Culture of Nigeria

  • 1223

The culture of Nigeria is shaped by Nigeriaís multiple ethnic groups. The country has over 50 languages and over 250 dialects and ethnic groups. The three largest ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulani who are predominant in the north, the Igbo who are predominant in the southeast, and the Yoruba who are predominant in the southwest.

Tell your friends

Art

Nigeria is famous for its sculpture. The bronzework of the ancient cities of Ife and Benin can be found in museums all over the world. These areas in southern Nigeria still produce large amounts of bronze castings. Woodcarvings and terra-cotta sculptures also are popular.

Nigerians are expert dyers, weavers, and tailors. They produce massive quantities of beautiful, rich, and colorful textiles. However, the majority of these are sold primarily for everyday wear and not as examples of art.

Music

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 countryís 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 otherís farms and the host is expected to supply musicians for his neighbors.

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.

Fashion

Nigerian clothing is unique and attractive. Lace, jacquard, adire, and ankara are some of the materials that are used to prepare dresses in Nigeria. Nigerian clothing for women include buba, kaba, iro, gele and iborun or ipele and Nigerian clothing for men include buba, fila, sokoto, abeti-aja and agbada. Other than traditional attire, the people also wear western attires.The ethnic diversity of Nigeria is reflected well in its clothing culture.The important materials for Nigerian clothing are Ė lace, jacquard, adire, and ankara. The people are also fond of tie and die materials.

Food

Nigerian cuisine consists of dishes or food items from the hundreds of ethnic groups that comprise the West African nation of Nigeria. Like other West African cuisines, it uses spices and herbs in conjunction with palm oil or groundnut oil to create deeply flavoured sauces and soups often made very hot with chili peppers. Nigerian feasts are colourful and lavish, while aromatic market and roadside snacks cooked on barbecues or fried in oil are plentiful and varied.

Language

There are hundreds of languages spoken in Nigeria. The official language of Nigeria, English, the former colonial language, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country.

 English, however, remains an exclusive preserve of the countryís urban elite, and is not widely spoken in rural areas, which comprise three quarters of the countryís population. The other major languages are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ibibio, Edo, Fulfulde, and Kanuri. 

Nigeriaís linguistic diversity is a microcosm of Africa as a whole, encompassing three major African languages families: Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and NigerĖCongo. Nigeria also has several as-yet unclassified languages, such as Cen Tuum, which may represent a relic of an even greater diversity prior to the spread of the current language families.

Literature

Nigeria has a long and incredibly rich literary history. Nigerians are traditionally storytellers. Much of precolonial history in Nigeria is the result of stories handed down from generation to generation. With colonization and the introduction of reading, writing, and the English language, Nigerian storytellers soon began sharing their talents with a worldwide audience.

 Perhaps Nigeriaís most famous writer is Wole Soyinka, who won the 1986 Nobel Prize for literature. His most famous works include A Dance of the Forests, The Swamp Dwellers, and The Lion and the Jewel. Other famous Nigerian authors include Chinua Achebe, whose Things Fall Apart is a favorite among Western schools as an example of the problems inflicted on African societies during colonization, and Ben Okri, whose novel The Famished Road won Britainís 1991 Booker Prize.

Architecture

Nigerian architecture is as diverse as its people. In rural areas, houses often are designed to accommodate the environment in which the people live. The Ijo live in the Niger Delta region, where dry land is very scarce.

 To compensate for this, many Ijo homes are built on stilts over creeks and swamps, with travel between them done by boat. The houses are made of wood and bamboo and topped with a roof made of fronds from raffia palms. The houses are very airy, to allow heat and the smoke from cooking fires to escape easily.

Igbo houses tend to be made of a bamboo frame held together with vines and mud and covered with banana leaves. They often blend into the surrounding forest and can be easily missed if you donít know where to look. Men and women traditionally live in separate houses.

Much of the architecture in the north is heavily influenced by Muslim culture. Homes are typically geometric, mud-walled structures, often with Muslim markings and decorations. The Hausa build large, walled compounds housing several smaller huts. The entryway into the compound is via a large hut built into the wall of the compound. This is the hut of the father or head male figure in the compound.

Sports

Football is largely considered one of Nigeriaís national sports and the country has its own Premier League of football. Nigeria is also involved in other sports such as basketball, cricket and track and field. Boxing is also an important sport in Nigeria.

Holidays

Nigeria observes three secular national holidays and several officially recognized Muslim and Christian holidays when government, commerce, and banks are closed. The secular holidays are New Yearís Day (1 January), Workersí Day (1 May), and National Day (1 October). The Christian holidays are Christmas (25 December), Good Friday, and Easter Monday. 

The Muslim holidays are Eid al-Fitr (the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting), Tabaski, and Eid al-Moulid. Aside from Christmas, the religious holidays fall on different days each year.

Economy

The economy of Nigeria historically was based on agriculture. The chief crops are cocoa, peanuts, palm oil, corn, rice, sorghum, millet, soybeans, cassava, yams, and rubber. In addition, cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs are raised.

Petroleum is the leading mineral produced in Nigeria and provides about 95% of foreign exchange earnings and the majority of government revenues. Other minerals extracted include tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, columbite, lead, zinc, and gold.

Industry in Nigeria includes the processing of agricultural products and minerals, and the manufacture of textiles, construction materials, footware, chemicals, fertilizer, and steel. Fishing and forestry are also important to the economy, and there is small commercial shipbuilding and repair sector. In addition, traditional woven goods, pottery, metal objects, and carved wood and ivory are produced.

Important exports include cocoa, rubber, and palm products. The main imports are machinery, chemicals, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, and live animals. The United States is by far the largest trading partner, followed by China, Brazil, Spain, and Great Britain.