Nigerian People and culture

Nigerian People and culture

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Nigerian people and culture:Getting into the psyche of  Nigerian peoples and culture makes a very fascinating subject.Is there any place in the world where there are so many people and different cultures as much as we have in Nigeria? Well a few countries come to mind,India,United States of America and maybe China..After that ,i am struggling really.

Though there is archaeological evidence that societies have been living in Nigeria for more than twenty-five hundred years, the borders of modern Nigeria were not created until the

British consolidated their colonial power over the area in 1914.
More than 250 ethnic tribes call present-day Nigeria home. The three largest and most dominant ethnic groups are the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo (pronounced ee-bo). Other smaller groups include the Fulani, Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, Tiv, and Edo. Prior to their conquest by Europeans, these ethnic groups had separate and independent histories. Their grouping together into a single entity known as Nigeria was a construct of their British colonizers. These various ethnic groups never considered themselves part of the same culture. This general lack of Nigerian nationalism coupled with an ever-changing and often ethnically biased national leadership, have led to severe internal ethnic conflicts and a civil war. Today bloody confrontations between or among members of different ethnic groups continue.

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Traditional Nigerian drummers.

Nigeria has three main environmental regions: savanna,tropical forests and coastal wetlands. These environmental regions greatly affect the cultures of the people who live there. The dry, open grasslands of the savanna make cereal farming and herding a way of life for the Hausa and the Fulani. The wet tropical forests to the south are good for farming fruits and vegetables—main income producers for the Yoruba, Igbo, and others in this area. The small ethnic groups living along the coast, such as the Ijaw and the Kalabari, are forced to keep their villages small due to lack of dry land. Living among creeks, lagoons, and salt marshes makes fishing and the salt trade part of everyday life in the area.

The Niger and Benue Rivers come together in the center of the country, creating a "Y" that splits Nigeria into three separate sections. In general, this "Y" marks the boundaries of the three major ethnic groups, with the Hausa in the north, the Yoruba in the southwest, and the Igbo in the southeast.

Now more about Nigerian peoples and their cultures...Let's start with the Yoruba people-

The Yoruba's are mostly found in the South Western part of Nigeria,the Yoruba culture is very proud and still pretty very much preserved.Poetry,beadwork,metal work,mask making and weaving are some of the arts the Yoruba people have a long history with.The Yoruba peoples just like the Greeks have a strong affinity with their deities and have over 400 of such.Some of these can also be found on the Yoruba people's artwork and masks.

The Igbo's.The Igbo people occupy mostly the South Eastern part of Nigeria.Historically,the Igbo peoples are said to have originated from the Nri community,this dates as far back as the stone age.The Igbo's are most famous for being industrious and enterprising.The Igbo's are also noted for their very warm and colourful cultural display from time to time.They are surrounded by other ethnics like the Ogoni's,Ibibia,Igala,Benin warri,Tiv,and Ijaw to name a few.

The Hausa people are next and these peoples occupy the Northern part of Nigeria,the Hausa people spread further out of Nigeria into West Africa,in the process making them  biggest ethnic group in West Africa,amounting into 30 million people or more!

In Nigeria the Fulani's and the Huasa's are merged into one,their common outlook and cultural ways makes these easily possible.This was the genesis of the term Hausa-Fulani.The Hausa Fulani fusion is most commonly found in cities such as Kaduna ,Sokoto,Kastina,Zaria,Jos,Kano.

Politically, Nigeria is divided into thirty-six states. The nation's capital was moved from Lagos, the country's largest city, to Abuja on 12 December 1991. Abuja is in a federal territory that is not part of any state. While Abuja is the official capital, its lack of adequate infrastructure means that Lagos remains the financial, commercial, and diplomatic center of the country.

Demography. Nigeria has the largest population of any African country. In July 2000, Nigeria's population was estimated at more than 123 million people. At about 345 people per square mile, it is also the most densely populated country in Africa. Nearly one in six Africans is a Nigerian. Despite the rampages of AIDS, Nigeria's population continues to grow at about 2.6 percent each year. The Nigerian population is very young. Nearly 45 percent of its people are under age fourteen.

With regard to ethnic breakdown, the Hausa-Fulani peoples make up 29 percent of the population, followed by the Yoruba peoples with 21 percent, the Igbo people with

18 percent, the Ijaw people with 10 percent, the Kanuri people with 4 percent, the Ibibio people with 3.5 percent, and the Tiv  people with 2.5 percent.

Major urban centers include Lagos, Ibidan, Kaduna, Kano, and Port Harcourt.

