From The Hippo’s Ears: Nigeria

Contributions by Adewole Popoola.

Facts you may not have known about Nigeria:

1. You first meet someone, how do you greet them?

Nigeria is religious country and as such, people sometimes greet according to their religious background. Christians may shake hands, while Muslims may greet from afar. We also hold on to our various ethnic cultures which teach us to greet our elders with respect by bending while stretching forth our hands.

2. What languages are spoken in your country?

Nigeria’s official language is English. There are over 500 spoken languages in Nigeria, but the three major ones are Hausa, spoken by the northerners; Yoruba, spoken by the westerners; and Igbo, spoken by the easterners.

Nigerian Pidgin English, is a very common form of communication across the entire country.

Here are some examples:

Abeg: Please

Commot: meaning leave. So, you can say abeg commot, i.e. “Please leave”

How far: A general form of greeting, meaning “How is everything”?

Sabi: To know

Una: “you” or “your”

Vamoose: A forceful command, which means “Leave”

Wetin: What?

Wahala: “Trouble”. So, you can say “No wahala”, meaning “No trouble”

3.Do you use a twelve-hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We make use of the twelve-hour clock.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in Nigeria?

We drive on the left-hand side of the road. Our road infrastructure is bad and drivers don’t stick to road signs and rules. All states have their own taxi colours. E.g Lagos is known for its yellow taxi colour.

5. How important is punctuality?

In Nigeria, we don’t keep to time. In fact, we have a parlance called ‘The Nigerian time’. It is generally believed that when you set time for people to come for an occasion/party, you factor the Nigerian time into it, which means adding approximately 1 hour to the set time.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of your most popular musicians?

Femi Kuti, Tuface, Dbanj, Pasunma, and Terry Apala are among Nigeria’s better-known musicians.

We have a wide variety of popular genres of music in Nigeria, including Afro, hiphop, fuji, and apala.

Listen to Femi Kuti singing Sorry Sorry:

Listen to Tuface with African Queen:

Listen to Pasunma’s Number One:

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Yes. We have lots of traditional dances and among the common ones are:

The Bata Dance; Major traditional dance of the Yoruba ethnic group. It is associated with the Sango God of thunder, and is acrobatic and athletic.

Watch the Bata dance here

The Atilogwu Dance is associated with the Igbo tribe of the eastern part of the country. The dance steps are acrobatic in nature, and require lots of quick movement and calisthenics.

The Kosoro Dance is the dance that is associated with the Hausa tribe of the northern part of the country.

The Etighi Dance is a dance that is associated with the people from the Niger-delta (riverine). This dance is known as the sexy dance because it requires the movement of the leg and waist

8. What traditional Festivals are celebrated in your community?

The most common festivals are Eyo and Olokun.

Eyo: The word “Eyo” means costumed dancers. These masqueraders come out during the festival. The festival is unique to the Yorubas in Lagos state. In recent times, it has been presented as a tourist event, and is practiced in Lagos Island.

Olokun: This is an annual cultural festival in Nigeria celebrated throughout the Yorubaland. ”Okun” means sea, and Olokun means the god/goddess of the sea.

9. What are your seasons like?

Nigeria has tropical climate with two seasons. A wet season from April to October and a dry season from November to March, with the wettest month being June. Average temperature ranges from 23 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

10. Tell us an interesting fact about your President.

General Muhammadu Buhari is the Nigeria president. He was elected president in 2015 after defeating an incumbent. Before he was elected president in 2015, he had contested and failed 3 other times. He is a retired general in the Nigeria army, and has previously served as military head of state after taking power through a military coup d’état.

He is corruption-free, trustworthy, and known for his high-handedness. He is married to Aisha Buhari, and together they have 5 children.

11. What are Nigeria’s major industries?

The oil and gas industry is our major source of revenue that contributes to our GDP and keeps the economy running. Others are mining, agriculture and financial services.

12. How do people spend their free time?

Most Nigerians spend their free time in local bars drinking beer, watching football (English premiership), going to the beach, going to cinemas, and eating out.

13. What do people drink?

Nigerians are known as lovers of alcoholic drinks. We enjoy different brands of beer and traditionally produced drink. Some examples are:

Guinness stout; sold as Odeku, Star, 33, Trophy, Goldberg, Heineken, Gulder, etc.

Some traditional drinks are:

Emu (palm wine): tapped from the palm tree.

Burukutu: highly alcoholic and made from overly fermented palm wine.

14. What is a popular local dish?

We have several local dishes from the hundreds of ethnic groups that comprise Nigeria. These include:

Akara: a beignet from dough based on black-eyed beans. It is mostly served with pap (maize meal), as breakfast.

Amala: a thick paste made from yam which has been peeled, cleaned, dried and blended into powdery form. It is usually served with a delicious soup.

Asaro: also known as yam porridge. It is made by boiling and lightly mashing the yam in chill, red pepper sauce, and palm oil. It can be garnished with fish, meat, or crayfish.

Dun Dun: roasted slices of yam. It is usually eaten with sauce made from palm or groundnut oil.

Eba: also called garri, is a very thick paste that is either rolled into balls or made from cassava and it usually served with soup.

Fufu: a staple food made from cassava and served with soup.

Ikokore: similar to asaro in preparation, but with water yam.

Iyan: also called pounded yam in English, is a popular delicacy among the Yoruba tribe. It is prepared by boiling yam and completely mashing it smoothly, with no yam chunks. It can be eaten with several soups, such as Egusi.

Moin-moin: a steamed bean pudding made from a mixture of peeled black-eyed beans and wrapped in a leaf (eg. a banana leaf)

We also have numerous popular soups and stews:

Afang: a nutritional vegetable soup.

Atama: a palm kernel soup.

Banga soup: made from palm nuts.

Draw soup: made from okro or ogbono seeds, cooked until thickened.

Egusi soup: thickened with ground melon seeds, and contains leafy and other vegetables, seasonings, and meat.

Gbegiri: bean-based stew.

Miyan kuku: common among the northerners, and made from powdered baobab leaves and dried okro.

Ogbono soup: made with ground ogbono seeds.

15. What do you pay for? (1 USD = approx. Naira 360)

In a restaurant:

A cup of coffee – N500.00, a Coca Cola – N100.00, a 2-Course meal for 2 people (nothing extravagant) – N4000.00, an average glass of wine – N500.00.

At a shop:

A loaf of normal bread – N100.00, but a very good and health one comes in at N350.00, and a tin of milk (normal) goes for between N180-200.

16. General Safety?

Nigeria is generally a safe country, especially in the capital city, Abuja, and the commercial city, Lagos. The northern and southern parts of the country are a bit unsafe because of terrorism and militancy.

17. And in conclusion:

Famous (and sometimes infamous) people from Nigeria include:

  • Obafemi Awolowo
  • Nnamdi Azikwe
  • Alhaji Tafawa Balewa
  • Ahmadu Bello
  • Alhaji Aliko Dangote (the richest man in Africa)
  • Mrs Folorusho Alakija (the richest woman in Africa)
  • General Olusegun Obasanjo (the first military head of state to transfer power peacefully to a civilian regime in Nigeria).


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