Top 10 Ancient Traditional Practices Still Being Practiced in Nigeria

Ever wondered how Nigeria was long before the Brits invasion and their decision to label us Nigeria? What was the norm in those days? Obviously it was not the church services and Islamic activities we are now so used to that held sway in those days.

You know this already right? Our forefathers worshipped the smaller gods, instead of the God Almighty who the vast majority of us now worship. While our forefathers engaged in this mode of worship, which we now refer to traditional religion, they engaged in a few practices some of which the wave of civilization have not been able to erode.

Here are the top 10 age-old traditional practices which are still currently being practiced today.

#1 Traditional marriage

Traditional Wedding Pictures

Is there any Nigerian who do not know what ‘traditional marriage’ mean? This practice has become so popular that even foreigners admire the way we carry out this practice. Traditional marriage is not a practice that started in recent times, it has been an age old tradition and one that will not end anytime soon.

Some Nigerian communities have been accused of charging exorbitant bride prices during traditional marriages, we brought you an article about that, see here. However, traditional marriage remains the most recognized marriage in Nigeria by many.

 #2 Second burial

Here’s a traditional practice you might not know about. The second burial is one of the numerous burial practice performed in eastern Nigeria. This involves performing another funeral ceremony in honor of a dead who has previously been buried. In this ceremony, eating, drinking and making merriment is the order of the day.

Today, second burials has been replaced by yearly memorial ceremonies for the dead, however, the tradition of second burials is still being practiced after a prominent Igbo chief or personality in eastern Nigeria dies.

#3 Ekwuechi festival

Ebiraland in Kogi State is home to one of an ancient traditional practice which involves the celebration of the end of a calendar year and the beginning of a new one. In this festival, a masquerade known as the ‘Akatapa’ masquerade is one of the popular masquerade that steals the show on the day, although other masquerades also appear on the day.

Another interesting feature of this festival is the fact that no woman is allowed to be seen outside while the masquerade are on parade; you wouldn’t want to know what happens if a woman violates this rule.

 #4 Sango Festival, Oyo

The Sango festival in Oyo state is one of the oldest traditional practices in Nigeria and one which is still being practiced. The Sango festival is held in honor of Sango, the deity of fire and thunder. The legend of Sango holds that he was a powerful magician and king of the Oyo empire who died under mysterious circumstance; however, he was one who wouldn’t go down in history without being immortalized.

The Sango festival is now so popular after it was rebranded and named the World Sango festival in 2013 by the Oyo State government.

#5 New yam Festival

Yam Picture

Each time the rainy season comes to an end, it becomes time when farmers begin harvesting their crops –one of which is yams. The new yam festival is one that needs little introduction in Nigeria. The New yam festival is an ancient tradition which involves celebration of the harvest season with YAM being the significant crop used for the celebrations because of its popularity in the cultural life of the local community.

The tradition of celebrating the new yam festival is a form of saying thank you to the ‘god’ of harvest after a successful planting season. The new yam festival is still being celebrated in eastern Nigeria and in some parts of the south-south. The new yam festival is still actively being celebrated today.

 #6 Eyo Festival

The Eyo festival is one of the most popular traditional practices in Yoruba land, carried out in Lagos State to be precise. The popular feature of this festival is the Eyo masquerade which is usually clad in all white. The Eyo festival is still being practiced in western Nigeria.

During the Eyo festival, a few rules are to be observed, one of which is the prohibition of motorbikes, bicycles or any form of smoke.

#7 Osun Festival

The Osun festival has been held in Osun state since the ancient times. The festival is a yearly tradition held in honor of the Osun water goddess. All the rituals performed during this festival is performed at the Osun sacred grove forest by the priests and priestesses.

Every year, the Osun festival is held in Oshogbo, the Osun State capital.

#9 Okere Juju Festival

The Okere Juju festival is one of the ancient traditional practices held in Warri, Delta State Nigeria. The Wankere Okere Juju festival is celebrated with a lot of fanfare in the public, however, what a lot of people cannot ascertain is the amount of rituals that goes on underground before the Juju festival begins in proper.

The festival is aimed at cleansing the believers of this tradition from all sorts of sicknesses, ailments, curses etc. the Wankere Okerejuju festival is still being celebrated in Warri today.

#9 Igogo Festival

The Igogo festival is one ancient traditional practices held in South-west Nigeria, Owo Ondo state to be precise. This is the festival where monarchs show their mettle by their dressing, oratory speeches, and incantations. In this festival, the chiefs (both male and female) are made to plait their hair and dress in feminine attire while they dance round town. This festival lasts for approximately 17 days.

The Igogo festival has been in existence for over 700 years and was instituted in honor of Queen Orensen, wife of king Rerengejen. The king had created the Igogo festival to solicit and receive blessing from his beloved queen (Orensen) who disappeared from the palace after provocation from the king’s senior wives. The festival is carried out with a lot of rituals, incantations and fanfare. And yes, it’s still being practiced today.

#10 Wake keeping


Keeping a wake for a dead before burial is not a new tradition in Nigeria, it has been in existence for a very long time. In the past, wake was held for the dead to serve as a safe passage for the dead from this world into the spirit world.

Today, wake-keeps are held more as a mark of respect and a time for prayers other than anything else. Wake keeps are held all through the night till the wee hours of the morning. You don’t need me to tell you that this practice is still going on do you?

If you’re a Nigerian who have lived and grown in Nigeria, you must be quite familiar with one or more of these traditional practices; you can tell us more about the traditional practice you are most familiar with in the comment section.


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