Nigeria               

Created by Margot Herrman and Roma Patel

This website is designed to increase your knowledge of Nigeria and provide information that may be useful when visiting or studying abroad. 

Basic Facts

Nigeria is located in Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea between Benin and Cameroon.

Africa's most populous country - about 126,635,626 people

Capital - Abuja 

Government - republic transitioning from military to civilian rule

Prevalent Religions - 50% Muslim, 40% Christian, 10% indigenous beliefs 

Prevalent Ethnic Groups - Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, and Ijaw

Prevalent Languages - English (official) or Pidgin English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, and Fulani

About 45% of the Nigerian population is below the poverty line. 

 

Society

Nigeria was once colonized by Britain so the British are viewed negatively. Americans, on the other hand, are not viewed negatively or positively for that matter. Overall, Nigerians are accepting of foreigners, but the expected suspicions about strangers are still present.

Nigeria has a male dominated society. The woman plays the subservient role in society. Also, the parents have high expectations of their children and expect them to obey until the children get married. The family structure is much like a Hispanic culture where an extended family is common. 

AIDS is spreading rapidly and has become a major issue in Nigeria. The current health care is not adequate to accommodate the increasing numbers of sick people who need treatment.

 

Food

The best chance of finding good Nigerian food is at the roadside stalls, called Buka, where the best cooked local cuisine is found. Peppery stews are common in the southern states, while menus of grain and beef are common in the north. Much of the Nigerian food is grain-based. Tuwo, made from maize, corn rice or millet, is popular, as is Efo, a vegetable soup, and Isi-ewu, goat head pepper soup. Along the coast, a variety of seafood dishes can be found. Palm oil, a reddish colored oil made from ground palm kernels, is the main type of oil used in cooking. Snack foods include fried yam chips, meat pastries, and fried plantains.

The favorite drink in Nigeria, particularly in the south, is palm wine, a natural juice made from palm trees. 

 

Recreation

Recreational sports include football, basketball, squash, athletics, volleyball, cricket, and boxing.

Many Muslim holidays are celebrated as well as Christian holidays. The Nigerian Independence Day is October 1st. Nigeria uses the same calendar as America and celebrates New Year's as well.

Traditional Nigerian music differs from Western music in that it always has a definite context and 
is not in the least abstract. There is also a high level of audience participation such as dancing 
and singing. Rhythm is paramount with an array of different drums and other instruments little known 
outside Africa. Nightclubs have made a comeback in Lagos, and local jazz, "juju", and "highlife" 
music can be heard on weekends, in clubs, at weddings and other celebrations. 

There are numerous video shops in Nigeria offering a wide range of foreign movies. The local movie industry also now produces over 330 videotape films each year for the enthusiastic domestic market.

 

Clothing

Nigerians wear a variety of clothes including western clothing and traditional attires. In the North, mostly Nigerian attire is worn to work, but in the South, western clothing is more common. 

 For cultural, ceremonial, semiformal or religious functions, colorful Nigerian outfits are usually preferred. However, many young people still sport western casuals or trendy Nigerian outfits. 

 

Nigerian Cultural Interaction

Q: What is the Educational System like?

A: Wealthier Nigerians are sent to boarding schools and go on to college. Many Nigerians are well educated. Also. education is highly valued, more so than wealth - a poor, educated man gets more respect than a rich man who has not been educated.

Q: How do students interact with superiors?

A: Students must be very careful in how they address superiors. Simple interaction such as whether to greet someone or wait to be greeted are very important. There are ways to formally address superiors that must be learned in order to avoid offending Nigerians.

Q: What is family structure like? 

A: Until recently, polygamy was common in Nigeria. Men would father large amounts of children from many wives. The wives were often very close with each other and their children, while the man remained separate from the rest of the family. Families often depend on others in tribes for help and are large and interconnected.

Q: Is it acceptable for people to be late?

A: The concept of time in Nigeria is not as strict as it is in the United States. Nigerians would often be considered late by American standards, especially for formal events like weddings. Recently, especially in government-related situations and business meetings, there has been a trend of coming closer to the American concept of being on time.

 

Other Websites about Nigeria

CIA Factbook about Nigeria - information collected by the CIA mainly concerning the government, economy, and population characteristics of Nigeria
University of Pennsylvania's African Studies Page about Nigeria - a collection of information and websites concerning Nigeria and related issues
Travel Guide to Nigeria - includes lots of information about traveling in Nigeria and important facts to know