a well known concept in Igbo land. However, there are some observations and findings in the cause of this study. They include, the following modernity effect, ignorance among our people etc.

On the side of modernity effect, some of our people now cherish western life or modern life than their culture, forgetting that even, the modern people, we tend to emulate have their own models of life which they cannot do without. I should encourage our people to rather cleave to our tradition than going for other people’s way of life.

But it is clear from the analysis that words are important in shaping the nature or the quality of commensality. In fact, it is word altered in certain circumstances that inspire a guest with a confidence or fill him with suspicion. For example, an individual, who is long absence from home and fail to receive laudable words of welcome on return knows that he is being rebuked; on the other hand, a total stranger who is giving an ovation on arrival at a door feels no little discomfort. An outsider who presents the kolanut to his guest but fail to convince him of the validity of his gesture knows that he has lost his case because it would not even had been discuss.

Words however, well altered cannot obscure the importance of food, the sharing of which reveals all the social ties. It is therefore, important to utilize words and food in approaching the problem of commensality.


The significance of kolanut conventions cannot be undermined nor over emphasized. Have it is a concept that Igbo cannot do without. I therefore, encourage the Igbo to imbibe the tree culture and the observance of all these convention, since we cannot thrive without our culture.

This is because every meal is guided by some rule, which ought to be represented. A special case being made for the kolanut. The prescription of which can review different patterns of social ties between this present. Where the rules are broken or ignored became an open admission that tension exists or clear portrayal of ignorance of the customs of the land. Commensality therefore provides a symbolic mechanism to dramatize the culture of the Igbo and to ensure it continuity.


Achebe, C. (1983), The trouble with Nigeria, Enugu. Fourth Dimension Publishers.

Obilom, J.e.C (1989), Issues and Trend on Religion Education Nigeria.

Oludemi, O. (1989). A good worker the nation Builder. Lagos, good citizenship bureau.

Giruets, F. (1968). Contemporary moral issues (2nd Edition), belmonth, Califonia: Wardsmonth Pub. Com. Inc.

Ilougu, E. (1974) Religion and Culture, New York, London University, Press and Nok Publishers Ltd.

Dewey, J. (1916), Experiences and Education, London Collers Macmillan.

Igbo Land – The Socio-Religious Significance Of Kolanut

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