Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nigerians in the UK

A British-based Nigerian friend the other suggested that there were at most 200,000 Nigerians living in the UK, based on his experience of how many Nigerians he meets as he goes about his business. This raises the question of how many Nigerians do actually live in the UK and where they live.

Of course, to begin answering the question, we must define terms: do we refer to people born in Nigeria of one or more Nigerian parents, or do we refer to people of Nigerian heritage (ie take into account second or even third gen Nigerians?)

If the latter, the figure is far higher than might be imagined. The British Foreign Office estimates that between 800,000 and 3,000,000 Nigerians live in the UK (ie up to 20% of the UK's population!).

The Office of National Statistics estimates a growth rate of just over 5% for the category of "black Africans" (many of whom are Nigerian). In any case, the Nigerian diaspora in the UK is far larger than that of the US and has already changed the balance of black cultural influence in the UK away from the Carribean towards Africa. However, as the Nigerian population in places like Peckham (a.k.a Yorubatown or Little Lagos) matures, it seems that the Nigerian cultural influence itself is slowly waning. Despite the Nigerian population growing across time in Peckham, the Yoruba language is not matching this growth rate and is in fact declining. As more Nigerians settle in the UK, the languages (and cultural regimes) from back home fade away from one generation to the next. While black British culture is increasingly Africanised, the cultural specifities become mixed and diluted.


Anonymous,  11:10 am does 800,000 to 3,000,000 equate to 20% of UK popn (approx 60m).

3m is 5% (or 1/20th), not 20%!!

Jeremy 11:13 am  

My bad - I mean 1/20th or 5%. Actually, it was a trick - I wanted to see how many people would spot it. Cough cough.

Anyway, its still potentially a surprisingly large percentage the Daily Mail would love to know more about..

/\Alligator Legs/\ 4:20 pm  

this is fascinating! I have never been to the uk. does this also include those who have undocumented immigration status? just wondering. :)

nneoma 4:41 pm  

A similar phenomenon occurs in some major cities in the US. Here, Nigerians coming straight from Nigeria or parents of second and third generation Nigerians are bemoaning the reality that their culture in the UK is being "diluted." I would prefer to see as the redefinition of Black American culture that is more diverse than it has ever been and should be celebrated. However, as you point out, there are some negatives (loss of language) - one that I have found most devastating is in regards to health behaviors. Amongst Africans in the US, as they become increasingly acculturated (as measured by language, years of stay etc....very crude measures) rates of chronic disease increase. So I guess there pluses and negatives to this cultural phenomenon...

Anonymous,  9:11 pm  

i would have thought it was the opposite, with better access to quality healthcare,increased awareness of health issues, programmes like free cervical smears(uk),gyms...i really would think it was the other way round.

Are there any studies or statistics that you know of that show that as Africans in the US become increasingly acculturated rates of chronic disease increase.'

By chronic disease, do you mean diabetes, heart problems, obesity or cancer? As i'm sure these are not necessarily environment caused.

Anonymous,  9:21 pm  

Anon 9.11pm, clearly age ain't nothing but a it on the West :)

Nkem,  1:14 pm  

I've always wondered about how many Nigerians actually live in Britain. On anecdotal evidence alone, it'd seem like a helluva lot - at least one million. Not a day goes by without me coming across several Nigerians (sometimes we're so obvious, we might as well have green-white-green stamped across our foreheads).

But calculations using the last census would suggest the number was lower than that. Just under 500,00 people described themselves as black African. And a generous estimate would give Nigerians 50% of that. Then again, it was an official census. However, is the census bureau saying that 2.5m Nigerians hid their ethnicity or hid, period?

The mind boggles.

culturesoup 7:32 pm  

There are a lot of Nigerians in the UK but that 5% figure sounds rather high to me. If Nigerians alone make up that much of the population of the UK what percentage would British Asians make? And what then would be the total percentage of ethnic minorities in the UK, considering that in 2001, only about 7.5% of the population was estimated to belong to an ethnic minority group?

Outside London and the South-East, there are lots of places where you'd barely come across a black person not to talk of a Nigerian.

Children born to Nigerian immigrants have a different cultural experience from their parents so it makes sense that the influence of Nigeria wanes over time. Yes they have Nigerian heritage but their ties and relationship to the country is just different from their parents'.

On the point Nneoma raised, the health profile of immigrants quickly starts to resemble that of their counterparts in their new country and by the third generation it is almost identical. So any health advantage (in terms of susceptibility to certain diseases) they might have started out with is eliminated. This applies to things such as obesity, heart disease and especially cancer. It reflects the environmental component of those diseases. I can't find the exact examples i would have liked to refer to but the linked article about obesity should give an idea of what happens. See

Anonymous,  10:08 pm  

I have come across an online social network for Nigerians,, its fantastic, give it a try.

Ade Fol 9:16 pm  

I live in the northwest and there arent very many nigerians...this area seems to be dominated by zimbabweans in fact. but I do go to manchester a lot and london sometimes and it crazy how many nigerians live i wouldn't be suprised if a significant amount of the UK population was Nigerian.
I think I read somewhere that 1 in 8 black people are nigerian/ of nigerian descent...o_O

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP