Customs and traditions

According to Abbreviationfinder, Nigeria is geographically extensive and has a very large population with different ethnicity, language and religion. It brings with it an enormous diversity of local traditions. How Nigerians should keep their vast country together and create a common national feeling has been a constant concern.

Since independence in 1960, all the country’s governments have seen sport as a means to unite the people in common enthusiasm and pride. The authorities have therefore built sports facilities and organized competitions, mainly with neighboring countries. Football is a national sport, and the national team is called the Golden Eagles. Nigeria has also gained success in basketball and boxing, for example.

  • Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Nigeria, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.

Depending on different natural conditions, different areas have their own, traditional dishes. Transport difficulties still make use of locally produced raw materials to a large extent.

Muslims in northern Nigeria refrain from pork and alcohol for religious reasons but prefer to eat beans, sorghum, rice and meat. Further south, jams and cassava are central elements of the kitchen. The cassava is bumped and ground into garri, which is the basic food for many. Other starchy plants are also eaten, along with small amounts of meat which is a bit of a luxury food for many Nigerians. Peanuts are often mixed in the food. People living along the coast or near rivers or lakes eat a lot of fish. In the cities, ready-made dishes are often purchased from special chop bars or restaurants or from street vendors. You drink a lot of tea, especially in the north. Local beer and palm wine are also produced in the south.

In the traditional kitchen, spicy stews are common. As the food is cooked outdoors over an open fire, it is practical to put everything in the same pot. The main meal is the lunch, which is often eaten at the river, served from large, common dishes. In the traditional way you eat directly with your hands, although some believe that you should only use the right hand. Guests are usually provided with a spoon. Often the different sexes eat separately, although smaller children get food from their mother’s plate. In addition to lunch, you will have a light, early breakfast and sometimes a late supper, similar to lunch.

Traditions and holidays

Local parties to thank traditional gods or ancestors for good harvest, hunting or fishing happiness have in some cases developed into larger events. At Argungu in the state of Kebbi in the north every year since 1934, thousands of fishermen compete for a few hours to pull up the largest catch from a river where they are not allowed to fish for the rest of the year. During the same festival, which lasts for a few days, riders from the Fulani people also appear on richly decorated horses and camels.

Large parts of Nigeria belong to the West African Jam Belt, where the annual jam harvest is celebrated in many places. In Igboland in the east, this year’s harvest is inaugurated with a party in August or September. The party starts with a local king or elder tasting the new jam. This iri-ji (the “eating of the new jam”) is now celebrated in a modernized form by igbo groups throughout Nigeria as “igbo day”, something that politicians and igbo nationalist groups are trying to exploit. However, a common date for the igbo day has not been agreed.

According to Countryaah, Nigeria’s National Day falls on October 1. May 1 is also a holiday, as well as Democracy Day on May 29, when celebrating the reintroduction of democracy in 1999.

At Christmas and Easter, national holidays, as well as at the Muslim holidays, include id al-Maulud (the Prophet’s birthday), id al-fitr (the feast that ends the fasting month of Ramadan) and id al-adha (the sacrificial feast). Holidays often result in leave for most employees, no matter what religion they belong to. The Muslim weekends follow an international, Muslim lunar calendar and fall at different times from one year to another.

Even Christians living in Muslim-dominated areas tend to celebrate the Ramadan to a certain extent by avoiding parties and gatherings before dark. A special Nigerian feature of Ramadan – with roots in Yorubaland – is street musicians who wake up Muslim households hours before dawn so that they can both pray and eat a hearty breakfast before today’s fast. Both Christmas and ID al-fitr are primarily seen as family holidays, and both Christian and Muslim city dwellers tend to greet relatives and friends in their old hometowns during these weekends. The children receive sweets and gifts. Catholics hear during the Christmas night midnight mass, while some Protestants entertain themselves all night until it is time to visit Santa. Light decorations and other public Christmas decorations occur and artificial Christmas trees are said to be popular.

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“Boko Haram in practice defeated”

The president says that the Islamists are “technically” defeated. Buhari has previously promised that the army will crush Boko Haram before the turn of the year. Just a few days later, more than 50 people are killed during a two-day long homicide in northeast Nigeria.

Biafra activist again charged

New charges are brought against activist Nnamdi Kanu shortly after a previous case against him has been closed. The charges are reported for terrorism and terrorist financing. Kanu leads the banned organization Biafra’s indigenous people (Ipob), which strives to create an independent state for the Igbo people in the southeast. When it was announced a few days earlier that Kanu would be released from prison, five people in the city of Onitsha were shot to death by security forces as celebrations broke out on the streets. The chief of police has ordered reinforcements to southeastern Nigeria, where the demands for an independent Biafra increase almost half a century after the civil war (see Modern History).

