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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the great nations of Africa. Nigeria is Oil-rich, teaming with wildlife and home to diverse peoples and cultures. This country was just a must do on our list of countries. So without further ado, we bring you the 10 things you didn’t know about Nigeria.

Nigeria - 10 Things You Didn't Know About Nigeria

10: Top Oil Producers

Nigeria’s one of the top oil producers in the world. It ranks number 11 worldwide and number one in Africa. Nigeria’s oil economy is so important that many have speculated that should the Middle East become too unstable, the United States might need to turn to Nigeria as a principal exporter. One of the consequences of these large oil reserves has been the continued presence of corporate corruption and greed. Which eventually led to the creation of MEND. Or the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. Unlike many insurgent groups, the issues of MEND sound pretty legitimate.

Corrupt oil companies have continually polluted the Niger Delta, destroying the environment, ruining farming and making a life for the locals unbearable. In retaliation, men have decided to strike back. They routinely engage in sabotage, kidnappings, theft, property destruction and guerrilla warfare but only rarely kill. They will often assault oil platforms in the Niger Delta in high-speed motor boats and overwhelmed privately trained military guards, employed by corporations such a Shell. Often kidnapping and ransoming oil workers for hefty sums, as well as bomb oil pipelines. These operations often cause an international increase in the cost of oil. It’s safe to say that until the Niger Delta is returned to its former pristine state. MEND will be here to stay and continue on in their campaign as rebels with a cause.

9: Nigerian Food

Given Nigeria’s tropical location, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Nigerian food is vibrant, tasty, and colorful. Most Nigerian dishes are starch and vegetable-heavy and undeniably delicious. Nigeria’s one of the top yam producers in the world and its food reflects this. The classic bean porridge, mixed up with spices and plantains, makes for an amazing meal. Deep fried battered yams are another classic, dipped in akara and spiced up with chili sauce. They make for an amazing mid-day snack. Ogbono soup is made from ground up African mango and filled with yams and plantains and is yet another Nigerian classic. If you like it thick and filling, Nigerian food is for you.

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8: Educated Nigerian Immigrants

You might not know that Nigeria’s best export is nothing less than success itself. Educated Nigerian immigrants are among the most successful people in places such as the United States. Often surpassing Americans of East Asian ethnicity in mean income an achievement. No one really knows the secrets of their success. What we do know is that they are the most educated people in the United States. Some people think that allowing skilled and educated Nigerian immigrants to become citizens creates a brain drain on their native country. The flip side of that, is that western countries tend to have many more opportunities, allowing them greater mobility, success and ultimately, the ability to help people in their country of origin.

7: The Biafran War

The Nigerian civil war is also called the Biafran War. Which lasted from July of 1967 to January of 1970. So called because the politics that had led to it involved the failed attempt of the secessionist state Biafra to secede from greater Nigeria. Nigeria is an incredibly diverse place. One of the reasons why the war started was because of tribal and economic tensions between the Igbo and the tribes such as the Hausa and Yoruba. Unfortunately, for the Igbo secessionists, the Nigerian government wasn’t having it. So, the government set up blockades throughout the borders of the region. Which effectively whittled down the Biafran forces to the point of surrender.

By the end of it, close to 3 million Biafran citizens had died from a combination of starvation and fighting. It’s not much talked about in the West. The Nigerian civil war’s death toll beats out most other wars of the time. It was fought with the brutality that most Europeans can even imagine, with torture, cannibalism, rape and worse all being par for the course.

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6: Necklacing

One of the most interesting crime prevention measures practice throughout Africa including South Africa but especially in Nigeria is “necklacing”. The practice is so common that even warrants its own Wikipedia article. Necklacing is a form of execution and torture used as a deterrent to people thinking about committing theft or crime. The practice typically involves removing the victim’s clothes, beating him, putting them in a tire. Whereupon his subsequently lit on fire and burnt alive. Thoughts to prevent crime by striking fear into the hearts of criminals, necklacing doesn’t really have the intended effect. And most westerners struggle to understand this bizarre practice.

