Fondly called ‘Naija’ or ‘9ja’ by the Nigerian people, Nigeria, is replete with divergent history, art, cultural heritage, music, customs, cuisines, fashions and literature from about 250 ethnic groups spread across the country. It is a land of beauty, colourful culture and rich diversity.
The country is located along the coast line of West Africa and is made up of thirty-six states and a Federal Capital Territory, having a population of over 170million people who are mostly youths. Nigeria is the largest black nation on earth making up a fifth of the total population of the continent.
Nigeria’s landscape is so divergent and thus endowed with various kinds of tourist attractions:
Wildlife, beaches, plateaus, waterfalls, ancient caves, forest grooves, hills, game reserves, water springs, different bird species, floral and faunas, desert lands, etc.
The country is equally blessed with a rich cultural and historical heritage, a lot of which are depicted through folklores, poetry, beliefs, age-old traditions, languages, music, dance, literature, festivals and exotic pageant, passed on from one generation to another across the different tribes.
The people’s cultural heritage is also represented through carvings, sculptures and arts of various kinds from bronze, wood, clay, metal and Ivory, clothe weaving, tie and dye, pottery, paintings, leather works, glass and metal works, artefacts and relics from historic periods.
Some brilliant art works from Nigeria are Igbo-Ukwu, Nok terracotta, Benin head, Oduduwa head, Mambilla figure etc. Some of these are now found in museums and art galleries around the world.
Nigeria is also a very prime Business destination for investors from around the world; as the population, a huge deposit of natural resources, vast arable landscape and a taste for the finer things of life positions it as a huge revenue churner.
Nigeria has a tropical climate, divided into two distinct seasons- The wet season and the Dry season.
The Wet season lasts from March to October. During this season, there is torrential rain in especially in the coastal region (with a short dry season in August known as the ‘August break’) while the northern part experience shorter spells of rain, from May to September.
The dry season is characterized by low humidity, with chilly breeze in the morning and night time and hot dry weather in the afternoon. This is also known as ‘Harmattan’, lasting from November to February and is more severe in the hinterlands and northern parts of the country.
The climate makes Nigeria an Ideal destination to visit all year round.
Nigerians are upbeat and highly enthusiastic people who love life. They are rugged and incurable optimists with a very keen sense of humour in the face of many daunting challenges they are confronted with in everyday life. A survey carried out in global poll in 2010 revealed that Nigerians were the happiest people in the world; an average Nigerian loves to entertain and be entertained, thus can make jokes out of any situation, no matter how dire. It is on this premise that the comedy industry has evolved and continued to burgeon in Nigeria.
The family constitutes the core of the society with close ties to the extended family which serves as the social and welfare system. In Nigeria, it is believed that “no one succeeds for himself” as each person takes responsibility for other members of the extended family; thus the burden of raising the younger generation is borne by the extended family and each person plays the role of being their brother’s keeper.
The culture generally gives a lot of importance to being hospitable to guests as such Nigerians are very friendly and accommodating to foreigners.
Nigerian are also highly sociable and fun-loving people; known for their love for partying, and will find any reason to throw parties ranging from child births, graduation, weddings, house warming, deaths, etc. These parties are usually expensive and food and drinks are served lavishly to family, friends and even strangers, while souvenirs are distributed for keep sake. At these parties different types of uniforms, popularly known as ‘aso-ebi’ are worn by guests. These parties could last for days and the anniversaries too are celebrated. The “party culture” is wide-spread among the different ethnic groups around the country.
Nigerians are also highly fashionable and creative at mixing color, fabrics and accessories to achieve extraordinary fashion. It would be very apt to describe them as the most fashionable people on the planet.
In spite of the divergent culture and people, Nigerians are unified by a number of factors such as a love for the motherland, a shared sense of history and patriotism, and a love for sports especially football in which it has emerged world champions in several International tournaments.
The official Language is English but the common Lingual Franca is the “pidgin English” which is spoken in the streets, market place and almost everywhere. The pidgin English is widely accepted amongst all classes because it attributes a sense of “Nigerianness” and belonging, such that it is rare to find an adult Nigerian who has lived in the country and can’t speak the pidgin English
The Pidgin English is a beautiful blend of words from different dialects from almost every tribe, stringed together with some original English words and laced with other coined words which origin cannot be readily ascertained. In all, the Nigerian Pidgin English which is quite unique from others is a very beautiful, unifying language.
Some of the major monuments in Nigeria are:
National Art Theatre Lagos, Tafawa Balewa Square, Aso Rock, Freedom park, Mbari Artefact center, National war Museum, Niger bridge, Katsina wall, Zuma Rock, National Stadium, Oron Museum, Mary Slessor house, First Story building, Old Residency Calabar, National Assembly Building, Statue of King Jaja of Opobo, Birnin Kudu Rock Paintings, Slave Museum badagry, Benin Moat, Ikom Monolith, etc.
Nigeria is known for festivals that have lasted for centuries and attract tourists from around the world.
Dubar festival, new Yam festival, Calabar carnival, Osun Osogbo festival, Olokun festival, Arugungu fishing festival, Eyo masqurade festival, Water Regatta Carnival, Okrika festivals, Ojude oba festival, etc. One of the internationally renowned events that takes place in Nigeria, Cross rivers state is the Obudu mountain race that attracts athletes and participants from around the world.
Most of these festivals and events are held annually.
Given the over 250 different tribes co-existing, there are lots and lots of mouth-watering delicacies to choose from and I assure you, you are not likely to exhaust the list no matter how long you stay (well, I haven’t yet and been here all my life J)
The staple food is RICE served in different forms: Jollof rice, Fried rice, ofada rice served with ayemase stew, coconut rice, plain white rice, ogwaligo (white rice with specially fried stew)
Accompaniments for rice dishes are moin-moin (beans pudding), dodo (fried plantain), vegetable soups, salads, etc.
Other dishes/ meals are carbohydrates based, made from yam, cassava and grains that are grown locally- pounded yam , eba, fufu, tuwo, starch, agidi, amala, wheat, semovita. These are referred to as “swallow” and are served with various kinds of soups from the different parts of the countries:
Egusi, ogbono, banga, ewedu, Efo riro, fisherman soup, white soup Afang, Edika ikong, ground nut soup, Gbegiri (bean soup), Oha, Ofe owerri, okro, bitter leaf soup, scent soup, etc.
Most of these soups are served with fresh, dried or roasted fish, beef, chicken, cow innards (orisirisi) and could be a bit spicy depending on the cook. People from the South west for example are known to cook with a lot of pepper, oil and meat (beef), while the south-south and south-east cook with a lot of fish, sea foods and vegetables.
Other local delicacies and snacks are:
Suya, kilishi, pepper soup and Isi-ewu, cow tail or fresh fish, nkwobi (cow leg delicacy), peperred snails, akara (bean cake), kulikuli, fried coconut, Kunnu zaki, zobo drink, fura da nunu, ojojo, Abacha, fried crab, tapioca, ikokore, akpang akwukwo, adaalu, etc.
The Official Currency is the Naira, however the Dollar is acceptable in some hotels, restaurants, etc and you can carry out transactions with your bank cards (master card and visa) in most restaurants, supermarket, stores and hotels.
She is currently Managing Director Chayil Safari & Hospitality Ltd, a Travel’s company based in Lagos and specialised in planning bespoke Lifestyle travels and events for Individuals, families, teams and organisations. She is also a writer and blogger.
In her past time, she enjoys travelling, planning events, developing innovative ideas, meeting people and working with young people.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org