Nigeria is very rich in culture. Various ethnic groups in Nigeria have their own culture.
The Durbar festival in the various emirates of the North of Nigeria symbolizes strength and dexterous skills in riding of horses. Durbars are called up during religious festivals like Id el’ Fitri and Id el Kabir. They are also called up during installation ceremonies of the Emirs. They are also called up during installation ceremonies of the Emirs. The Durbars serve as entertainment for very important visitors. Durbars are also called up during the anniversary of the birth of Prophet Mohammed (Id el Maulud). The horses are colorfully adorned and the horse riders are in procession. The riders are dressed in aristocratic regalia blowing bugles and trumpets accompanied by drumming and dancing. They make displays in riding the horses and come to abrupt halt to salute and pledge loyalty to Emirs.
Also in Kano and Katsina, there is the Kalankwa Festival, which usually comes at the end of the harvest season. At the Kalankwa Festival, traditional boxing, wrestling, music and dances of different types are performed.
In Benue State the Eje Alekwu Festival is an annual festival celebrated to relate with the ancestral gods of Idoma land. Before the Eje Alekwu masquerades appear, sacrifices are offered to the gods to appease them and appeal for protection for the future. The festival is celebrated by different masquerades to represent various ancestral characters and spirits of the ancestors.
The Tiv Day is a national day for the Tiv all over the country. During the festival the people send delegates from ever town to converge at the Tor Tiv’s palace for deliberations on developments strategy among the Tiv local government areas. At the same time old and offensive laws are abrogated and new ones made for the people for peace and progress. New traditional titles are conferred on deserving sons and daughters of the land. It is held annually on the 19th of September to coincide with the day the first Tor Tiv was installed in 1946.
In Nigeria, boat regattas are part of the socio-cultural life of the riverine people in the Niger Delta. The boats do not have engines but they are rowed manually with traditional paddles by over twenty to fifty people on board depending on the size of the boat. Boat regattas are special festival to celebrate attachment of the people to water, as fishing is their dominant occupation. When there is a bountiful catch and sea yields boat regattas are held that year.
In Bonny, River State we have the masquerade group known as Owogbo. Each of the major houses in the Bonny Kingdom has their end of the fishing season locally known as Fungu. The masquerade is the traditional way of paying homage to the sea gods. They carry a carved shellfish. The masquerade is usually brightly colored with locally made fabrics. Both men and women take part in the dancing.
Among the Efik and some Ibibio tribes of Cross River and Akwa Ibom States of Nigeria the Ekpe Secret Society occupies a significant position and functional as an instrument for law and order. Mention of Ekpe brings fear and terror to the uninitiated. The word Epke literally means leopard and its masquerade are so named for its multi-colored costume. Membership of Ekpe Society is seen as a status symbol.
The Ekemini Theatre Troupe of Akwa Ibom State captivates local and international audiences through a galaxy of choreographed dance drama. Traditional instruments are used. The group has fused many of the folk tale and culture of Akwa Ibom and neighboring states with contemporary dance styles. The star performer of the group is Ofonine Felix Essien popularly known as Udo Maryam who at the age of four started playing many traditional instruments.
Among the Ibos, festivals play an important role in the social cohesion. There are such festivals as the Ofala and the new yam festival. The spices of these festivals are cultural dances and drama while masquerades add mythical splendor. The Atilogu dances are a very popular form of cultural display in Igoland. It comprised of series of systematic acrobatic dance actions like twisting, somersaulting and building of human pyramids. During joyful occasions the dancers dress in bright colors but on sorrowful occasion they dress in dark attires and their movements are slow and mournful.
Because of the rich mix of ethnic groups in Ondo state. It presents a wide variety of culture and festivals. Prominent among them are the Bata Dance, the Ititum Maiden Dance, Ajabore, Igogo, Oluwa and Ogun festivals. Animals such as dogs are offered to the god of iron, “Ogun” during the celebration. The Akoo and Ekiti areas are well known for cloth weaving while Owo is popular for its special cloth or royalty.
In Lagos State, the eyo masquerade is of traditional importance and it has a historical background. It is the pride of the Oba, Chiefs and people of Lagos. It was first performed in Ikoyi in the 18th century as a traditional play. It now features during special ceremonies. Eyo is hooded and robed in flowing white gowns. These cover his hands and feet. It carries a special staff known as the Opabata. The Eyo is barefooted and spectators who want to see the Eyo must be barefooted in order not t incur the anger of the masquerade. The offender is beaten with Opabata.
The Benin Kingdom, the best-known center of civilization in the pre-colonial days, has the oba as the traditional head. The Igu festival is celebrated annually in December for the Oba and his subjects. It is a combination of nine principal ceremonies during which animals especially goats are sacrificed. The celebrants dress in their finest attires and join in songs and dances.
I find Nigeria culture interesting in that it unites the people and also leads to progress.