5: Cannibalism

Cannibalism is a tradition found in many parts of the world and Nigeria is no exception. Sometimes cannibalism occurs due to wartime conditions. Such as those during the Biafran War but other times it is a deeply ingrained part of the culture. An account from the 1920s from a Christian missionary explains the practice in greater detail. “Every moment, men, women and even children passed me. One would be carrying a human leg on his shoulder, another would be carrying the lungs or the heart of some unfortunate crew boy in his or her hands. Several times, I myself was offered by choice of these morsels, dripping with gore”.

More recently a restaurant in a hotel in Nigeria was discovered to have been serving roasted human heads. Cannibalism is often practiced because eating the flesh of others, especially of your enemies, is thought to grant you magic powers. However, the darker side of it is often that people sometimes just taste good to other people.

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4: Tribalism

Tribalism is a divisive factor across the globe but in Nigeria, it is a greater factor than in most places. People tend to think of Africa as monolithic and the same everywhere. But this is far from the truth and Nigeria typifies this in many ways. Nigeria has close to 180 million people and is the most populous African nation. However, these numbers are further broken down into tribes. The major tribes are the Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, along with dozens and dozens of smaller tribes.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem on its face but remember that the Biafran War was fought for tribal reasons. Most of these tribe’s distrust and even despise each other to this day. Violence between them is not uncommon. Political leaders from different tribes are viewed with suspicion. This might be one of Nigeria’s greatest challenges going forward since Nigerian national identity is more a forced circumstance than a reality. Only time will tell.

3: President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari - 10 Things You Didn't Know About Nigeria

One of the most fascinating characters in modern Nigerian politics is President Muhammadu Buhari. He’s definitely not your run of the mill politician. A former military leader that in the 1980s briefly ruled Nigeria after successful military coup d’etat. He now refers to himself as a “converted democrat”. In fact, there is even a political term called Buharism that refers to the type of military-political ideology carried out under the then General Muhammadu Buhari in the 1980s. Which was a little different from most forms of fascism. Rampant ethnic nepotism, corporatism and the suppression of personal freedoms for the name of the game. Of course, he’s turned over a new leaf now. He has been elected several times in a democratic process.

This hasn’t changed people’s views of him. There have been several failed assassinations attempts on his life. To add to this, he is a member of the Hausa tribe, which engenders distrust and dislike in the Yoruba and Igbo people in the country. Vacillating between a man of the people, an elected official, a dictator or just your typical corrupt politician, Muhammadu is larger than life figure, to say the least. And just about beats anything America has to offer in the realm of politics.

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2: Butterfly Species in Nigeria

Believe it or not, Nigeria is home to the largest and most diverse numbers of butterfly species in the world. Nigeria is so well known for this, that one of the country’s national stamps as a butterfly prominently displayed on it. One way of seeing them is to visit Cross River National Park. Which is home to at least 300 species of different butterflies. Even today, new butterfly species are being discovered, showing the enormous biodiversity Nigeria has to offer.

1: Nollywood

Nollywood - 10 Things You Didn't Know About Nigeria

No, that’s not a made-up word but a description of Nigeria’s film industry, which is the second largest in the world. Every year over 100 films are released covering a wide range of genres. Despite the vast output, Nigerian cinema is largely divided along ethnic and religious lines, as befits the incredibly diverse population. For this reason, within the greater film industry, there are distinct film industries dedicated to representing the tribe the film producers come from, such as Hausa or Yoruba. Then there’s the English film industry, which combines many different aspects from different Nigerian tribes and cultures. For all these reasons, Nollywood films tend to stay national rather than international but nonetheless remain an important aspect of Nigerian culture and heritage.

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Thanks and Don’t forget to check out our other lists and thanks for staying with us for a while.

Written by Zeeshan Haider

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