Nigeria - a Stable Nation
NIGERIA a stable nation
As most governments do struggle when changing over into a new form of government, with hope to better its people, Nigeria is no exception. After 16 years of military dictatorship, three republics, many riots and protests, and about seven coups and/or overthrows, the new Federal Republic of Nigeria adopted a new constitution in 1999, and held honest, fair civilian elections (for the first time in almost two decades) to hopefully ease all of the religious, cultural and militant related tension in Nigeria. Only having about twice the area of the state of California, but with over *three and a half times the population (California Department of Finance, Demographic Research Unit, from the 2000 census), and having so much corruption and so little previous experience with a working system of government, and lacking any non-oppressed form of media, I think it's pretty safe to say that the new Nigerian government (the third republic) might struggle for a while, but in the long run collapse, and fail. It is just like their past two republics, that started off mimicking either the British or American style, but after a while some militant goon, thought it wasn't getting anywhere, and just took over. As long as there's a military, they will always have power, and will always have the upper hand, in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
A short history: the original republic started back when the got their independence from Great Britain, on October 1, 1960, and their government was designed after the system of their recent proprietor, the UK. The independent Nigeria was compiled of three ethnic states: the Hausa kingdom, from the north, the Yoruba, which dominated the South and the west, and the Ibo, of the south and the east, all united as one federation (Jim Jones, 1998). The first republic's system was set up with a prime minister, and a parliament, which were both dominated by the Hausa's National People's Congress (NPC), which lasted a good five years until new elections led the Igbo (a minority group from the north - Hausa) civil servants to maintain authority over most of the west and the Yoruba nation. This angered the Yoruba, who had been struggling with the Hausa for many years, and caused riots, until January 1966, when the Nigerian army held their first coup, directed at the Igbo, leaving over 30,000 dead, and a country without a stable leader/government. Those of the Igbo culture that had survived the massacre fled to Southeast Nigeria (full of rich, moneymaking soil, starting the Republic of Biafra, almost immediately being sought out and at war against Nigeria. (Jones, 1998, chart on African History)
Later in May, 1967, the Nigerian General Yakubu Gowon pronounced himself as the country's new chief, and started things off by abolishing the old three state system, and changed it to a federation of twelve states, weakening local governments, but strengthened the military's power, and the even the federal government, should the army succumb the slightest bit of control. In 1974, Gowon promised to return the system back to civilian rule, in the year 1976, but in October of the next year, there was another coup directed by General Murtala Muhammad, who held power until General Olusegun Obasanjo succeeded him, in 1976. Under Obasanjo, the constitution was amended so that there would be 19 states, instead of twelve, and under rule of parliament, civilian control was resumed. The constitution was changed so that the country had more "checks and balances," imitating more of an American style, than a British one, and that there would be fair elections with parties in competing with one another. In 1979, the first election of the Second Federation of Nigeria took place, where five parties honestly competed, and Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) became president.
During the time when General Obasanjo was in "office," oil prices skyrocketed and Nigeria's economy boomed, but in 1981, that boom was depleted, and caused over one million non-Nigerian workers to be exploited, caused strikes, and caused tension between classes and cultures to bubble up in a cauldron of hatred. The president, Shehu Shagari was blamed.
A few years later, during the second republic's second elections, the incumbent Shehu Shagari was once again elected, in September of 1983, and stayed in office until the third Nigerian coup occurred, on New Year's Eve, of that year; led by Major-General Muhammed Buhari. His first acts were suspending the proficient constitution of 1979, and arresting former president Shehu Shagari, along with many other politicians. Within his first couple years of
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The Yoruba are one of the largest African ethnic groups south of the Sahara Desert. They are, in fact, not a single group, but rather a collection of diverse people bound together by a common language, history, and culture. Within Nigeria, the Yoruba dominate the western part of the country. Yoruba mythology holds that all Yoruba people descended from a hero called Odua or Oduduwa. Today there are over fifty individuals who claim kingship as descendants of Odua.