Sharia law was introduced into the northern Nigerian states from 2000. This is a code for how Muslims should lead their lives. It is thought to have been drawn up by Muslim scholars in the early centuries of Islam, with parts of it taken directly from the Koran. As in other countries, northern Nigeria uses the code as a basis for its criminal law. However, some of the harsher penalties, such as death-by-stoning for adultery, have never been carried out.


Yoruba drummers representing Nigerian people and culture.

Nigeria has directly or indirectly influenced and produced some of the greatest music heard.Some of the well known Nigerian musicians both directly and through heritage are,grammy award winner Seal,grammy award winner Sade Adu,Fela Kuti,King Sunny Ade,Ebenezer Obey,Neyo,2face Idibia,and many more.But Nigerian music goes deeper than just the popular culture music.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti representing Nigerian peoples and culture
Fela Kuti.

The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of Folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments, and songs. Little is known about the country's music history prior to European contact, although bronze carvings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found depicting musicians and their instruments.The largest ethnic groups are the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. Traditional music from Nigeria and throughout Africa is almost always functional; in other words, it is performed to mark a ritual such as a wedding or funeral and not for pure entertainment or artistic enjoyment. Although some Nigerians, especially children and the elderly, play instruments for their own amusement, solo performance is otherwise rare. Music is closely linked to agriculture, and there are restrictions on, for example, which instruments can be played during different parts of the growing season.

Work songs are a common type of traditional Nigerian music. They help to keep the rhythm of workers in fields, river canoes and other fields. Women use complex rhythms in housekeeping tasks, such as pounding yams to highly ornamented music. In the northern regions, farmers work together on each other's farms and the host is expected to supply musicians for his neighbours.

The issue of musical composition is also highly variable. The Hwana, for example, believe that all songs are taught by the peoples' ancestors, while the Tiv give credit to named composers for almost all songs, and the Efik name individual composers only for secular songs. In many parts of Nigeria, musicians are allowed to say things in their lyrics that would otherwise be perceived as offensive.
Sade Adu Nigerian people and culture
Sade Adu was born in Ibadan,Nigeria.

The most common format for music in Nigeria is the call-and-response choir, in which a lead singer and a chorus interchange verses, sometimes accompanied by instruments that either shadow the lead text or repeat and ostinato vocal phrase. The southern area features complex rhythms and solo players using melody instruments, while the north more typically features polyphonic wind ensembles. The extreme north region is associated with monodic (i.e., single-line) music with an emphasis on drums, and tends to be more influenced by Islamic music.

Epic poetry is found in parts of Nigeria, and its performance is always viewed as musical in nature. Blind itinerant performers, sometimes accompanying themselves with a string instrument, are known for reciting long poems of unorthodox Islamic text among the Kanuri and Hausa. These, and other related traditions, may be descended from similar Maghrebian and European traditions.The Ozidi Saga found in the Niger Delta is a well-known epic that takes seven days to perform and utilises a narrator, a chorus, percussion, mime and dance.

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Multiple Grammy winner Seal has Nigerian heritage.


The Nigerian food basket reflects the diverse culture, weather and soil variation, fauna and flora as well as unique tastes that has evolved over the many centuries amongst the well over 500 distinctly different tribes and languages that resides in the Nigerian space.

The impact of Westernization as well as early Arabian contact has in no small way also helped to shape the preferences and food choices you would find on the Nigerian table. 

Irrespective of where you live or look at though, the Nigerian food recipes come mainly from a selection of semi solid doughs or boiled servings prepared from cassava, plantain, yam, cocoyam, millet, beans, maize, or rice, served with a typical Nigerian soup or stew.

Soups and stews are generally a careful and deliberate blend of spices and seeds or thickeners in a broth enriched with fish and assortment of meats and leafy vegetables if desired. 

Meals are also served with plenty of fruits easily grown near homes.

Now let's check out some of Nigerian peoples top Foods,ten to be exact...If you ever get the chance to go to a Nigeria party or visit Nigeria,you have to try some if not all of these dishes.Here goes...

Nigerian Pepper Soup a favourite of Nigerian people, is an incredibly spicy, intensely flavored and aromatic broth like soup made primarily from a blend of native seeds and good amount of water, to which small cuts of a protein of choice is always added. The protein could either be in the form of goat meat, shaki/tripe/towel, cow skin/kpomo, chicken, fish, turkey. The protein component of the soup could also be the innards or offals of an animal or parts of the animal that would normally be discarded. Some of these parts could include intestines, hearts, liver and other such parts.

