What makes Nigeria the giant of Africa and What Nigeria does best
While the outside world’s perception of Africa’s most populous country hasn’t always been overwhelmingly positive, there’s plenty more to this nation than its unsavory associations.
With its vibrant culture, sense of humor and adaptability, Nigeria has become the “Giant of Africa” in more ways than just population size.
Here are 10 of the many reasons why the destination one in five Africans call home stands out from the rest. You may be inspired to add Nigeria to your travel list:
In Nigeria, if you’ve reached your 30th birthday and are still unhitched, the elders will harass you down the aisle, which is why barely a week goes by without someone staging a traditional wedding ceremony somewhere.
Weddings are a sacred part of cultural life, but also an excuse to show off cuisine, fabulous clothing, music and dance moves in one life-affirming, chromatic bonanza.
With 250-odd ethnic groups, the ceremonies come in a variety of styles, depending on your region.
In the southwest, the groom and his friends might prostrate themselves at the start.
However, in the southeast you’ll see them dancing their way into the ceremony, wearing bowler hats and clutching walking canes.
In other regions, the bride and groom’s families send each other letters of proposal and acceptance before getting down to dowry negotiations.
Once the serious stuff is done, it’s back to music and dancing and, best of all, the tossing of banknotes in the air to make money literally rain down on the newlyweds.
If you haven’t experienced a traditional Nigerian wedding, you haven’t experienced Nigeria.
This mouth-watering tomato-based rice dish is a party staple.
There are many ways to cook it, involving endless permutations of meat, spices, chilli, onions and vegetables.
While it’s widely accepted that Senegal invented this dish, the concept spread to West African countries.
The most notable are Ghana and Nigeria — two nations that have vied with one another for supremacy in a never-ending battle known as the jollof wars.
Nigerians are the indisputable champions, of course, serving up “advanced level” jollof that our Ghanaian rivals can only watch and admire.
Eating chicken to the bone
While we’re still on the subject of food, Nigerians are champions at eating chicken to the bone and beyond.
It’s not enough to simply eat the flesh. We break the bone, suck out the marrow and pulverize the remainder until there’s almost nothing left.
If your chicken thigh is still forensically identifiable at the end of the meal then you haven’t done it right. Abeg, finish am!
Only Hollywood and India’s Bollywood make more movies than Nigeria.
Known as Nollywood, our film industry is big business — so big it contributes 5% to national GDP.
With average flicks churned out in under a two weeks, Nollywood films are famous for their poor (albeit improving) production values.
But what they lack in sophistication they make up for in story lines that are an entertaining window on Nigerian moral values and byzantine social dynamics.
Narratives exploring servant-master relationships, the supernatural, corruption and infidelity are delivered with lashings of shouty, eye-bulging overacting.
The movies draw a big audience in the rest of Africa, where viewers from more reserved societies can revel vicariously in Nigeria’s outlandishness and even pick up some of our slang.
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Nigerians love a good proverb and we never stop inventing new ones.
Some aphorisms are blunt and to-the-point. Others can be a little cryptic, so you sometimes need a high level of “proverbial sense” to understand what they’re getting at:
“Monkey no fine but im mama no like am [The monkey might be ugly but his mother loves him].”
“If you can’t dance well, you’d better not get up.”
“The man being carried does not realize how far away the town really is.”
“The quarrel that doesn’t concern you is pleasant to hear about.”
“The whip hits at the legs, not the guilt.”
“Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.”
“The one-eyed man does not thank God until he sees a blind man.”
“Rat wey get only one hole, they quick die [A rat with just one hole will soon die].”
“After God, fear woman.”
“No license for nonsense [behave yourself].”
“No business, no wife.”
“Keke [motorized tricycle] today, private jet tomorrow!”
Masquerades are a huge aspect of Nigerian culture.
These masked costumed figures are considered to embody the spirits, and serve as a fundamental part of Nigerian pre-colonial religious tradition.
Nowadays they double up as entertainment and appear during weddings and festivals, particularly at Christmas time.
Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups, each with its own masquerade. The masks and costumes are visually striking.
They can be made from a variety of materials such as grass, animal horns and teeth, and the young men who wear them sometimes cover their limbs in black palm oil to mesmerizing and scary effect.
The masquerades travel through the villages, performing dances, acrobatics and reciting incantations.
Chasing terrified villagers with bows and arrows or whips is also part of the tradition, so get ready to move your feet.
The famous Benin Bronzes are a collection of plaques and sculptures that once decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin.
Dating back to the 13th century, these exquisite artworks include bas-relief images of dignitaries or warriors. And
They were influenced by the Ife civilization nearby, which produced life-sized bronze heads of the Ooni (king) and his queens.
When Europeans first saw the Hellenic-style realism of the Ife sculptures they were “shocked” that Africans could produce such beauty and sophistication.
The British liked the Benin bronzes so much they stole them during punitive raids in 1897 and have kept hold of them to this day.
Some of the best specimens are displayed at the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris and Berlin’s Ethnological Museum.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a West African country bordering Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. Here are 10 interesting facts about the country and also what she does best.
1. Largest population in Africa
Due to its large population and economy, Nigeria is referred to as ‘the giant of Africa’. As of 2019, the population of Nigeria is over 200.96 million, making it the largest in Africa and the seventh-largest in the world behind China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan, in order.
2. Largest economy in Africa
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. According to the World Bank, Nigeria’s GDP was worth 397.30 billion US dollars in 2018. From 1960 to 2018, Nigeria’s GDP averaged 125.26 billion US dollars, with an all-time high of 568.50 billion US dollars in 2014 and an all-time low of 4.20 billion US dollars in 1960. It is expected to trend around 650 billion US dollars in 2020. 2019 International Monetary Funds estimates by GDP place it as the 23rd largest economy in the world.
3. Multinational state
The country is viewed as a multinational state as it is inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups, the largest being the Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. The 250 ethnic groups speak over 500 different native languages amongst them and are identified with a wide variety of cultures.
4. Official language
The official language for Nigeria is Nigerian Standard English, a dialect of English based on British English. It is used in politics, formal education, media, and other official outlets. Nigerian pidgin is used for informal communication.
5. Niger River
Also Like Niger, Nigeria is named after the Niger River. This is the longest and largest river in West Africa.
6. Major Religions
Christianity and Islam are the major religions in Nigeria. Many Nigerians also practice traditional beliefs and some no religion.
7. Early civilization
Nigeria was the birthplace of several early civilizations. They also smelt iron by 550BC, possibly earlier. Nigeria also had prosperous kingdoms and empires such as the Hausa kingdom, Fulani empire, the Kanem–Bornu Empire and the kingdom of Nri, among st others.
9. Capital city
Lagos used to be the capital city of Nigeria until December 1991 when Abuja became the new capital city of Nigeria. Lagos, a port city, was developing while other parts of the country were not. The regime thus moved the capital to Abuja in a bid to expand the economy towards the inner part of the country.
10. Crude oil
Also, Nigeria is one of the largest producers of crude oil in the world. It is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world, the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. Petroleum accounts for 40% of Nigeria’s GDP and 80% of their government earnings.
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