Ancient indigenous practices in Nigeria continue to evolve and endure, despite ongoing challenges from governmental and religious groups that want to weaken their influence. There are uncountable of these traditions in Nigeria, but it is challenging to estimate the number of practitioners, who are likely undercounted because religious identity statistics do not take into account the large number of Nigerians who claim various religious identities.
These religious systems’ theologies place a strong focus on ancestor worship and reverence for primordial spirits—supernatural beings that live somewhere and are represented by its physical surroundings. Each of these religions has its own elaborate traditions for healing and divination as well as elaborate moral teachings.
These traditions frequently defy the classifications and ideas of Western religions (for instance, many of them contain both monotheistic and polytheistic aspects, with a supreme god or creator God like Osanobua, Chineke, or Olodumare, as well as a large number of minor deities, orisa in Yoruba). Southwest Yorubaland, where the city of Ile-Ife has long served as a sacred hub for religious experience, including festivals, rituals, creative expressions, and healing practices, is where these traditions are still particularly strong.
(1). In Osun and Oyo state indigenous traditions of Osun and Sango are widely practiced (West)
(2). In Abia and Imo State indigenous traditions of Amadioha and Ala are practiced (East)
(3). In Benin indigenous traditions of Orunmila and Ogun are practiced (South)
There Olokun sends the blessings of wealth and children to his faithful devotees, especially women who desire children. Olokun’s wives and chiefs are the gods of the main rivers of the kingdom and are worshiped locally by villagers.
Ogun, another son of Osanobua, is the patron deity of all who work and use metal: the blacksmiths and brass and bronze casters; and the warriors, hunters, farmers, and modern vehicle drivers, for example. Ogun is seen as the god “who opens the way”—that is, he makes it possible for other deities and ancestors to be effective.
Olokun and Ogun are vital forces in contemporary Edo religious life, but some deities, such as Ogiuwu, god of death, and Obiemwen, the great mother goddess, are no longer worshiped in Benin. Other deities, including Esu, Sango, and Oronmila, have been borrowed from the Yoruba to the west of Benin, especially in border areas where the two ethnic groups have been in close contact.