The Nigerian culture is deep in uniqueness, and our traditions so rich in diversity. This makes us a quite interesting and appealing people. Nigerians have this aura about them that can never be overlooked, ranging from food to dressing, to cultures, and traditions.
Most of the food we eat carries a traditional bearing of who we are and what keeps us going, they are also certain foods prepared in traditional ceremonies which carry great emphasis.
Our culture is one thing we refuse to jeopardize and take for granted. We believe that our fore fathers lived a certain way that pleased the deities and left a legacy that would stand the test of time.
Although most of their practices have been abolished and shoved down the drain in the name of Christianity, most of those practices are evergreen and their exemplary lives are still held in high esteem.
Examples are most of the foundations they laid down, their craft was second to none, and the writing on stones, and hand made tools and costumes– all these are still kept in museums immemorial.
There are also things Nigerians still hold onto despite the fact that we are in a new era which other continents, developed and underdeveloped find weird. But these things mean a lot to us, and even if they mean less now, there is no way we would throw away our heritage in the name of a new world, whose emergence took us unawares.
The rich elements of the Nigerian culture
Here are unique elements of the Nigerian culture thatwe can’t do without.
These represent royalty and were worn around the waist, neck, ankles, arms and used to adorn the hair. They signify wealth and royalty and still hold much value even in the 21st century.
Beads are worn by high Chiefs and Obas especially in the Yoruba and Igbo land. They are used during coronation, traditional weddings, good luck charms, and even maidens still go about wearing beads around their waists.
Beads are still trending globally and hold a vast space in the market.
These, to our ancestors were currency they used in exchange for what ever they wanted and it meant a lot in their time, and cannot be forgotten in a hurry. How could such things be so irrelevant now?
Most people consider cowries good luck charm due to its relevance in time past. Even people who dream of cowries believe that a whole lot of fortune awaits them.
People also use cowries in place of beads and other accessories. So no matter how irrelevant they seem to be now, at least they are still found in the markets and hold high places in museums.
These are not only legendary, but also represent valor. Nigerians are known for not accepting defeat. They believe in hunting and pulling down strongholds. We are warriors, a resilient people.
During the reign of the ancestors when kings went to war, they always returned with the heads of their adversary as a show of victory. Same thing when they went hunting, they would always return carrying skins of leopards and venomous snakes.
These skins were made into robes to be worn by kings. That is why the animal skin remains a thing of value and great expense. They represent the strength of great men gone, men who took on life with nothing but bare fist, and stood the test of time.
The drums produce loud and violent sounds; they are the voice of the Nigerian people. They are made of wood and pachyderm and other animal skins and are beaten with the palms to produce various sounds in new moon, the fire festival dance, rituals and other celebrations.
The drums were also used to pass a message. Because of the loud sounds they produced, they were used to forewarn distant neighbors of impending danger. When beaten in a certain way, they understood meant danger.
Drums are beaten in various ways that only the people understand. Every event carries different beats and meaning.
The drums are one legendary asset the four fathers left behind that still stand the test of time. They saw well that music is to life as wine to the heart.
Drums were what they used to produce music. Since hunting was a part of their livelihood, animal skins were readily available in making the drum, before the flute and other musical instruments were made.
Even today the drums are beaten in New Year celebrations, new harvests, and traditional marriage ceremonies and during the dedication of a child, which signifies that a new sound has been produced in the nation.
Even with the invention of pop and Afro beats in the modern day, the drums still hold important places in the rural and urban markets in Nigeria and also kept in museums.
The drums remain the sound of the people of a never dying Nigeria.
This, according to belief, is the mask that portrays the rugged dance of the ancestors, and that it interprets a spiritual message and can only be found in Nigeria.
It is believed that the masquerade are the gods. therefore the people watch its dance steps keenly, but unfortunately not everyone understood the dance of the masquerade except the high chiefs and them that bear the mask. But it is legendary and has been passed from generation to generation.
People believe that it is only when the gods have a message to pass that the masquerade are released, therefore children and women were not allowed to see the masquerade. Only able bodied men and local chiefs are allowed to see when it surfaces.
It is believed to be an abomination for a woman, especially one who has not reached the menopause to see a masquerade. They claimed that if a woman set eyes on it, there were consequences attached, either that they would be beheaded or die a natural death.
When ever it is time to release the masquerade, a message would be passed across the community and people would stay indoors until the ritual is over.
In some communities the masquerade is only seen when a high chief dies and during important ceremonies.
