Joomla TemplatesBest Web HostingBest Joomla Hosting

In order to view this object you need Flash Player 9+ support!

Get Adobe Flash player
Joomla! Slideshow
Click on the slide!


From Rediscover Nigeria desk

  AGRICULTURE   The wealth of a nation is partially measured by its ability to guarantee its citizenry food security.In…

Click on the slide!


From Rediscover Nigeria's Desk

Manufacturing in Nigeria concentrates mainly on the production of consumer goods. With a population estimated today at over 156 million…

Click on the slide!

Nigeria! Overview

About rediscovernigeria! >> About us

From Rediscover Nigeria's Desk

Tourism in Nigeria has huge potentials to be a major foreign exchange earner. The Obasanjo administration has created awareness among…

Click on the slide!

Nigeria's Resources

Image taken from the movie "Transformers"

Nigeria's total verified external debts as at December 2010 was US$4.578 billion as against US$3.947 billion in 2009. Total scrutinized…

Frontpage Slideshow (version 1.7.2) - Copyright © 2006-2008 by JoomlaWorks
Rediscover Nigeria The Culture
Facebook API keys need to be provided to have Facebook connect work

The Culture

Nigeria is a nation with a rich history of carnivals and celebrations. This can be understood from the background of its being the biggest rainbow coalition on earth with more than 250 ethnic nationalities speaking about 400 dialects. It is indeed a big treasure pot of culture.

It is not uncommon to have two communities within a distance of less than two kilometres between them, speaking different dialects and with different social values and cultures.


Religion is a very important part of the culture of communities in Nigeria.  Religion drives many celebrations and festivities. There are two major religious faiths in Nigeria as a result of series of missionary works which started from the 12th Century. They are Christianity and Islam. A significant percentage of the aboriginal population of Nigeria became converts to these two religions.

Christians generally dominate South Eastern Nigeria. These include the entire interior and the coastlands of the Bight of Benin and the Gulf of Guinea. They also form a significant portion in the South West, the Middle Belt and parts of the North East.

Islam is dominant in almost all areas of the North West, a significant portion of the North East, parts of the Middle Belt and South West Nigeria.

Many Nigerian families share the dual heritage of having strong adherents of the two faiths living together peacefully in one large family.


Traditional and indigenous religious worship remains a very strong factor in many Nigerian communities. Quite interestingly, many religious festivals of traditional inclination attract adherents of both Islamic and Christian religious beliefs.

Most cultural festivals reveal the depth of the rich heritage of Nigeria. They mark important milestones in the people's history, reveal their strong attachment and reverence for ancestors and ancestral spirits. They equally reveal the prestige which traditional political institutions and leaders still enjoy. Above all, the festivals reveal Nigeria's rich diversity.

Several age-old taboos are still strongly respected. Folktales and songs remain common methods of recording and passing down history. It is possible to trace ancestral lineage that spans generations through them.


Much of rural Nigeria is a revelation of how the Almighty has bountifully endowed the nation. The flora and fauna species vary in their thousands and they all have their traditional uses. Common ailments are cured by traditional herbal medicines which are efficacious.

The fauna species live in close contact with man and many societies and clans have them as their symbols. Hills and caves have their uses and had a place in the history of societies as shields during wars. The economy of most societies is sustained by tilling the earth. Some economic trees totally sustain a community, as all parts of the species are useful.

Nigeria is at peace with nature. No earthquakes, no monsoon rains, no hurricanes. Natural disasters are rare. The land yields enough to meet the needs of the people in most of rural Nigeria. For all of these reasons, many Nigerian communities organize annual festivals to thank the Almighty. They also thank the gods. They thank the ancestors for providing benevolent guiding spirits. They eulogize the earth for providing their needs through rich harvests. They pray against evil, war and disasters. They honour their monarchs for providing good leadership and chastise their detractors. They pray for better years ahead. They sing they dance. Nigeria is a land of great beauty in diversity.


Everything in the ancient Benin kingdom revolves around His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin. That has been passed down through   generations as he is regarded as the representative of the gods on earth, an embodiment of everything the empire is worth in wealth, values and prestige. Respect for an Oba brings blessing and disparagement invites curses and woes. It is common in the Kingdom to hear the older generation say “I am eating for Oba.” Everything good is done in his name and for him. That's the reverence with which the institution of Oba of Benin is held. For Binis, there are only two empires the Benin Empire and all others. The stool is more than 1000 years old and has continued to grow in prestige and influence.

The Igue festival is held at the end of every year (December) as a thanksgiving to God and the ancestors for the end of one year and the dawn of another. It is a season when all sons and daughters of the kingdom represented by their titled chiefs gather round the Oba through dances to pay homage to him.

The Igue dates back to the origin of the empire but was elevated to a compulsory and popular state event by a royal decree of Oba Ewuare the Great about 600 years ago. This was after he crushed a rebellion of disloyal chiefs led by the Duke of Udo, triumphed over persecution and survived the evils of the thick rain forest.

As part of the ceremonies, there is spiritual cleansing of the empire of all evils, the re-enactment of communality through the slaughtering and sharing of animals and family re-union. There is prayer for peace, unity and progress. Evils are decreed away. It is a festival of thanksgiving.

The Igue Oba is the most colourful among the series as this is the parade of chiefs witnessed by a large crowd at the palace of the Oba. Other celebrations include Ugie Emobo, Ugie Ewere and Ugie Iron. The festival spans over a long period with the climax spread over seven days in Benin. The city is usually in frenzy in this season. The sonorous voices of Benin dance troupes, the warmth of the people and their deep rooted culture depicts a grand cultural festival. Welcome to Benin.


