Cultural intelligence

NIGERIA: symbols of partnerships

Throughout Nigeria but especially in the south among the Igbo people, kola nuts carry a deep significance. The kola nuts, which are the size of chestnuts, are used to express kinship on occasions such as marriage, funerals or child naming ceremonies.


The indigenous kola nut has been used for millennia in this region and was the main export crop before the introduction of coffee. The kola nut symbolizes good luck, well-being and is said to be the means of beckoning the blessings of ancestors.


An often repeated local proverb says “she who offers the kola nut, offers life” and while its ceremonial use has been largely confined to male elders of the community, this is changing. In business dealings, the sharing of the kola nut symbolizes partnerships and the resolution of disagreements.


> Have you received any symbols of partnership that you can share?

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