The Historical Significance and Role of the Kola Nut among the Igbo of Southeastern Nigeria

  • Ikenna Ukpabi Unya
Keywords: Kola Nut, Significance, Role, Igbo, Nigeria.


There are many customs and traditions that have effectively given the Igbo of Southeastern Nigeria group identity and social cohesion.  And the kola nut is one of those realities. However, it is not only the Igbo that cherish and reverence the kola nut. In fact, kola nut is a  highly prized fruit among the people of West Africa where its importance is seen in the social and religious customs of the people. But the Igbo lay special claim to kola nut and view it as the king of all fruits on earth because of the roles it play; hence, the kola is seen among the Igbo as a symbol of acceptance, cooperation and solidarity. Thus, the objective of this study is to examine the historical origin of the kola nut based on the Igbo ancestral myths and the symbolic interpretations of the different lobes of the Cola acuminata. The study will also investigate the significance and functions of the kola nut and how the influence of modernization is eroding its traditional values. The study is basically qualitative. It utilized existing literature on kola nut with oral sources in order to enhance our knowledge on kola nut. The study’s findings reveal that kola nut consumption and functions are part of Africa’s indigenous traditions that survived colonial intrusion, although the influence of modernization is greatly threatening the ritual functions and the traditional values. The study, thus, concludes by recommending that the Igbo should restore the significance and values of the kola nut by planting more kola nut trees in order to increase its availability and affordability as a source of hospitality and acceptance. Again, the Igbo communities and leaders should create a  platform where the origin, significance and values of the kola nut must be taught and passed from generation to generation.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2006-5442