British Nigerian

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British Nigerians
Total population
Nigerian-born residents
201,184 (2011 Census figure)
215,000 (2019 ONS estimate)
Regions with significant populations
Throughout the United Kingdom
In particular Greater London, South East England, East of England, North West England
English (British, Nigerian, Pidgin), Yoruba and Igbo
Nigerian languages
Predominantly Christianity, minority Islam (Sunni, Shia), traditional religions

British Nigerians are British people of Nigerian descent[1][2] or Nigerians of British descent.

This article is about residents and citizens of Nigerian descent living in Britain. Many Nigerians and their British-born descendants in Britain live in South London. They are one of the larger immigrant groups in the country.[3]


Nigerians have formed long-established communities in London, Liverpool and other industrial cities. The earliest known Nigerian presence in London took place over 200 years ago as a direct result of the transatlantic slave trade. Olaudah Equiano, born in what is now Nigeria and a former slave, lived in London and was involved in the debate that occurred in Britain over the abolition of the slave trade.[4]

Like many other former British colonies, Nigeria has been a large source of immigrants to the United Kingdom. Prior to Nigerian independence from Britain, gained in 1960, many Nigerians studied in the UK along with other countries such as France and the United States; with the majority returning to Nigeria upon completion of their higher education.[5][6] In the 1960s, civil and political unrest in Nigeria contributed to many refugees migrating to Britain, along with skilled workers.[4]

Nigerians emigrated in larger numbers in the 1980s, following the collapse of the petroleum boom.[5] This wave of migration has been more permanent than the pre-independence wave of temporary migration.[5] Asylum applications from Nigerians peaked in 1995, when the repression associated with the military dictatorship of Sani Abacha was at its height.[5]

In 2015, Britain's Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner expressed concerns about the extent of contemporary slavery involving Nigerians smuggled to the UK. Of more than 2,000 potential victims of human trafficking referred to the National Crime Agency in 2014, 244 were from Nigeria. This represented a 31 per cent increase on 2013's figure. According to the BBC, "Campaigners believe the real figure of potential trafficking victims from Nigeria could be much higher".[7]



Location Nigerian-born population
Largest Community in 2011
East Midlands 6,601 Nottingham - 1,872
East of England 15,557 Essex - 2,787
London 114,718 London Borough of Southwark - 13,588
North East England 2,768 Newcastle Upon Tyne - 1,226
North West England 13,903 Manchester - 6,444
South East England 16,273 Kent - 3,100
South West England 3,941 Bristol - 1,124
West Midlands 8,628 Birmingham - 3,399
Yorkshire and the Humber 6,301 Leeds - 1,744
Northern Ireland 543 Belfast[citation needed]
Scotland 9,458 Glasgow[citation needed]
Wales 2,493 Cardiff - 696

The 2001 UK Census recorded 88,378 Nigerian-born people resident in the UK.[11] The 2011 Census recorded 191,183 Nigerian-born residents in England and Wales.[8] The censuses of Scotland and Northern Ireland recorded 9,458 and 543 Nigerian-born residents respectively.[9][10] More recent estimates by the Office for National Statistics put the figure at 215,000 in 2019.[12]

A Council of Europe report gives a figure of 100,000 Nigerians in the UK but suggests that this is likely to be an underestimate since it does not include irregular migrants or children born outside of Nigeria. Similarly, Nigerians with citizenship of another EU member state who then relocated to the UK are not necessarily included in this estimate. The report suggests to multiply the figure by between 3 and 8 to reflect the size of the Nigerian community in the UK.[13]


The UK's largest concentration of Nigerians is found in the capital city, London. Peckham is now home to the largest overseas Nigerian community in the UK, with 7% of the population of the Peckham census tract at the time of the 2001 UK Census having been born in Nigeria.[14] Many of the local establishments are Yoruba owned.[15] Nigerian churches and mosques can be found in the area. As immigrants have become assimilated, English has always been the predominant language of the local Nigerian British population as English is the main spoken language in Nigeria. The Yoruba language is declining in use in the Peckham area despite the growing Nigerian population.[3] Outside London and South East England, the largest Nigerian-born communities are found in the East of England and the North West.[14]


Below is a table showing how many Nigerians were granted British citizenship and the right of abode in the period 1998 to 2008.

Persons granted citizenship
1998 3,550[16]
1999 3,481[17]
2000 5,594[18]
2001 6,290[19]
2002 6,480[20]
2003 6,300[21]
2004 6,280[22]
2005 6,615[23]
2006 5,875[24]
2007 6,030[25]
2008 4,530[26]
2009 6,955[27]


In England and Wales in 2011, 14,914 people (0.03% of all residents aged three and over) spoke Yoruba as a main language, 7,946 (0.01%) spoke Igbo and 6,639 (0.01%) spoke other Nigerian languages.[28] In London, 10,119 people (0.13% of all residents aged three and over) spoke Yoruba as a main language, 5,252 (0.07%) people spoke Igbo and 3,577 (0.05%) spoke other Nigerian languages.[29] Youths in the UK with Nigerian parents tend to speak English as a main language compared to British youths from other nationalities as native languages such as Yoruba and Igbo are not commonly spoke as a main household language.[citation needed]


