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Ethnicity Paper on Nigeria

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2954 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the 1400’s dramatic changes would occur in the world that altered African life to this day .In 1480’s the Atlantic slave trade was increasing in Western Africa (Nigeria in Pictures, p.66). The memory of this historical moment breaks my heart, still. I was beaten and taken captive against my will by Europeans who set sail to (Slave Coast) Western Africa for riches (Africans) in 1502. This was when the first enslaved Africans were brought to America (Nigeria the Enchantment of the World by, Ann Heinrichs p.128). My home land is Nigeria, where millions of people from the African continent would be kidnapped and sold abroad. I was snatched away from Logos, Nigeria’s largest city and now my reality is my village, my family, and my culture will never be the same.

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That day, I can recall the air was still and the night was pitching blackness. As I drifted from consciousness to unconsciousness I could hear an orchestra of crickets seeping through the stone walls of this large room. There were water bugs as big as my thumbs that were crawling over the rafters above my head. Visibility was nearly impossible but the moans and cries of other captives painted a horrifying picture in my mind. I heard many cry out “Olorun help us from this unexplained misfortune”, although very few cries in my native language Yoruba. Unable to translate the many other languages of sounds and murmuring I could foretell the helplessness in all of our moans and groans of heavy sorrow. Most Nigerians are of the Muslim faith (50%), Christian faith (40%), and (10%) traditional African religions. Therefore prayers to all of the Gods and ancestors were many, saying “help us we are afflicted and in trouble” it was then i realized that the fear of danger for our mere existence was fragile.

In an unknown place that wreaks eeriness I laid dormant in a living nightmare. My flesh was drenched with traces of blood that ran from my wounds. The chains that tightly secured my neck and limbs from maneuvering comfortably broke my flesh like lightening ripping through the sky. I could taste blood, my lips were dry and I was terrified to close my eyes then suddenly, I could feel myself falling into a state of unconsciousness.

I never would have left my country and came to America. I dream of my home country Nigeria, in West Africa which I’m proud to say is the largest African country with over 129.9 million people. Nigeria boarders Niger to the North, Chad and Cameroon sit to the East of the country, and Benin West of Nigeria. My dehydrating frame imagines water from rivers that run south to the Delta. There are two major rivers which run through the South of the country, the Niger river which serves as an important transportation route for Nigerian people also where Nigeria gets its name and Benue River in the West which empties into the 500 miles of coast on the Gulf of Guinea and then into the Atlantic Ocean. The rivers act as natural boarders that separate three of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups- the Hausa, Yoruba, and the Logbo. The rivers are definitely an important element for Nigerians

The temperature is decreasing and my body is quivering from the loss of blood. I’ve always I loved the tropical and subtropical temperatures varying high’s over 99degrees (37*C) and lows under 66 degrees (21*C) that are year round in Nigeria. The south and north determine the two varying seasons which are a wet rainy season which lasts from April to October, and my favorite is the dry season which is from November to March. Sometimes it rains so hard that it floods. At other times there are droughts from the northwest Sahel desert the harmattan winds blow hot dry wind and cold temperatures from which it carries dessert dust that colors everything red. Harmattan winds begin the dry season (Enchantment of the world, p.25) which play a major part in Nigerian weather.

It’s necessary to know that Nigeria has many geographic features: North Nigeria includes dry grasslands and arid semi desert plateaus with spectacular rock formations of the interior, dense swamps and tropical rain forests moist, low lying farmlands in the south. The West, Nigeria’s sandy beaches turn into tropical shrubs and trees with huge roots that come out of the water called Mangroves and the swamps are filled with salty water and many trees. Closer to the center the land becomes wetter and more humid where from the forest floor to the treetops. There are many animals that live in Nigeria such as the African gorilla, monkeys, wildcats, crocodiles, snakes, roan antelopes, hairy mangrove crabs, Nile crocodile’s hornbills, guinea fowl, giraffes, pygmy hippos, and birds build their homes.

Nigeria is a country of many different land types, warm temperatures, and warm people. These are a few of the common words of the Yoruba language: Hello is “Ago o”, How are you? Ba won i? and Good-bye O da bo. I’m from Logos; Nigeria’s largest city which was first settled by Yoruba people in the 1400’s. The Yoruba ethnic group is one of the largest ethno-linguistic groupings in Africa (wikipedia.org). Logo’s is also a major port and trading post between Nigeria’s Benin Kingdom and the Portuguese until the British took it over in the 1800’s. From 1914 to 1991 Logos was Nigeria’s capital (Nigeria Enchantment of the world by Ann Heinrichs, p.18) although now Abuja is the state capital because Logos got over crowded. Nigerians have over 250 languages although English and French are the official languages for Nigeria. The major ethnic groups are Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, jaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, and Tiv.