During the four centuries of the slave trade, Yoruba territory was known as the Slave Coast. Uncounted numbers of Yoruba were carried to the Americas. Their descendants preserved Yoruba traditions. In several parts of the Caribbean and South America, Yoruba religion has been combined with Christianity. In 1893, the Yoruba kingdoms in Nigeria became part of the Protectorate of Great Britain. Until 1960 Nigeria was a British colony and the Yoruba were British subjects. On October 1, 1960, Nigeria became an independent nation structured as a federation of states.2 • LOCATION
The Yoruba homeland is located in west Africa. It stretches from a savanna (grassland) region in the north to a region of tropical rain forests in the south. Most Yoruba live in Nigeria. However there are also some scattered groups in Benin and Togo, small countries to the west of Nigeria. The occupations and living conditions of the Yoruba in the north and south differ sharply.
Current census figures are difficult to obtain. The Yoruba population is estimated to be 5.3 million.3 • LANGUAGE
The Yoruba language belongs to the Congo-Kordofanian language family. Yoruba has many dialects, but its speakers can all understand each other.
Yoruba is a tonal language. The same combination of vowels and consonants has different meanings depending on the pitch of the vowels (whether they are pronounced with a high voice or a low voice). For example, the same word, aro . can mean cymbal, indigo dye, lamentation, and granary, depending on intonation. Pele o is "Hello"; Bawo ni? is "How are you?"; and Dada ni is "Fine, thank you."4 • FOLKLORE
According to a Yoruba creation myth, the deities (gods) originally lived in the sky with only water below them. Olorun, the Sky God, gave to Orishala, the God of Whiteness, a chain, a bit of earth in a snail shell, and a five-toed chicken. He told Orishala to go down and create the earth. Orishala approached the gate of heaven. He saw some deities having a party and he stopped to greet them. They offered him palm wine and he drank too much and fell asleep. Odua, his younger brother, saw Orishala sleeping. He took the materials and went to the edge of heaven, accompanied by Chameleon. He let down the chain and they climbed down it. Odua threw the piece of earth on the water and placed the five-toed chicken upon it. The chicken began to scratch the earth, spreading it in all directions. After Chameleon had tested the firmness of the earth, Odua stepped down. A sacred grove is there today.5 • RELIGION
As many as 20 percent of the Yoruba still practice the traditional religions of their ancestors.
The practice of traditional religion varies from community to community. For example, a deity (god) may be male in one village and female in another. Yoruba traditional religion holds that there is one supreme being and hundreds of orisha, or minor deities. The worshipers of a deity are referred to as his "children."
There are three gods who are available to all. Olorun (Sky God) is the high god, the Creator. One may call on him with prayers or by pouring water on kola nuts on the ground. Eshu (also called Legba by some) is the divine messenger who delivers sacrifices to Olorun after they are placed at his shrine. Everyone prays frequently to this deity. Ifa is the God of Divination, who interprets the wishes of Olorun to mankind. Believers in the Yoruba religion turn to Ifa in times of trouble. Another god, Ogun (god of war, the hunt, and metalworking), is considered one of the most important. In Yoruba courts, people who follow traditional beliefs swear to give truthful testimony by kissing a machete sacred to Ogun.
Shango (also spelled Sango and Sagoe) is the deity that creates thunder. The Yoruba believe that when thunder and lightning strike, Shango has thrown a thunderstone to earth. After a thunderstorm, Yoruba religious leaders search the ground for the thunderstone, which is believed to have special powers. The stones are housed in shrines dedicated to Shango. Shango has four wives, each representing a river in Nigeria.
The Yoruba who practice other religious are divided about evenly between Muslims (followers of Islam) and Christians. Nearly all Yoruba still observe annual festivals and other traditional religious practices.6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
Local festivals are usually dedicated to individual deities. Yoruba may also celebrate the following holidays, depending on whether they are Christians or Muslims: New Year's Day, January; Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), June or July; Easter, March or April; Maulid an-Nabi (Muhammad's birthday); Ramadan, followed by a three-day feast; Nigerian Independence Day (October); Eid al-Fitr ; Christmas (December).7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
A newborn infant is sprinkled with water to make it cry. No word may be spoken until the infant cries. Also, no one younger than the mother should be present at the birth. The infant then is taken to the backyard. The umbilical cord is bound tightly with thread and then cut. The placenta is buried in the backyard. On the placenta burial spot, the child is bathed with a loofah sponge and rubbed with palm oil. The child is held by the feet and given three shakes to make it strong and brave. After a specified number of days, a naming ceremony is held. Relatives attend and bring small amounts of money. Male and female circumcision are usually performed in the first month.
