Greeting is a significant interactive gesture in Igede society; as such its importance in daily Igede life can hardly be overstated. Greeting a visitor with warm words gives instant respect to him/her and the receiving host. A simple greeting could turn fear into friendship and suspicion into trust. Learning how to greet is an important part of culture that teaches one how to function well in Igede society and how to establish and maintain personal relationships.
Also Read: When not to chant “Ihyoo” in gathering
After the initial exchange of pleasantries, one does not at once introduce the subject of the visit, but must inquire about the health and social wellbeing of the members of the family. Inquiring about the other person’s health and wellbeing is part of the normal greeting interactions in Igede society and, indeed, in most African societies. It helps to know the state of health of one another. It also symbolises honour and respect for one another and tells a visitor whether there is peace or conflict in that place.
Greeting is the first education for every child in the Igede ethnic group, as such he/she is educated early on how to greet and respect his peers, schoolmates, parents and superiors. The head of the family (Oligbeju nya ugbiyegwu) is the master while his wife (ahwu) is the mistress of the compound. It is the duty of the members of the family to pay their due respects to them the first thing every morning. The younger children greet their parents first followed by the older one.
It is traditional for a younger one to greet the older one first anywhere the two meet whether in a church, school, road, farm, market, joint, street, etc. The older person extends his right hand first to shake the younger one. Then the younger one extends his right hand while supporting it with the left hand as a symbol of respect for the older person. Manners of salutations differ based on status and age. Certain salutations for men are based on seniority in the family.
THE MEANING OF IGEDE IHYOO
Igede Ihyoo literarily means “Igede is holy”. It is a special greeting in Igede which is often done in a gathering of Igede People. When it is chanted, the speaker do it with vigour, life and enthusiasm. He expects the response to be loud as well.
One thing is very important when chanting Igede Ihyoo. The speaker can only say it once, or thrice. It must not be chanted two times. The reason is because, Igede People are Kings, and Kings can only be given one thing or three, or seven. That is why Igede elders cannot be given two kolanuts. It must be one, three or seven.
Source: Benson Egbodo, Ode Testimony and Ukenya Ogbaji (Mr Yukay)