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Change in Currency

Up until the mid 20th century, before they were forcefully replaced by British currency, manillas (known as 'okpogho' or 'ikpeghe' in Igbo) alongside cowries (known as 'ego kirikiri') were the main currencies used in what is now southeastern Nigeria. These currencies were highly-valued because they served as a solid and reliable means of conducting transactions and purchases ranging from horses and goats to guns and human slaves.

When the British attempted to introduce paper currencies into the economies of the Igbo, they faced stern resistance and opposition from all angles. Unlike cowries and manillas which would be bundled in their hundreds and handled roughly, British pound notes were flimsy and inconveniently cumbersome. Because of their unpopularity, even after the Second World War Igbo women refused to accept them in markets and instead preferred native currencies. It was only after several forceful measures in the late 40s and early 50s that the colonial government succeeded in introducing pound notes as a stable form of currency in Igboland.



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