So shocking! Other cultures can be crazy even if those people live right next door to you. Read about it now!
Nigeria is a large country. Lots of different people live here. More than 200 ethnicities are found on its territory. Each of them has its own customs and traditions. Someone, who comes to the country for the first time will probably experience culture shock in Nigeria, because certain rituals might seem really unusual to the foreigners. However, it will be interesting to know about the most prominent of them. That’s why we're going to observe top strangest traditions.
Tribes and their peculiarities
As you already know, there are many ethnic groups in Nigeria. However, it's possible to distinguish three biggest ones. They are Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa. To avoid culture shock in Nigeria, it's better to know about their main customs. Thus, before we start speaking about top strangest traditions, let’s observe each group:
Igbo. They comprise about 70% of southeastern population. Historically, they come from Nri Kingdom, which is the oldest in Nigeria. They have really great heritage and culture. From the ancient times they make bronze vessels for various ceremonies. As main other tribes, Igbos have their musical styles. The main instruments are opi, igba, and ichaka.
One of the famous musical forms is called highlife. It is a mixture of jazz and traditional music, which has become very popular in West Africa. The most widespread crop for this tribe is yam. There are even lots of festivals, held to celebrate its harvesting. Igbo cuisine is very diverse. It includes different types of food. They prefer meat, fruit, and vegetables. It was also influenced by their history and environment. The common dishes are Egusi, Bitter leaf, and Okra soups.
We can say that those people have their fashion. Their traditional clothes are very special. In fact, it's mostly used to cover private parts of body. Nevertheless, the elders are always fully dressed. According to the customs, children are nude from their birth till adolescence, because it is thought, they have nothing to hide yet.
Body art is very popular among both men and women. In course of time, European style in clothing has started to prevail. Many people now wear shirts and trousers. Modern traditional attire for males includes Isiagu top (resembling African Dashiki and patterned with lions’ heads) and title holders hat or Igbo stripped men's hat. As for the females, they wear puffed sleeve blouses with two wrappers and a headscarf.
Yoruba. They are about 80% of the southwest and more than 20% of the whole population in the country. This ethnic group is spread throughout all West Africa as well. Historically, they are very prominent in art (like bronze sculpturing) and poetry. Their textile work is also striking. They apply various kinds of looms to create wonderful patterns. The most popular foods are pounded yam, Amala, eba, Moin moin, semo, fufu, and akara. Besides, they like different soups such as egusi, ewedu, and ila okra.
Yoruba people have adopted many Western traditions; however, they have also managed to preserve their own. For example, they have really interesting wedding traditions, which include stages of courtship, acquaintance with parents and family, payment for the bride, and so on. Wedding day is considered a day of celebrations, drinking and eating, dancing for parents, relatives, the newlyweds, their friends and sometimes even foes. For Yoruba people, it is unification of families, and not just two people.
Wedding rituals make them connected for all life. One of the weird wedding rituals is known as Ekun Iyawo (which means The cry of the new bride). The woman is accompanies by her family to her husband’s house in order to show, she is sad to leave her home. There, she is prayed for, and her legs are washed. They believe that by thus, she’s all the bad luck will vanish. You should also know, different subgroups of this tribe confess various religions. For instance, Christians often combine these ceremonies with the church ones.
Hausa. It is the largest Nigerian tribe. They comprise about 30% of total population of the country and 60% of the north. There exists another tribe, called Fulani. They have very similar traditions; that’s why all of them often referred to as Hausa-Fulani. Most of people of this ethnic group are Muslims, that’s why they follow Islamic traditions and have autocratic society. They are very prominent in art, especially in architecture.
Their style, known as Tubali, is featured by dry mud bricks in cubic structures, multi-storied buildings, the application of parapets related to their military building past, and traditional white stucco and plaster for house fronts. The Hausa cuisine is also unique. It consists mostly of grains (such as millet, maize, rice, etc.). The most widespread dishes are kosai (cake made of beans) and funkaso (cake made of wheat flour and served with sugar). Various porridges and soups are famous as well.
As for the clothing, they have very strict dress code. Men usually wear large flowing gown (Babban riga) and a robe, called jalabia. Besides, they have colorful caps known as hula. Women wear wrappers (zani), blouse, head tie, and shawl.
Now we can talk about the strangest Nigerian traditions. They are:
- Widowhood Practice. After the burial ceremony, the woman must show she is nothing without her husband. Besides, it is essential to display, she has no responsibility for his death. She is subjected to some kind of humiliation. For example, she might be made to drink the water, in which the corpse of her spouse has been washed. Her relatives may shave her hair and force her to sleep with the dead man.
- Sharo Festival. It's one of the strangest festivals. It is public ritual, which demonstrates to the rest of society that young man has come of age, and is ready to have a wife. A man is whipped by a challenger for several times. During the process, he must not show any signs of pain. It is a Fulani tradition, which attracts people of all ages and professions.
- Inheritance Practices. There exists a belief that wife is a kind of property, which might be passed around. Thus, after the husband’s death, the wife might be inherited by one of his brothers. However, this tradition is slowly becoming an issue of the past.
- The Magun. All the Nigerian ethnic groups are strongly against adultery. Yoruba people has a strong black magic for such sinners. The Magun can be placed in a married girl without her even knowing about it. And if she commits adultery, her lover might die.
- Circumcision. It is widely practiced in Nigeria and in whole Africa. For men, it is partial or complete removal of foreskin around the genitals, while for women it is removal of genitals. This ritual is meant to preserve the chastity of women.
There are lots of unusual feasts, entertainment, and traditions. Nevertheless, most of them are the thing of certain ethnic groups, so they are not spread throughout Nigeria. However, it might be interesting to know about them, even if some customs seem scary.
Nowadays, education has become more available for the people in different parts of the country. It gives an opportunity to stop the most strict and cruel traditions. However, it is vital to remember that there are plenty of nice and amazing ones. Such cultural things should be preserved by all means.