The Nigerian culture is shaped by the country’s multiple ethnic groups. The country has over 50 languages and over 250 dialects and ethnic groups. The three largest ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulanis who are predominant in the north, the Igbos who are predominant in the south-east, and the Yorubas who are predominant in the south-west. The Edo people are predominant in the region between Yorubaland and Igboland. Most of the Edo people are Christians while 25 percent worship the Deity called Ogun. This group is followed by the Ibibio/Annang/Efik people of the coastal south-eastern Nigeria and the Ijaw of the Niger Delta. The rest of the Nigerian ethnic groups (sometimes reffered to as ‘minorities’) are found all over the country but especially in the middle belt and in the north. The Hausas are mostly Muslims and the Igbo are predominantly Christian. The Efik, Ibibio, Annang people are also predominantly Christian. The Yoruba have a balance of people that are adherent to both Islam and Christianity. Indigenous religious practices remain important in every of the country’s ethnic groups and these beliefs are often blended with Christian beliefs.
Apart from English language being the country’s international language, pidgin is also a lingua franca that was common among non-literate persons and street vendors who could not speak the formal English. Nowadays however, the majority of the country’s population including the rich, poor, literates and non-literates all speak Pidgin English which is a mixture of English and other slang words. Nigeria is also famous for its English language literature.
The Nigerian music constitutes a diverse array of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Traditional musicians use a number of diverse instruments, such as the Gongon drums. Some 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 people of coastal south-eastern Nigeria, as well as the Northern Edo masquerades. The most popular Yoruba wooden masks 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-African University, Lagos.
From the 1990s the Nigerian movie industry ‘Nollywood’ emerged as a fast-growing cultural force all over the continent of west Africa. Nigerian movies are very popular all over the country and increasingly so even in the conservative north. A foreigner who might be interested in watching Nigerians films should look Tunde kelani films up, especially SAWOROIDE or Tade ogidan films. And for modern music with genres of pop, hip-hop or rap, D’banj, P-square, Terry G, Banky W, Tu face and Naettto C. Western music, clothes and movies are also popular.
Soccer is extremely popular throughout the country and especially among the youths. Professional international soccer has developed into a cult of unity and division. Supporters of English football clubs for example, 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, the Super Eagles, is controlled by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). According to the FIFA World Rankings, Nigeria ranks 22nd and holds the third place among the African nations after Cameroon (11th) and Côte d’Ivoire (16th). The highest position ever reached on the ranking was 5th in April 1994.
Nigerian foods embellish a rich blend of traditionally African carbohydrates and soups. The foods are spicy especially in the western and southern parts of the country. Since the culture is dynamic, some Nigerians however do not like spicy foods. Some examples of traditionally Nigerian dishes are eba (garri), pounded yam iyan and fufu eaten especially with soups like okra, ogbono, egusi and other vegetable soups made from native green leaves. Yam is either fried in oil or pounded to make a mashed potato-like porridge, pounded iyan. Praised by Nigerians for the strength it gives, garri, a powdered cassava grain which is quite cheap, can be readily eaten as a meal. Nigerian beans, a variety of beans, is prepared in various ways and is also widely popular. Meat is also widely eaten in the country and the Nigerian suya, a barbecue like prepared meat, is a well known delicacy. In addition, bush meat, meat from wild game like deer and giraffes is also popular.
Fermented palm products as well as cassava are used to make a traditional liquor, Palm Wine.