Top 10 Oldest Tribes in Nigeria & Histories : Nigeria is a multi-ethnic African country with numerous tribes and languages. Although the major tribes in Nigeria are the Igbos, Yorubas, and Hausas, there are other minorities spread across the federation who are also citizens of the country. There were ancient tribes that existed prior to the creation or even amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914, each with their own culture, form of government, and religious practice.
Before the year 1500, modern Nigeria was divided into kingdoms rather than states, as it is today. The names of ethnic groups defined these ancient kingdoms. Among these early empires were the Nupe Kingdom, Kanem-Borno Empire, Igala Kingdom, Igbo Kingdom of Nri, Oyo Empire, Kingdom of Ife, Benin Kingdom, and the Sokoto caliphate. Christian missionaries brought the Portuguese and English to West Africa later in the nineteenth century. The missionaries assert that they taught indigenous peoples how to read and write.
10. IJAW TRIBE
The Ijaw are a Nigerian ethnic group who live primarily in the Niger Delta. The states of Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers have significant population clusters. They are also found in other Nigerian states such as Ondo, Akwa Ibom, and Edo as long-term migrants. Ijaws account for 1.8 percent of Nigeria’s population and number slightly more than 10 million people.
The Ijaws have lived in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria since 500 BCE, making them the country’s and one of the world’s oldest tribes.
9. EBIRA TRIBE
The Ebira are a central Nigerian ethnolinguistic group. Many Ebira people come from the states of Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, and Edo. This ancient Nigerian clan clashed with Fulani warlords to the north and west during the takeover of the Hausa nation by the army of religious and political leader Uthman Dan Fodio. In the mid-nineteenth century, Igu (Koton Large) and Igu (Koton Small) were established. They fought alongside jihadists from Bida and Ilorin between 1865 and 1880. The Fulanis, on the other hand, did not conquer the Ebiras. The inherent safeguards of their steep terrain aided them in part.
8. IBIBIO-EFIK TRIBE
The Ibibio people live on the southern Nigerian coast. They are mostly found in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states. They are related to the Annang and Efik peoples. Efik-Ibibio is a large dialect cluster in the Cross River branch of Benue-Congo.
The Ibibio people are the oldest of all Nigerian ethnic groups, living in the palm belt of southeast Nigeria. The Ibibio are thought to have been the first people to settle in southern Nigeria. They are believed to have arrived in their current location around 7000 B.C. Regardless of historical evidence, it is unknown when the Ibibio first arrived in the state.
7. THE IGBO TRIBE
The Igbo are also among Nigeria’s oldest tribes. They are a meta-ethnic group from what is now southern and southeastern Nigeria. One of Africa’s most populous ethnic groups is the Igbo. The Igbo language is part of the Niger-Congo language family.
The Igbo people’s origins have been the subject of much speculation, as it is unclear how the community came to be. Before British colonial authority in the twentieth century, the Igbo were a politically divided people. Following decolonization, the Igbo developed a strong sense of ethnic identity. During the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), the Igbo areas seceded as the short-lived Republic of Biafra.
6. TRIBE OF HAUSA
There are predominantly Hausa-speaking communities throughout West Africa. The Hausa have traditionally lived in small villages, precolonial towns, and cities. They communicate in Hausa, an Afro-Asian language spoken by the Chadic people.
The Hausa aristocracy had historically established an equestrian culture. The Hausa Nok civilisation arose around 1000 BCE in northern Nigeria and died out in the West African region around 300 AD for unknown reasons. It is thought to be descended from an ancestral nation that split to form the Hausa. Nok’s social structure is said to have been sophisticated. The Nok civilisation is said to have been the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to create life-sized Terracotta figures.
5. KANURI TRIBE
The Kanuri are an ancient Nigerian tribe. They are divided into subgroups and given different names depending on where they are found.
The Kanuri language was and continues to be the official language of the Bornu Empire. The Kanuri people are mostly found in northeast Nigeria. Kanuri is a language spoken by approximately 3 million people in the country.
Bornu’s ceremonial Emirate can be traced back to the Kanem-Bornu Empire, which was founded around 1000 CE. According to Kanuri legend, Sef, the son of Yemen’s Dhu Ifazan, arrived in Kanem in the ninth century and established the Sayfawa dynasty. Evidence of indigenous state development dates back to around 800 BCE in the Lake Chad region at Zilum.
4. YORUBA Tribe
The Yoruba are also among Nigeria’s oldest tribes. Over 35 million Yoruba people live in Africa. This ethnic group is mostly found in Nigeria, where they make up 15.5 percent of the population.
The Yoruba people are one of Africa’s most urbanized groups. For centuries, the majority of Yorubas have lived in well-organized urban centers centered on powerful city-states and the residence of the Oba. In ancient times, the majority of these settlements were fortresses with massive walls and gates.
Yoruba cities have long been among the most populous in Africa. For a long time, Ibadan, one of the major Yoruba cities founded in the 1800s, was also the largest metropolis in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, Lagos, another important Yoruba metropolis, is Africa’s largest city.
3. THE IGALA TRIBE
The Igala are another old ethnic group worth mentioning in Nigeria because the Igala kingdom was founded in the 16th century, making them one of the country’s oldest tribes. Abutu-Eje established the old Igala Kingdom in the 16th century, which was governed by nine high officers known as the “Igala Mela.” These guys were thought to be the guardians of the sacred Earth shrine.
The first Ata was Ebule-Jonu (the monarch of the Igala kingdom). Her successor was her brother Agana-Poje, the father of Idoko’s successor. Ayegba was Idoko’s second son, succeeding his father as Ata’Gala, and he led the popular fight against Jukun. The Igala people, who live between the Benue and Niger rivers, are known for their bravery.
2. TRIBE OF BENIN
One of Nigeria’s oldest tribes is the Edo, also known as the Benin. They are Edo descendants who communicate in Edo. The name “Benin” (and “Bini”) is a Portuguese corruption of the word “Ubini,” which was first used around 1440 during Oba (ruler) Ewuare the Great’s reign.
Edo people live in Nigeria’s Edo State, which was named after Benin City, the region’s most important historical conglomeration. There are numerous related groups in Edo’s immediate surroundings, all of which are constrained by political and administrative boundaries. The majority of these organizations can be traced back to the medieval city of Benin.
1. THE GBAGYI TRIBE
The Gbagyi are an ancient Nigerian tribe. They are known for being peaceful, open, and accommodating people. The Gbagyi have emerged as a distinct group of Nigerians, with a culture that reflects their worldview.
The history of the Gbagyi tribe appears to be centered on a large belt of various terracotta productions. Other clay traditions discovered along the belt are quite old. The Daima one (near Nigeria’s northern border) was discovered between 600 B.C. and A.D. 1100, while the Yelwa one was discovered between the second and seventh centuries A.D.
The Gbagyi were first exposed to Islam in the nineteenth century, during the Sokoto Jihad of 1804, and then to Christianity in the twentieth century, via southerners.
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