“There’s no place like home”
This is a popular quote but only a handful understand the deep seated meaning. Hi, my name is Rhoda Moninuolayi Ayomide Olaleye and I am a Nigerian. Yes, I know….my name is a mouthful, but we Africans like long robust names which we can be proud of.
My country Nigeria is located in West Africa and populated with over 162.5million people which makes it the 8th most populated country in the world and the largest in Africa. It is located on the Southern coastal part of West Africa, its capital is Abuja and Lagos (where I was born and raised) is the country’s largest city.
Just as every ornament has its beauty, my country has amazing qualities which makes her stand out. I’ll share a couple of them with you and I hope you see through my eyes and fall in love with her just as I have.
The Nigerian culture is diverse and unique. It consists of a couple ethnic groups with the 3 major ones being: Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa/Fulani.
The South Western part of Nigeria is home to most Yorubas. They are known in History to be more involved in arts, metal work, beading, weaving etc. Most of the art work and paintings are usually a representation of the traditional Yoruba gods and the people of this ethnic group are known for their folktales and stories pertaining to these gods. The other sub groups stemming from this ethnic group are:
- Egba etc
The Hausa/Fulanis are the Northerners in the country and their population spreads beyond the borders of Nigeria, going into other parts of West Africa where they make up the largest single ethnic group.
Hausas are mostly into agriculture, commerce and small scale industries. They are also into lifestock and cattle rearing. Most of the Hausas are intertwined with the Fulanis and this is because of the inter-marriage between both ethnic groups.
The Igbos reside mostly in the South Eastern part of Nigeria divided into the eastern and western region by the River Niger. The Igbo people are known for their industrious and enterprising traits, which is usually passed down in most Igbo families.
They are identified by their colorful and bright ethnic display and are more related to the other ethnic groups which includes:
- Nupe etc
The Nigerian cuisine consists of a myriad of dishes originating from different ethnic groups in Nigeria.
There is just something about the sweet smell of my mothers food that always makes me never want to leave home.
Like in every other country, there are some dishes that could be considered international because they share similarities with some dishes in other countries but the typical Nigerian dish uses spices and herbs and most often hot chilli.
“We all have to eat to survive but who is to say you cant eat absolutely delicious food while surviving”
Soups and sauces are a specialty and the dishes are colorful. They can either be eaten with accompaniment or alone but they are mostly eaten with rice, yam flour, pounded yam etc.
The most indulged food in Nigeria is dried cassava flour which is popularly known as “Garri” . It is inexpensive and can be eaten in solid or liquid form.
Dishes originating from the Nigerian culture includes Ewedu, Gbegiri, Ifokore, Afang, Edikaikong and a host of others.
Nigerian Mythology and Religion
In Nigeria 50% of the population are Muslims, 40% Christians and the remaining 10% are Traditional worshipers.
Even though the traditional worshippers have drastically reduced since the introduction of alternate religions by missionaries, the tales of the ancient gods still remain a big part of the Nigerian culture.
“The gods guide and see everything”
Just as experiences are passed from parents to their kids, so are the folklores and mythology about the ancient gods before civilization are told. The tales of this gods are quite engaging and give a better understanding of how our fore fathers lived their lives before the televisions and iPhone craziness.
Since I am from the Yoruba ethnic group I’ll tell you about some of the ancient gods from my side of the country. The deities in the Yoruba lands are referred to as “Orisha”. These gods include:
- Oduduwa – Omnipotent god and creator of the earth
- Obatala – Creator of living things
- Oya – god of wind, lightning and storms
- Yemaja – Mother of all smaller gods
- Eshu – Trickster god
- Oshun – god of fertility and prosperity
- Shango – god of fire
This gods all have fascinating histories and stories of how they came into being and the life they lived while on earth. They all have unique abilities and are descendants from “Olorun” who is know as the creator of all the things.