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History and People

Culture and Tourism


Because of the great diversity of people and culture, Nigeria has distinguished herself over the centuries in the field of arts. Nigerian versatility in art is so great that it is generally felt that all African nations should view Nigeria as the principal trustee of the most durable fruits of black artistic genius. It is not precisely known when the first works of Nigerian art reached the outside world, but in 1897, following a British punitive expedition to Benin, over 2,000 Benin bronzes and ivories were shipped to England and later dispersed all over Europe and America.

The oldest sculptures found in Nigeria were from the Southern Zaria and Benue areas of central Nigeria. They consist of terracotta figures and figurines made by a people who achieved a high degree of cultural sophistication. These sculptures, together with other cultural elements, have been named the Nok Culture. Evidence shows the Nok people had knowledge of iron smelting and adorned themselves with tin and stone beads, earrings, noserings and bracelets. The Nok Culture is dated between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D. The next known phase of Nigerian cultural evolution was Igbo Ukwu bronze casting. Found in the small village of Igbo-Ukwu, near Awka, the casts date from the 9th Century A.D. They first came to light in 1938 and consist of staff heads, crowns, breastplates, pendants, ornaments, anklets, wristlets and chains.About the same time the Igbo-Ukwu people were casting bronze, the ancient Ife people were also producing works in bronze, copper, and terracotta. In the first quarter of this Century, Ife works caused a great stir among world art critics and historians who were unaccustomed to such naturalism in African art. The best known Nigerian artworks are the Benin Antiquities. Legend recounts how the Benin people learned the art of bronze casting from Ile-Jfe around 1400 A.D. Oba Ogunta, the sixth King of Benin, is credited with having encouraged this art in Benin.

Nigeria's cultural heritage is woven from threads of history and diversity, legend and conquest. Tourists visiting the country will gain insights to a glorious past as well as a promising future, set amid the natural beauty of this diverse country. From rain forests in the south, broad savanna woodlands in the center to a semi-desert region in the north, Nigeria offers a remarkable range of physical beauty in her land and hospitality of her people, ready to be enjoyed by the tourist fortunate enough to choose this land of ancient empires as their travel destination.

Nigeria is a vast country with a population of about 120 people covering about 923,768 sq.km of landmass, located wholly within the tropics. The country aptly described as the 'Giant of Africa' is richly endowed with ecological and cultural resources, which are of universal recognition. The richness and diversity of the Nigeria culture is a manifestation of the socio-cultural differences of the over 250 ethnic groups that inhabit the land for ages.

Tourism is one of the growing sectors the Nigerian economy. The industry was accorded priority status in 1990 when the National Tourism Policy was launched. The main thrust of Government policy on tourism was to generate foreign exchange earnings, create employment opportunities, promote rural enterprises and national integration among other things.

In recognition of the immense contributions of tourism to the national economy, the country's Vision 2010 set year 2005 as the nation's year of tourism. The obvious implication of this development is that tourism policies and programmes will now be aimed at making Nigeria the "Ultimate Tourism Destination in Africa" by the year 2005.

Nigeria's Appeal To Tourists

Nigeria offers a wide variety of tourist attractions such as extended and roomy river and ocean beaches ideal for swimming and other water sports, unique wildlife, vast tracts of unspoiled nature ranging from tropical forest, magnificent waterfalls, some new rapidly growing cities and climatic conditions in some parts particularly conducive to holidaying. Other attractions include traditional ways of life preserved in local customs; rich and varied handicrafts and other colourful products depicting or illustrative of native arts and lifestyle, and the authentic unsophisticated but friendly attitude of many in the Nigerian population. However, many of these attractions are still largely untapped and even at their raw states, they are still being enjoyed by few outsiders, either very rich visitors in quest of exoticism or adventurous people in search of new challenges and experiences. The lack of required modern infrastructural facilities and in some parts of the country acute conditions of underdevelopment and poverty can be seen which many potential Nigeria bound tourist may not like to be confronted with. These are impediments to tourism, which the new administration has been tackling since assumption of office. Investors, both foreign and local are therefore called upon to come and invest in the abundant tourism potentials in the country.

