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Nigeria

One in four Africans lives in Nigeria. Fascinating blend of peoples, cultures and religions, Nigeria is struggling to maintain a political stability. Disfigured by unbridled development, the overcrowded cities of Nigeria suffer considerably from crime and misery. This country has a history of violence (Biafra war in the sixties, and the bloodshed provoked by sharia law in 2000). Why would you go in a country where violence and chaos can start anytime? Not for a relaxing vacation. But if you like challenges, Nigeria is a good travel destination for you. If you like music (afro beat and reggae), you will surely love Nigeria

 

Key Facts

  • Capital city: Abuja (378 700 inhabitants)
  • Languages: English and French. African languages: Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Edo, Efik
  • Time difference: GMT+1 h
  • Entry formalities: Except for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) residents, all other visitors must have a visa before entry to Nigeria.
  • Electricity: 220V, 50Hz
  • Telephone: +234
  • HealthYellow fever vaccine is mandatory and you must take preventive treatment against malaria if you are going to Lagos and south coast

Money

Keeping lot of cash money with you is not a good idea. But, if you are going to cross the border you will need to bring enough cash with you.

Currency: Naira (NGN)

Daily budget food:

  • Economic budget:<5USD
  • Average budget:5-12USD
  • High budget:>12 USD

Daily budget accommodation:

  • Economic budget:<15USD
  • Average budget:15-60USD
  • High budget:>60USD

Best Time To Go & Climate

Best time to go: The best time to go visit Nigeria is between December and March. The climate is less humid but you will have to endure the dusty Harmattan wind. If you don’t mind this dusty wind, you should go in January to assist the Sallah Festival in northern Nigeria, and in February to join the Argungu Fishing Festival in Sokoto. http://nomad4now.com/articles/durbar/

 Feasts and festivals: Among all the festivities happening in West Africa, the most elaborated are performed in the north of the country (Kano, Zaria and Karsina) during Muslim holidays. These festivities are marked by the Durbar (spectacular horse parade of emirs and Hausas-Peuls dressed resplendently in brightly colored costumes. The Argungu Fishing Festival very well known all around the world takes places just after the Sallah Festival (around mid-February) on the Sokoto riverbanks. The program includes bare hands fishing, duck hunting, swimming, and other nautical sports. Other sailing festivals take place in august, at Pategi Regatta between Ibadan and Kaduna.

Climate: The climate is very diverse and varies from an area to another. The north of the country warm and dry has also a long rainy season between April and September. In the south, the rain falls between March and November. The temperatures become cooler in the tropical regions in the south but the weather is very humid.

Must See

Lagos: Second largest African city after Cairo, Lagos has a high rate of criminal activities, heavy and corrupted bureaucracy, bad infrastructures and a pervasive poverty. This being said, you can have a real good time in Lagos. The city has more nightclubs and live music clubs than any other West African cities. Fela kuti was born and raised in a suburb of Lagos. The king of juju, Sonny Ade and the guru of Afro-reggae Sonny Okosun are also from Lagos. It is worth to go to Ariya Night Club and Jazz 38 Club. If you bring with you a musical instrument, the band will probably invite you to join them. The national museum in Lagos has impressive bronze and ivory sculptures coming from Benin City. The museum contains also and traditional masks and ancient art made of terracotta coming from Jos. You will see also see the car riddled with bullets in which president Murtala Mohammed was assassinated.

Kano: The Muslim city of Kano was built more than 1000 years ago. It’s the most ancient city of West Africa. The shopping center is very busy, and the city is much more pleasant than Lagos. The old city is the main center of interest. The walls of the old city are no more there, but the gates of the old town are still intact. The gate of the old town Kofar Mata leads to the Emir palace and to the main mosque. Non-Muslims are not allowed inside the mosque, but it is worth to see the exterior of the mosque. Near the mosque, there is the palace of the emir with its Hausa style architecture. You won’t be allowed to visit the palace if you don’t have a personal invitation. The museum of Gidan Makama near the palace of the emir dates from the 15th century. Entirely restored, this museum is well worth visiting.

