early as 1100 BC. Numerous ancient African civilisations settled in the region that is known
today as Nigeria, such as the Kingdom of Nri, the Benin Empire, and the Oyo Empire. Islam
reached Nigeria through the Borno Empire between (1068 AD) and Hausa States around (1385
AD) during the 11th century,] while Christianity came to Nigeria in the 15th century through
Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal. The Songhai Empire also occupied part of the
region. The history of Nigeria has been crucially affected by the transatlantic slave trade, which
started in Nigeria in the late 15th century. The first slave- trading post used by the British and
Portuguese was Badagry, a coastal harbour. Local brokers provided them with slaves,
escalating conflicts among the ethnic groups in the region and disrupting older trade patterns
through the Trans-Saharan route.
Lagos was invaded by British forces in 1851 and formally annexed in 1865. Nigeria became a
British protectorate in 1901. The period of colonisation lasted until 1960, when an independence
movement succeeded. Nigeria first became a republic in 1963, but succumbed to military
rule three years later, after a bloody coup d'état. A separatist movement later formed the
Republic of Biafra in 1967, leading to the three- year Nigerian Civil War. Nigeria became a
republic once again after a new constitution was written in 1979. However, the republic was
short-lived, as the military seized power again and ruled for ten years. A new republic was
planned to be established in 1993, but was aborted by General Sani Abacha. Abacha died in
1998 and a fourth republic was later established the following year, which ended three
decades of intermittent military rule.
Archaeological research, pioneered by Charles Thurstan Shaw, has shown that people were
already living in south- eastern Nigeria ( specifically Igbo Ukwu, Nsukka, Afikpo and Ugwuele)
100,000 years ago. Excavations in Ugwuele, Afikpo and Nsukka show evidence of long
habitations as early as 6,000 BC. However, by the 9th Century AD, it seems clear that Igbos
had settled in Igboland. Shaw's excavations at Igbo-Ukwu, Nigeria, revealed a 9th-century
indigenous culture that created highly sophisticated work in bronze metalworking, independent
of Arab or European influence and centuries before other sites that were better known at the
time of discovery.
The earliest known example of a fossil human skeleton found anywhere in West Africa, which
is 13,000 years old, was found at Iwo-Eleru in Isarun, western Nigeria, and attests to the antiquity
of habitation in the region.
The Dufuna canoe was discovered in 1987 a few kilometers from the village of..., not far from
the Komadugu Gana River, in Yobe State, Nigeria. Radiocarbon dating of a sample of charcoal
found near the site dates the canoe at 8500 to 8000 years old, linking the site to Lake Mega
Chad. It is the oldest boat discovered in Africa, and the second oldest known worldwide.
The stone axe heads, imported in great quantities from the north and used in opening theforest for agricultural development, were venerated by the Yoruba descendants of Neolithic
pioneers as "thunderbolts" hurled to earth by the gods.
Nok Culture and early Iron Age
The Nok culture thrived from approximately 1,500 BC to about 200 AD on the Jos Plateau in
north and central Nigeria and produced life-sized terracotta figures that include human heads,
human figures, and animals. Iron smelting furnaces at Taruga, a Nok site, date from around 600
BC. The Nok culture is thought to have begun smelting iron by 600-500 BC and possibly
some centuries earlier. Kainji Dam excavations revealed iron- working by the 2nd century BC.
Evidence of iron smelting has also been excavated at sites in the Nsukka region of southeast
Nigeria in what is now Igboland: dating to 2,000 BC at the site of Lejja (Uzomaka 2009)] and to
750 BC and at the site of Opi (Holl 2009).The transition from Neolithic times to the Iron Age
apparently was achieved indigenously without intermediate bronze production. Others have
suggested that the technology moved west from the Nile Valley, although the Iron Age in the
Niger River valley and the forest region appears to predate the introduction of metallurgy in the
upper savanna by more than 800 years. The earliest iron technology in West Africa has also
been found to be contemporary with or predate that of the Nile valley and North Africa, and
some archaeologists believe that iron metallurgy was likely developed independently in sub-
Saharan West Africa.
