Nigeria is one of Africa’s most ancient countries. The Nok people, a Neolithic tribe, date as far back as the fifth century B.C.E. The Fulani, Hausa, and Kanuri peoples later settled in Nigeria, and the Fulani ruled from the 14th century until the British came in the 19th century. Under British rule, slavery, which was widely practiced, was abolished in 1936.
After the practice of slavery had ended, Nigeria gained its independence, in 1960. The Nigerian government had its work cut out for it: it faced the task of unifying a very fractured country, the rifts having been created by imperialist leaders during British rule, as well as ethnic differences among its many indigenous groups. Civil war erupted in Nigeria in 1966, when mostly Ibo military leaders started rioting against the government. Ethnic fighting occurred throughout the country, mainly against the Ibo tribe.
The Ibo people migrated to eastern Nigeria
and declared themselves independent from the rest of Nigeria, naming their territory Biafra. The devastating Biafra War broke out in 1967 and ended in 1970, when Biafra yielded to the government.
After years of military rule, Nigeria has been able to maintain a solid history of civil rule since 1999. Despite numerous bumps in the road, the government is still under civilian control.
The Top 5: Local Advice
1. Greetings! It is extremely important to greet appropriately those around you when you are in Nigeria. It is a major insult when you do not greet someone in whose company you find yourself. Take care to ask others about how their families are doing as well. This exchange of pleasantries is completely normal, and don’t feel pressured to get into enormous detail.
2. Nigeria’s films and music are legendary. Nollywood, the filmmaking industry of Nigeria, is the second-largest producer of films in the world, behind India’s Bollywood machine. If you’re able to find Nollywood films in the States, try to watch some before you travel to Nigeria; the comedies in particular will give you a glimpse of the kind of humor you will encounter during your trip. Nigerian musicians have not only become some of Africa’s most popular artists but have also crossed over internationally; among them are Fela Kuti, Sonny Ade, and D’banj.
3. Watch your cell phone: petty crime is fairly common throughout Nigeria, so you should keep small items close by and always in sight. Avoid walking at night, and when you’re checking into your hotel, make sure that security guards are employed, or that security gates are working properly.
4. Check out some of the main online newspapers in Nigeria before traveling. We recommend Next
or This Day Online
5. Depending on where you are, language barriers may or may not be an issue. If you are in a main city or traveling with a prearranged guide, English will get you by.