Types of culture in Nigeria: Interesting details about Nigerian people

Types of culture in Nigeria: Interesting details about Nigerian people

Did you know there are over 500 dialects in Nigeria? The country is the most populated in Africa. Its people come from multiple ethnic communities, meaning there are different types of culture in Nigeria. Some cultures are considered major because they have a high population, while others are minor.

culture in nigeria
A picture of a young girl in a traditional outfit. Photo: @Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Nigeria is known for its culturally diverse people. Nigerians are proud of their ethnic communities and are known for their flashy dressing and spicy food. Discover the different types of culture in Nigeria today.

Types of culture in Nigeria you should know

Exploring all the ethnic communities in the country is quite challenging because there are over 500 spoken dialects, each with its people and history. Nigerians are broadly classified into three main ethnic groups, namely Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.

Nigerian culture is rich because each community has unique traditions. Below is an exploration of various ethnic groups in Nigeria and their culture.

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Hausa

There are different cultures in Nigeria, and one of the most common is Hausa. Hausa is the largest ethnic group in the country, and its people, who speak the Hausa language, make up about a fifth of the country's population.

There are over 20 million Hausa people in modern-day Nigeria. They are concentrated mainly in the northwestern part of the nation. This region is mostly semi-arid grassland or savanna. It has several cities surrounded by farming communities.

Religion

A large percentage of Hausa people are Muslims. They believe in Allah and Muhammad as his prophet. Children attend Madrasa classes to learn their religion.

Rites of passage

A week after birth, each child is given a name following the Islamic naming traditions. Boys are usually circumcised at about seven, but no special rite is associated with this.

When young men and women mature, they get engaged. Marriage ceremonies take several days. Male representatives of the bride's and the groom's families sign the marriage contract according to Islamic law, usually at the mosque. When a person dies, they are buried as per the Islamic traditions.

Dressing

This community has an elaborate dress style. Many wear large, flowing gowns with elaborate embroidery around the neck. The attire is called gare or babban gida. They also wear colourful embroidered caps called huluna.

On the other hand, Hausa women wear a wrap-around robe made of colourful cloth with a matching blouse, head tie, and shawl.

Food

The staple foods in this community include sorghum, millet, rice, and maize. These grains are normally ground into flour for a variety of foods. Soups are commonly consumed. Most are made with tomatoes, onions, vegetables, and spices. Beans, peanuts, meats, and milk are the primary sources of proteins.

Family life and education

Hausa people are reserved and respectful. In rural setups, people live in large households called gidaje. Farming and trading are the main economic activities.

Education begins at about six, and children attend Koranic schools. Music and art are important in everyday life, and children often participate in dances.

nigerian culture
A picture of some of the common Nigerian delicacies. Photo: @Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Ibo/ Igbo

Igbo people speak the Igbo language and primarily occupy the southeastern part of the country. By the turn of the 21st century, Igbo people numbered over 20 million.

Religion

Igbo is a major culture in Nigeria. The Igbo believe in a supreme god who watches over his creatures from a distance and seldom interferes in the affairs of human beings. As the creator of everything, he is called Chukwu Abiama. The community believes in minor gods.

Rites of passage

In this community, boys are circumcised at eight days old. During this time, the umbilical cord is buried at the foot of a tree selected by the child's mother. A name-giving ceremony that involves feasting and drinking is also held.

The marriage process is pretty long and may take several years. The steps involved are asking for the young woman's consent, negotiating through a middleman, testing the bride's character, and paying dowry.

After death, one's remains are clothed in the finest garments and placed on a stool in a sitting posture. People pay their last respects before they are buried, usually within 24 hours.

Dressing

The Igbo traditional dress is a danshiki or a long, loose-fitting top. For everyday wear, men wear a cotton wrap, shirt, and sandals. For formal events, they wear a long embroidered shirt over a dressy wrap, shoes, and a hat. Women wear wraps for both informal and formal occasions.

Food

The staple food of the Igbo is yams. Other commonly consumed starches are cassava, taro root, rice, maize and plantains. A typical meal includes starch and a soup or stew, prepared with vegetables to which pieces of fish, chicken, beef, or goat meat are added.

Family life and education

Traditional Igbo men were polygamous and could marry as many wives as they could sustain. This changed after the introduction of Christianity. The community has embraced modern education.

Music is a key cultural component. The community has a traditional instrument called ubaw-akwala, and another stringed instrument called ugene.

How many cultures are in Nigeria?
A happy woman in a colourful traditional outfit. Photo: pexels.com, @motioncoloursphotography
Source: UGC

Yoruba

Yoruba, one of the largest ethnic groups of Nigeria. People from this community are concentrated in the southwestern part of the nation and speak the Yoruba language.

Religion

About 20% of people from this community still practice the traditional Yoruba religion. This religion holds that there is one supreme being and hundreds of minor deities called orisha. Those who practice other religions are divided almost evenly between Muslims and Christians.