Shiites killed in clashes with the army

At least 60 members of the Shiite group Nigeria’s Islamic Movement (IMN) are killed at a religious parade in the city of Zaria. IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky is seriously injured and arrested. Religious leaders urge the government and the army to avoid a new religious conflict at all costs, similar to that of Sunni Boko Haram.


New government ready

More than five months after Buhari’s accession, Nigeria receives a new government consisting of 36 ministers and deputy ministers. The President himself takes care of the important post of Minister of Oil. Nigeria gets a female finance minister in Kemi Adeosun, who previously worked at an investment bank. Retired General Muhammad Mansur Dan-Ali becomes Minister of Defense, Former Army Chief Abdulrahman Dambazau becomes Minister of Internal Affairs and Lawyer Geoffrey Onyeama becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Violence during November

About 30 people are killed when an explosive charge explodes in a crowd in the city of Yola in the northeast. A few days earlier, President Buhari announced during a visit to the city that Boko Haram is close to being defeated.


Violence in October

About 20 are killed in suicide bombings in Abuja and over 50 die in blast attacks against mosques in the northeast. Attacks are carried out almost daily. Throughout, Boko Haram is believed to be behind them.


3,500 dead in Islamist violence during the year

Amnesty International reports that 3,500 people have been killed in “Boko Haram-related” violence so far this year. The figure also applies to neighboring countries, but the great majority of deaths have occurred in Nigeria. AFP News Agency estimates that at least 1,260 people have been killed in Nigeria alone since President Buhari took office on May 29.

Buhari recognizes private assets

The president has $ 150,000 in his bank account, but also owns five homes, two clay pits and shares in three companies. The purpose of the open accounting of private property and assets is to counteract corruption. Buhari’s representative Goodluck Jonathan refused to disclose his fortune.

2.1 million homeless because of the terror

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports on the people in northeastern Nigeria who have become homeless due to the domination of Boko Haram over the past six years.

Violence during September

At least 50 and maybe over 100 die when several explosive charges explode in the city of Maiduguri.


Explosion in Borno

At least 47 people are killed and at least 50 injured in an attack in a market.


The military command is replaced

Buhari replaces the heads of the army, the air force and the navy, as well as the head of the defense intelligence service and the national security adviser. The change of personality is a sign that the president is seeking a new strategy for the efforts against Boko Haram.

Violence in July

Just over the first five days of the month, over 250 deaths are reported in various forms of terrorist acts in the country. About 150 are reported to have been shot dead in assault against three villages in the state of Borno.


The Board of the Oil Company is set aside

Buhari dismisses the entire board of the state NNPC, which is notorious for corruption. Four state governors are commissioned to investigate why about $ 21 billion, which the company is said to have earned, has not been transferred to the Treasury. The missing money represents more than half of NNPC’s total revenue since 2012.

Summit on Boko Haram

President Buhari invites the leaders of the four neighboring countries to a summit that results in an agreement to form a joint military force. Nigeria will lead the force, which however will have its headquarters in Chad’s capital N’Djamena. By July, the force should be ready. The other three participating countries are Cameroon, Niger and Benin.

The military moves headquarters to Maiduguri

The move from Abuja is in accordance with a promise made by Buhari in his installation figure. The aim is for the leadership to be closer to the center of events in the fight against Boko Haram.

The military is accused of abuse

Amnesty International accuses the army of serious abuse during its efforts against Boko Haram for four years. More than 7,000 men and boys have died in the military’s custody. A total of at least 17,000 have died in the conflict since 2009. Over 20,000 have been arrested in the pursuit of militant Islamists during the period. Several high ranking officers are identified in the report accusing them of murder, torture and “disappearance”. Some of the victims must have been only nine years old, and one method used is to have the arrested starved killed.

Violence in June

Many tens of people die in attacks during the month. In a first video recording since Boko Haram affiliated with IS (see March 2015) shows how wounded Nigerian soldiers are shot in the head and a civilian-clad man is beheaded.


Buhari takes office

In his inaugural speech on May 29, the new president promises, among other things, to bring in the hard gloves against Boko Haram, whom he calls “a godless group that stands as far from Islam as one can imagine”.

Female genital mutilation is prohibited

One of the last laws that President Jonathan signs means that female genital mutilation becomes illegal. The law also means that it is forbidden for a man to abandon his wife and children without financial support.

Alarm about rising suicide

The UN Children’s Fund Unicef ​​reports that 27 suicide attacks have been carried out so far this year, compared with 26 throughout 2014. Three-quarters of them have been carried out by women or children, some only seven years old. Children are often assumed not to know that they carry explosives.