Nok seated figure; 5th century BC – 5th century AD; terracotta; 38 cm (1 ft. 3 in.); Musée du
quai Branly (Paris). In this Nok work, the head is dramatically larger than the body supporting it,
yet the figure possesses elegant details and a powerful focus. The neat protrusion from the chin
represents a beard. Necklaces form a cone around the neck and keep the focus on the face.
As in most African art styles, the Nok style focuses mainly on people, rarely on animals. All of
the Nok statues are very stylized and similar in that they have arched eyebrows with a triangular
eyes and perforated pupils.
Nok male head; 550-50 BC; terracotta; Brooklyn Museum (New York City, USA). The mouth of this
head is slightly open. It might suggest speech and that the figure has something to tell us. This
is a figure that seems to be in the midst of a conversation. The eyes and the eyebrows suggest
an inner calm or an inner serenity.
The Hausa Kingdoms were a collection of states started by the Hausa people, situated
between the Niger River and Lake Chad. Their history is reflected in the Bayajidda legend, which
describes the adventures of the Baghdadi hero Bayajidda culminating in the killing of the snake in
the well of Daura and the marriage with the local queen magajiya Daurama. While the hero had
a child with the queen, Bawo, and another child with the queen's maid-servant, Karbagari.
Sarki mythologyAccording to the Bayajidda legend, the Hausa states were founded by the sons of Bayajidda, a
prince whose origin differs by tradition, but official canon records him as the person who
married the last Kabara of Daura and heralded the end of the matriarchal monarchs that had
erstwhile ruled the Hausa people. Contemporary historical scholarship views this legend as an
allegory similar to many in that region of Africa that probably referenced a major event, such as
a shift in ruling dynasties.
According to the Bayajidda legend, the Banza Bakwai states were founded by the seven sons of
Karbagari ("Town-seizer"), the unique son of Bayajidda and the slave-maid, Bagwariya. They are
called the Banza Bakwai meaning Bastard or Bogus Seven on account of their ancestress' slave
Zamfara ( state inhabited by Hausa-speakers)
Kebbi ( state inhabited by Hausa-speakers)
Yauri ( also called Yawuri)
Gwari ( also called Gwariland)
Kwararafa (the state of the Jukun people)
Nupe ( state of the Nupe people)
Ilorin( was founded by the Yoruba)
The Hausa Kingdoms began as seven states founded according to the Bayajidda legend by the
six sons of Bawo, the unique son of the hero and the queen Magajiya Daurama in addition to the
hero's son, Biram or Ibrahim, of an earlier marriage. The states included only kingdoms
inhabited by Hausa-speakers:
Since the beginning of Hausa history, the seven states of Hausaland divided up production and
labor activities in accordance with their location and natural resources. Kano and Rano were
known as the "Chiefs of Indigo." Cotton grew readily in the great plains of these states, and
they became the primary producers of cloth, weaving and dying it before sending it off in
caravans to the other states within Hausaland and to extensive regions beyond. Biram was the
original seat of government, while Zaria supplied labor and was known as the "Chief of
Slaves." Katsina and Daura were the "Chiefs of the Market," as their geographical location
accorded them direct access to the caravans coming across the desert from the north. Gobir,
located in the west, was the "Chief of War" and was mainly responsible for protecting theempire from the invasive Kingdoms of Ghana and Songhai. Islam arrived at Hausaland along the
caravan routes. The famous Kano Chronicle records the conversion of Kano's ruling dynasty by
clerics from Mali, demonstrating that the imperial influence of Mali extended far to the east.
