With over 200 million citizens (1) belonging to the 300 or more ethnic groups living in Nigeria, this West African nation is the most ethnically diverse country in Africa. Here’s a brief guide to some of the most indigenous and beautiful tribes in Nigeria.
Be aware that these tribes might still find their way to the dirtiest tribes list, and that’s because it is safe to say Nigeria has no full and effective ways of dumping refuse yet, and some rural areas are not very aware of the value of cleanliness. But we have to think of other reasons that make these communities stand out amongst others in the country. That includes infrastructures, education, cuisines, tradition, and language.
The foremost and popular tribes in Nigeria are Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. However, there are lots of different tribes with over 520 languages, some of which can trace their roots from these fundamental three.
For this rundown, we did an overall survey that incorporated analysing the tidiness, education, infrastructures, and status of the 36 states in Nigeria.
The Efik-Ibibio are located around Nigeria’s coastal south-eastern area in Akwa Ibom State and Cross River state. There are various languages spoken, for example, the Annang lingo and the Oron dialect.
Ekpe people are the secret society that safeguards the Efik-Ibibio culture, the “Ekpe”, signifying “Lion”, was indigenous to South-eastern Nigerian and turned into a famous symbol in the Efik-Ibibio culture. Furthermore, the Ekpe of the Efik-Ibibio people designed “Nsibidi,” the famous old way of writing for the Efik people.
The Efik/Ibibio People Have Various Edible Vegetable Delicacies Such As; Afang soup, Edikang Ikong soup, Fufu, pepper soup, Ukwoho, Atama, etc.
The Ibibio have held a rich oral history through ages. Prior to Nigeria’s freedom, the clan made a few attempts to make their own sovereign state inside Nigeria, going as far as even setting meetings with the British Crown.
The Ibibio people are mostly Christians and known for their crafts—for example, creating distinct wooden masks and carvings.
The Ibibio clan comprises Annang, Efik, Ekid, Oron, and Ibeno sub-ethnic groups, and they communicate in related languages. Besides English, the Ibibio language is part of their school’s syllabus. Likewise, the language of Akwa Ibom state makes it to broadcasting via radio and TV programs.
In spite of the fact that the Ibibios may have alternate beliefs from other tribes, they are welcoming and benevolent to outsiders. The group lives in a quiet region with a low crime percentage, and they are one of the most tranquil ethnic groups in Nigeria.
“Mesiere” is the manner in which Efik/Ibibio people say “hi”.
Moreover, the two states, Akwa Ibom and Cross River, home to the Ibibio-Efik clan, are among the top-ranked territories in cleanliness.
We could date the historical backdrop of Ibibio people back very far, making them one of the oldest ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Ibibio-Efik tribe is the fourth biggest in Nigeria regarding the size.
Uyo and Calabar are top urban areas in the nation when we look at orderliness and tidiness. These spots and overall areas are very serene and ecologically friendly.
Outstanding metropolitan areas of the Ibibio-Efik tribe include; Uyo, Calabar, Odukpani, Ikot Abasi, Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Oron, Akamkpa, Abak, Etinan, and Itu towns. A visit to these places will leave you contemplating whether you are still in Nigeria. One of the noteworthy attractions for visitors and foreigners to these spots is the solid level of security.
Places of interest to visit include; The Calabar Tropicana, Ibom Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, Ibom Tropicana Resorts, Obudu Cattle Ranch and Cable Cars, Uyo international arena, Ibeno beach, and a ton of others.
The Igbos are another friendly ethnic group in Nigeria. Making up about 18% of the populace, they are very diverse and referred to as Nigeria’s finance tribe. The Igbos live outside their geographical zone more than some other ethnic groups in the nation.
This is not far-fetched because we can find them in all the Nigerian states and outside the country doing various businesses. They accomplish this through their friendly method towards other tribes.
The Igbo people descended from the Nri Kingdom, the oldest kingdom in Nigeria. Over 24 million people in Nigeria speak the Igbo language to communicate daily. To residents of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states, the Igbo language is their first language. In some areas of Akwa Ibom, Delta, and Rivers state, they also speak the Igbo language.
However, the Igbo language is not just spoken in Nigeria alone. It is also in use at Cameroun (2) and Equatorial Guinea (3). This is because of the large numbers of immigrants from Nigeria to these nations.
