Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. In this write-up, we will be reviewing the lifestyle culture of the major tribes in Nigeria – Hausa, Igbo & Yoruba.
Humans acquire culture through the processes of learning the dynamics of their surrounding values and norms. Lifestyle culture is gotten from acceptable conduct in society. This serves as a guideline for behavior, dress, language, and demeanor in a situation. Nigeria has well over 500 ethnic groups, with their different culture and traditions.
Lifestyle Culture: The Hausa Tribe
The Hausa people are the largest tribe in Nigeria, making up approximately 25% of the population. Hausaland is concentrated in northern Nigeria, situated between the River Niger and Lake Chad.
The Hausa practice a very uniform culture, keeping their traditions and way of life during and after colonization. Islam is the main religion of Hausas and is said to have been brought by traders from Mali and Guinea. Aside from English, they primarily speak the Hausa language.
Hausa people can also be found outside Nigeria. About 4 million Hausa people live in Niger, about 160,000 come from Chad, and about 140,000 live in Ghana. There are also many of them in Cameroon, Benin and Mali.
Since majority of Hausas are Muslims, they do nothing that Holy Quran forbids. As Muslims, it is an act of taboo to eat pork food, consume alcohol, males putting on gold and wearing scanty clothing. The Hausa traditionally live in small villages, as well as in towns and cities. There they grow crops, raise livestock including cattle, and engage in trade, both local and long distance across Africa. The men hunt and go fish, while women are mostly involved in pottery, baskets, mats, knitting, etc.
As reported in Wikipedia, the Hausa cultural practices stand unique in Nigeria. Consequently, in spite of strong competition from western European culture they have maintained their culture. They have a rich and peculiar mode of dressing, food, language, marriage system, education system, traditional architecture, sports and entertainment. The culture of the major tribes in Nigeria like the Hausa people make them stand out as a dominant tribe in Africa.
Some Festivals in Hausaland
Kallon Kuwa Festival – It is an annual event that symbolizes the ending of the cropping season and gives them hope that ‘Kaka’ will arrive. This is a symbol of wealth for different spheres of life, from social to economical. Farmers love Kallon Kuwa festival because it means the time has come to rest and enjoy music. They also various entertaining activities, like traditional boxing matches (Dambe) and wrestling (Kokuwa).
Hausa Music Festival is a big part of Hausa people’s life. Different groups play folk music on a Goge or Goje (one-string fiddle), algaita (huge flute) and kakaki (trumpet). These musical instruments are used in the music festival of dances that include drummers, dancers and performers who do magic tricks in public. Drummers use special instruments. Dancers also wear leather and accessories. Such groups go from town to town to make the friendship between Hausa people stronger.
Lifestyle Culture: The Igbo People
The Igbo people are a meta-ethnicity native to the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria and also Equatorial Guinea. They are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, with over 34 million in population, as per Wikipedia. Language spoken is Igbo, and it is divided into numerous regional dialects, but still understandable to other native speakers. The Igbo homeland straddles the lower Niger River.
In rural Nigeria, Igbo people work mostly as craftsmen, farmers and traders. The most important crop is the yam. Other staple crops include cassava and taro. Igbos are well-known for their entrepreneurial endeavours, both within Nigeria and around the world.
Despite the Fulani War and the spread of Islam in Nigeria, the igbos became overwhelmingly Christian under colonization. The traditional ancient Igbo religion is known as Odinani. In the Igbo mythology, the supreme God is called Chukwu (“great spirit”). Chukwu created the world and everything in it and is associated with all things on Earth.
Modern Igbo traditional attire for men is generally made up of the Ishi Agu top, and worn with trousers. Ishi Agu is usually patterned with lions heads embroidered over the clothing, but can also be plain (usually black). It is and can be worn with either a traditional title holders hat named Okpu Agwu, or with the traditional Igbo stripped men’s hat. For women, an embodied puffed sleeve blouse along with two Hollandis wrappers material and a head scarf are worn.
The Igbo people are known for their appreciation of music and various handmade instruments. Most of their instruments are either in the string or woodwind categories. They often play the “Opi” (similar to the flute) or the “Ubaw-Akwala” which resembles a 5 triangular guitar. Musicians will often circle the land at night playing the ubaw-akwala for residents and passersby. Indeed, the Igbo people are one of the major tribes in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Some Festivals in Igbo Land
Masquerades Festival (Oso Mmanwu) are held during festivals, annual harvest, burials, and other social gatherings. Masquerades are colorful displays of costumes and masks. Most costumes are associated with spiritual elements. In the past, Masquerades were used to maintain peace and order. Now they are used for cultural entertainment.
Yam Festivals (Iri Ji) – On the first day of the Yam Festival, the Igbo people honor their ancestors and their gods by creating an altar. Village men then go farm the new grown yams and give thanks in the village square. The second day of the Yam Festival consists of watching young men wrestling. Also, constantly throughout the day there is eating, drinking, and talking.
Lifestyle Culture: The Yoruba People
The Yoruba people are an ethnic group that inhabits western Africa, with a vast majority of them are from Nigeria. They make up 21% of the country’s population, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, as per Wikipedia. Most Yoruba people speak the Yoruba language, which is the Niger-Congo language with the largest number of native speakers.
Majority of the Yoruba people practice Christianity and Islam, while a minority still follow ancestral traditional beliefs. They are people of many cultural traditions, and Ile Ife which in Yoruba mythology is where life began is held as the spiritual centre of the Yoruba tribe. Even with the advancement of civilization, the Yorubas still hold dearly to their culture and tradition.
Yoruba people have a rich mythological history which dates back to Oduduwa as their earliest progenitor. They are extremely jovial and respectful. A typical Yoruba man can greet you 100 times in a day if needs be. They love partying and enjoyment generally. Their traditional system revolves around the Ooni of Ife and the Alaafin of Oyo which are seen as apex custodians of Yoruboid culture. Most Yoruba towns and villages are ruled by Obas also called Olus or Deji.
The Yoruba people have a rich traditional religious system and a Pantheon of gods similar only to the Greek Pantheon. They love songs and food and are known for dominating the music industry in Nigeria. Yorubas are extremely glamorous in dressing! The men usually wear “Agbada“, a oversized cloth which is worn like a jacket over lace or wrapper based clothes, along with a fila (cap). The women mostly put on a combination of a traditional wrapper with a blouse, and a headpiece. Yes, in describing the culture of the major tribes in Nigeria, the culture of the Yoruba people is truly unique.
Some Yoruba Festivals
Oro Festival – an annual festival celebrated in almost all Yoruba settlements and towns in Nigeria. The festival is observed with only male descendants of the paternal natives of the town where the festival is taking place. During the Oro festival, non-natives and females stay indoors because it is believed that it is a taboo for a woman or anyone who is not allowed to participate in the festival to see the Oro.
Eyo Festival (a.k.a Adamu Orisha Play) is unique to the people of Lagos state. The 24 days festival features a major parade with participants dressed in white flowing robes that cover their entire body, top hats and sticks; and masquerades referred to as “Eyo” as well as costumed dancers. The festival sweeps through the entire city with focus on the Lagos Island and attracts a large number of tourists from around the world.
As we have seen, culture is a characteristics of a particular group of people. The culture of the major tribes in Nigeria is interesting. In the next article, we look at culture of the other notable tribes in Nigeria.
What do you think about the lifestyle culture of the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba people of Nigeria? Your comments are welcome below.