We Nigerians love our country and pride in our culture. I remember visiting several of our many landmarks in Nigeria. For instance, the Aso Rock in Abuja, Central Mosque also located in Abuja, Chief Ogiamens House in Benin City, The Cocoa House in Ibadan, and the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove in Oof Sultan of Sokoto who made religious harmony between Muslims and Christians. We also have many Notable people such as Muhammad Sa’adu Abu-Bakr (1956- ). Samuel (Ajayi) Crowther how was the first African Anglican bishop of Nigeria(1809-1891), Nigerian singer Sade, and Philip Emeagwali who was a Scientist (1954-) to name a few. Nigerian’s also produces a wealth of visual arts and traditional crafts. Some of Africa’s best known authors, such as Chinua Achebe are Nigerians.

I could hear the cries of my people for help to their God’s. Nigeria religion is tied to ethnic groups and regional divisions. We have our own sets of beliefs and rituals which is Christianity (monotheism one God), Muslims (monotheism, Islam (monotheism) Sokoto is the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims, or the traditional Yoruba religion (Animism everything has a spiritual connection). Other ethnic groups follow ancient beliefs (ancestor ship- ancestors who are still a part of our life “belief”) as well. Many Nigerians who profess the faith still are deep seated in their traditional beliefs (Nigeria enchantment of the world p. 93) Northern Hausa and Fulani Nigerian people are largely Muslims (monotheism) or followers of Islam.

People learn Islamic culture values at school, and bear Islamic names. Islam is the most common religion in Nigeria making up 50% of the population. Arabs brought their social context of faith from Arabia and the traders helped to spread the word from town to town. For Muslims the teaching of God is set in the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book. Most belong to the Shi sect and the rest Shi sect differences date back to century’s old disagreement. Prayer at least five times a day is a religious practice necessary for Islam. Muslims gather at the Mosque on Fridays (holy day) for prayer. Face the holy city Mecca is Saudi Arabia, kneel, and bow their heads to pray.

We have different types of marriage. The widespread practice of polygyny is accepted in Islamic families but Christians do not condone it. Polygyny which means the man has two or more wives at a time. Only responsible Nigerian can have more than one wife. Monogamy is what Christians believe in for marriage where the groom has only one wife. The groom’s family pays a price to the bride’s parents is common. Many Nigerians share traditional religious practices, as well as Islam and Christianity. For instance, Nigerians dance a spiritual dance with drums, face painting and clothes. Others attend a Christian service. For instance, it’s blended Islam most of the women wear veils and stay home…

The primary connection is blood and marriage nuclear families with patronal residences. Nigerians live together and share the responsibility of the family. If someone is sad there is always someone to give comfort. They live in private living quarters but all work together. It’s typical for Nigerian families to live in a compound where there are several houses with which they share with extended families.

The Muslims in Nigeria celebrate two holidays together which are called the Durbar. This dates back to the time of the horse back warriors who parade before their chief. Shows of horseman ship parading on their horses with dressed up horsemen and other brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.

Christianity has strong followers in the south about 40% brought in as early as the 1400’s when the Portuguese arrived. (Presbyterian missionaries). The largest Christian groups are Christianity in Nigeria has” the largest Christian population compared to any country with Christians in Africa with more than 70 million persons in Nigeria belonging to the church with diverse denominations” (Wikipedia). For instance Catholicism is the strongest among the Igbo in the southeast and Anglicans (Church of Nigeria) are common in the Yoruba of the southwest. There are others in Niger and Delta region such as Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Brethren, and Assembly of God.

Christianity in Nigeria emphasizes on a direct relationship with God (Monotheism), sacred context authority of the Bible and the cross symbolizes their religion, and a rite of passage conversion with being “born again”. For instance, the fast growing Yoruba areas blend Christianity and indeginenous religions with an evangelical element. Religious practices relying on faith healing and prayer while other Nigerians focus on visions, dreams, secret rituals, and driving out witches and demons.

Nigerian traditional religions follow practices of supreme beings and numerous lesser deities, of other gods and goddesses, with there being messengers between gods and humans. These include major and minor deities, ancestor’s, folk heroes, and spirits that inhabitant hills, forests, and waters. People hold rituals and festivals, build shrines, and observe taboos to ensure these intermediaries are friendly.

Every ethnic group in Nigeria has its own traditional festivals to honor the god’s, ancestors, or the spirits who protect the community. Usually singing, dancing to drums and other hand made instruments, and praying are common rituals. One of the National holidays for Nigeria is (Christianity) Christmas. Streets are a glittered up with bright lights and palm branches are a symbol of peace which adorn homes, churches, and shops. Traditional music accompanies ancient ceremonies. Lively Nigerian music provides the beat to celebrations from birth and adulthood to marriage and death. Dance mixes movements and feelings

In Nigeria culture food symbolically represents many things such as the Kola Nut which is a bitter tasting nut. An example of this is you break the nut to welcome visitors, or use the nut in rituals to foresee success, or avoid failure. Kola Nut Is also used to name ceremonies which symbolize longevity and wisdom.

