Nigeria: Did You Know…?

On October 1st 1960 Nigeria became an independent country. 57 years later, we're on a mission to share all that we know and love about the country with the rest of the UK. Whilst we’ll eat our fair share of jollof (and then our friend’s share too), we’re about more than just food and so we wanted to share with you some of our favourite facts about Nigeria.

Disclaimer: the following won’t make you an expert on the country, but it may leave you better equipped for a pub quiz.

1) The Nigerian flag was designed in 1959 by a 23 year-old Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi, after winning the competition to design the national flag.

The design is comprised of two vertical green stripes and one vertical white stripe in the centre. The two green stripes represent Nigeria's natural wealth, while the white band represents peace.

2) Nigeria has the highest incidences of twin births in the world. Perhaps this is why everyone thinks our sibling duo are twins. (Sorry, no they're not!)

The Southwest of Nigeria, which is home to the Yoruba tribe, is where the rate of twins is highest and a Yoruba set of twins are often called Kehinde (meaning: "the second-born of the twins”) and Taiwo (meaning: “the first twin to taste the world”). Though Taiwo is the firstborn, it is believed that Kehinde is the elder twin, sending Taiwo into the world first to determine if it is time to be born. Some think that a chemical found in yam, one of the staple foods eaten by the Yoruba tribe, and a country as a whole, is responsible for the multiple births. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that yam has that power.

3) Nigeria’s film industry, commonly known as “Nollywood”, is bigger than Hollywood and is the second largest in the world. Since 2015, Nollywood films have been eligible for consideration in the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film Award and Biola Alabi, head of one of Nigeria’s leading production companies, believes one day a Nigerian film will take home Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

New to Nollywood? We suggest starting with The Wedding Party, the highest grossing film in Nigerian box office history.

4) Nigeria is home to the second-longest man-made construction, the Walls of Benin (or The Benin Moat).  The Benin empire was one of the oldest and most highly developed states in West Africa. Dating back to the 11th century, it was located in now southern Nigerian and its capital, was what is now modern-day Benin City.  

A drawing of Benin City made by a British officer in 1897. Illustration: akg-images

A drawing of Benin City made by a British officer in 1897. Illustration: akg-images

The kingdom itself begun several centuries earlier and the Walls around Benin City began being built in c. 800. The Walls of Benin were once “four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops”.  Today, the Walls are on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List.