The Igbo people dwell in the south-eastern district of the nation. They have no particular administration arrangements, only a customary system that ensures that the citizens are doing fine and that equality and justice prevail.
The Igbo people additionally had their conventional beliefs in tradition, but after colonization (4), over 90% switched to Christianity, Catholicism being the major branch. Although, they have a passable tolerance for other religious worshippers among them.
Remarkable metropolitan areas in Igbo land which the tribe cohabitates most include: Onitsha, Enugu, Owerri, Awka, Aba, and Abakiliki cities.
The strength of the Igbo people is in their capacity to manage and grow businesses well. There are lots of successful and renowned entrepreneurs that are Igbos. This tribe possesses five states where the Igbo language is the predominant language.
Likewise, the Igbo people have a significant influence in the Nigerian oil exchange because they mine most of this natural resource on Igbo land.
Farming is the primary income source for this tribe of the Igbos (corn, manioc, sweet potato, vegetables, rice, palm oil, and so forth).
The Igbos are more into trading, fishing, and collections of wild organic products like berries, spices, and other plants. They are not very active with rearing animals due to the constant attacks of Tse-Tse flies.
Some of their delicacies include sweet potato, cocoyam, manioc, corn (made into porridge or soups), different vegetables, and fish. Igbo locals use palm oil and other spicy flavors to make salad mixtures like Jakwu, Abacha, and Ugba.
Say “Kedu”, when you meet somebody who communicates in the Igbo language. It is a typical method of greeting, and it means “how are you”.
The Yoruba tribe is the friendliest and inviting tribe in Nigeria. The influx of other ethnical groups into Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ota, and Oshogbo are perfect representations. They are also the first ethnical groups in Nigeria to have western civilization; they are likewise liberal than some other Nigerian ethnic groups.
Additionally, there is religious versatility among the Yoruba people, while a minority still practices traditional worshipping (5). The Yorubas are very adept with tradition and Ile Ife, which in Yoruba folklore is the place life started, and the Yoruba tribe’s spiritual home.
Christianity and the Islamic religion are major religions practiced. And even though there are vast differences between the two religions, the worshippers coexist peacefully among themselves in the same environments.
The Yoruba ethnic group is also notable for having a low crime percentage. The Yorubas are strong because of their scholastic prowess and political clouts. They have the highest number of professors in the country, and many Yoruba indigenes who study outside the country and western universities home and abroad make the country proud.
The Yoruba people originally settled in the south-western part of Nigeria and are still here till today.
The Yoruba language is significant in Nigeria. The fundamental areas that communicate in this language are Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, and Lagos states and a few parts of Kogi State. The Yoruba language is also a popular lingua in many countries. Same as the Igbo language, it is so popular abroad because of immigrants to the UK and the USA.
When you intend to greet a Yoruba language speaker, say “Bawo ni”, which is ‘how are you’ in the Yoruba language. However, make an effort not to address an older person in this form because they consider it rude.
As mentioned, Yoruba states are in the southwest and north-central areas of Nigeria. Nonetheless, Yoruba speakers are also in parts of neighboring countries like The Republic of Benin, Ghana, and Togo.
The fundamental business of the Yoruba tribe is fishing and farming. They harvest sweet potato, corn, cassava, bananas, vegetables, groundnut, and millet. Their primary export product is cocoa. Animals rearing is a tough feat because of the absence of adequate land for fields and tsetse flies’ infestation.
The Yoruba people have rich dishes, and that includes, asaro, iyan, pap, Gbegiri (Beans Soup), egbo, ikokore, Ila Asepo, ekuru, amala, and so on.
The staple alcoholic drink of the Yoruba people is emu (palm wine) tapped from palm trees.
Note this before attempting Yoruba dishes-Yoruba people use lots of pepper spices in their meals, and they use palm oil for most local foods.
The Tiv/Idoma ethnic groups are arguably the fourth biggest groups in Nigeria. They are a Bantoid group in the Benue district of Nigeria. They number up to about 6.5 million people all around Nigeria and are also located in neighboring Cameroon.
Also, in Plateau, Nassarawa, and Taraba states, the language is active.
These ingenious groups migrated from southern Africa through south-central and afterward to west-central Africa before eventually settling in West Africa via river Congo and Cameroon mountains.
The Idoma and Tiv tribes are natives of Benue state and its environs. The Idoma tribe is perhaps the largest and powerful tribes in the middle belt area of Nigeria.