Marriages are arranged. A man must negotiate with the girl's father. If he is approved he must bring the family a payment called a bride wealth, paid in three installments. Wedding ceremonies begin at the bride's house after dark. There is a feast to which the groom contributes yams. The bride then is taken to the groom's house. There she is washed from foot to knee with an herbal mixture meant to bring her many children. For the first eight days after marriage she divides her time between her husband's and in her parents' compounds. On the ninth day she moves to her husband's home.
Burials are performed by the adult men who are not close relatives but belong to the clan of the deceased. The grave is dug in the floor of the room where the deceased lived. After the burial there is a period of feasting. Many of the rituals associated with burial are intended to insure that the deceased will be reborn again.8 • RELATIONSHIPS
Kinship is the most important relationship for the Yorubas. Best friends are very important as well. A best friend is referred to as "friend not-see-not-sleep." This means that one does not go to sleep without having seen his best friend. When approaching death, a Yoruba shares his last wishes with his best friend.
Also important are clubs that grow out of childhood associations. When a group of young friends starts spending time together, they form a club. They choose a name and invite an older man and woman to serve as advisors. The clubs continue through adulthood. They hold monthly meetings, with the members serving as hosts in turn.9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
Traditional compounds (which house clans) in Yoruba villages are made up of rectangular courtyards, each with a single entrance. Around each courtyard is an open or a partly enclosed porch. Here the women sit, weave, and cook. Behind this are the rooms of each adult. Today the old compounds are rapidly being replaced by modern bungalows made of cement blocks with corrugated iron roofs. Most Yoruba towns, even small ones, have adequate basic services, including electricity, running water, and paved roads.10 • FAMILY LIFE
Every Yoruba is born into a clan whose members are descended from a common ancestor. Descent is patrilineal—both sons and daughters are born into the clan of their father. Clan members live in a large residential area called a compound. The males are born, married, and buried in it. Females live in the compound of their birth until they marry. Then they go to live with their husbands. The eldest male, or Bale, is the head of the compound. A husband is responsible for settling quarrels within his own family. However, if he is unsuccessful or if an argument involves members of two different families, it is referred to the Bale.
Within the compound, the immediate family consists of a man, his wives, and their children. The Yoruba practice polygyny (having more than one wife). Each wife and her children are considered a sub-family. They have a separate room within the husband's and they share possessions. Each mother cooks for her own children only. A man is expected to treat each wife equally. However, wives compete to gain additional favors for their own children. The father is strict and distant. Often, he sees little of his children. When they are young, children of co-wives play together. However, as they grow older, they usually grow apart because of quarrels over possessions.11 • CLOTHING
Western-style dress is worn in urban areas. Traditional clothing is still worn on important occasions and in rural areas. It is very colorful and elaborate. Traditional fabrics were block printed with geometric designs. Women wear a head tie made of a rectangular piece of fabric. They carry babies or young children on their backs by tying another rectangular cloth around their the waists. A third cloth may be worn over the shoulder as a shawl over a loose-fitting, short-sleeved blouse. A larger cloth serves as a wrap-around skirt.Fufu (Pounded Yam) Ingredients
Choose one of these:
Fufu is served with soups and stews at main meals. Diners pinch off a piece of fufu, make an indentation in it, and use it as a spoon to scoop up a mouthful of the main dish.Chicken and Okra Soup Ingredients
Men wear tailored cloth hats, gowns, and trousers. One popular type of gown is shaped like a poncho. It reaches to the fingertips, but is worn folded back on the shoulders. Trousers are usually very loose and baggy. All the cloth for traditional clothing is hand woven. Often it is elaborately embroidered.
The Yoruba diet consists of starchy tubers, grains, and plantains. These are supplemented by vegetable oils, wild and cultivated fruits and vegetables, meat, and fish. The daily family diet relies on cassava, taro, maize, beans, and plantains. One of the most popular foods is fufu (or foo-foo ), similar to a dumpling, but made of cassava (white yams). Rice and yams are eaten on special occasions.
