Ethnic and regional identities in Nigerian popular music: a special focus on the Edo

  • Austin Emielu University of Ilorin


Nigeria has a population of over 150 million people with a population density of 184.2 people per square kilometre (477 people per square mile and runs a federal system of government and a bi-camera legislature. For administrative purposes, the country is divided into 36 states and 774 local government areas. Nigeria is home to over 250 ethnic groups. However, the three major ethnic groups as recognised by the federal government are: Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba (known in local linguistic parlance as Wa Zo Bia, terms which mean ‘come’ in the three languages). Since independence, these three major ethnic groups have dominated the political scene with many ethnic minorities feeling marginalized. Even among these ‘big three’, the issue of marginalization is still a problem which has led to various zoning formulae in governance. Also, these three major ethnic groups are not entirely homogenous. For example, the Yoruba who inhabit the south-west region consist of various sub-groups such as Ijesa, Ijebu, Eko, Ibolo, Okun and Igbomina amongst others. In the same vein, while Hausa people are generally believed to be the main inhabitants of northern Nigeria, the reality on the ground shows that there are many smaller groups who are generally subsumed under the name Hausa by outsiders. This phenomenon further complicates the internal structure of the nation state through over simplification of ethnic group categories. None of the major languages are official. English is the official language of business in Nigeria.
How to Cite
Emielu, A. “Ethnic and Regional Identities in Nigerian Popular Music: A Special Focus on the Edo”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 9, no. 3, Nov. 2013, p. [92]-10, doi: