How true is the claim that democracy began from Igbo land

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Summary

AN X user, @igbohistofacts, has posted a video with a claim that democracy began globally from Igbo land.

OUR VERDICT: The claim that democracy began globally from Igbo land is FALSE; democracy has its origins in ancient Greece.

AN X user, @igbohistofacts, has posted a video with a claim that democracy began globally from Igbo land.

The claimant attributed the claim to Bruce Delvalle, a U.S. attorney and General Counsel to the US-based National Press Club.

In the 74-second footage, Delvalle could be seen possibly speaking to an audience, as he faced the camera during the speech.

Part of the footage’s audio transcribed can be read below: 

This isn’t right, this is a great people,  this is a great nation, there was a country, something most people don’t know; there is a plausible argument that democracy first began in Igboland, the very first written constitution on this planet was written by the Igbo people, the very first democracy for self-governance that worked for everybody not just the great and wealthy but everybody was in Igboland. The very first democracy that permitted women leaders was in Igbo land. The west, we were still in the dark ages and yet the Igbo figured out a way to have a just and meaningful government, in a just and meaningful society.

The caption that accompanied the video post read:

“Democracy started in Igbo land. The very first written constitution on this planet was written by the Igbo people. And the very first democracy that permitted women leaders was in Igbo land. I’m proud to have worked with the Igbo people”. – Bruce Delvalle, American Lawyer.
The post has garnered over 150,000 views, more than 5,000 likes and over 3,000 reposts as of June 17, 2024.

CLAIM

Democracy began globally from Igbo land.

 

THE FINDINGS

Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is FALSE!

A search conducted on the keywords ‘Bruce Delvalle Igbo Democracy’ displayed multiple platforms that published the claim same day. However, the earliest and a longer version of the video was posted on YouTube on February 17, 2020.

Bruce Delvalle, US lawyer.
Bruce Delvalle, US lawyer.

Recently on June 12, 2024, Nigeria celebrated 25 years of uninterrupted democracy which happened to be the same day the claim was posted by the X user and re-circulated by other social media users online.

Democracy, as a concept and practice, has a history that dates back to ancient times, with its origins rooted in Athens around the 5th century BCE which was often referred to as “Athenian democracy” where citizens participated directly in decision-making.

They gathered in assemblies to discuss and vote on laws and policies. The then key institutions included the Ekklesia (Assembly), Boule (Council of 500), and Dikasteria (courts).

Democracy was practiced in Greece before its spread later to Rome, England, United states and France.

The Igbo system of government before colonial rule was characterized by its decentralized and egalitarian nature, differing significantly from the centralized systems of other Nigerian ethnic groups.

The Igbo society did not have kings or paramount chiefs; instead, it operated through a fragmentary lineage system, where each village functioned as an autonomous unit.

READ: Did Orji threaten Abia government if ex-governors’ pension is stopped?

Each village was essentially a small, self-governing community. The village council, made up of elders and titled individuals, handled local administration. These councils performed legislative, executive, and judicial functions. Decisions were made collectively, often through consensus during village assemblies​. It also had key features like Age-Grade Societies Title Holders: Family and Kindred Structure which placed emphasis on seniority and high status.

 

THE VERDICT

The claim that democracy began globally from Igbo land is FALSE; democracy has its origins in ancient Greece.

Fact-checker at The FactheckHub | [email protected]

Seasoned fact-checker and researcher Fatimah Quadri has written numerous fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy pieces for The FactCheckHub in an effort to combat information disorder. She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected].

SOURCE: @igbohistofacts via X.

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