The choice of protein to use is purely either out of preference or financial instability. If one is relatively ‘boxed up,’ or rich, you could get choice parts of meat, but if finances are scarce and one is on a 0-1-0 or 0-0-1 or 1-0-0 diet, then the cheapest parts would obviously be the innards/offals. *0-1-0 means no breakfast, lunch and no dinner :: 0-0-1 means no breakfast, no lunch and dinner while 1-0-0 means breakfast, no lunch and no dinner. You could make other number variations as well, it’s a Nigerian ‘thing,’ lol.*

Nigerian Peppersoup is eaten year round in Nigeria, despite the hot weather. It is a soup that has the capacity to stop a cold/flu in it’s tracks if done the proper way.  Lots of Nigerians love to eat peppersoup (I’m yet to come across one that doesn’t! Actually, I don’t really care for it unless I’m down with a cold). However, the bone of contention that often stumps those who attempt to make it are the ingredients used in the soup.

2] Afang Soup
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Afgang soup.

Afang Soup originated in the Cross River State of South-Eastern Nigeria; it is now enjoyed

 all over Nigeria and by the diaspora worldwide. The soup uses water leaves and Afang

 leaves as well as meat, snails and dried fish for seasoning. The dish takes around an 

hour to cook in total and is often served with garri or fufu.

3] Efo Riro

Efo gosh,where's the party?

Efo Riro is a hearty vegetable stew. This dish is a Yoruba delicacy from Western Nigeria,

 made from vegetables and the meat of your preference. The stew usually includes

 a mix of meats including offal and chicken. Most often pumpkin leaves or water leaves

 are used in the stew, but some people jazz it up with frozen spinach.

4] Egusi Soup

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Egusi Soup. yummy..

Egusi Soup is a Nigerian delicacy which used ground egusi seeds to thicken the soup. 

Other ingredients in the soup include red meat, seafood, spinach, tomatoes, chillies, 

onions and fermented beans. It's an easy dish to make, but can take up to three hours

 to prepare. It is usually served with garri, pounded yam or fufu.

5] Puff Puff

Nigerian puff puff food
Puff Puff.

Puff Puff is a fried donut often served as a treat at parties and by people who are 

entertaining. The small round balls are easy to prepare as they use hardly any 

ingredients. These simple treats are quite oily as they require deep frying - so they're

 not for every day consumption.

6] Garri 

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Garri is a popular accompaniment to many Nigerian dishes. It is made from fermented

 cassava tubers. The tubers must first be peeled, washed and grated into a mash 

before they are fermented. The product of this is then roasted and pounded to make

 fine flour. Garri can be eaten as a snack or as dough that is served with stews or soups.

 Garri is eaten in most parts of Nigeria and in other neighbouring West African countries.Garri

can also be taken with iced cold water and sugar,if you want to go all the way,add some

ground nuts to it and its

7] Jollof Rice

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Jollof Rice,plantain and chicken.

Jollof rice is popular in Nigeria and much of West Africa. Probably my favourite.The dish

 is made up of rice(usually basmati rice) tomatoes, onions, chillies, and a variety of

 spices. It is most often served with chicken, but can also be served with vegetables or fish.

 Some cooks serve it with beans or peas. Jollof rice is one variety of savoury rice

 dishes served all over the world.

8] Pounded Yam
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Pounded Yam and Egusi soup.

Pounded yam is one of the most popular varieties of the fufu dishes that accompany 

many of Nigeria's delicious soups and stews. It can either be made by mixing yam 

powder and hot water or pounding raw yams. Making the dish from scratch is difficult,

 but by all accounts the difference in taste makes it worthwhile to make the effort.

9] Dodo, or Fried Plantains,

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Dodo or fried plantains.

Dodo, or fried plantains, another favourite of mine.Dodo is a great accompaniment to

 many meals as well as a standalone treat. They are most often served with rice dishes 

but can also be eaten with a fried egg or an omelette. Dodo is eaten everywhere in 

Nigeria and internationally by the Nigerian diaspora. They are incredibly easy to prepare, 

requiring only that the cook peel, slice and fry them.

10] Suya

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Suya is a meat delicacy that can be found all over Nigeria. The dish is simple, 

featuring meat or fish rubbed in spices and barbequed on a skewer. It can be found

 on street corners in any major town and city in Nigeria. The spice mixture used is 

often made up of peanuts, ginger, peppers, various stock flavours and dried onions. 

Suya is often eaten by revellers who are out and about in the evening. 

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