Have you ever heard of the phrase,” The Giant of Africa”. If you have you will know that this article I am about to write is about Nigeria. Nigeria is located in the west of Africa, it shares land borders with Chad and Cameroon in the east, Niger in the North, Republic of Benin in the west and the Gulf of Benin and the Atlantic Ocean in the south.
My name is Morountodun Adebiyi. I was born in Lagos, Nigeria on the 15th of March 1996. I have lived there all my life. Until recently, Nigeria has been a relatively peaceful country with talented, hard working and optimistic people. In fact, we were dubbed “the happiest people in the world”, according to the Gallop poll which was carried out in the year 2010.
Many people from the Western world have a wrong opinion about Nigeria and Africa in general. These opinions are shaped by negative reporting from influential news media which focused mainly on wars and famine in some hot spots in the continent. I would like, through this piece, to educate and change the perception of the world about my country Nigeria.
I was born in a private hospital in Lagos Nigeria in a hospital and not on trees as most people think. Also I am writing this article on my laptop not on sand and I spend so much time on twitter and facebook. I listen to lots of music and watch movies just like every other teenager. I don’t spend my whole day in the farm or in the forest collecting firewood and hunting.I know quality education is very expensive in Nigeria as most of them are privately owned. State schools are poorly funded and the teachers are ill motivated. These two factors have led many privileged Nigerians go outside of the country to get their university degrees. The challenges in our educational sector are unfortunately replicated in all public institutions. But things are getting better; we have seen that once the democratic principles are upheld and the people are allowed to choose their leaders, Nigeria will definitely make progress. The current Governors of Lagos and Edo States have shown good leadership qualities example of what leadership should be in Nigeria if we have to move our country forward. He has also taught us that not every politician is greedy, and that some leaders truly care about their followers.
Before I go on, I would like to give a brief history of Nigeria. Nigeria was ruled by the British Empire for 60 years. Nigeria gained her Independence on October 1st 1960. After several military coups, the civil war started July 1967 and ended on January 1970. Again several military coups occurred, calling for civilian rule. This was eventually granted in 1999 when Olusegun Obasanjo became the first democratic president of Nigeria. Let me just say that the Military Regime was the worst thing that happened to Nigeria and that was when the culture of corruption began in Nigeria. Now I know that many people think that all Nigerians are corrupt but that is not true, a lot of us are actually people of integrity, responsible and very hard working.
Nigeria has three major tribes. They are
We have all lived in peace for a very long time and I think it is so unfortunate that people think that we are terrorists. Yes I know that you have heard stories about Nigerians being caught in the airport with explosives but that is not a reflection of who we are. I know you must have also heard about the Boko Haram bombings in the Northern part of the country but these are just minority few who had had contact with the Al-queida in North Africa. The restiveness in the Niger Delta area has been largely controlled following the implementation of the Amnesty Program embarked upon by the government to rehabilitate the militants and youth of oil producing communities. Some of the ex-militants are now in Schools and others are undergoing different vocations.
Nigeria is a very beautiful place no doubt but for some reason tourism has not been our strongest point. Most of the foreigners who come to Nigeria come because of the oil and to trade and sometimes they do not even return to their countries because they make a lot of money. Just in case you guys want to visit Nigeria I will give talk about a few tourist sites. Please note that these are not the entire tourist sites that we have in Nigeria just some of them.
Olumo rock sits in the ancient city of Abeokuta which means (“under the rock”) is my home town in Ogun state. During the inter tribal war in the 19th century the rock provided sanctuary to the Egba people as well as a vantage position to monitor the enemy’s advancement leading to the eventual triumph.
Obudu Cattle Ranch.
Obudu cattle ranch was developed in 1951 by Mr. McCaughley. It is presently known as Obudu Mountain Resorts, in the Obudu Plateau. Recently there has an influx of both International and Nigerian tourists due to the development of tourist facilities. The ranch has become one of the well known tourist and holiday resorts in Nigeria.
Idanre hills is located in Idanre town in Ondo state, 15km south west of Akure the state’s capital. The Idanre town consists of the ancient town (Oke-Idanre) which is at the top of the hill and a new settlement which is at the foot of the hill. Some of the palace chiefs and priests still reside on the hill in ancient village till today. The Idanre hills which are steeped sided, smooth and dome-shape in nature provide awe inspiring sights which are ideal for mountain climbing, picnics, bird watching, sport hunting and other activities. To get to the top of the hill, tourist will have to climb 667 steps with five resting posts where tourists can take a rest before getting to the top of the hill. From the top, one can see the aerial view of the new settlement. The panoramic view of the hills never fails to fascinate first time visitors.