The masquerade is believed to be sacred.
There are certain fetish beliefs that most Nigerians still nurture and believe it works for them. Like invoking the spirit of the ancestors, calling the god of thunder on sworn enemies, swearing and cursing.
Nigerians are peaceful people who believe in oneness and love. But when provoked to the cliff, they still believe that the god of thunder which their fore fathers worshiped would not overlook their hurt, and therefore make special plea by incantations to the god of thunder, who is believed to hearken to their pleas and strike their adversary to death in a matter of minutes, depending on how grievous the crime committed.
There are also various incantations and rituals people still chant in some rural places in Nigeria believing it to arouse evil spirits to fight for them or avenge their hurt.
It is also believed that there is a place in Enugu part of Nigeria called Amalla mma or the Amalla of the Dead, where dead people stay and get married.
And you could go there to see your loved ones, and that a powerful voodoo doctor could help you ask them the cause of their deaths. They claim that even people who died of fatal accidents and whose bodies were never recovered all live there.
Although most people from that part of the town promise that no such things happen there, and that it is mere imagination and fairy tales, people say to scare outside aggression and make people afraid so no one would go there to harm the people of the land and its people, yet most people from there swear that their grandparents had told them of it, and that it was meant to be kept a secret so as to encourage friendly relation with other states and so that their daughters can marry.
Other people from that part of the town claim to hear them sing and dance even in broad day light. And only strong dibias and voodoo doctors go that area in the name of consulting oracles and other fetish practices.
There are also rituals that are believed to be made to appease the spirits and for cleansing and purification against when a woman commits adultery, abortion, suicide or murders her husband. And the list goes on.
However Christianity now plays a vital role in the society, so that a lot of people try to seek peace rather than avenge them.
Nigerians are highly spiritual and believe that every element on planet earth that God ever made is to be used to their advantage, including telling the time by using the position of the sun and the human shadow.
Typical Nigerians, especially the aged, like to connect to the four element of the earth with rituals and several positive declarations, believing that our fore fathers did same and it worked for them.
They are Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.
Nigerians are unique people who carry their tanned skin about with pride and a sense of fulfillment. We are a good people, a great country.
There is another belief that the Tiv people of Benue State revere green snakes. This is prior to the belief that in time passed, when their fore fathers were looking for a place of settlement, they had met a very big river on the way which was a great obstacle as they could not make any progress and became stranded on the spot with no means to cross.
They had been stranded in the middle of nowhere and all hopes were loss. As they sat pondering in their frustration, a bridge surfaced in the middle of the river, which enabled them to cross over, though they were awe stricken.
When they had crossed over, they turned to look behind, only to realize that the bridge had disappeared, then as they looked, they beheld a gigantic green snake gliding away in the water.
Even to this day, the Tiv people do not harm the green snake as a show of reverence and appreciation because of the help it rendered in time passed which contributed greatly to the founding of their settlement.
This is the rule of law that governs the people of every state in Nigeria. There are traditions that forbid certain tribes from marrying one another, as it is believed that their fore fathers shared some mutual sort of friendship that makes them assume they are brothers, and should rather maintain that form of brotherliness rather than marry.
Marriages between such tribes is therefore seen as a taboo and defilement of that brotherhood rather than a bond created by two love birds. If such tribes marry among themselves, they are fined and made to go for cleansing as the union is believed to be unclean. It is said that if such people marry and bear children, the kids do not live beyond a certain age. This claim is made to back the fact that the gods do not approve of their union.
There is also a tradition that allows a man to take his brother’s widow as wife if they both agree and raise offspring.
The Nigerian meals are special delicacy everyone loves to eat. We prepare delicacies in special ways that makes the mouth watery so that one is tempted to stop and and take a bite.
We could make special meals even out of random leaves that grow in bushes, leaves that so many people ignore and see as mere weeds that come with the rains, this is why our delicacies are carefully planned and have unique tastes.
Every tribe in Nigeria have a special meal they fancy and are known for, in so much that when you meet with somebody for the first time, apart from the introduction of their accents, when they mention their favorite meal, you could easily guess their tribe and State of Origin.
Even during tribal ceremonies when each tribe is expected to do a presentation of their history and traditions, every tribe comes with a special delicacy they are known for.
The Yorubas present Ewedu and Amalla, the Ibos present fufu and oha, while the hausas present towo shinkafa, and each meal has different recipes and preparation pattern, with a special and unique taste.
A lot of mystery unfolds in Nigeria…