CULTURE AND ETHNICITIES IN NIGERIA
Culture includes all the ways of life of a group of people including codes of manners, dressing, language, religion, rituals, art, law, morality, institutions and systems of belief, that are passed down from generation to generation. Ethnicity is the social group a person belongs to, and either identifies with or is identified with by others, as a result of a mix of cultural and other factors including language, diet, religion, ancestry and physical features traditionally associated with race.
The culture of Nigeria is shaped by its multiple ethnic groups. According to the article “Nigeria: most common languages spoken at home 2020”. Nigeria has 527 languages, seven of which are extinct. There are over 1150 dialects and ethnic groups. The three largest ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulani that are predominantly in the north, the Yorubas who predominate the southwest, and the Igbos in the southeast.
The Hausa-Fulani ethnic group is made up of people from Daura, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Zazzau and Sokoto. The Igbos are a synthesis of smaller ethnic groups; the Onitsha Ibo, the Western Ibo, the Cross River Ibo, and the North-eastern Ibo. The Yorubas are composed of people of Oyo, Egba, Ijebu, Ife, Ilesha, Ekiti and Owu indigenes. These three ethnic groups comprise only fifty-seven per cent of the population of Nigeria (Ethnicity in Nigeria; Simon A. Rakov).
The remainders of people are members of the ethnic minority groups, which include the Kanuri, the Nupe, and the Tiv in the North, the Efik/Ibibio, the Ejaw, and the Ekoi in the East, and the Edo and Urhobo/Isoko to the West, along with hundreds of other groups that differ widely in language and culture. The specific groups mentioned above are distinct in that they were found in the 1953 census to have over one hundred thousand members. Nigeria’s minority ethnic groups are found throughout the country but especially in the North and the middle belt. The traditionally nomadic Fulani can be found all over West and Central Africa (Ethnicity in Nigeria; Simon A. Rakov).
In the pre-colonial era, Nigerians believed so much in their cultures that they would always identify with them. However, Nigerian societies started facing traumatic situations from generation to generation, which started to weaken the quality of their cultures, resulting in cultural loss and a lack of cultural identity among many Nigerians. According to a Vanguard article” Nigerian cultural values are under threat by Toyin Falola” Cultural trauma faced by the people includes physical displacement of people, slave trade, missionary activities, foreign trades, globalisation and civilisation. These have had a direct impact on language, styles, practices, histories, systems, social constructs, economic and commercial contacts, communication, governance, and other relevant areas and sectors of the Nigerian society.
In the Nigeria of today, there is the challenge of the loss of cultural identity. Gradually, many Nigerians are beginning to disassociate themselves from their original ethnic groups and have failed to adopt or practice their cultures in their daily lives.
This will be a series of articles discussing the major and minor cultures and ethnicities in Nigeria. However, there will be a greater focus on minority ethnic groups. Abh press will interview persons from various minority ethnic groups to gather adequate knowledge about these groups.