Nigeria’s Indigenous Dance Styles Are Super Lit

August 27, 2019

It’s 2019 and the world seems to finally be getting the drift; Nigerians love to dance. You can see it everywhere; Jidenna has been promoting his new album by grinding on people’s girlfriends. Zlatan’s signature move, the Zanku has travelled farther than the artist himself.

Check any Nigerian’s Instagram Stories during the weekend and you’ll see their home training in the wind. Sure, it’s part of a big picture; Nigerian culture is super cool now and more people are paying attention. But if you thought we just started to gbe body in the internet age, you thought wrong.

Dance has always been a big part of our culture. Nigerians have been getting down since before Lord Lugard forced our unholy marriage. And whether we were dancing to solve our problems (more on this later) or trying to communicate with gods, we were doing some pretty lit moves. Here’s proof.

  • The Etighi

Iyanya may have brought it to the dance floor with “Kukere”. But long before his biceps grew too big for his body, the Efik & Ibibio people of Nigeria’s Niger Delta had been getting down Etighi-style for centuries. The Etighi you know is a condensed version. In ceremonial settings, Etighi dancers wear puffy accessories and wrappers, or grass skirts.

Bells around their waists make a jangling sound that adds more special effects to the performance. To dance the Etighi, you need to be flexible and you’ll probably think you are, until you see how traditional Etighi dancers move their waists like they have no bones. Plus they always have smiles on their faces, which makes everything much better.

  • The Oghogho

No, it’s not a dance style created by the ancestors of Ogogo, the Nollywood actor. The Oghogho dance is native to the people of the ancient Bini kingdom. If you were expecting some spiritual undertones, you expected right. The Oghogho was performed strictly by the physician-caste and used to ward off evil omens and avert disasters.

Dancers, usually women in long robes, would shuffle around a fire while carrying gourds in their hands. How can you not stan a dance that solves (financial & weather) problems? How? The spiritual tones explain why the Ogogho isn’t performed for amusement, even today. But if you’re in the mood to see it done, you can still catch a glimpse at important traditional ceremonies in the Bini kingdom.

  • The Koroso

Forget their conservative reputation. The Fulani people of Northern Nigeria have some of the most dramatic dances you’ve ever seen and the Koroso, which is still very common today, is probably the best example. The name comes from the rattling beads that dancers wear around their waist and ankles as they perform acrobatic moves to music from flutes and drums.

Koroso dancers perform in pairs, mostly because they tend to need help to contort their bodies in weird shapes. Sometimes though, you can catch the dancers trying to outperform one another, a sight which makes for some great viewing.

  • The Bata

If you’re Yoruba, odds are you’ve attempted the Bata dance at least once in your lifetime, which is amazing considering that the dance move originated as a sacred ritual for Sango, the god of war & thunder.

Bata dancers make very elaborate, fast-paced movements to the rhythm of music produced from three or four drums. Yoruba people often speak of the relationship between Bata dancers and the drums as sacred. And nothing makes it better than dancers who also know how to do oriki or ‘praise poetry’. You only need to see it in action to believe it, which is why we added this video. Thank us later.

  • The Ikprikpi-Ogu (Or Ohafia War Dance)

The Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria are known for many things; Alaba International Market, pounding fufu and an insane level of defiance. That probably explains why they created an entire dance move to welcome warriors from battle.

The Ikpirikpi-Ogu was performed by bare-chested men who would stomp and flex their muscles in an intoxicating show of strength. There aren’t many wars of that kind anymore, but the dance is kept alive by age-groups who perform it to show off their strength and machismo. Ooomph for the mandem!

  • The Atilogwu

How do we say this? If you’re Nigerian and you don’t know the Atilogwu, you dun know nu’n. The Atilogwu, also known as the acrobatic dance is one of Nigeria’s most well-known traditional dance styles thanks to the fact that it’s performed at just about every national celebration, as well as ceremonies in the abroad where Nigerians are represented as a group.

And it’s not hard to see why; Atilogwu dancers spend a fair share of their time on other people’s shoulders, leaping, twisting and jumping to music from local instruments. It’s lit to watch.

Did you enjoy this? You should sign up for our weekly pop culture newsletter, Poppin’. You’ll get to know what we’re up to before anyone else + insider gist, reviews, freebies and more. If it sounds like your deal, sign up here.

Segun Akande

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

January 9, 2020

Boogey — “Huntn Szn” While people may not have been paying enough attention to the genre before all the beefs and squabbling, hip-hop in Nigeria has never been lacking in talent. In fact, if there was any justice in the world, Boogey would be one of the most recognisable names in our music industry. The […]

November 5, 2019

PyschoYP — “OPPS” PsychoYP has finally released his new mixtape, YPSZN2, and it’s every bit as hard as we expected it to be. Out of the 16 tracks on the project, however, the track that truly goes the hardest is “OPPS”. On the exceptionally produced song, PyschoYP raps about not being able to find anyone […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

More from Pop

September 14, 2021

It was yet another Thursday games night on the BBNaija Season 6 show with TECNO and it was a very creative one. As you know, TECNO has been on the Season 6 journey with the housemates since it began and they have not disappointed. With the TECNO Phantom X dolling out incredible pictures of the […]

September 14, 2021

Watching the BBNaija show comes with different stages. You may not notice it, but somehow you go through a complete metamorphosis from the first week you watch the show to the last week when the winner is finally announced. The viewer you were at the beginning of the show is dramatically different from the viewer […]

zikoko - BBnaija party
September 12, 2021

Last night’s BBNaija saturday party was a vibe! The housemates came through with the right energy and they had a good time. We also got served a side of extra plot twists; new ships emerging and old ships entering new relationship stages. If you missed it, here are a few posts that captured the drama. […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X