In commemoration of the Nigerian independence on the 1st of October, here are a few historical facts that will amaze you.
- Nigerian history can be traced back as far as 11 000 BC, where prehistoric tribes settled in the southwestern and southeastern parts of the area. The oldest Human Skeleton in West Africa was found in a region of Southwestern Nigeria called Iwo-Eleru. The skeleton in about 13 000 years old.
- There is evidence of a group of settlers called the Nok people. They lived around the middle belt of Nigeria, as far back as 900 BC. The Nok people were very artistic people known for making the Terracotta statues and they were also good Iron workers. They were smelting and forging tools before many civilisations around the world (including European civilisations). The Nok culture thrived from 900 BC- 200 AD.
- The Hausa people currently live in the Northern part of Nigeria. Their history can be traced back to the Bayajidda legends and mythology. According to these legends the early settlers in the North are from the far east( modern day Egypt, Libya, Northern part of Sudan). Bayajidda himself came from Baghdad in Iraq, this shows that Arabs settled in Northern Nigeria.
- The Kanem-Bornu empire was made up of Northern Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon. Other empires in the North were the Fulani empire and part of the Mali empire. Usman Dan fodio united the Bornu and Fulani empires to make the Sokoto Caliphate. The Hausa people are predominantly Muslim, this has been the case for many centuries.
- The Yoruba people live in the South Western region of Nigeria. The earliest settlers, lived in Ile-Ife (modern day Oshun State). The first settlements can be traced back as far as 4th Century BC.
- Ile-Ife was at it’s prime, in 12th Century AD. It was overtaken by the Oyo Empire (modern day Oyo state). The Oyo Empire had the largest military and Economic power in Yoruba land from 1600-1800 AD. The Oyo Empire also influenced the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey (modern day Republic of Benin) through trading. The Yoruba spiritual system spread all over the world through the slave trade. Yoruba IFA’s are still being worshipped in South America and the Caribbean.
- The Benin Empire (modern day Edo State) started in the first millennium CE. The Benin Empire thrived from 1300-1800 AD. The early Benin Kings were called Ogiso (kings of the Sky), the current kings are called Oba’s. The empire was a well organised political state with a great army. The kings were very wealthy and the empire was quite extensive.
- The modern day Ishekiri, Ijaw and Urobo people were a part of the Empire. The people of Benin were quite artistic, a lot of Ancient artworks can be found in museums all over Europe. The trans-Atlantic Slavery led to the decline of the empire.
- The Nri and Aguileri kingdom of the Umueri clan, are seen as the foundation of modern day Igbo Culture. The Igbo rulling system was the most unique system. Traditionally there were no Kings, because one person wasn’t totally in charge. A council of elders ruled, these elders were not revered as kings. This rulling system made it quite difficult for the British to rule over the Igbos. Igbo people have always had a reputation for being fiercely independent.
- The Igbos had their own calendars and banking systems. They were highly skilled in mathematics and had their own writing system (similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs) called Nsibidi. The Igbo culture is heavily influenced by the Hebrew culture. There are similarities between the Israelites in the Bible and the Igbos.
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