Focus on Family: Nigeria

Nigeria is in West Africa. It is bordered on the West by Benin, on the North by Niger and Chad, and on the East by Cameroon. It covers an area of 356,669 square miles. The country is divided into thirty - six States. Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory.

There are over 250 ethnic tribes, 527 languages, and 1150 dialects in Nigeria. The six largest ethnic groups are the Hausa and Fulani in the north, the Igbo in the southeast, and the Yoruba predominate in the southwest, Efik - Ibibio and Ijaw of the south.

 Map of Nigeria.jpg


Islam and Christianity are the dominant religions in Nigeria, neither is completely free of influence from the indigenous religions. Regardless of religion, Nigerians bury their dead.

Family Life

A family, which is usually made up of people who are related by blood, marriages, or adoption is very important to most Nigerians. Family life is influenced by traditional norms and customs.

A sound knowledge about Nigeria family life will necessitate a brief discussion on the following headings: 


There are three types of marriage in Nigeria; the religious, civil, and traditional marriages. Marriage marks the beginning of a legal traditional family in Nigeria. It begins with attaining the traditional rites, and Christians will extend it to fulfilling the Christian rites. Marriage is also seen as a continuation of family lines.


Children are the pride to their families. They represent the future of both the community and the family and are the main reasons for many marriages. Parents believe that their children will provide support for them. The desire to have children among Nigerians, is a driving force of both the educated and uneducated population.

Nigerian Family.PNG
Members of a Nigerian family from Akure

Male versus female inequalities

Modern Nigeria is a patriarchal society. Men are dominant over women in virtually all areas. There is always more value ascribed to the male than to the female. Many times, the desire for a male child gives rise to major problems within a family.

Women are often voiceless and, most times, with constrained freedom and without her own identity.

Respect and values

Nigerian families are also distinctive in their respect towards elders or superiors. This respect is very important in most Nigerian cultures. Nigerians traditionally attach respect to the value of hospitality and high moral rectitude. Socially, greetings are of utmost importance. Adultery is considered as an abomination. Stealing and other immoral behaviour are strongly discouraged in Nigeria values. Traditionally, the Elders would discipline all children, no matter the family, as there the belief was that a child is owned by all. This is changing in modern society.


Nigerian families value celebrations. Any event that occurs in the family is cause for a celebration, ranging from the naming ceremony to funerals. These celebrations depict the relevance of solidarity and love shared in families.

Thank you to Sr. Catherine Akhare OLA (Nigeria province) for this informative look at family life in Nigeria.