10 things about Nigeria Everyone Must Know

One thing we learned a long time ago…nothing lives up to its reputation. Nigeria has a bad reputation, like most places in Africa, and we don’t think that is deserved or natural. Here is a list of 10 things we have to show Nigeria is a much different place than people expect. A surprise awaits you at the end. Wait!!! Don’t peek.

  1. Ashoke Adire and Akwete – two names for traditional cloth in Nigeria.
  2. Agidi – A food made with ground corn.
  3. Aki na Ukwa – another food. This snack is the combination of palm kernel (aki) and roast breadfruit (ukwa.) It is also the name for a famous Nollywood comedy duo.
  4. Nkwocha – Nkwocha is Igbo for “white drink.” It is the name for palm wine. There are two kinds of palm wine. The “up” wine is mildly intoxicating and comes from the sap of the oil palm. Sweet wine has no alcohol and is taken from the sap of the raffia palm. Up wine has to be retrieved by palm wine tappers who climb to the top of the oil palm with a rope tied around their waste. The rise of the sap to the top of the tree causes alcohol fermentation due to the consumption of sugar in the sap by a yeast and microorganisms.Nok Terra cotta from Nigeria on the cover of the book Nok African sculpture in Archaeological Context
  5. Udara – They call it the African apple. Sweet and tangy at the same time, the size of a plum and skin whose appearance resembles an orange cucumber this is one of those secrets of Africa you only learn about by living there.
  6. The Nok Civilization – Dr. Chancellor James Williams’ book “The Destruction of Black Civilization” never mentions the Nok Civilization. Is that because it was not “destroyed?” Nevertheless, however the Nok civilization went from an active early iron age culture to one with origins and a resolution shrouded in mystery, it is named for the village where Bernard Fagg found the first 200 terra cotta figures. Along with iron smelting furnaces which date back to at least 800 – 400 years before the present era, the Nok culture gives evidence to not only independent development of iron smelting in Africa, but also the transition from stone age to iron age without an intervening copper age. To be certain between 2800 and 2400 years ago people in the geopolitical area currently known as Nigeria were smelting iron. The Nok research project have revealed 26 iron furnaces in a 60 kilometer area. The project has also investigated 47 sites of Nok culture overall.
  7. Zuma Rock – It is huge. A rock north of Nigeria’s capital Abuja along the road to Kaduna. So large it demands your attention as you drive towards it.
  8. Kola – In Nigeria there is a proverb “Yoruba grow kola, Hausa trade kola and Igbo revere kola.” That says it all. Kola is typically Nigerian. Any place you go in Nigeria there can be found someone selling kola. Visit someone’s house among the Igbo and shortly after arrival kola appears to welcome you. But be careful. Kola does not speak English. So when the kola is shared it will have a proverb along the lines of onye wetara oji wetara ndu” (he who brings kola brings life).
  9. Yobe’s 8000 Year Old Boat – There is an 8,000 year old boat in Nigeria. It is made of African mahogany. Researchers typically refer to it being a dugout and the dugout was made through the use of fire to burn the area that is dugout. That still leaves a need to explain how that boat came to be shaped like a needle. If the idea of iron being in Nigeria 8,000 years ago bothers them that does not mean people in Nigeria did not have use of iron 8,000 year ago.
  10. Palm Oil – Palm trees have fruit. That fruit produces oil. Palm oil is a multi-billion dollar a year global industry. Palm oil that is feeding a global industry from Malaysia and Indonesia originated in Nigeria. Palm oil was used during the Biafran war to produce diesel fuel for Biafra in its fight for independence from Nigeria. Palm oil is used in Nigeria as an ingredient in food. It is also highly nutritious.

Surprise!!! We knew once we put together a list of 10 things about Nigeria everyone should know we were just getting started. Here are 10 more must know things about Nigeria.

  1. Nike Lake – (Pronounced knee-kay) Nike Lake is in the area of Enugu. It has a hotel on the site which is a much revered resort.
  2. Obudu Cattle Ranch –  This is another resort high in a mountainous area on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.
  3. Choscaris – On our first visit to Nigeria we were in Lagos for only a few hours. Our friend Emeka took us to his brother’s house (which was really a mansion in Victoria Island). After a nap to recover from our flight, he decided to take us to visit the ocean. It was on the way there we saw a building. It did not fit my awareness of what I had been told about Nigeria. Could not form words to explain what I saw. So I had to ask him, “what is that.” Emeka explained that it was Choscaris. It was exactly what I thought it was but could not connect what I saw to where I was. Choscaris is a car dealership. At that time it sold brand new BMWs, Land Rovers and Lexus’. Since then it has been revealed that in the USA the only Black man who owns a BMW dealership is Hank Aaron.
  4. Lokoja – Most people know the Niger River, but If you look at the seal of Nigeria it looks like a letter “Y.” Why? That symbolizes the confluence of the Niger and Benue River. It is located at Lokoja which is the Capital of Kogi State.
  5. Harmattan Season – Harmattan season is all over Africa. Mainly in the north and sahel regions. The wind starts blowing in the November- December time frame and doesn’t stop until March or April. The big surprise? It gets frigid in the North of Nigeria.
  6. Igbo Cow
  7. That’s Nigerian Leather Not Italian
  8. Shea Butter
  9. Aliko Dangote – think of Nigeria and you probably don’t think of Billionaires. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have them. The first one I learned of is probably Nigeria’s most famous billionaire. Aliko Dangote. Humble man. Never from all the interviews I have seen would you imagine him as a billionaire if you ran into him on the street. Speaking of the street, that’s how he got started, selling cement on the street. Talk about humble beginnings. Seems he hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
  10. New Yam Festival

Surprise again!!! We got to 20 and realized we only scratched the surface…Where do we stop? What are you asking us for?

  1. Nigerian Civil War
  2. Durbar festival

  3. Badagry Door of No Return

  4. Moin moin

  5. àkàrà
  6. Nkwobi cow leg: my sister-in-law introduced me to this one. Get your Guinness ready…this has fire to it.
  7. Pepper soup
  8. Egusi soup
  9. Eyo Olokun festival
  10. Ube (African pear or Dacryodes edulis)