Ikogosi Warm Springs and Waterfalls.
Ikogosi is a small town in Ekiti which is now catapulted to national and international limelight because of the presence of warm and cold springs flowing side by side in the town. The warm and cold springs of Ikogosi flow parallel and meet somewhere down to form a confluence, with each maintaining its thermal quality. This is the first of such an occurrence in the world. The warm spring has a temperature of 70°c at the source and 37°c after meeting a cold spring. The meeting point of the warm and cold springs is a unique attraction to tourists. Another attraction of the Ikogosi Warm Spring is that it is believed to be curative. Therapeutic powers have been reputed regarding rheumatism and guinea-worm.
Yankari National Park
The national park is located in Bauchi state. The Yankari national park has a lot of tourist sites such as the Yankari Games reserve and the Wikki Warm springs which are located inside the national park.
The games reserve has a very rich wild life ranging from Olive Baboon, Patas monkey, Roan Antelope amongst others. The reserve also has about 350 species of birds and over 300 elephants which is the largest home to elephants in West Africa. The Wikki(this means ‘where are you’ in the local Duguri language)Warm springs is located near the park lodge and is about 200m and 10m wide, containing crystal clear water around 31 degrees Celsius. Tourists are allowed to swim in the crystal clear water and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere the spring provides.
Now that you know a bit of the tourist sites in Nigeria you will see that it is not what the media paints it to be. We do not have militants, kidnappers and suicide killers in all states of our country. Now I will like to share some of the international event Nigeria is known for.
ARGUNGU FISHING FESTIVAL
The Argungu fishing festival is a four day annual event held in northeastern Nigeria in the state of Kebbi. The festival began in 1934 as a mark of centuries old hostilities between Sokoto Caliphate and Kebbi kingdom. On the final day of the festival, a competition is held in which thousands of men and women compete using traditional fishing tools and may decide to use their hands to show how strong the competitors are. The prize money for the competition is as much as 7,500 US dollars.
The New Yam Festival of the Igbos.
The New yam festival is an annual harvest festivalobserved by the Igbos of the eastern Nigeria. Yams are the first and the most important crop in Nigeria. The evening prior to the day, all old yams are consumed or discarded. The next day only dishes made from yam are served as this is symbolicof the abundance of the produce. Traditionally the rites of the festival are performed by the oldest man in the community or the Igwe (king).The day is symbolic of enjoyment after the cultivation season, and the plenty is shared with friends and well-wishers. A variety of festivities mark the eating of new yam. Folk dances, masquerades, parades and parties create an experience that some participants characterize as “art”; the colorful festival is a spectacle of exhibited joy, thanks, and community display.
The Ogbunike cave is located at Ogbunike, a few minutes from Onitsha a commercial heartland in the East of Nigeria. It was believed that African slaves used to hide in the cave from slave traders and that a hunter discovered the cave. The cave was also known as a cave of justice as people who were found guilty of any crime were forced to go into the cave and anyone who did not return was found guilty of whatever crime they were accused of.
Zuma rock is located along Kaduna Abuja highway, Niger State. The giant and beautiful rock was for used for defensive purposes by the Gwari natives against invading neighboring tribes during inter tribal wars. This rock was believed to posses certain powers which rendered enemies powerless and provided the natives with good hiding places. As the tourists move closer to the rock, a human like face becomes visible with engraving representing the sockets, the nose and the mouth on the side of the rock that faces Abuja road.
There is no dominant religion in Nigeria, there are mostly Christian in the South and West and Islam in practiced more in the North. Also, a bit of Paganism is also practiced. Recently, there has a bit if tension especially in the North during the recent times but that has not stopped us from bonding solidly together.
Well now that you guys know about the history, culture, religion, tourist sites and festivals I will like to show you a list of things you may not know about Nigeria and Nigerians.
1. Nigerians are very respectful especially to family members and elders- In our culture it is considered rude for a child to live their parents especially sick or dying in adult homes, instead the parents usually live with their children in the same house.
2. Very friendly, hospitable and open to people- We are naturally friendly and hospitable. Don’t mind people may stare at you or call you oyibo (white person) this does not mean any harm.
3. Value and appreciation of education- Nigerians appreciate and value education and that is the reason why those who can afford it will send the children to the best schools in the world
4. Nigerians are very intelligent people and are making history worldwide. Professor Wole Soyinka is won the Nobel price in literature, Phillip Emeagwali won the Gordon bell prize in 1989 and so many others scattered all over the world contributing to the development of the human race.
