Nigeria is a place of diversity with over 150 tribal groups and a population of more than 150 million; home to a sixth of Africa’s total population. Of these tribal and ethnic groups, the three largest and well known are the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa. This article will primarily touch on the Yoruba and Igbo tribes.

Yoruba is the second largest ethnic group in Nigeria with about 45 million speakers, and can mostly be found in the South-Western part of the country. The Yoruba are one of the first people in Africa to receive and adopt Christianity. Today, modern Yoruba’s are divided into Christians, Muslims, and those who still adhere to the old ways. The Yoruba culture is patrilineal, with succession, inheritance and authority based on the male side of the family. The members of a patrilineal line are organised together under a headman, share certain taboos, names, deities, and lineage lands. The staple foods of the Yoruba include millet, maize and yams, with subsidiary crops including peas, beans, groundnuts and plantains, with cocoa being an important cash crop.

The Igbo are the third largest ethnic group in Nigeria with about 32 million speakers and are primarily found in South-Eastern part of the country. Before European colonization, the Igbo lived in autonomous localised communities. They gained a strong sense of ethnic identity by the mid 20th century, which led to Igbo majority Eastern part of Nigeria try to unilaterally secede from Nigeria as the independent state of Biafra. This resulted in the Nigerian civil war from 1967-1970. Land among the Igbo is owned communally by kinship groups, and is allocated to individuals for farming or other purposes. Most Igbo today are Christians with some practising a mix indigenous beliefs and Christianity. The Igbo have traditionally been subsistence farmers, with their staple crops being taro, cassava and yams. Other crops include maize, okra, melon and beans.


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