The Durbar is commonly celebrated in most parts of the North West and the North East of Nigeria. It has its origins in ancient military expeditions which relied essentially on the Calvary as its main war machine. The Durbar was celebrated as a victory parade by theatre commanders and traditional title holders as a sign of allegiance to reigning monarchs.

Horsemen decorated in exotic colours usually go on parade of the city. Strong horse stables are today a sign of affluence in Northern Nigeria and there is hardly any big family without one. Today, the Durbar is celebrated in Northern Nigeria mostly during Muslim religious festivals, during occasions of great joy (commemoration of an event) or as a display of very rich heritage to welcome a very important guest of the monarch.

Durbars are extremely popular in Northern Nigeria and are very expensive to stage. A mini durbar can involve as many as 500 horses, 300 camels, scores of donkeys, a long retinue of drummers, trumpeters, dancers and what can pass in traditional Nigeria as the private army of the monarch.

The Durbar is a rich display of costume, colours and style which add to the glamour and grandeur of the event. Tourists are invited to visit Kano, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Geidam, Zaria, Yola, Bauchi, Katsina, Daura, Kontagora, Yauri and Birnin Kebbi where fantastic durbars are organized.


The transition of a great monarch or a prominent community leader is usually celebrated with pomp and pageantry in the city of Lagos. In Nigeria, a king does not die. He only joins his ancestors in the next world. The people of Lagos have therefore found a practical way of celebrating the departure of a great hero to the world beyond. The Eyo is sometimes celebrated to usher in a new era in celebration of the spirit of the departed.

In spite of the great transformation which the city of Lagos has witnessed, the city is still deeply attached to its cultural past. It was the capital city of Nigeria for more than 75 years and still remains the commercial nerve centre of the country and it is the most cosmopolitan city in Nigeria.

The Eyo play is more than 150 years old and still retains its attraction for many. As a rule, no shoe is worn to watch the play. Women are equally forbidden from wearing trousers and other pants which are regarded as western attires brought to a traditional festival.

The various colours of the Eyo head gear potray the different family units they represent. In modern times, the Eyo has assumed the dimension of a carnival. Music, quite different from the traditional one which accompanies the Eyo masquerades is a common feature of the carnival. Youth dance bands with drums and cornets compete with the traditional musicians providing entertainment which liven up the festival.

The Eyo play revolves around the IGA IDUGARAN (the Palace of the Oba of Lagos) which is the traditional fountain of the Eyo.

Lagos city accommodates early settlers of Benin origin, with the Ijebus, the Nupes and Nigerians of Brazilian descent as well as a big population of traders of Igbo extraction. Amongst expatriates residing in Lagos, the Eyo has become a major attraction and fun.


The period between the months of November and March in most of rural Nigeria are usually “fallow”. It is the harmattan season. With the rain on recess, it is the season to take stock and to give thanks.

Between February and March just before the onset of the new farming season, Umuaga people in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State celebrate the OKU IHE ANEKE FESTIVAL. It is a month-long ceremony in which prayers of appreciation are offered to God for good health and good crops are offered. It is an annual festival which the various villages which make up the clan look forward to. Before the ceremonies, the various masquerades Oke Nmanwu, Iga N'egbu ode, Ome na Ajaja and the others converge in either of the town's two squares. From there, they proceed on a twenty kilometre marathon trek round neighbouring towns and villages sending messages of good will and heralding the commencement of the festival.

The Masquerades which feature in the festival are known for their various attributes. The Akpako is renowned for its physical and spiritual attributes. Oke Nmanwu is the fountain of pithy sayings and the preacher of brotherly love.

It is also a season for initiation of males into the masquerade cult under oath. The members of this revered club make their first contact with masquerades in a relationship that is eternal. A spiritual contact with the ancestors and the Almighty begin. From thence, it is celebration galore for the entire community.


Masquerades are a common feature in many Nigerian cultures. They are an essential factor in religious ceremonies. In traditional African religion, they are representatives of ancestral spirits. They are therefore revered and occupy a pride of place in society. They reflect the deep communion between the societies and their ancestors.

There are masquerades which are purely for entertainment. These feature during celebrations of thanksgiving. Izon people mostly occupy littoral states stretching from parts of Lagos through Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States. The USAKUSERE masquerade decked in palm fronds depicts their attachment to the rain forest and creeks. The palm is the most economic of all trees of the forest and the costume of the masquerade depicts the dependence of man on nature.

In Opobo (Rivers State) the NWAOTAM masquerade is renowned for its gyrating performance on rooftops. The masquerade is a symbol of the unity of the people of the city established in 1870 by the famous King Jaja. The masquerade joins in the celebration of thanksgiving which takes place at the end of year.

Among the Igbo people of South East Nigeria, masquerades are revered. Scores of masquerades feature in various festivals in cities and villages. The IJELE is the King of all masquerades. It is regarded as a combination of many masquerades in one. The masquerade ends the outing of all masquerades. The costume is unique and it towers above everything that surrounds it. The IJELE is a very rare masquerade and features only on very special occasions.


Only a few communities have been selected across Nigeria to give a glimpse of Nigeria's cultural treasure. Cultural festivals are so many and diverse. All the different communities in Nigeria have something unique to offer. It is not possible to cover the various features and dimensions of culture in this publication. What is however not in doubt is that every tourist has something pleasant to experience in Nigeria which is arguably, the world's biggest cultural confluence.

2428 Guest(s) read this Article today

Last Updated (Friday, 23 December 2011 22:57)

Activity Stream