5. Let us not forget Dr. Mrs.Okonji Iweala who had served as the Vice President of the World Bank and she is the current Minister of Finance in Nigeria. She had been twice nominated for the post of President of the World Bank.
6. Food- our food is really spicy and very delicious. The different ethnic nationalities have dishes peculiar to their cultures, however, as a result of integration, you can get any of these dishes in all parts of the country.
7. Nigerian authors and poets- Nigeria has produced some many world acclaimed authors and poets. Ken Saro Wiwa was an author and environmentalist. Chinua Achebe is well known for his novel, “Things fall apart” which has been translated into over 50 languages.
Also is the well known Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for “Purple Hibiscus” and “Half of a Yellow Sun”.
Personally, I have read both books and they are spectacular. Half of a Yellow Sun helped me to know more about the Biafra War.
8. Football is the national sport of Nigeria. Nigeria has produced great football stars such as the late 2Rashidi Yekeni who played for the super eagles. Other football stars are Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Mikel Obi and many others. Other great Nigerian athletes are Mary Onyali, Chioma Ajunwa, and Samuel Peter amongst others.
9. Entertainment- the Nigerian movie industry popularly known as Nollywood has grown in leaps and bound. It is the third largest film industry in the world and the largest movie industry in Africa. You may have heard of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti (also from my hometown and first cousin to Wole Soyinka Nobel Prize for Literature) the pioneer of Afrobeat music in who every other African artistes have taken their lead from, and late Mrs. Christy Essien Igbokwe also known as “Nigeria’s Lady of Songs” known for her hit track “Seun Rere”, these are the people that put our country in limelight in the past and the younger generation are not disappointing too. Here is the beautiful Asa whose songs have pierced the souls of many Nigerians with her words of wisdom and advice.
I am pretty sure everyone knows D’banj who was recently signed into Kanye West G.O.O.D music record label, just to mention a few of our very talented entertainers.
10. The drill monkey is only found in the wild in Southeast Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon.
11. Nigeria has the second largest newspaper market in Africa (after Egypt), with an estimated circulation of several million copies daily (2003).
12. Nigeria has the highest rate of twin births in the world, compared to any other country.
It is sad that the few bad eggs amongst us had caused the world to label Nigerians as fraudulent, drug traffickers and suicide bombers. The world press usually shows pictures of severely malnourished children in the Rwandan genocide era as present day Africa. There is need to properly educate the world about Africa and its peoples in order to correct the wrong impression and misconceptions already created. It is really frustrating because people look at us with the African stereotype in which most of us are uneducated. I even heard that they teach 419 in American schools to enlighten their kids about the bad Nigeria/Nigerians. It is no wonder why most “white people’ are uneducated about Africa, very few know that Africa is not a country but a continent. I think the media should stop bad painting pictures about different countries in the world creating misconceptions which are so difficult to change.
You know I always wondered why the white people think that Africans live on trees and I realized that they noticed our rich culture and since they do not have that, they are jealous. I from Nigeria and I can only speak for Nigerians. There is a minor tribe called the Ijaw in southwestern Nigeria. Their major occupation is mostly fishing and as a result, they spend most of their time on water. They usually have two houses, one will be well built on land as that is where the family would live and other would be a small hut built on water with bamboo sticks and raffia palms. I guess they did not understand our culture properly and so they decided to make their own assumptions. Another reason why I think they created this image is because they were jealous of our culture and they were looking for a way to bring us down. That was how racism started isn’t it? They wanted to make us feel insecure about the color of our skin but guess what they didn’t instead they only made us stronger and that why we have achieved all that we have just 52 years after independence. I do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings but all these countries that classify us as poor and not economically developed had about two decades or even more before they got to where they are now. When those countries were our age I am sure they weren’t as developed as we are now. So they should please give us time before they judge us.
One more misconception that I would like to clear is the use of black magic or witchcraft. In my 16 years on earth I haven’t seen anyone use it in my country. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it does not exist, but it is not as common as people think it is because most people are either Christians or Muslim and very people worship the traditional.
Efforts are being made to develop our infrastructure on a grand scale. For instance, the railway is being revived which will take people from the Southern part to the North. Within Laos State, a metro-line which connects all parts is underway.
In conclusion, I would just like to tell the so called critics of Nigeria to visit Nigeria before they make an impression and that they should not let other people form their opinion for them but they should form it themselves. I hope this article helped to clear the misconceptions that people have about Nigeria and I hope that this will encourage more people to visit the country.