Abuja: Located 500km North West from Lagos, Abuja is the official capital of Nigeria. The capital is deserved by many flights from Lagos. Bush taxis commute daily between Abuja and main cities of the region. Housing is kind of expensive

Yankari National Park: This national Park located 225km east of Jos, is home for the best natural reserve of West Africa. If you are lucky you might see elephants, hippos, crocodiles or lions. Another major attraction in Yankari is the Wikki Warm Spring. The Wikki Warm Spring is a lake that is 200 meters (656 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) wide. Bathing in the Wikki Warm Spring is something tourists from all over the world look forward to. The waters of the Wikki Warm Spring are crystal clear – a special feature that you wouldn’t often see in public baths such as this. The temperature of the water is constantly at 31°C (87.8°F), making it refreshingly warm and soothing for the muscles of your body, which would most likely be tired and achy from all your travel. Yankari National Park is situated 900km of Lagos. From Bauchi, minibuses commute to Dindima where you could take a bush taxi which will take you to the entrance of the park (30mn drive). You could also hire a bush taxi at Bauchi to go directly to the park.

Oshogbo: Cradle of Yoruba art, the city of Oshogbo remains a true artists “nursery”. You must go visit during the Oshun Festival (the last week of august). You will surely enjoy the dancing and sacrificial rituals. http://logbaby.com/encyclopedia/osun-osogbo-festival_12201.html

The oja oba market offers to amateurs the latest juju products (objects, such as amulets, and spells used in religious practice, as part of witchcraft in West Africa). Oshogbo is also famous thanks to the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove (sacred forest along the banks of the Osun River). Oshogbo is located 200km of Lagos. You can go there by bush taxi.

Culture

All you need to know about the local culture before going to Nigeria

Customs: Key life cycle events in a Nigerian man are celebrated by rituals: name giving, initiation, marriage and funerals. Masks and costumes representing the spirit of the ancestors are always present. But their style and shape vary according to ethnic groups and regions. In the villages, members of the extended family live under the same roof. Family relationships are determined by age: only elder members of the family have authority to call the youngest by their given names. But this custom is disappearing in the cities.

Language: English is the official language. French is the second language and is also the commercial language. Main African languages are: Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo and Efik

Few useful expressions in Hausa:

Greeting people  : ranka ya dade (ranki for women)
Hello : sannu
hello (answer) : yauwaa sannu
Good morning: eenaa kwanaa
Good morning (answer): lapeeyaloh
Good evening : eenaa eenee
Good evening (answer) : lapeeyaloh
See you later  : sai wani lookachi
Please : don allaah
Thank you : naa goodee
Sorry : yi hakurii, ban ji ba
Yes : ii
No : aa’aa
How are you ? : inaa gajiyaa ?
I am fine, thanks: baa gajiyaa
Where is…? : inaa… ?
How much does it cost? : nawa nee wannan ?

Food: In general, Nigeria food is not exceptional. Best local dishes can be bought in small shops (Eating House) across the streets. In southern states, the food is spicy. In the north of the country, you will be served most of the time stew beef and cereals. Cereals are the predominant component of Nigerian cuisine. Most famous Nigerian dishes are:  tuwo (corn and millet), efo (vegetables soup), egusi (stew meat with red peppers), and isi-ewu (spicy goat soup). Palm wine is a very popular drink in the south where palm trees grow in the wild.

 Religion: Among the 250 ethnic groups living in Nigeria, three ethnic groups are predominant: Haoussa in the north, Ibo in the East, and Yoruba in the West. Religious affiliations are also geographical and ethnical: Muslims are living in the north, Catholics in the East, and Animists in the West. There are also a lot of syncretistic rituals associating Christianity with protecting spirits. Juju ceremonies using animal’s skulls, bones, dried insects, facilitate the contact with ancestors protecting spirits. Witchcraft fetishes such as Ibeji twins are important in religious practices in Nigeria. In Yoruba culture twins are believed to be magical, and are protected by a deity named Shango)

 Arts: Nigerian art has its source in supernatural and animism. Yoruba masks carved in wood represent gods and forces of nature. During religious ceremonies, these masks allow the participants to be in contact with the spirit of theirs ancestors. Masks are also used during funerals to appease dead the spirit of the deceased. Among all Nigerian masks, the “Epa” masks are the most spectacular. All sculptures in bronze, terracotta, and wood of Yoruba, Nupe, Igbira, and Ife tribes express supernatural power.

http://www.hamillgallery.com/YORUBA/YorubaEpaHeaddresses/YorubaEpa23.html

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