The recipes are very popular and are usually served together.13 • EDUCATION
Since attaining independence (1960), Nigeria has set a high priority on education. Universal primary education has become the norm in southern Nigeria, where the Yoruba live. Secondary school (high school) education also became common. The first university in Nigeria was located in a Yoruba city. Originally called University College, it is now known as the University of Ibadan. The majority of students at Ibadan are Yoruba.14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
The Yoruba oral tradition includes praise poems, tongue twisters, hundreds of prose narratives and riddles, and thousands of proverbs.
Yoruba music includes songs of ridicule and praise, as well as lullabies, religious songs, war songs, and work songs. These usually follow a "call and response" pattern between a leader and chorus. Rhythm is provided by drums, iron gongs, cymbals, rattles, and hand clapping. Other instruments include long brass trumpets, ivory trumpets, whistles, stringed instruments, and metallophones. Perhaps the most interesting musical instrument is the "talking drum." The "talking drum" features an hourglass shape with laces that can be squeezed to tighten the goatskin head, altering the drum's pitch.15 • EMPLOYMENT
About 75 percent of the Yoruba men are farmers, producing food crops for their domestic needs. Farming is considered men's work. Clearing or hoeing fields is done only by men. Wives help their husbands plant yams and harvest corn, beans, and cotton. They also help at the market, selling farm produce. Some Yoruba have large cocoa farms worked by hired labor.
The Yoruba enjoy trading. Huge markets with over a thousand sellers are common. Trade in foodstuffs and cloth is confined to women. Meat selling and produce buying are the province of men.
The new, educated generation is moving away from farming, and its members are looking for white-collar jobs.16 • SPORTS
Although there are few organized sports, Yoruba (like other Nigerians) in some areas participate in wrestling and soccer.17 • RECREATION
Traditional entertainment includes rituals, dancing, and music making. Modern forms of entertainment include watching television and going to movies and discos. Most households own televisions sets. The more religious households prohibit family members, especially women, from going to see films. Among urban teenagers, American youth culture is popular. Most young people listen to rap and rock music from the U.S. Ayo, a board game, is popular among people of all ages. It is a mancala game—a type of game popular in west Africa, that is played on a board with two rows of indentations or wells that are filled with small seeds or stones.18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Crafts include weaving, embroidering, pottery making, woodcarving, leather and bead working, and metalworking.
Both men and women weave, using different types of looms. Cloth is woven from wild silk and from locally grown cotton.
Men also do embroidery, particularly on men's gowns and caps, and work as tailors and dressmakers. Floor mats and mat storage bags are also made by men.
Women are the potters. In addition to palm oil lamps, they make over twenty kinds of pots and dishes for cooking, eating, and carrying and storing liquids.
Woodcarvers, all of whom are men, carve masks and figurines as well as mortars, pestles, and bowls. Some Yoruba woodcarvers also work in bone, ivory, and stone. Blacksmiths work both in iron and brass to create both useful and decorative objects.19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
There are vast differences in wealth among Yoruba of different social classes. Many urban occupations do not provide adequate wages to support a family.
Nigeria's human rights record is poor. A Yoruba, Olisa Agbakobe, led a group of lawyers that founded the human rights group, the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO).
The crime rate in Nigeria is high, particularly in Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, and other urban areas. More than half the offenses are property crimes. Drug-related crime is a major problem. Young people are using both marijuana and cocaine in increasing numbers.20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bascom, William. The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria . Prospect Heights, Ill. Waveland Press, 1984.
Hetfield, Jamie. The Yoruba of West Africa. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 1996.
Koslow, Philip. Yorubaland: The Flowering of Genius. Kingdoms of Africa. New York: Chelsea House, 1996.
Sep 14, 2007 @ 9:09 am
Prohibited of FUNERAL ceremonies from the 1st day of December to the 2nd day of January:
Any person who dies before the 1st day of December of the year shall be buried and his or her funeral rites performed before the said date.
No funeral rites shall be performed between the 1st day of December and 2nd day of January of the succeeding year, except in respect of death occuring within the said period.