The richness and diversity of Nigeria's tourism resources coupled with economic liberalisation policies will provide investment opportunities in various areas as follows:

  • Heritage/Cultural Tourism Resources Development of slave trade relics
  • Establishment of museums and preservation of monuments
  • Wildlife Tourism Resources
  • Development of hiking trails and Jeep tracks in the national parks
  • Development of picnic and camping sites at strategic locations within the trail circuit system in the national parks
  • Building of tourist lodges
  • Building of reception centres at Natural/Physical Attractions
  • Provision of cable bus system to take tourist through the very rugged but scenic terrain of the mountains especially in Kanyang, Obudu and Mambilla Plateau Construction of lodge cabins for expedition tourist and rangers.
  • Establishment of hotels and resorts near waterfalls, springs, caves and temperateclimate areas such as Obudu, jos and Mambila Plateau.
  • Beach Tourism potentials Establishment of boating and sport fishing facilities
  • Development of water transportation Provision of educational facilities for water skiing and swimming
  • Establishment of holiday resorts along the coasts.
  • Development of Amusement parks, entertainment facilities and shopping services
  • Development of arts and crafts which constitute symbol of the people's cultural values and love for nature.

Some Business Opportunities


Nigeria has attained a high level of good transportation system especially Airline and Road Transportation, investment opportunities are still needed in water recreation transportation and rail services.


The hospitality sector of the tourism industry seems to be the most competitive area with the presence of starwood Hotel Groups, owners of Sheratons, Hilton, Le Meridien, Shangra Lai the Asian Hotel giant in restaurants and many


Meanwhile, most of Nigeria's beautiful beaches locations are still largely without accommodation facilities, which are targets for investors in most tourism destinations across the globe.

Tour Operations

Like the Europeans and Americas tour companies invaded the North, South and East Africa by having tour offices in these regions which enable them to market destinations in their home countries is lacking in the case of Nigeria.

Any Company willing to do so for Nigeria will be highly welcome.local hotel and restaurant groups battling for a better share of the market.

Investment Climate

Apart from the enormous potentials and investment opportunities in the Nigerian tourism sector, the country's investment climate at present is one of the most favourable in Africa for a number of reasons, among which is Political Stability.

The enthronement of a viable democratic system, which guarantees political stability, improves international relation and respect for human rights would in various ways enhance investment opportunities in the country.

Tourism Incentives

The provision of incentives in the 1990 National Tourism Policy were also to enhance private sector participation.


Tourism investment atmosphere in Nigeria is now conducive given the abundant resources available, large market, enthronement of enduring democracy, and a package of incentive put together by government. Foreign investors and other interested individuals should take these advantages to invest in the Nigerian tourism industry for sustainability and profitable returns.

Tourism Investment Opportunities In Nigeria

A Tourism policy was produced in 1990 with the basic objective of making Nigeria the ultimate tourism destination in Africa.

The main thrust of government policy on tourism, is to generate foreign exchange, encourage even development, promote tourism based rural enterprises, generate employment and accelerate rural urban integration and cultural exchange.

Due to the importance the Nigerian government attaches to the tourism industry, the following strategies were adopted:


Government would ensure that the provision of basic infrastructural facilities, namely, good roads, water, electricity, communications andhotels, to centres of attraction, in order to accelerate their development for the purpose of exploiting fully their touristic value. In furtherance of this goal, the appropriate government agency responsible for tourism promotion and development, shall establish and maintain close laison with other government agencies responsible for the provision of the infrastructure.

Concession of Land

State governments will provide land without any hindrance for tourism development at concessional rates and conditions favourable to investment and the realisation of investment thereon. This will necessarily include the abolition of annual ground rent within the period of construction and development of tourism. For orderly development of tourism and tourism product, it is mandatory for all state governments to demarcate potential Tourism Zones and their products from other usage, to avoid undue pollution. 100% equity ownership of companies in Nigeria and repatriation of profits and dividends etc.

