Culture and Society

Culture & Society

Nigerian society is as multi-ethnic and as diverse as its people and this is expressed through the different traditional foods, attires, languages, music, dance and literature. However, what is most prevalent in the whole country is its culture of warmth and hospitality.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 186,053,386, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the most populous are Hausa and the Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5% and over 500 additional indigenous languages. English language is the official language in the country. There are about 50% Muslim, 40%Christian and 10%indigenous beliefs.

Nigeria’s population is projected to grow from more than 186 million people in 2016 to 392 million in 2050, becoming the world’s fourth most populous country. Nigeria’s sustained high population growth rate will continue for the foreseeable future because of population momentum and its high birth rate, as well as a cultural preference for large families. The current age of the Nigerian society is;

  • 0-14 years: 42.79% (male 40,744,956/female 38,870,303)
  • 15-24 years: 19.48% (male 18,514,466/female 17,729,351)
  • 25-54 years: 30.65% (male 29,259,621/female 27,768,368)
  • 55-64 years: 3.96% (male 3,595,293/female 3,769,986)
  • 65 years and over: 3.12% (male 2,754,040/female 3,047,002) (2016 est.)

The culture of Nigeria is shaped by Nigeria’s multiple ethnic groups. For instance, in the area of dressing, Nigeria is characterized by the diversity of its traditional attires. It is fashionable for Nigerians to wear the traditional dresses of their regions or ethnic groups of origin.

The Igbo men from southeast geo-political region, for instance, are known for their red caps, just as the hat is a peculiar feature of men’s traditional wears in the Niger Delta region.

In Benue State, the “Ange” cloth, characterized by its zebra-like black and white stripes, is used by the Tiv people while their Idoma neighbours wear similar clothes with red and black stripes. But it is not uncommon for Nigerians to adopt particular attires from other regions, which have become very popular. The ensemble “Babanriga” (or “Agbada”), “Buba” and “Shokoto”, completed with a cap to match, or the “Kaftan” which are popular among the men-folk in the north (predominantly Hausa/Fulani) are now worn by people from other parts of the country.

In western Nigeria, the Yoruba brand of the “Agbada”, “Buba”, “Shokoto”, with the cap to match, has become popular too. A popular attire referred to as “resource control”, which was initially associated with men from the Niger-Delta region has today become a common outfit across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

As for the women- folk, the “Buba”, “Iro”, “Gele”, “Ipele” have been adopted across the regions with minor nuances of style. Although attached to the uniqueness of the traditional attires of their places of origin, Nigerians are also simple lovers of beauty and so do not hesitate to adopt a fashion or an object of beauty that appeals to them. Most of these cloths are products of hand-woven fabrics such as “Akwete”, “Aso-Oke”, “Batik”, “Tie and Dye” and “Ota- ochi”. These materials are the vogue in the textile industry. Nigerians have carved a niche for themselves in the fashion world. The use of “Ankara” materials by both men and women sets Nigerians apart in fashion at home and internationally.

The Nigerian Government in September 1988 launched the “National Cultural Policy”. This policy document defined culture as “ the totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempt to meet the challenges in their environment which gives order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious norms and modes of organization, thus distinguishing a people from their neighbour”.

As a further step, the Federal Government in June 1999, created the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism. By mid-2006, the ministry was renamed Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, with the mandate to promote the nation’s rich cultural heritage, through the identification, development and marketing, of the diverse cultural and tourism potentials. However In November 2015, Ministry of Culture and Tourism was later merged with ministry of information, which is now known as Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.