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Akpo Uyeh: 12 Nigerian Traditions & Traits You Probably Still Hold On To



Being a Nigerian child, I became accustomed to certain age-long traditions. Growing up,whenever the moon was out and full-blown, it was the perfect time to listen to folktales stories. You know: those ones that come with sing-along choruses. These traditions have been passed from generation to generations. Virtually every Nigerian parent is ‘guilty’ of them. I guess I can rightfully say that we can use these traditions as the yardstick to determine the validity of our Nigerian identity. But seriously, how can you say that you are Nigerian if never went through or did any of them?

There was a joke that you can spot a Nigerian right from their accent and how they rush for everything. It is in our genes to rush. If you don’t do this, you might just lose out. We rush to get to work on time. We rush to receive ‘miracles’. We rush to get the best seat.  We rush to get the best services. We rush to get the best offers. We also rush to get the limited available spaces. As Nigerian you can not afford to be sluggish, you just have to be ‘aggressive’.

Now, there are some age-long traditions that have been passed from generation to generation and these include:

1. Eating meat/fish last after every meal
We have been wired to eat the meat/fish as the last thing after every meal. Doing otherwise might just leave you without appetite to go ahead with your meal. I have actually tried eating my meat before the main meal, it just felt unusual. I had to replace the meat with another. This time around, it waited for me, all the way to the last chunk of food.

2.Buying oversized clothes/shoes
With the rate at which children grow these days, don’t blame any parent who buys oversize clothes /shoes for their children or wards. This is usually done so that the children would not easily outgrow them with time. My mother did so with me, particularly with my school uniforms and shoes. And I would do the same to my children. Who wants to waste money? No one!

3. There is that one always wicked Aunty/Uncle/Neighbour
As a child, you are not allowed to collect anything from them, lest you be poisoned or bewitched, as you are made to believe by your parents. You might be in their company but you look at them with the eye that ‘they have potential to hurt you’.

4. JAMB/ ASUU strike
As Nigerian student, you can not go through the Nigerian public university system without being baptised with ASUU strike.  First, they start with warning strike and then progress to indefinite strike which is the general overseer. If ASUU does not go on strike, NASU , their sister-in-law, would do likewise. With JAMB, if you are so lucky and very intelligent, you can get away with writing it once. But if you are not so lucky, the tradition is to give a two or more shots before finally gaining admission.

5. Buying bread /fruits when you travel
It is a normal tradition to buy bread or fruits for the people you are going to meet when you travel. You can not go empty-handed or return the same way you lefy. At least, you must come with bread or fruits. If you do more, that is a plus.

6. Passing textbooks to younger siblings
If you have younger siblings, you don’t handle your textbooks anyhow, because you would have to pass it down to them – particularly if they are going to pass through the same class.

7. Eating rice every Sunday
Is there any Nigerian home where they don’t cook rice on Sundays? This is one tradition that has been passed from families to families. Sundays just seem incomplete without eating rice.

8. No party without jollof rice served
What if they stop serving jollof at weddings and owambes? Would people still attend – knowing that this has been a major staple food and the highlight of any ceremony? Your guess is as good as mine.

9. Keeping brooms at the corner or by the door
As in, brooms are usually hidden by the corners of the room or behind the doors. I even heard that sweeping at night is a taboo. I wonder where that came from. I don’t think there is any home that brooms are conspicuous.

10. Shouting ‘UP NEPA’
I shouted ‘UP NEPA’, older generations shouted ‘UP NEPA’ and even with the changing of NEPA to PHCN, nothing has changed. Younger generations still shout ‘UP NEPA’ whenever electricity is restored after a black-out.

11.Inserting paper with your name inscribed into a pen
You just have to do this; and even if you did not, mothers would remind you, for she bears the brunt of buying you pens every time you misplace one.

12. Setting rat trap
Don’t tell me you never set rat traps in your house… even if you didn’t live in the suburbs of Ajegunle but in the posh areas of places like Victoria Garden City. If  ‘Almighty’ Aso rock can accommodate rats  that can prevent the president from going to his office, how much more elsewhere?

You are proudly Nigerian if you bought rat medicine/ trap in traffic. What did I leave out? What are some of those age-long traditions that are still prominent today?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime


  1. newbie

    October 4, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Ees a lie. We don’t rush to get to work – or anywhere for that matter- on time. Lateness to the point of ridiculously rude is our way. And we know how to come up with the most ingenuous excuses.

  2. Mrs chidukane

    October 4, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    I don’t rush. I never have. I plan ahead and leave early so I can meet up with commitments. I also don’t put my kids in oversize clothing. It makes them look sloppy. We didn’t have any wicked aunty or uncle while growing up but there was this woman in our compound who would take the best of the mangoes we picked from the tree in our backyard to give to her kids. Her kids would alert her every time we were done climbing the tree and she would come out and take the best and give to them. I used to feel like strangling them so bad,ugh. We hated her. Her kids were so ill behaved! They would pee from their upstairs balcony and spit on people when they passed. Very bratty.

  3. zee

    October 4, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    also, when sharing anything, the person who shared is last to pick….those where the days……….

  4. Ada

    October 4, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Yes I can relate.

  5. Ch'ks

    October 6, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Responding with a “sir” when dad calls

    • Dee

      October 7, 2018 at 12:01 am


  6. Sapphire

    October 31, 2018 at 11:25 am

    We rush to get party favours(souvenirs). I think Sunday rice is mostly common in Igbo households. In our house,what we had then was Sunday pounded yam. Infact,left to my dad,we would have had pounded yam everyday. Lol

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