ANy bereaved family which infringes the provisions of this sub-head shall upon proof thereof pay the sum of #500.00 (Five hundred Naira) as penalty to the Oraifite Improvement Union.
Limitation of Time for Funeral Rites:
Funeral rites of a deceased shall, subject to the foregoing provisions, be performed within two weeks of deaths.
An infringement of this provision attracts a penalty of #500.00 (Five hundred Naire) from the bereaved family to the Oraifite Improvement Union.
Firing of Canon Shots and Guns:
The number of canon shots to be allowed for any funeral ceremony except where an exemption is granted shall not exceed, in the aggregate, twenty-one shots, all inclusive.
Save as hereinabove provided the firing of shot gun or any portable hand gun at a funeral ceremony is hereby prohibited.
Any violation of theprovisions hereby stipulated shall upon proof thereof attract a penalty of #300.00 (Three hundred Naira) from the bereaved family to the Oraifite Improvement Union.
The provisons and penalty hereunder shall not apply to the Igwe,the four Obis, Ichies and holders of honorary Chiftancy titles in the Oraifite Community and the eldest person in Oraifite Community.
Use Of Microphones:
The use of microphonesor any other public address system for announcing the entry of individuals or groups or for the personal description and praise of individuals or groups during funeral ceremony is hereby prohibited.
Use of microphones and other public address system is restricted to special announcements, funeral songs, music and oratons.
An infringement of the provisions hereunder by a bereaved family shall upon proof thereof render it liable to a penalty of #300.00 (Three hundred Naira) payable to the Oraifite Improvement Union.
Trading at FUNERALS:
All forms of trading at funerals are hereby abolished and prohibited.
Any person who sells and/or buys at a funeral ceremony shall upon proof thereof be liable to a penalty of #100.00 (One hundred Naira) to be paid to the Oraifite Improvement Union.
Presentation of Cow and Goat:
Only one cow may be presented by the bereaved family during the funeral of a man.
For the Imena Ozu Nwaokpu ceremony only one native goat may be presented by the husband's family to the relatives of the deceased woman during the funeral a woman.
A contravention of any of the provisions hereunder attracts on proof thereof a penalty of #500.00 (Five hundred Naira) from the bereaved family to the Oraifite Improvement Union.
Ikwechi-ite or Ibuna-ngega Ceremony
The ceremony of Ikwuchi-ite or Ubuna-ngega is hereby abolished and prohibited.
Any person or bereaved family who or which performs the said ceremoney shall pay a penalty of #500.00 (Five hundred Naira) to Oraifite Improvement Union.
Wine and Gifts Carrying Processions:
All wine and gift carrying processions at funeral ceremonies are abolished and henceforth prohibited.
Apr 24, 2010 @ 1:13 pm
I am a Yoruba man,I live and work in Ibadan but now on studies in America.The information provided on this web site are very interesting but there are some inadequacies and misrepresentations.I can say without fear of contadiction that cocaine is not as available in the south west of Nigeria as stated.95 percent of Yoruba youngsters have never seen it let alone use it.Marijuana is produced by few farmers in the area but less than 30 percent of the youths have ever seen it let alone smoke it.There are only seven sons of Oduduwa who lay claim to descent from him as far as their crowns are concerned namely Alafin of Oyo,Oni of Ife,Olowo,Olowu,etc others are simply pretenders to historical relevance.
Jan 25, 2011 @ 12:00 am
Dec 31, 2014 @ 4:04 am
I'd like to answer Paula's question as to the possibility of money-scams in Nigeria. There are good, honest people everywhere and there are bad people everywhere, not just in Nigeria, if you leave yourself open to scams you will fall victim, especially if you yourself are trying to reap where you have not soan. But if you are genuine, you will be able to identify hints when someone is not genuine, won't you?
Very good attempt of the author of this article, and thanks very much for it. Most of the corrections have been made, except you don't cock okra(which I think is Ilya Aesop) in this article) with either onions or tomatoes, as you won't be getting the right consistency!
Jun 11, 2015 @ 9:09 am
Thanks a lot for this well researched article, it's very educating. However, I'll like to learn about prohibitions as relating the youruba eating culture and why some foods should not be eating. The areas, villages and state where does foods are prohibited. Honestly no result was found online as relating to this effect.