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Western-style dress is worn in urban areas. Traditional clothing is still worn on important occasions and in rural areas. It is very colorful and elaborate. Traditional fabrics were block printed with geometric designs. Women wear a head tie made of a rectangular piece of fabric. They carry babies or young children on their backs by tying another rectangular cloth around their the waists. A third cloth may be worn over the shoulder as a shawl over a loose-fitting, short-sleeved blouse. A larger cloth serves as a wrap-around skirt.


IYAN/FUFU (Pounded Yam)


Choose one of these:

  • 3 or 4 white yams, preferably round and fat
  • 3 or 4 orange yams
  • 1 bunch plaintains
  • 1 bunch green (unripe) bananas


  1. Peel the vegetable or fruit of choice and cut into chunks or slices. Place the pieces into a pot and cover with water.
  2. Cover the pot and heat until the water boils. Cook until the yams (plaintains or green bananas) can be pierced easily with a fork.
  3. Drain well and place one or two pieces into a large mortar and pestle. Pound the pieces until a mass is formed that pulls away from the sides of the mortar. (This cannot be done with an electric mixer, because the pounded yams will be very stiff.)

Fufu is served with soups and stews at main meals. Diners pinch off a piece of fufu, make an indentation in it, and use it as a spoon to scoop up a mouthful of the main dish.

Chicken and Okra Soup


  • 6 to 10 chicken legs or wings
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 18 large okra, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry ground red pepper
  • 1½ ounces (40 grams) dry crayfish, ground
  • 2 medium fresh tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon potash


  1. Place the chicken in a pot with salt and pepper, cover with water and boil until tender. Drain, reserving broth for next step. Remove meat from bones and cut into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Combine okra with reserved broth and remaining ingredients. Boil for 5 minutes. Add chicken and continue to cook for 5 minutes more. Serve with fufu.

Men wear tailored cloth hats, gowns, and trousers. One popular type of gown is shaped like a poncho. It reaches to the fingertips, but is worn folded back on the shoulders. Trousers are usually very loose and baggy. All the cloth for traditional clothing is hand woven. Often it is elaborately embroidered.