Fiscal and Other Incentives

In order to boost the level of private sector investment in tourism, it is treated by government as a preferred sector, like agriculture. Government has also introduced such incentives as, tax holidays, tax rebate and soft loans, with long period of grace to potential investors in tourism.

Patrol and Regulation of the Industry

The government has enacted laws and regulations, which govern the activities of the categories of people involved in the industry, like hoteliers, travel agents, tour-operators, car hire services. This is to ensure that their conduct, is not detrimental to objectives of the industry and the security of the nation, as well as tourists.

Tourism Facilities

To ensure the growth and development of tourism to international standards, government has put in place these following:

  • Embarked on a massive and aggressive publicity campaign in the country, on the potentials and significance of tourism. Available publicity organs of the government have been utilised.
  • Publicised and marketed the nations tourism potentials abroad, through Nigeria's diplomatic missions and the foreign media, international travel fairs and mails.
  • Simplified issuance of visas/entry permit to intending visitors, such that they can get it immediately on application. Tourists arriving our ports with return tickets, are also issued with visas on the spot.
  • Security agencies, including customs and immigration have been oriented to discharge their duties promptly to eliminate inconveniences by visitors at entry points.

Institutional Arrangement of Tourism

The government has put in place the following institutional frame-work.

Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism has assumed full responsibility for policy initiation and monitoring, and maintains direct links with state governments on all tourism matters. However, the tourism industry is still fully dominated by states and local governments, where tourist attractions are situated.

State Ministries

State ministries implement policies and directories from the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism, initiate projects and control land allocation and development of tourism in their respective areas. The states also regulate the operations of hotels and catering institutions in line with the federal government policy.

Local Government Tourism Board

These local organs were established to locate and identify potential tourist attractions in their areas. They serve as information centres and provide tourist guides. They also preserve and maintain monuments, as well as museums in their areas of jurisdiction.

Summary of Investment Opportunities In Nigeria

Investment opportunities exist within the following sub-sectors of the tourism industry:

Beach and Coastal Resort development (Nigeria has over 700km of unpolluted sandy beaches). Conservation and Protection of 8 national parks and over 10 game reserves.Development of hotels and standard restaurants Transportation: water recreation, package tour services, air and rail services. Development of caves, tunnels, waterfalls and spring waters.Youth hostels, camps and centres Lake and River sport fishing. Scenic and Mountain Holiday resorts Theme/Amusement parks Conference/Congress Services Conservation and protection of endangeredwildlife especially drill monkey, manatec, white throated monkey and pigmy hippo. Heritage, cultural and archaeological sites.


The Yankari National Park is the premier game reserve in Nigeria. Yankari Park and WikkiWarm Springs are located around the Gagi River, approximately 1 1/2 hours byroad, southeast of Bauchi Town. The beauty and size of The Yankari Game Reservemake it the most pop?ular reserve in Nigeria. Set up in 1956 and opened to thepublic in 1962, the main game-viewing areas of the reserve are open all yearround. Japanese, Western Europeans, Americans and Southeast Asian tourists visitthis park in abundance. The reserve covers 2,058 sq. km. of savanna wood?landand is well-stocked with elephants, baboons, waterbucks, bushbucks, oribi,crocodile, hippopotamus, roan antelope, buffalo and various types of monkeys.Lions are occasionally spotted as well, despite their natural cam?ouflage. Thebest time to visit is between November and May, when tourists are likely to seemore game since the dense vegetation has dried out and the animals congregatearound the rivers.

The Wikki Warm Springsis one of the best features of the game reserves. Flood-lit at night, it iswonderful after a hot day?s game-viewing to relax in the warm water. Thespring gushes out from under a cliff, where the water is at least 6 ft. deep,with a bathing area that extends for 600 ft. to an open area. The park isinhabited by a variety of birds, including the huge sad?dlebill stork, golliathheron, bateleur eagle, vultures, kingflshers, bee-eaters and more. It isexcellent for serious bird-watchers.

Otherfacilities include: Tenniscourts, squash courts, a small museum in the reception area plus gas stationswith convenience stores at Wikki Camp and Bauchi.