Acceptance of Islam was gradual and was often nominal in the countryside where folk
religion continued to exert a strong influence. Nonetheless, Kano and Katsina, with their famous
mosques and schools, came to participate fully in the cultural and intellectual life of the Islamic
world. The Fulani began to enter the Hausa country in the 13th century and by the 15th
century, they were tending cattle, sheep, and goats in Borno as well. The Fulani came from the
Senegal River valley, where their ancestors had developed a method of livestock management
based on transhumance. Gradually they moved eastward, first into the centers of the Mali and
Songhai empires and eventually into Hausaland and Borno. Some Fulbe converted to Islam as
early as the 11th century and settled among the Hausa, from whom they became racially
indistinguishable. There they constituted a devoutly religious, educated elite who made
themselves indispensable to the Hausa kings as government advisers, Islamic judges, and
The Hausa Kingdoms were first mentioned by Ya'qubi in the 9th century and they were by the
15th-century vibrant trading centers competing with Kanem-Bornu and the Mali Empire. The
primary exports were slaves, leather, gold, cloth, salt, kola nuts, and henna. At various moments
in their history, the Hausa managed to establish central control over their states, but such
unity has always proven short. In the 11th-century, the conquests initiated by Gijimasu of Kano
culminated in the birth of the first united Hausa Nation under Queen Amina, the Sultana of
Zazzau but severe rivalries between the states led to periods of domination by major powers
like the Songhai, Kanem and the Fulani]
Hausa-Fulani Sokoto Caliphate in the 19th century
Despite relatively constant growth, the Hausa states were vulnerable to aggression and,
although the vast majority of its inhabitants were Muslim by the 16th century, they were
attacked by Fulani jihadists from 1804 to 1808. In 1808 the Hausa Nation was finally conquered
by Usman dan Fodio and incorporated into the Hausa-Fulani Sokoto Caliphate.]
Ife bronze casting of Oduduwa, dated around 12th century, in the British Museum.
Historically the Yoruba people have been the dominant group on the west bank of the Niger.
Their nearest linguistic relatives are the Igala who live on the opposite side of the Niger's
divergence from the Benue, and from whom they are believed to have split about 2,000 years
ago. The Yoruba were organized in mostly patrilineal groups that occupied village communities
and subsisted on agriculture. From approximately the 8th century, adjacent village compoundscalled ile coalesced into numerous territorial city-states in which clan loyalties became
subordinate to dynastic chieftains. Urbanisation was accompanied by high levels of artistic
achievement, particularly in terracotta and ivory sculpture and in the sophisticated metal casting
produced at Ife.
The Yoruba pay tribute to a pantheon composed of a Supreme Deity, Olorun and the Orisha. The
Olorun is now called God in the Yoruba language. There are 400 deities called Orisha who
perform various tasks. According to the Yoruba, Oduduwa is regarded as the ancestor of the
Yoruba kings. According to one of the various myths about him, he founded Ife and dispatched
his sons and daughters to establish similar kingdoms in other parts of what is today known as
Yorubaland. The Yorubaland now consists of different tribes from different states which are
located in the Southwestern part of the country, states like Lagos State, Oyo State, Ondo State,
Osun State, Ekiti State and Ogun State, among others.Also there are 2 different ways Yoruba is
spoken the first one is native Yoruba and the second is commonly spoken the difference is that
the first is harder to understand if you are not native to Yoruba but the second a lot of people
tend to understand.
A bronze ceremonial vessel made around the 9th century found at Igbo-Ukwu.
Main article: Kingdom of Nri
The Kingdom of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture and the oldest Kingdom in
Nigeria. Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the
Umueri clan, who trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king- figure, Eri.] Eri's origins are
unclear, though he has been described as a "sky being" sent by Chukwu (God). He has been
characterized as having first given societal order to the people of Anambra.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Nri hegemony in Igboland may go back as far as the
9th century,and royal burials have been unearthed dating to at least the 10th century. Eri, the
god-like founder of Nri, is believed to have settled in the region around 948 with other related
Igbo cultures following in the 13th century. The first Eze Nri (King of Nri), Ìfikuánim, followed
directly after him. According to Igbo oral tradition, his reign started in 1043. At least one historian
puts Ìfikuánim's reign much later, around 1225.