Crafter Nigerians male or female whom have the skill have developed a variety of different artistic forms including terra-cotta pottery and statues which are all handmade, weaving baskets, beadwork, metalwork, leather, cloth, Men usually make carvings, sculptures and mask making outside out of wood (Nigeria in Pictures). Most artwork is made to honor the gods and ancestors and since there are more than 401 known gods to the Yoruba there is much sculpture and artwork made (africaguide.com).

Traditional clothing is an expression of art to the Nigerian people. You can tell a person’s ethnic group, social status, and religion by what they wear. Women wear wrap around skirts and baggy shirts with head wraps and beaded jewelry. Men may wear long robes baggy shirts and pants and caps.

The important products are natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, tin, limestone, zinc, and columbite. The villagers use hunting and gathering to get food and hides for clothing, Horticulture also agriculture to farm the land for beans, grains, rice, cassava, yams, and pick and grow cotton, peanuts, and rubber plants which are industrialized/sold to Nigerian factories and other countries which Nigerians use information strategy techniques to export their goods for currency. Pastoralism to raise cattle for meat, milk, hides for clothing and shelter barriers. Women will go to the market (value exchange) to sell different items such as food, baskets, and other handmade items. The Nigerians use bartering for trade or services also.

Division of labor is the elderly look after the children while the women gather, prepare food, and look after the house. The skilled go out and hunt for food, pastoralize the animals and pick fruits.

Nigerian family’s try to eat as a family each day usually in the late noon or evening. The division of labor for their food is the skilled hunt, and those with strength also hunt and herd the pastures which are kept in a separated location in the village and go out and catch with handmade spears and rocks for the food. Their meals may be a combination of meat, vegetables, fruits, and carbohydrates. The meats that are hunted and pastoralized and consumed by the Nigerians are beef, chicken, mutton, lamb, turkey, geese, pigeon, the river foods are hunted and gathered by the skilled men with nets or spears for fish, guinea fowls, crab, shrimp and other sea food. Those with strength and skill usually gather fruits including bananas, oranges, tangerines, pineapples, carrots, guavas, watermelons, melons, grapes, limes, mangoes, apples, tomatoes, peas and a much more.

Palm oil is the common factor in almost all the dishes. A few common Nigerian foods are is, which is basically spiced boiled yams, dodo, which is fried plantains, efo, which is green stew, iyan, which is pounded yams and jollify rice, Nigerian stew an (mapsofworld.com).

The breakdown of the economic sectors is agriculture, manufacturing, and mining.

Nigerians use horticulture to farm crops such as millet, sorghum, groundnuts, and cotton. The technology used in this subsistence strategy is simple handmade tools like hoes and shovels. They use agriculture with simple implements such as hand hoes and plows with animals, and they apply cattle manure as fertilizer. The River supplies water for crops and Technology gives them electrical power for irrigation. In addition to farming skills they are industrial traders and have an economic system for instance there’s one in Hausa city which is still a commercial center. Market exchange for distribution in selling cattle, oil, gas and dairy products, buying grain and other items. With a

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Nigeria has about 250 different ethnic groups each with its own culture and language. English and French are the official language although recently it’s most Nigerians second language. Violent clashes continue between groups. Nigeria is like a region of separate nations than just one because they see the world in different ways. These keep them living separate lives and having power struggles. Of the different ethnic groups. Most Nigerians live in rural villages or large modern cities. They often seem worlds apart. Therefor they use socialism as their contemporary economic system.

The composition of government is military dictatorship. With a centralized government. The President is Yar’Adua. Currency is Naira. National anthem is Arise Compatriots. There are several political organizations such as police enforcement although only enforced in rural certain areas, schools for learning, factories to distribute goods, government to maintain social order, and churches, hospitals to take the sick and maintain health, also foreign affairs.

I interview a friend of mine named Katherine Colon she recently visited Nigeria and said that she had a wonderful time there. The weather was hot and the people were really kind. The food was terrific but grainy. The roads were not paved in the location where she was staying. Katherine was visiting with her church to help the community open a new school.

My article is on Muslim marriages and it reflects my view point of a happy marriage. I’m getting married next year and the article talks about being married to your friend and getting along with in-laws.


Nigeria in Pictures by Janice Hamilton

Nigeria Enchantment of the World by. Ann Heinrichs

Nigeria discovering cultures by Patrica J. Murphy

Nigeria One Nation Many Cultures by Hassan Adeeb


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