Violence in May

Several dozen people are killed mainly in the areas around Maiduguri in Borno.


Abducted women and girls

According to Amnesty International, Boko Haram has carried away at least 2,000 women and girls since the beginning of 2014. The report is presented just one year after the kidnapping of 219 school girls in the state of Borno. The military says they know that these girls have been divided into three or four groups and are held in different militia camps. In a week, a total of about 700 are released from Boko Haram camp in the huge Zambian forest near the border with Cameroon.

state elections

On April 11, elections are held by governors and state parliament. It is quickly apparent that APC retains its newly acquired takeover and receives a majority of the Governor’s positions.

Violence in April

At least 200 people are reported to have been killed in a Boko Haram attack on the city of Damasak. Over 400 children are kidnapped and thousands of people flee the nearby border to Niger.


APC wins

In the parliamentary elections, the newly formed party gets its own majority in both chambers. In the presidential election, Buhari gets 54 percent of the vote against 45 percent for Jonathan. This is the first time in Nigeria that a sitting president will not be re-elected. Jonathan is praised for his early defeat and congratulates Buhari on the victory. He urges his followers to accept the result without protest. The peaceful shift of power is considered as an example for the entire African continent.

Predominantly quiet choice

The election is partly characterized by hassles with the appliances that will read the biometric voting cards and many polling stations are only opened several hours after the appointed time, which leads to the election being extended by one day. Nonetheless, domestic and international observers tentatively say that despite the shortcomings of the elections on March 28 and 29, the elections were conducted in a credible way.

The Boko Haram headquarters destroyed

The day before the election, the army states that the headquarters of the city of Gwoza is occupied.

Offensive begins

Ground forces and flights from Niger and Chad are said to have launched an offensive against Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria. Shortly thereafter, Nigeria’s army is said to have recaptured a large number of places and driven out Boko Haram from almost the entire northeast region controlled by the Islamists.

The AU approves international strength

The African Union is giving its go-ahead to plans to deploy up to 10,000 people in the fight against Boko Haram. The force is headquartered in Chad’s capital N’Djamena. Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Gabon have promised to contribute with soldiers.

Boko Haram loyal to the Islamic State

The Nigerian group informally merges with IS, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria. The message is provided by Nigerian Islamist leader Abubakar Shekau. There have been signs of cooperation between the two terrorist movements for some time. On an audio tape, a spokesman for IS says the Islamic State welcomes the cooperation and extension of the “emirate” to West Africa.

Violence during March

Dozens of people die during the month of the attack, mainly in Borno.


Olusegun Obasanjo leaves PDP

The former president abandons the ruling party.

The selection is postponed

The election commission’s decision to postpone the election for six weeks is justified by the serious security situation. The Commission says voters’ safety cannot be guaranteed as early as February because the military is busy fighting Boko Haram. Presidential and parliamentary elections are postponed to March 28, and governor and state elections to April 11.

Chadian soldiers in Nigeria

The soldiers fight battles with Boko Haram in two smaller towns near the border with Cameroon. A Chadian spokesman says a few hundred Islamists have been killed

Violence in February

The official human rights commission NHRC writes that violence directly related to the electoral movement required at least 58 people’s lives. Seven people die in a suicide attack where the perpetrator is believed to have been only seven years old. The army announces the withdrawal of Baga, which Boko Haram took in January.


150,000 refugees in neighboring countries

According to the UNHCR UNHCR, about 100,000 Nigerians have moved to Niger since May 2013 and about 35,000 to Cameroon. About 10,000 have traveled to Chad alone since New Year 2015.

Damage for oil spills

After three years of negotiations, the Shell oil company agrees to pay damages to the municipality of Bodo in the Niger Delta and its residents for two major oil spills in 2008. More than 15,000 residents receive about USD 3,200 each, corresponding to about three annual salaries, and the municipality receives 30 million dollar. Shell pays out $ 83 million in total.

City is destroyed in massacres

The city of Baga and surrounding villages are subject to a multi-day attack by Boko Haram. The jihadist group occupies a military base that is the headquarters of an international force. Soldiers from Nigeria, Niger and Chad abandon the facility without resisting. Most of Baga is burnt down and many residents flee across Lake Chad. How many people die remains unclear, the figures vary between a few hundred and 2,000 casualties (see also April 2013).

Violence in January

In addition to the massacres in Baga, Boko Haram carries out a host of other attacks. On a couple of occasions, 10-year-old girls are reported to have committed suicide attacks, in Yobe and in Borno. Villages are burned down and people are robbed.

Nigeria Culture and Traditions
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