Rites of passage

A newborn is normally sprinkled with water to make it cry, and no word is spoken until the infant cries. At birth, no one younger than the mother should be present. The baby is then taken to the backyard, where the umbilical cord is cut. The placenta is buried in the backyard.

A couple of days after birth, a naming ceremony is held. Marriages are arranged, and wedding ceremonies take several days.

Burials are normally performed by adult men who are not close relatives of the deceased but belong to their clan. The grave is dug into the floor of the room where the deceased lived.

Dressing

Traditional Yoruba outfits are made of block-printed fabrics with geometric designs. They are colourful and elaborate.

Food

The staples in the Yoruba diet are starchy tubers, grains, and plantains. These are mostly eaten with wild and cultivated fruits and vegetables, meat, and fish. One of the most popular foods is fufu.

Family life and education

The Yoruba oral tradition includes tongue twisters, praise poems, prose narratives, riddles, and proverbs. Traditional Yoruba men are polygamous and live in large homesteads. The community has embraced modern education.

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A happy man wearing a traditional outfit. Photo: @Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Fulani/ Peul/ Fulbe/ Fulfulde

The language of the Fulani is known as Fulfulde. Its people are scattered throughout many parts of Africa, including Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and Niger.

Religion

This community is primarily Muslim. Members follow all Islamic teachings and principles.

Rites of passage

Shortly after birth, a naming ceremony is held according to Islamic law and practice. Boys undergo circumcision at around seven.

Girls are usually betrothed in marriage during their early to mid-teens. Boys remain young and handsome or sukaa'be until twenty. They are allowed time to herd or obtain a farm before marriage. Families sign a marriage contract under Islam.

Dressing

The community follows the Islamic dress code, which prescribes modesty.

Food

The Fulani diet includes milk products, gruel called gari, and a heavy porridge called nyiiri. Millet, sorghum, and corn are staple grains.

Family life

The Fulani people are guided by a code of ethics called Pulaaku. It encourages semteende (modesty), munyal (patience), and hakkiilo (common sense). The Fulani live in small, temporary camps. They have a nomadic lifestyle, and polygamy is common.

Edo/ Bini

The Bini or Edo people are concentrated in Edo State. Some are spread across the Delta, Ondo, and Rivers states of Nigeria, and they speak a language called Edo.

Religion

Edo people are religious and believe in the existence of two worlds, i.e. the visible world called agbon and the spiritual world called erinmwin.

The religion is quite philosophical. They believe the creator of these worlds is God Almighty or Osanobua. They also believe in the series of fourteen reincarnations. After the fourteenth reincarnation, each soul tells Osanubua his or her life plan to define their destiny.

Food

Soups are the staple meal in this community. The most common soups are melon or okra soups cooked with bush meat or fish. Pounded yam and rice are the main starches.

different cultures in nigeria
A lady wearing orange beads on her hair and neck. Photo: pexels.com, @Korede Adenola
Source: UGC

Efik-Ibibio

Efik-Ibibio culture has a significant influence on the Southern Part of Nigeria. The representatives of this culture speak their native language and English.

The culture is associated with the lion, which is the symbol of this culture. There is a secret society called the Ekpe (lion) that protects the culture.

This society has an elaborate system of symbols called Nsibidi transferred to the contemporary generation from ancient knowledge. Most of the symbols are taught at school to preserve the Ibibio culture.

Mythology

The community believes in a Supreme Being called Abassi and His wife, Atai. Atai is the mediator between Abassi and human beings. It is believed that Atai convinced Abassi to allow two humans of opposite genders to live on earth but forbade them to work or reproduce.

The rules were set so that the Efik people would not surpass Abassi in wisdom or strength. The two disobeyed, and Abassi killed them and cursed human beings to experience chaos and death on earth.

Food

People from this community often eat soups. Some common soups are Afañg, Edikang Ikong, pepper, Ukwoho, Atama, and Eritan. Many recipes are made of vegetables.

How many cultures are in Nigeria?

There are over 250 ethnic cultures and over 500 spoken languages in the country. Some communities have preserved their traditions better than others.

What is Nigeria known for?

The country is known for being the most populous black nation and one of the biggest oil producers. It is also known for its large film industry and love for fashion.

Does Nigeria have one culture?

No, the country has multiple cultures. It has over 250 ethnic communities.

What are the 3 types of culture in Nigeria?

The three main ethnic groups are Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. There are many other minor ethnic communities in the country.

How many cultural groups are in Nigeria?

There are over 250 cultural or ethnic groups in the country. Among them, the three largest are Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa.

What are the major cultural groups in Nigeria?

Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa are the three major cultural groups in the country. This is because they have the highest population.

There are numerous types of culture in Nigeria in 2022. These communities have unique religious beliefs and customs.

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