Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Similarities and Differences of the Igbo and Mende tribe

Ben Gerstein
Colin Williams

The Igbo people of Southeastern Nigeria and Mende of Southern Sierra Leone have similar methods of using Iron and differences in their educational practices. In Pre-colonial times the Igbo were able to mine iron which they used to create useful tools. In his introduction to Things Fall Apart, Ohadike states,” Igbo people have smelted and forged iron for centuries…over time, the Igbo improved their technological skills and began to produce sophisticated metal tools such as spearheads, arrowheads, swords, hoes, knives” etc.( Don C xxii ). The ability to mine iron gave the Igbo an opportunity to make tools and other artifacts which made life easier. Like the Igbo people, the Mende were able to mine iron and put it to useful work. In his article about the Mende people Chrishom says,” The region’s inhabitants were working iron by 600 C.E.”(Sierra Leone). The Mende people, like the Igbo, also worked with iron that they utilized to create everyday tools. In Pre-Colonial times, the Igbo of southeastern Nigeria and Mende of Sierra Leone had different ways of educating their people to enable their tribes to achieve success and growth. In the Igbo society, children learned how to act, behave and carry out duties by learning under their fathers or mothers. In Things Fall Apart, by Achebe Chinua, Okonkwo encourages Ikemefuna to follow him around while he tends to the crops and during social events (Achebe 53-55). Children in the Igbo society would follow their father or mother around to learn their duties and act properly. Unlike the Igbo way of education, the Mende had two main educational systems that taught children. The educational systems were split up by gender the Poro for boys and Sande for girls. According to one scholar “the primary role of both is to teach individuals about the expectations of the community. Such organizations function to institute community morals and act as a very efficient means of social control” (Mende Information). The Poro and Sande education systems taught children how to socially act, community morals and spiritual guidance to enable the positive development of the culture. While some people believe Africa is a universal country the Mende and Igbo share some characteristics of having Iron however, they have completely different education systems.

Works Cited
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print.

“Mende Information.” Art and Life in Africa. 3 November 1998. Web. 4 Apr. 2011

Ohadike, Don C. “Igbo Culture and History.” Introduction. Things Fall Apart. By Chinua Achebe. Oxford: Heinemann, 1996. xix-xlix. Print.

"Sierra Leone." Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience,
Second Edition. Eds. Kwame AnthonyAppiah, Henry Louis Gates Jr. Oxford: Chisholm, 2010. Oxford African American Studies Center. Web. 31 Mar. 2011.

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