Culture of Nigeria

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The culture of Nigeria is shaped by Nigeria's multiple ethnic groups. The country has 527 languages, seven of them are extinct.[1] Nigeria also has over 1150 dialects and ethnic groups. The six largest ethnic groups are the Hausa and Fulani in the north, the Igbo in the southeast, and the Yoruba predominate in the southwest, the Tiv people of North Central Nigeria and the Efik - Ibibio. The Edo people are most frequent in the region between Yorubaland and Igboland. Many of the Edo tend to be Christian. This group is followed[clarification needed] by the Ibibio/Annang/Efik people of the coastal south southern Nigeria and the Ijaw of the Niger Delta.

Nigeria's other ethnic groups, sometimes called 'minorities', are found throughout the country but especially in the north and the middle belt. The traditionally nomadic Fulani can be found all over West and Central Africa. The Fulani and the Hausa are predominantly Muslim while the Igbo are predominantly Christian and so are the Efik, Ibibio, and Annang people. The Yoruba are equally likely to be either Christian or Muslim. Indigenous religious practices remain important to all of Nigeria's ethnic groups, and frequently these beliefs are blended with Christian beliefs, a practice known as syncretism.

Major Nigerian Ethnic Cultures[edit]

Language distribution around 1979.
Hausa (in yellow) and other Chadic languages.
Area of Yorubas.
Igbo in the Southeast.
Edo in the South.
Ijaw (Ijo).

Efik-Ibibio Culture[edit]

The Efik-Ibibio culture of coastal southeastern Nigeria has a significant contribution to the Nigerian culture, especially the culture of southern part of Nigeria. A brief summary is as follows:

Efik-Ibibio language: This language is spoken in Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State. It has various dialects such as the Annang dialect, Oron dialect, and many others. The Efik-Ibibio language has a significant influence on the languages and names of people of southern Nigeria.
Protectors: The Efik-Ibibio culture was protected by a secret society, the Ekpe, that was indigenous to southeastern Nigeria. The "Ekpe", meaning 'Lion', became a popular symbol in the Efik-Ibibio culture which later became popular in other Nigerian ethnic cultures.
Writing: Nsibidi is the popular ancient indigenous writing of the Efik people was invented by the Ekpe of the Efik-Ibibio people.
Food: Located in the coastal southeastern Nigeria by the Atlantic Ocean, the Efik-Ibibio people are blessed with various edible vegetables. Their food is popular throughout the entire Nigeria including the popular Afañg soup, Edikang Ikong soup, pepper soup, Ukwoho, Atama,Eritañ, jollof-rice, etc., etc.


Eghosa the queen of Bini

Yoruba Culture[edit]

The Yorubas are located on the western region of Nigeria.

Igbo Culture[edit]

The eastern part of Nigeria is the home of the Igbos, who are mostly Christians. Their traditional religion is known as Omenani. Socially they are led by monarchs known as Eze Igwes. These figures in turn are expected to confer subordinate titles upon men and woman that are highly accomplished. This is known as the Nze na Ozo title system. People of title are usually well-spoken, highly respected and well recognized in their communities.

Hausa-Fulani Culture[edit]

The Hausa-Fulani live in Northern Nigeria.

Nigerian literature[edit]

Nigeria is famous for its English language literature. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, is an important book in African literature.[2] With over eight million copies sold worldwide, it has been translated into 50 languages, making Achebe the most translated African writer of all time.[3][4]

Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka described the work as "the first novel in English which spoke from the interior of the African character, rather than portraying the African as an exotic, as the white man would see him."[5]

Apart from the speakers of standard English, a large portion of the population, roughly a third, speaks Nigerian pidgin, which has a primarily English lexicon. It has become a common lingua franca as a result. Pidgin English is a creolized form of the language. For instance, "How you dey" means "How are you". The Palm Wine Drinkard, a popular novel by Amos Tutuola, was written in it.


