A vast country of traditions and contradictions, home to 250 different peoples and Africa’s largest megalopolis, a mosaic of Christian and animist religions, ancient Voodoo kingdoms in the south and Muslim kingdoms in the north, cradle of green tropical lands, granite hills, coastal and lagoon landscapes, or barren savannahs in the deep north, Nigeria is one of the African states with the most complex and often contrasting realities.
It is a tangle of worlds and histories, of Muslim Haussa cultures in the ancient sultanates or in the Fulani lamidat, of sacred Yoruba forests dotted with voodoo gods and priestesses, of mystical Igbo kingdoms and Christian syncretism, of colonial legacies and sad negro memories. A symbol of the complexity of this mosaic of worlds and opposing economic realities is the megalopolis of Lagos. The Silicon Valley of Africa, but also the home of cybercrime, a striking example of global overpopulation but also of a galloping all-African economy, home to the flourishing Nollywood film industry and the most avant-garde contemporary cultural temples, in the wake of the literary Nobel Prize winner Sonyinka and the father of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti. It is a city of millionaire entrepreneurs and some of the poorest slums on the continent, such as the village of Makoko on stilts, which has made its traditional isolation as a fishing community its only weapon of redemption in the face of poverty. Lagos is an entire Nigerian universe, where most of the economy of the country and the entire African continent revolves around the world’s busiest roads. Lagos is the leading producer of oil, extracted from the Niger Delta. It is difficult for politicians to manage such a mosaic of contrasts, the balance of which is mainly entrusted to tradition, the only real glue of identities, kept in the balance like a great house of cards.
Just a few kilometres from the capital is enough to discover a world of ancient traditions and natural oases of peace, imbued with voodoo spirituality, guarantors of identity, ancestral social order and the protection of sacred forests, otherwise destined to disappear. We are in the Edo lands of the ancient Kingdom of Benin, and Yoruba of the Kingdom of Ifé, ruled by an Ooni and the Oba, custodians of a multicoloured and mystical universe of voodoo divinities, of which the goddess Osun is the most powerful, to whom Nigeria’s last primary forest at Osogbo is dedicated. The best way to immerse yourself in the traditions of the many peoples and cultures that dwell in Nigeria is to participate in the many traditional ceremonies that criss-cross the country. From the Calabar Carnival, of Portuguese reminiscence, in the Igbo land of the sadly notorious Biafra, to the Fishermen’s Festival of Argungu, ancient Kingdom of Kebbi, passing through the annual Yorouba ceremony of Osun in Osogbo, and the privilege, if the security situation permits, of being received by the Emir of the Kingdom of Kano, in a colourful whirlwind of equestrian parades and devotion to the Muslim spiritual leader, who exercises from his 600-year-old palace, amidst the epic echoes of ancient trans-Saharan caravans.
Kanaga Africa Tours works at the service of travellers to offer a privileged channel to anyone wishing to immerse themselves in the reality of this magnificent country and appreciate its immense tangible and intangible cultural heritage. At the moment, due to a rather complex socio-political situation, we have decided to limit our trips to Nigeria to Lagos and the Yorubaland region only. We will certainly be the first to propose other itineraries as soon as the situation clears up and the necessary security conditions are restored.