Food & Daily life
Wealth and Western-style
With so much poverty across Nigeria, people who manage to gain wealth can elevate themselves in society.
Nigerians without wealth often have to make do with poorly-constructed shanty homes in overcrowded areas of the cities.
In rural parts, many people still live in traditionally built mud-walled houses with thatch roofs. In wet areas of the southern Niger Delta, homes of wood and bamboo are built on stilts.
In rural regions and among Muslim communities, arranged marriages are still common, as is the practice of giving some kind of bride dowry to the groom’s family. In some areas, men take more than one wife – see Family
Gender roles are changing, particularly in the cities, but Nigerian society is still male-dominated.
Women generally have more freedom and influence in the south, but even here they are expected to look after the home and children.
In many regions, women tend smallholder plots and carry out activities such as taking spare produce to market or processing palm oil to make a little money.
Property and wealth are usually passed onto sons, so it’s hard for women in Nigeria to gain access to finance or credit services.
With so many groups and cultures, foods vary. But traditional meals are often based around a starchy staple. In southern parts, this can be made from maize/corn, yams, cassava/manioc or plantains. These are dried and then ground into flour to make a thick paste or dough. In northern areas, grains such as millet and sorghum are used to make a porridge-like staple.
Soups or stews are often served with the starchy staple. Onions, tomatoes and okra can be used to flavour these stews.
Rice is also popular, though not enough is grown domestically to meet demand – see Climate & Agriculture. Fried foods cooked in coconut or palm oil are often served with rice. Fried plantain is a favourite dish (see photo).
A wide range of fruits grow across southern parts of Nigeria; papaya, pineapples, oranges, mangoes, African bread fruit and bananas are common.
In the non-Muslim south, home-brewed beers and brands from Nigerian breweries are popular alcoholic beverages. Palm wine is also widely drunk.