Even though these people make up a small part of the nation’s populace, they are quite significant. The Tiv and Idoma people are farmers by profession. They deal in products like millet, sorghum, and sweet potatoes.
They also have a mixture of Christian and Muslim populace, while a lesser number still practices traditional religion.
The Tiv/Idoma people are fascinating. Their friendly way is apparent in different parts of their culture: clothing, marriage, dance, and cuisine, which includes Aninge, Gbodi, Nune, Asondo, beat sweet potato, wheat, and so forth.
They cohabitate with different tribes in the nation through Inter-marriage relations, business transactions, and residency.
The Ijaw people make-up about 10% of the Nigerian populace and live mainly in the delta of the Niger River. This ethnic group lives in the oil-rich area, which has led to their communities being explored for oil, impacts of which have caused environmental vulnerabilities.
Strifes have emerged in the past between the citizens, the government, and oil companies because of the mismanagement of oil revenue. The income from this asset did not benefit the local communities.
This group of people comprises 50 kinship clans who majorly work as fishermen and farmers, and their predominant religion is Christianity.
The Ijaw language has a couple of different dialects, and over 2 million people in Delta, Ondo, Bayelsa, and Ekiti states use these dialects. Egbema, Ikibiri Arogbo, and west Tarairi languages are the language’s dialects.
To make proper acquaintance in Ijaw, you will say ‘Tobaroa.’
Four major foods eaten are:
- Keke fieye (A delicacy prepared with unripe plantains).
- Polofiyai (This is a mixture of dry fish, periwinkle, plantain, onion, new fish, prawns, and so on).
- Kiri Igina (This soup consists of ogbona, otherwise known as Irvingia, eaten with swallow foods).
- Opuru-Fulou (A prawn soup).
The Hausa people are the largest tribe in Nigeria (6), making up roughly 25% of the populace. Their homeland is the Northern area of Nigeria, between the River Niger and Lake Chad. This tribe occupies nineteen out of the 36 in the country.
The Hausa tribe practices a homogenized culture (7). They are able to keep their customs, culture, and lifestyle before and after colonization. Islam is the Hausa people’s dominant religion-brought by merchants from Mali and Guinea during their business trading. The tribe communicates more with the Hausa language.
Hausa is the most widely spoken language in Nigeria, and they often associate it with the Islamic culture. As per the electronic version of Ethnologue – 1991 SIL, for 18.5 million Nigerians, Hausa was the primary language, and 15 million people communicate in this language as a second lingua. But as years advances, the information found on Wikipedia reports that Hausa is now the local language for around 70 million people and a second language to about 50 million people.
Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Bauchi, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, and Gombe states are primary territories that communicate in the Hausa language.
The language is not just the states’ language but also utilized for broadcasting on global media stations like the BBC.
The Hausas are strong because the vast majority of people in public offices are Hausas and occupy significant Nigeria positions. Since Nigeria gained independence in 1960, this tribe has produced 90% of presidents in the country.
Aside from this, they dominate the Nigerian military, and the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote (8), is also a Hausa man. With all these, it is tragic that this tribe is the poorest of all the major tribes the country has and has the country’s highest death rate.
“Sannu” is the method of greeting in the dialect when making a proper acquaintance with a Hausa person. It is a usual method of greeting for companions or family members.
Hausa delicacies include vegetables, porridge, soups, meat, dairy items, and fish. And the indigenous dishes are; Dan Wake, Tuwo Shinkafa, and Suya.
Security, good management, finances, infrastructures help determine if a place is beautiful and habitable. These, amongst other things, are what people often research before living in an area.
This article outlined the most beautiful and indigenous tribes in Nigeria, the most educated, the most resourceful, neatest, etc. What are your thoughts, and which will you like to include or exclude from this list?
Obisesan Oluwatosin Grace is a freelance writer. She has worked as a reporter for a magazine firm called Ijebu Flavors and a content creator with Jetheight Services. She has contributed articles to Howng, Howafrica, Howsouthafrica, Nigeriana, and many more.
Obisesan is obsessed with creativity, and she likes to spend her free time learning how to improve her skills. She enjoys watching Sci-Fi and action movies, reading numerous fictional works, writing poetry, and listening to continental music. She is currently taking a creative writing course at Wesleyan University, USA.