Igbo Leadership Through the Visual Arts: Back to the Future

Kenneth Ubani


The lgbo leadership systems had been fraught with concepts that often make the society seem egalitarian in nature. The reality seems to contain variants that could be analyzed as such. But modernity and the inherent traditions of social change have also created its variants according to the local groups that practice them. The structure of the autochthonous Igbo leadership shows a credible democratic cum republican dispensation. But most of the adherent’s positions are titular. Hegemony as it suggests in the Igbo society is a relative term that needs Classification and clarification. Through Visual arts and some empirical investigation this study explains the modal changes that have affected the Igbo leadership system in Nigeria through Visual Art. Abatete, Nri, Ufuma, Npkor, Umuoji, Nnewi in Anambra state, all core Igbo towns are used as examples. The reality at leadership influence in the changes and development of the Igbo society in Nigeria and elsewhere is a relevant factor to the characterization of relationships between the Igbo’s and their neighbours. Although the introduction of warrant chief’s by the Colonial Masters seem to have distabilised the leadership structure of the people, they still hold strictly to traditions, but are flexible to changes that they consider viable to the development of the society. The Visual Art is given attention because it helps to define and identify the influence and changes that make Igbo leadership structure contemporary; for example in the regal regalia, greeting, breaking of kolanuts, the use of materials and the general life-style, transformations that have given new meaning to genealogy or pedigree. Lineages, kinship or kingship may no more accord adherent’s rights to heraldry or recruitment of political leadership. Chiefdom ceases to be hereditary. These and other trajectories and provocative themes are features of this study.


Igbo Leadership; Visual Art; Igbo Enweze (Igbo have no Kings)

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/11096


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