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It has
become a wildly popular tradition for a grown Igbo man to own a house in his
ancestral homeland no matter how little he has use for such. The history behind
this was that during the Nigeria – Biafra war of 1967 – 1970, Igbos who fled
other parts of Nigeria returned to their ancestral homeland to face acute
housing shortages.
To prevent
a repeat of the bitter experiences of the war years, Igbos thus made owning a
house in their ancestral homeland mandatory no matter where they might
permanently reside.
Aside from
this reason however, there are other reasons Igbos have embraced this tradition
of owning a house in their villages. While some seem weird, others seem
ridiculous. Below we take a look at six of these reasons.

1. To create a space where
people can stay during their funeral

It’s a very
shameful thing for an Igbo man to die and his funeral will hold at his parent’s
home, or at any other home that is not his own simply because he did build his
own home during his lifetime.
It’s also a
norm among the Igbo that a man must be buried in his fatherland. So, as every
Igbo man must be taken home to bury when they die, Igbos living anywhere in the
world thus build a house in their villages to avert the shame that comes with
their funeral holding in a place other than their own home.

2. To not be outshone by

The Igbo
are a very competitive people. They develop competitive traits right from
compete in business, politics, and even in the Church. The Igbos compete with
outsiders, but the fiercest competition among the Igbo is that among age mates.
Age mates
compete among themselves for who rides the best car, whose child is the most
brilliant, and who has the most learned siblings.
Igbos build
houses in their villages to make sure they do not fall behind in this legendary
competition among mates. When your mate builds a three bedroom bungalow, there
is always this urge to build a five bedroom duplex to beat the competition. This
explains why Igbos build extravagant mansions in their villages even though they
may live in a very tight corner in the city.

3. To show villagers that
they have made it

villages, especially during festivities are the worst place to be poor in the world.
During festivities, Igbo villages are full of the noise of people who just
returned from cities with their first cars who put strong effort into letting
everyone understand that they have made it.
“new money” make the most noise, drink the most beers, but are also
very generous with the content of their pockets, with all the loquacity and
generosity geared toward proving to the villagers that they have made it.
“new money” however do not always stop at loud noise and conspicuous
consumption. Their strongest way to prove how God has blessed them more than he
blessed every other person is to build the biggest house in the village.
struggle to prove that one has made it have become a norm in Igbo villages, and
so is building of houses by even people who could be living the entirety of
their lives in remote Siberia.

4. To safeguard their
ancestral land

Land is the
most priced possession in Igbo villages, and the battle over ownership of land
has been shaping up to become the battle of the century in this part of the
The strong
snatch land from the weak. The rich snatch land from the poor. Men snatch land
from women. Those in the village nibble away the land of those living in the
city in their absence. People prey on other people’s land like their lives
depend on it.
Building a
house on a land is the surest way to safeguard this priced possession from
village landgrabbers, and it is for the reason that some Igbos in the cities
build houses in their villages.

5. To make family proud

Parents, or
mothers especilally want to be proud of their children, and can be only that
when their children are doing what their mates are doing.
want their sons to be getting married. Mothers want their sons to start making
babies. Mothers want their sons to be buying cars. Mothers want their sons to
start building houses of their own.
because of this pressure by mothers on their sons to make them proud that Igbos
in the cities own houses in their villages.

6. To be deemed qualified
to receive chieftancy titles and honours

You cannot
become a titled chief when you’re still living in your father’s house. The
property you own in the city does not count. For you to receive any title of
import from the Eze or Igwe or Onyishi of your village you need to own a home
of your home in your village.
When you’re
a titled chief, you will always have politicians and famous public figures
paying you courtesy visits, and it is a shameful thing if you do not have a
house of your own to receive these August visitors.
Owning a
house is not a requirement for receiving chieftancy titles in Igbo villages per
se, but it has never been mentioned in recent history of any person who lived in
his mother’s house when he received one of those venerable appellations.
It’s to be
deemed qualified to recieve venerable titles and honours that Igbos in the
cities own houses in their villages.

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