Each king traces his origin back to the founding ancestor, Eri. Each king is a ritual reproduction
of Eri. The initiation rite of a new king shows that the ritual process of becoming Ezenri (Nri
priest-king) follows closely the path traced by the hero in establishing the Nri kingdom.
—E. Elochukwu Uzukwu
Nri and Aguleri and part of the Umueri clan, a cluster of Igbo village groups which traces its
origins to a sky being called Eri and significantly, includes (from the viewpoint of its Igbo
members) the neighbouring kingdom of Igala.
—Elizabeth Allo Isichei]
The Kingdom of Nri was a religio-polity, a sort of theocratic state, that developed in the central
heartland of the Igbo region. The Nri had a taboo symbolic code with six types. These included
human ( such as the birth of twins), animal ( such as killing or eating of pythons),object, temporal,
behavioral, speech and place taboos.] The rules regarding these taboos were used to educate
and govern Nri's subjects. This meant that, while certain Igbo may have lived under different
formal administrations, all followers of the Igbo religion had to abide by the rules of the faith
and obey its representative on earth, the Eze Nri.
Decline of Nri kingdom
With the decline of Nri kingdom in the 15th to 17th centuries, several states once under their
influence, became powerful economic oracular oligarchies and large commercial states that
dominated Igboland. The neighboring Awka city- state rose in power as a result of their powerful
Agbala oracle and metalworking expertise. The Onitsha Kingdom, which was originally inhabited
by Igbos from east of the Niger, was founded in the 16th century by migrants from Anioma
(Western Igboland). Later groups like the Igala traders from the hinterland settled in Onitsha in
the 18th century. Western Igbo kingdoms like Aboh, dominated trade in the lower Niger area
from the 17th century until European penetration. The Umunoha state in the Owerri area used
the Igwe ka Ala oracle at their advantage. However, the Cross River Igbo state like the Aro had
the greatest influence in Igboland and adjacent areas after the decline of Nri.
The Arochukwu kingdom emerged after the Aro-Ibibio Wars from 1630 to 1720, and went on to
form the Aro Confederacy which economically dominated Eastern Nigerian hinterland. The
source of the Aro Confederacy's economic dominance was based on the judicial oracle of Ibini
Ukpabi ("Long Juju") and their military forces which included powerful allies such as Ohafia,
Abam, Ezza, and other related neighboring states. The Abiriba and Aro are Brothers whose
migration is traced to the Ekpa Kingdom, East of Cross River, their exact take of location was at
Ekpa (Mkpa) east of the Cross River. They crossed the river to Urupkam (Usukpam) west of the
Cross River and founded two settlements: Ena Uda and Ena Ofia in present-day Erai. Aro and
Abiriba cooperated to become a powerful economic force.
Igbo gods, like those of the Yoruba, were numerous, but their relationship to one another and
human beings was essentially egalitarian, reflecting Igbo society as a whole. A number of
oracles and local cults attracted devotees while the central deity, the earth mother and fertility
figure Ala, was venerated at shrines throughout Igboland.
The weakness of a popular theory that Igbos were stateless rests on the paucity of historical
evidence of pre-colonial Igbo society. There is a huge gap between the archaeological finds of
Igbo Ukwu, which reveal a rich material culture in the heart of the Igbo region in the 8th
century, and the oral traditions of the 20th century. Benin exercised considerable influence on
the western Igbo, who adopted many of the political structures familiar to the Yoruba-Beninregion, but Asaba and its immediate neighbours, such as Ibusa, Ogwashi-Ukwu, Okpanam,
Issele-Azagba and Issele-Ukwu, were much closer to the Kingdom of Nri. Ofega was the queen
for the Onitsha Igbo.Igbo imabana