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The Cultural Wealth of Nigeria, Part 1 of 2

2022-10-05
Lingua:English
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Located in West Africa between the Sahel in the north and the Gulf of Guinea in the south, Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent, with more than 250 ethnic groups who speak an estimated 500 languages. The three largest ethnic groups are the Hausa in the north, the Yoruba in the west, and the Igbo in the east. A cultural melting pot, the country embraces many forms of traditional art, folklore, dance, music, and literature.

One of the nation's most iconic features is the Hausa people's traditional architecture, which tells the stories of their history and folklore. It reflects their environment, culture, and way of life. The Gidan Rumfa palace in Kano City was built in the 15th century and embodied the architectural achievements of the Hausa people.

Ancient Benin houses were equipped with systems to channel rainfall into underground drainage systems. The ancient city and surrounding areas used to be enclosed by a wall of earthworks estimated to be 16,000 kilometers long. According to the Guinness Book of Records (1974 edition), it was “the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era.” Recent studies show that the actual length of the wall could have been longer than the Great Wall of China.

One of the earliest human settlements near the Benue River nurtured the “Nok Culture” from around 500 B.C.E. to 200 C.E. This ancient civilization is known for its brilliant bronze work. The royal palace in Edo was lavishly decorated with thousands of elaborate carved plaques and statues, which have become known as “Benin Bronzes.”

Along with traditional metal work, wood carvings, stone carvings, pottery, and glassworks are also popular Nigerian crafts that have been preserved. The Yoruba and Igbos cultures have a long tradition of carving wooden posts and chip doors and have established sophisticated carving styles and systems. The Esie Stone Sculptures are Africa's most extensive collection of stone carvings. The pottery craft has been practiced mainly by women in Nigeria and expresses beautiful cultural elements of different tribes and ethnic groups. Glass beads in Sub-Saharan areas have traditionally been used to denote wealth and power.

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