Before looking at the importance and types of culture in Nigeria, it’s good to know the definition. Culture is defined as the way of life of a group of people. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country of almost 200 million people. Nigerians are a group of people who are so different but still united as one in the quest to achieve a common purpose of nation-building. Nigeria is blessed with over 250 ethnic groups with noticeable cultural differences among them.

The three main ethnic groups are the Yorubas of South Western Nigeria, the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria and the Hausa/Fulani ethnic group which dominates the North. Other groups worthy of mention are Ijaw, Edo, Itshekiri, Kanuri, Efik, and Tiv. Ethnically, the population of the country is estimated to be made up of 29% Hausa/Fulani, the Yorubas make up 21% while the Igbos are believed to be about 18% of the entire population. The Okays make up 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5% and Tiv 2.5%. Various other minor ethnic groups make up the rest of the country.



Hausa/Fulani ethnic group is made up of two hitherto different ethnic groups that have now intermixed to the extent that they are regarded as one inseparable ethnic nation. Although this group is found throughout the grasslands of West Africa, the bulk of the population is found in Northern Nigeria in states like Sokoto, Kano, and Katsina.

This group is predominantly Muslim as Islam was introduced into Nigeria by the Fulanis. The architectural mastery of the Hausas is perhaps one of the least known buys the most beautiful of the medieval age. The early mosques built by men of this tribe were bright and colourful often including intricate engravings and elaborate designs.

Music and art are important aspects of everyday life in the Hausa/Fulani and they are well known for the Dubar celebration. The Hausa/Fulani people are known for their unique cultural practices most of which have stood the test of time. They have been able to preserve their cultural practices over time as a result of their strong native system of government.  Their religion, mode of dressing, food, marriage, and language are all unique.

This ethnic group is well known for their colourful but modest dress due to their strong religious beliefs. Men from this tribe are known to wear large flowing gowns known as Babban Riga and also a robe-like dress called Jalabia or Juanni. The men sometimes also add a cap called Fula to their dressing. The women tie wrappers called ‘Abaya’ and wear blouses, head ties, shawls, and hijabs. The ladies wear their hair in traditional styles and complement their looks with a lot of jewellery, ornaments, and paintings. The Lalli or henna paintings and drawings are a very popular and indispensable part of their makeup.


The Yorubas are a diverse group of people bound together by language, history, culture and a common sense of origin. According to Yoruba Mythology, this group of people believes that they are descendants of Oduduwa. The headquarter of Yorubaland is Ile-life where they believe creation started. The Yoruba culture is rich and unique drawing comparison with no other culture around.

Lots of Yoruba people still practice the traditional religion but a large number have embraced Christianity and Islam. The Yoruba language has several versions of it spoken by different units within this ethnic group. Some of these dialects include Egba, Ekiti, Ijesha, Egun etc. The Yoruba language is pleasing to the ear as it places a lot of emphasis on intonation.

The mode of dressing of Yoruba males includes wearing Bubba and Sokoto and also a large flowing gown called Agbada. A complimentary cap called Fila may be added to the dressing. The women wear Iro and Buba and tie a complimentary headgear. Some of their native clothing materials include Aso-oke or Ofi and Adire. The women wear their hair in native styles such as Suku.

The Yorubas are fun-loving people and are known for their eye-catching, colourful and rhythmic dance steps. The Yoruba culture emphasizes respect for elders which is why ladies kneel and men prostrate to greet their elders. Tribal marks used to be widely popular amongst Yorubas but that culture is fast washing out amongst modern Yoruba descendants. Several festivals are celebrated in Yorubaland yearly where the rich culture of the Yoruba people is displayed. Some of these festivals include Odun Olojo, Iwude, and Osun-Osogbo amongst many others.

Yorubas have a strong political system with the Oba at the helm of affairs. He is assisted by a team of elders known as Enjoyed (Chiefs). The people of this tribe are gifted sculptors. Beautifully crafted sculptures of wood, brass, and terracotta are common things among the Yoruba. They make beautiful sculptures in honour of their gods and deities. In addition, they are also very good porters, weavers, and metalsmiths.


The Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria commonly called Ndi Igbo are a very cultural set of people. Igbos are mostly farmers, traders, and craftsmen. They are the most dispersed set of people in Nigeria as they can be found all over the country. Yam is the main staple food of the Igbos which is why they celebrate the new yam festival every year when the harvesting of yam starts.

The Igbo political system isn’t strong which explains why they are not a politically strong unit within the Nigerian system. Igbos are overwhelming Christians of Catholic extraction although a minority of them practice other religions such as Islam, Judaism, and the traditional Igbo religion.

They are well known for their energetic dance steps, colourful attires, and masquerades. In Igboland, both men and women tie wrappers. They have a strong culture of colourful masquerades that entertain people during festivals and other important functions. The Igbos are renowned for their strong use of proverbs.


Apart from the main three languages, the cultures of other tribes in Nigeria are equally unique and important. The Benin people of present-day Edo state had a culture that amazed the colonial masters when they first got to the ancient Benin kingdom. Artefacts stolen from Benin sit on shelves of many foreign museums and in the private homes of foreigners.

The Great Wall of Benin was a great structural and architectural piece that was way ahead of time and stood to protect the ancient Benin kingdom. The Efiks, Ibibios, Kanuris, Itsekiris, Ijaws, Igalas, Igedes, Idomas, Nupe etc all have beautiful cultures that stand them out and make them distinct and important in Nigeria.



Culturally, Nigeria is like a coat of many colours. Anywhere you find yourself in the Nigerian territory, you will meet a unique group of people who are set in their ways and would blow your mind away with their ways of life.

Tags: Importance Of Culture In Nigeria, Types Of Culture In Nigeria