Are Inter-Ethnic Marriages Acceptable in Nigeria?

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Are inter ethnic marriages acceptable in Nigeria?

Nigeria has 371 different ethnic groups (or tribes!), each with their own unique language, culture, and history. But there has often been a society stigma against marriage between different ethnic groups in Nigeria. However, particularly in the large cities such as Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, it appears Nigerian society is becomeing more tolerant and metropolitan.

“The tradition has changed, my children should marry someone from anywhere,” says an enthusiastic Lagos trader. “Everyone should become mixed up.”

“I would allow my children to marry any inter ethnic tribe in Nigeria – if they find the bone of their bone,” says another young man.

The top six largest ethnic groups in Nigeria, in order, are: Hausa, Yoruba, Igno, Ijaw, Kanuri, Fulani.

However, inter ethnic marriages are still frowned upon in many areas in Nigeria, especially rural areas and traditional families. Reasons often include cultural pride, clashes over cultural perspectives (such as gender roles, money, etc), and challenges for families to adapt to new languages, food, and even hundreds of years of tribal history and racism against other ethnic groups.

Inter ethnic violence is sadly all too common in Nigeria, with threats and attacks against other tribes often spilling into the political sphere.

However, down on the street, people are making their own unions.

“I would accept love from whatever ethnic group it comes from – love knows no tribe in Nigeria,” says a young Nigerian business man.

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