Reservations:It is advisable to makereservation during the holidays and weekends with Easter a particularly busyseason. Reservations can be made at Durbar Hotel in Kaduna, Bauchi State Housein Lagos and at the Zaranda Hotel in Bauchi. Or call Yankari Game Reserve at(069) 43-656.

Route:You can travel by road fromLagos to Abuja, where you make an overnight stop, then on to Jos and Bauchi, asit is a 2-day journey by car over well-maintained roads. 

Hotels:Basic accommodations are available in chalets or rondavels. Also availableare suites, double rooms and family chalets that include small kitchens. Thereare many other National Parks besides Yankari, as illustrated on the map.Notable ones include Mambilla, Gumti National Park, Cross River National Park,and Kainji Lake National Park.


The Mambilla Plateau,in the southeast corner of Taraba State, shares a border with Cameroon. A highgrassland plateau averaging about 1800 meters, it is scenic, cool and a pleasantchange from the heat and humidity of Lagos. Because the roads are still underconstruction, a sport utility vehicle or jeep is recom?mended and visitorsshould pack essentials, camping equipment and food. As an option, there are afew hotels on the plateau.

The Park provides anattractive setting, well worth a visit. Mambilla has cattle ranches, teaplantations and rolling, grassy hills. It is different from the rest of Nigeriawith regard to flora and fauna and is home to some rare species of birds andanimals, especially at the Gashaka-Gumti National Park.

Route:There is a major road toMambilla from Lagos, Benin City, Onitsha, Enugu, Otukpo, Yandev, Katsina Ala,Wukari, Mutum Biyu, Bali, Serti and Gembu. You can also fly into Yola Airport,then drive a few miles south to Mambilla.

Gashaka-GumtiNational Park

This is a vast land ofspectacular wilderness (6,000 sq. kin) in the southeast corner of Taraba State,adjoin?ing the Mambilla Plateau. Mostly mountainous, from 457 to 2407 meters,it contains Nigeria?s highest mountain, Chapal Waddi (2409m).It is the most ecologically diverse conservation area in the country andcontains swaths of guinea savanna, gallery forest, moist forest, mountain forestand grassland. Many rivers flow through the park, including the Taraba, a majortributary of the River Benue. A wide variety of animal life can be found,including buffalo, roan ante?lope, chimpanzee, colobus monkey, hippopotamus,hyena, giant forest hog, lion and leopard. The park is a birdwatcher?sparadise with a wide variety of species, and there is excellent fishing in theRiver Kam. The reserve headquarters is in the Forest Rest Houses at Serti, onthe main road between Bali and Mambilla Plateau. These rest houses provideself-catering accommodation at a small fee. The entrance to the park is about 15km south of Serti. In the dry season, it is possible to drive to the formerheadquarters at Gashaka village, some 30 km from the entrance gate, where moreself-catering accommodation is available. The park is best explored on foot andit is possible to hire game guards; guides and porters are available at Serti orin Gashaka village.

CrossRiver National Park

The Cross RiverNational Park was created from two existing forest reserves of Bashi-Okwango andOban Forest Resveres. It is famous for its unique rain forest vegetation which,according to conservation experts, is some of the richest in Africa. This parkcontains the last remaining rain forest in Nigeria, which is being preservedwith the help of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. It has a herd of forestelephants, the white-faced monkey (indigenous to Nigeria only), buffalo,leopards and lowland gorillas, besides over a thousand other animal species. Thepark has a tropical climate characterized by a rainy season between April andOctober and a dry season between November and April. The moist green vegetationcover makes the for?est an excellent place to see birds and butterflies.

TheKainji National Park

This Park, in KwaraState, was established in 1979 and incorporates the Borgu Game Reserve andZugurma Game Reserve to the southeast in Niger State. The Bourgu sector of thepark alone covers an area of about of 3,929 sq. km. of savanna woodland, andZugurma cover an area of about 1,370 sq. km.The Kainji National Park alsocontains the Kainji Dam, an artificial lake which covers the town of Old Bussa.Here Mungo Park, the explorer, was said to have come to grief in 1805. Now thelake hides the scene of the accident. The lake is 136 km long and tours of thedam are available on request from the Nigeria Electric Power Authority. Boattrips on the lake can be arranged by the Borgu Game Reserve office at Wawa. Toreduce the expense, it is better for several visitors to share the cost. Fishingis allowed on the lake.


