Friday, February 26, 2016

Differences between the North and South of Nigeria


Nigeria is a big and beautiful country, home to the biggest population of any African country and with the fastest growing economy on the continent. 170 million people, 250 different ethnic groups and both Christian and Muslim populations - Nigeria’s diversity is huge. That means there are huge cultural differences between people in the country who live at either ends of the nation. Ripples Foundation works in rural villages in both the North and South of the country and we have seen for ourselves the difference in behaviours and traditions from the women we support.

Dress

In Northern areas such as Kano State, we have found the locals to be very modest and reserved. The women generally wear long flowing robes and headscarves but rarely cover their faces. This is different from the majority of Southern women who often choose to wear Western clothing in their everyday lives, but on Sundays they will put on their best traditional clothes and headdresses. Everyone wants to look their best at church and the traditional clothing is made from locally produced and dyed fabrics. Hand patterned cloths are called adire which local craftsmen are skilled at weaving.

Northern Nigerian women

Southern Nigerian women

Landscape

The South is undoubtedly greener than the North, with the unofficial capital of the country, Lagos, located there. Lagos is one of the largest metropolitan areas on the world! The main religion of the South is Christian, however there are Muslim populations in Yorubaland and other small areas.  The Niger Delta area is rich with oil, which is where most of the area’s profit comes from.

The population of the North is much larger than the South but the landscape is more sparse. The tone of the horizon is a mixture of warm browns and yellows, with a lot of flat plains compared to the rolling green hills of the South. This is due to the difference in weather, with Southern areas being in a tropical climate and experiencing more rainfall and humidity than the North where it is typically more dry and can have temperatures rising to above 40℃!

Sadly the North West has been living under the dark cloud of Boko Haram in recent years, the Islamist terror group that has been orchestrating attacks in many cities and villages near to the border with Cameroon. The huge Muslim population is targeted by the group and vulnerable young people are often recruited as foot soldiers to carry out vile suicide bombing missions. Ripples works in villages near to the city of Kano and has seen the victims of this needless violence first hand. Most recently we held a Medical MOT in Kabo village for  group of young orphans whose parents were killed by the militants. Our volunteers and staff on ground in these locations have to always be aware of the environment in which they work to ensure that everyone’s safety is guaranteed.

Northern Nigeria

Southern Nigeria

Language

The Yoruba tribe often use proverbs in their traditional language to enrich what they are saying, a famous example being “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Other Southerners are more direct in their language, and are often louder compared to the softly spoken Northerners!


Community Culture

Everyone in Nigeria is fiercely proud of their home towns and villages, and during the big religious festivals millions of people travel back to their place of birth regardless of where they are now based in the world. Ripples Foundation has had the privilege of attending the Ogidi Day Festival in Ogidi village, Kogi State where the whole community gathers to celebrate the harvesting of the yams: a celebration full of colour, music and huge crowds.

Women dancing at the Ogidi Day Festival

One thing however does sadly unite the two halves of Nigeria. Although the country has the fastest growing economy in Africa, huge parts of the population are classed as living in poverty. In 2014 statistics from the World Bank show that 46% of people in the country are still living under the poverty line. For the fastest growing country in Africa, how can that be?

Ripples works in rural villages in both the North and South and the pattern is unfortunately the same. Families have become so used to having the burden of poverty handed down to them for generations and the rural locations where they live often means that they have no access to electrical power, higher education, hospital care and the technology that people in the West take for granted.

Ripples is working to improve the facilities and resources for villagers in these rural locations in order to break that cycle of poverty. We kickstart Women’s Enterprise projects so that women can generate income from their own sustainable businesses, we offer free healthcare to whole villages, we train the youths how to use IT - all of which is contributing to making change happen in their lives and breaking the cycle of extreme poverty that has been handed to down to rural families for generations.

You can help us. The villages we support in Nigeria need your donations in order to keep growing and improving their standard of living.
Please donate today by visiting http://www.totalgiving.co.uk/charity/ripples-foundation

Alysha Bennett Web Developer

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