African UU countries: Nigeria

After my spectacular failure on an online African geography quiz last week, I resolved to spend some time brushing up on my African geography. As part of this learning goal, I’m going to do a short series of posts on African countries that have Unitarian Universalist congregations in them. Here’s the first installment:

UUs in Nigeria: There are two Unitarian Universalist groups in Nigeria. Both Ijo Isokan Gbogbo Eda (Unitarian Brotherhood Church) and The First Unitarian Church of Nigeria are in Lagos. The Unitarian Brotherhood was founded in 1919, and is the second-oldest Unitarian group in Africa; First Unitarian was founded in 1994. Both are full members of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (more about these congregations).

People: Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with 148 million people. It is a major oil producer (and the biggest oil producer in Africa), yet half its population live in poverty. Major languages include Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba, and English; English remains the official language. Religions include Christianity and Islam; some Nigerian states have imposed Islamic rule, causing non-Muslims to flee those states. Lagos is the biggest city, one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, with a current population of nearly 8 million.

Political: The Federal Republic of Nigeria, a former British colony, achieved independence in 1960. A series of coups established military rule in the mid-1960s. Biafra, in the southeastern corner of the country, tried to break away from Nigeria in the late 1960s. In the 1980s, there were border clashes with Cameroon over oil and mineral rights. Civilian rule and democracy were re-established in 1999. The capital of Nigeria is Abuja. (BBC country profile: Nigeria.)

Physical: Nigeria lies roughly between 2 and 15 degrees east; and 4 and 9 degrees north. It covers 356,669 square miles, about the size of Venezuela or Egypt. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Guinea) on the south; Benin on the west; Niger to the north; Chad in the northeast; and Cameroon on the east. The short border with Chad lies in the middle of Lake Chad. The Mandara Mountains and the Gotel Mountains run along the border with Cameroon. (Satellite image of Nigeria.)

Climate and climate change: Rainfall exceeds 100 inches a year in some places along the coast (i.e., the delta of the Niger River); due to global climate change, excessive rainfall in the south is leading to erosion and other problems. Rainfall tapers off roughly from south to north, down to less than 20 inches per year in the far north. Vegetation is tropical rainforest in the areas of heaviest rain, and predominantly tall grass savannah inland. Desertification is a growing problem in the northern part of the country.