The Borgu Sector ofLake Kainji National Park was set up as a Federal Game Reserve and is one of thelargest in West Africa. The area was uninhabited and the idea for the park wasconceived in 1960. It is in the northern guinea vegetation zone which is charac?terizedby tall grasses and savanna woodland. The park retains a robust animalpopulation including antelope, lion, hippopotamus, buffalo, roan antelope,jackal, baboon, monkey and crocodile. The park is usually open from December toJune, with the best time to visit towards the end of the dry season, when thegrass has dried out and the animals move closer to the water. Tourist shouldexpect Harmattan (dry wind) from December to mid-February. The best times forgame viewing are in the early morning or evening, and trips can be arranged from6:00 am, either in park vehicles or visitor?s own vehicle. Bird life isabundant, especially near the river. Visitors should call the Wawa GameWarden?s office (11 miles from New Bussa) for a briefing and to also reserve agame guide. The entrance to the reserve is approximately 19 miles from Wawaalong a laterite road, and the oil river camp is a further 32 miles from theentrance. Many Nigerians and foreigners make day trips to

Kainji or pass by it ontheir way to other parts of the country. Despite the provisions at Kainji andNew Bussa, hotel accommodation is insufficient to encour?age many people tostay for long periods.


TheDurbar festival dates back hundreds of years to the time when the Emirate(state) in the north used horses in warfare. During this period, each town,district, and nobility household was expected to contribute a regiment to thedefense of the Emirate. Once or twice a year, the Emirate military chiefsinvited the var?ious regiments for a Durbar (military parade) for the Emir andhis chiefs. During the parade, regiments would showcase their horsemanship,their preparedness for war, and their loyalty to the Emirate. Today, Durbar hasbecome a festival celebrated in honor of vis?iting Heads of State and at theculmination of the two great Muslim festivals, Id-el Fitri (commemorating theend of the holy month of Ramadan) and Ide-el Kabir (commemorating ProphetIbrahim sacrificing a ram instead of his son). Of all the modern day Durbarfestivals, Katsina Durbar is the most mag?nificent and spectacular. Id-el-Kabir,or Sallah Day, in Katsina begins with prayers out?side town, followed byprocessions of horsemen to the public square in front of the Emir?s palace,where each village group, district, and noble house take their assigned place.Last to arrive is the Emir and his splendid retinue; they take up their place infront of the palace to receive the jahi, or homage, of their subjects.

Thefestival begins with each group racing across the square at full gallop, swordsglinting in the sun. They pass just few feet away from the Emir, then stopabruptly to salute him with raised swords.

Thelast and most fierce riders are the Emir?s household and reg?imental guards,the Dogari. After the celebrations,the Emir and his chiefs retire to the palace, and enjoyment of the occasionreigns. This fanfare is intensified by drumming, dancing and singing, with smallbands of Fulanis performing shadi, afasci?nating sideshow to behold.


Coconut Beach is abeautiful beach in the coastal town of Badagry, west of Lagos. The beach isattractively set in an area surrounded by coconut trees. About 20 miles towardsthe border of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin, Coconut Beach is accessiblethrough the Lagos-Badagry expressway. Visitors will find a friendly relaxedatmosphere.


Bar Beach, also knownas Victoria Beach, is the most popular beach among Nigerians. The main beach onVictoria Island is located along Ahmadu Bello Way opposite the Feder?al GuestHouse. It is usually crowded with Nigerians on public holidays. 

Tarkwa Bay

Tarkwa Bay is asheltered beach along the Lagos harbor. It is accessible by a ?trazan? boafrom Maroko or ?fiki? boat from under Falo Bridge on Victoria Island. Thisbeach provides a pleasant outing with safe swimming conditions, even for smallchildren. Tourist may obtain deck chairs and an awning on the beach, forrelaxed, casual comfort. Local yen dots sell delicious pineapples, coconuts andvariety of other delightful treats.

