While English is not the native language of any part of the Nigerian population, it has become Nigeria’s official language. This is mainly because when British imperial powers left Africa, they made a crucial mistake: the borders of post-colonial Nigeria were drawn without any consideration of the many ethnicities that existed within them. A country with over 500 ethnic groups had little to unite them beyond the continent that they shared. In order to reconcile the many languages of Nigeria, English was chosen to be the official one.

Prominent languages of Nigeria include Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, to name a few.  And so, over time, a need for trade to exist smoothly between regions with different languages facilitated the growth of “Pidgin English” or “Broken”. This is a dialect of English that is considerably different from that we recognize due to the vocabulary, grammatical structure, and pronunciation that is borrowed from Nigeria’s own native languages, making it a sort of hybrid. While Nigerians of different ethnicities are able to converse with each other in Pidgin, each ethnicity tends to have its own flavor of it, so to speak.

However, despite its popularity, Nigerian Pidgin is not recognized as an official language by the Government. Instead, Nigerian Standard English is used for all official matters such as in National and House Assembly as well as in national media, thereby making it Nigeria’s official language.

English was initially introduced forcefully into Nigerian culture in the form of colonialism but stayed due to the microcosmic nature of the country. A country made up of diverse ethnicities that were forced to integrate with each other, a lot like the continent on which these people reside.


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