Since the 1990s the Nigerian movie industry, sometimes called "Nollywood", has emerged as a fast-growing cultural force all over Africa. Because of the movies, western influences such as music, casual dressing and methods of speaking are to be found all across Nigeria, even in the highly conservative north of the country.



Supporters of English football clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea often segregate beyond the traditional tribal and even religious divide to share their common cause in Premier League teams. The Nigerian national football team, nicknamed the "Super Eagles", is the national team of Nigeria, run by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). According to the FIFA World Rankings, Nigeria ranks 22nd and holds the third highest place among the African nations behind Cameroon (11th) and Côte d'Ivoire (16th). The highest position Nigeria ever reached on the ranking was 5th, in April 1994.



Nigerian food offers a rich blend of traditionally African carbohydrates such as yam and cassava as well as the vegetable soups with which they are often served. Maize is another crop that is commonly grown in Nigeria.[6] Praised by Nigerians for the strength it gives, garri is "the number one staple carbohydrate food item in Nigeria"[7] a powdered cassava grain that can be readily eaten as a meal and is quite inexpensive. Yams are frequently fried either fried in oil or pounded to make a mashed potato-like yam pottage. Nigerian beans, quite different from green peas, are widely popular. Meat is also popular and Nigerian suya—a barbecue-like roasted meat—is a well-known delicacy. Bush meat, meat from wild game like antelope and giraffes, is also popular. Fermented palm products make a traditional liquor, palm wine, and also fermented cassava. Nigerian foods are spicy, mostly in the western and southern part of the country, even more so than in Indian cuisine. Some more examples of their traditional dishes are eba, pounded yam, iyan, fufu and soups like okra, ogbono and egusi. Fufu is so emblematic of Nigeria that it figures in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, for example. Achebe's magnum opus is the most widely read book in modern African literature.[8]


Sango priestress.jpg

The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. The singer and social activist Fela Kuti was instrumental in Nigeria's musical development.

Traditional musicians use a number of diverse instruments, such as Gongon drums. The kora and the kakaki are also important.

Other traditional cultural expressions are found in the various masquerades of Nigeria, such as the Eyo masquerades, the Ekpe and Ekpo Masquerades of the Efik/Ibibio/Annang/Igbo peoples of coastal southeastern Nigeria, and the Northern Edo Masquerades. The most popular Yoruba manifestations of this custom are the Gelede masquerades.


A very important source of information on modern Nigerian art is the Virtual Museum of Modern Nigerian Art operated by the Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos.

In addition, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, and Naija Invest Gateway, provide real time information on the Nigerian business culture.


Women wear long flowing robes and headscarves made from local markets who dye and weave the fabric locally. Southern Nigerian women choose to wear western-style wear. People in urban regions of Nigeria dress in western style, the youth mainly wearing jeans and T-shirts. Other Nigerian men and women typically wear a traditional style called Buba. For men the loose fitting shirt goes down to halfway down the thigh. For women, the loose fitting blouse goes down a little below the waist. Other clothing gear includes a gele, which is the woman's headgear. For men their traditional cap is called fila. The dressing and colours of the garments can sometimes change according to the occasion to be attended.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lewis, M. Paul; Gary F. Simons; Charles D. Fennig, eds. (2016). "Nigeria". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (19th ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International Publications.
  2. ^ Booker, p. xvii.
  3. ^ Yousaf, p. 34.
  4. ^ Ogbaa, p. 5.
  5. ^ "Chinua Achebe of Bard College". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 33 (33): 28–29. Autumn 2001. doi:10.2307/2678893. JSTOR 2678893.
  6. ^ Akarolo-Anthony, Sally (2013). "Pattern Of Dietary Carbonhydrate intake Among Urbanized Adult Nigerians". International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.uos
  7. ^ Agricultural Society of Nigeria (2016). "Producing Garri for export".
  8. ^ Ogbaa, Kalu (1999). Understanding Things Fall Apart. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-30294-7.


  1. ^ "Interesting Facts About Nigerian People and Culture". Answers Africa. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  2. ^ "People & Culture". Retrieved 2016-02-06.