Calabar Beach

This superb beach, atthe mouth of the new Calabar River, is about 2 miles long and 500 feet wide,uninhabited save for a solitary fish?erman?s hut. The beach is virtuallyisolated and lends visitors the luxury of privacy in a beautiful setting off thebeaten path. Since the beach is flanked by a swamp and can only be reached byboat or canoe, getting there is half the fun and enhances one?s fascinationwith this enchanted locale.


There are severalbeaches along the Lekki Peninsula, the foremost being Lekki Beach, located a fewmiles from the city center. Lekki Beach is another of Lagos? attractivebeaches and remains popular with foreign tourists. Beach shelters made of palmfronds and umbrellas, available for rent, keep the sun at bay, as well asprovide a place to enjoy snacks or refreshments sold by local traders.


Opened in 1989, Elekois the newest of Lagos? Beaches, down the Lekki Peninsula about 30 miles fromLagos. There are no traders and no distractions on Eleko Beach, just peace andtranquillity, ideal for those seeking privacy.

The Obudu Ranch

The Obudu Ranch is apopular holiday destination for adventurous tourists wishing to explore theremote corners of Nigeria. Situated in the northeast corner of Cross RiverState, only 45 miles from the Cameroon border, a tourist can enjoy thecountryside of both Nigeria and Cameroon at the same time.

The Obudu Plateau isspread over an area of 40 sq. miles. It is 5,200 feet above sea level. Theclimate is cool and pleasant with no mosquitoes. The landscape is spectacular,with rolling grasslands, deep-wooded valleys and waterfalls. Iris best to visitObudu in the dry season since during the rainy season much of the ranch may becovered in mist and low clouds and there are thunderstorms. Between Dec. andFeb. the harmattan is heavy; therefore, the best times for a visit are the endof Oct. to Dec. and March to May before the rainy season.


Gorilla Camp, 13 kmfrom the hotel, is accessible either by vehicle or on foot, where one can take along, picturesque walk to the camp, and observe gorillas in their naturalhabitat. Guests may also ride horses or embark on hiking trips into the wild(comfortable shoes and a guide are recommend?ed). Birdwatching here isunparalleled and there is a pleasantly shaded natural swimming pool near theRanch House. If visitors accept the challenge of a three-hour hike, they?ll berewarded with a stop at the waterfall, nes?tled amid captivating scenery. Inspite of the altitude, it can get quite hot in the day, with five sunshine hoursin the dry season (Oct. - April) and roughly two during rainy season (July toAug.). Other activities include: golf, badminton, lawn tennis, squash andhorseback riding. The latest attraction at the Obudu Ranch is a cable-car (similar to Europe's) that runs from the foot of the hill to the top, easing transportation and providing spectacular sceneries.


The Ranch Hotelmaintains 33 chalets and boasts a friendly staff, superb restaurant and bar, andlaundry/dry cleaning services. Chalets provide exquisite comfort with a largesitting room, color TV, VCR, cocktail bar, kitchen & spacious bedroom withdouble bed. The Ranch Hotel operates 24-hours during peak periods, Sept.-Dec.,reservations should be made at the Cross River State House in Lagos. Or, by mailto: Hotel Manager, Obudu Cattle Ranch, P.O. Box 87, Obudu, Cross River State,Nigeria. 


The sights arespectacular on the drive east, through rolling mountains and the dense forestwith trees so high their branches form a canopy, shading out the sun entirely.This phenomenon has led to the area being called ?Nigeria?s Amazon,? andis not to be missed. However, should one prefer to fly, they can do so from anymajor city to Calabar then proceed by car over the five hour route via Ikom.


Thiscolorful annual festival takes place in Arugungu, a riverside town in KebbiState, about 64 miles from Sokoto. The leading tourist attraction in the area,the festival originated in Aug. 1934, when the late Sultan Dan Mu?azu made anhistoric visit. In tribute, a grand fishing festival was organized. Since then,it?s become a celebrated yearly event held between Feb. and March. During thefestival, hundreds of local men and boys enter the water, armed with largefishnet scoops. They are joined by canoes filled with drummers, plus menrattling huge seed-filled gourds to drive the fish to shallow waters. Vast netsare cast and a wealth of fish are harvested, from giant Nile Perch to thepeculiar Balloon Fish. Furthermore there?s canoe racing, wild duck hunting,bare-handed fishing, diving competitions and naturally, swimming. Afterwards,there is drinking, singing and dancing into the night. 


EyoFestival is unique to Lagos area, and it is widely believed that Eyo is theforerunner of the mod?ern day carnival in Brazil. On Eyo Day, the main highwayin the heart of the city (from the end of Carter Bridge to Tinubu Square) isclosed to traffic, allowing for procession from Idumota to Iga Idunganran. Here,the participants all pay homage to the Oba of Lagos. Eyo festival takes placewhenever occasion and tradition demand, but it is usually held as the finalburial rites for a highly regarded chief. 


TheFulani culture presents a complex system, involving age-old initiations. Themost important is the Sharo or Shadi (flogging meeting), believed to haveoriginated among the Jaful Fulani, whose ranks are still considered the finest.During the Sharo festival, bare-chested contestants, usually unmarried men, cometo the center ring, escorted by beautiful girls. The crowd erupts in thunderouscheers and drumming. After some time, a challenger, also bare-chested, comes outbrandishing a whip, trying to frighten his opponent. The festival proceeds withlively drumming, singing, cheers and self-praises from both competitors andchallengers. When the excitement is at a fevered pitch, it is the time forflogging. The challenger raises his whip and flogs his opponent. His opponentmust endure this without wincing or showing pain, lest he be branded a coward.


TheAtilogwu dance has been elevated to a dazzling art form, particularly by theIgbos in Anambra State. Atilogwu is a vigorous dance which literally means ?Isthis magic?? and combines elements of gymnastics with foot-stomping rhythmsand brilliant colors. It?s performed by young men and women who undergorigorous training before presenting the dance in public. Once approved, thedance is performed during important festivals and great social occasions. Infact, Atilogwu has become a celebrated signature of Nigerian culture, performedaround the world.


The National Museum atOnikan, Lagos provides one of the largest collection of art and artifacts inNigeria. Of great importance to anyone seeking a deep?er understanding ofAfrican art and the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria, the artifacts in themuseum date from 500 BC-200 AD, including the Nok ter?racotta heads. Itsinterior is majestic in scope, and retraces the development of various culturesthrough centuries of Nigerian history. Operated by the National Commission forMuseums and Monuments, the museum here, like ?others in Benin, Jos, Ife, Esie,Kano and Kaduna, plus many smaller ones, consistently draws thousands oftourists and historians each year to view its rich collections.


Osun was one of thewives of Sango, the god of Thunder and former king of Oyo. She is widelyworshipped in Yorubaland, particularly in the coun?tryside through which theriver Osun flows. The water of Osun is said to have the power of making barrenwomen fertile. Her most important sanc?tuaries are in Oshogbo, which iscontracted from ?Oso Igbo?, or spirit of the forest, centered around apalace shrine where the chief priest performs rites and rituals.


The Kanoindigo-vegetable dye pits are one of the most fascinating aspects of this oldcity. Various designs are folded into the material before dyeing, and the fabricis often beaten to achieve the shiny, iridescent appearance. The tech?niquesemployed to obtain this look are unmatched around the world. And although themethods they use are ancient, these lush works of art on fabric always remainextremely popular and continue to be in great demand.


Nigeria is a veritabletreasure trove of beautiful handmade crafts. Drawing from ancient traditions,Nigerian artisans create marvelous wood carvings, metal castings, exoticjewelry, traditional clothing, intricately decorated calabashes andfinely-crafted leatherwork. Visitors are amazed at the quality and value ofthese unique creations, each made with a perfectionist?s skill and attentionto detail.

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