According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, Nigerian pupils are among best performing student groups in the United Kingdom. Taking data for only England, a 2013 IPPR survey reported that the proportion of British Nigerian pupils gaining 5 A*–C grades at GCSE (including Maths and English) in 2010–2011 was 21.8 percentage points higher than the England mean of 59.6 per cent. This average was calculated using student data, where available, from various local authorities in England.[30]

The number of Nigerian pupils at British private schools is growing. In November 2013, The Spectator noted that Nigerians, along with Russians, "are now the fastest-growing population in British private schools".[31] In 2013, the number of entrants to private schools from Nigeria increased by 16 per cent.[32]

According to Higher Education Statistics Agency data, 17,620 students from Nigeria were studying at British public higher education institutions in the academic year 2011–12. This made them the third largest country-of-origin group behind students from China and India. Of the 17,620, 6,500 were undergraduates, 9,620 taught postgraduates and 1,500 research postgraduates.[33]

Research by Euromonitor International for the British Council indicates that in 2010, the majority (66 per cent) of Nigerian foreign students attended universities in the UK. The students are mainly drawn to these institutions' English language academic system. Their time studying in Britain is also facilitated by an established and large Nigerian community and by "the relative proximity of the UK to Nigeria".[34]

Notable British Nigerians[edit]

Nigerian citizens of British descent[edit]

British citizens of Nigerian descent[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Temko, Ned (14 May 2006). "'Think Jamaica is bad? Try Nigeria...': How Diane Abbott enraged a community". The Observer. London. p. 21. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  2. ^ Davies, Christie (12 December 2006). "No apology for slavery – no deep sorrow: Christie Davies explains why apologies for centuries-old wrongs are not in order". Social Affairs Unit. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  3. ^ a b White, Robin (25 January 2005). "Little Lagos in south London". BBC News. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Nigerian London". BBC London. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d Change Institute (April 2009). "The Nigerian Muslim Community in England: Understanding Muslim Ethnic Communities" (PDF). London: Communities and Local Government. pp. 23–24. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 March 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  6. ^ Migration Policy Institute (June 2010). "Nigeria: Multiple Forms of Mobility in Africa's Demographic Giant". Washington: Migration Information Source. p. 1. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  7. ^ Kotecha, Sima (17 June 2015). "Nigerian trafficking 'top priority', commissioner says". BBC News. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b "2011 Census: QS203EW Country of birth (detailed), local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Country of birth (detailed)" (PDF). National Records of Scotland. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Country of Birth - Full Detail: QS206NI". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 17 June 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  12. ^ "Table 1.3: Overseas-born population in the United Kingdom, excluding some residents in communal establishments, by sex, by country of birth, January 2019 to December 2019". Office for National Statistics. 21 May 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020. Figure given is the central estimate. See the source for 95% confidence intervals.
  13. ^ "Immigration from sub-Saharan Africa". Report, Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Doc. 11526. 11 February 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  14. ^ a b "Born abroad: Nigeria". BBC News. 7 September 2005. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  15. ^ "London's Little Lagos". The African Courier. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
  16. ^ Chilton, Tony; Kilsby, Peter (20 April 1999). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 1998" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 July 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  17. ^ Kilsby, Peter; McGregor, Rod (8 June 2000). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 1999" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 July 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  18. ^ Dudley, Jill; Harvey, Paul (31 May 2001). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2000" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 July 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  19. ^ Dudley, Jill; Hesketh, Krystina (27 June 2002). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2001" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 July 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  20. ^ Dudley, Jill; Woollacott, Simon (28 August 2003). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2002" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 July 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  21. ^ Dudley, Jill; Woollacott, Simon (24 May 2004). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2003" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  22. ^ Woollacott, Simon (17 May 2005). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2004" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  23. ^ Freelove Mensah, John (23 May 2006). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2005" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  24. ^ Freelove Mensah, John (23 May 2006). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2006" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  25. ^ Freelove Mensah, John (20 May 2008). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2007" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 November 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  26. ^ Freelove Mensah, John (20 May 2008). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2008" (PDF). Home Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 November 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  27. ^ Danzelman, Philip (27 May 2010). "Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom, 2009". Home Office. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
  28. ^ Gopal, Deepthi; Matras, Yaron (October 2013). "What languages are spoken in England and Wales?". ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). Archived from the original (XLS) on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  29. ^ Office for National Statistics (1 March 2013). "Main Language Spoken at Home (Census), Borough". Greater London Authority. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  30. ^ Rutter, Jill (March 2013). "Back to Basics: Towards a Successful and Cost-effective Integration Policy" (PDF). Institute for Public Policy Research. p. 43. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  31. ^ Robinson, Stephen (30 November 2013). "A British education has become a commodity bought by wealthy foreigners". The Spectator. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  32. ^ Paton, Graeme (8 February 2014). "Bid to stop private schools being 'filled by rich foreigners'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  33. ^ "International Higher Education in Facts and Figures" (PDF). UK HE International Unit. Autumn 2013. p. 5. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  34. ^ "The Benefits of the English Language for Individuals and Societies: Quantitative Indicators from Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Pakistan" (PDF). Euromonitor International for the British Council. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  35. ^ Agnew, Thelma (2 October 2016). "An extraordinary life: Elizabeth Anionwu". Nursing Standard. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  36. ^ "OG Anunoby's path to the NBA exposes the failings in British basketball". Real Sports. 7 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  37. ^ "Woman pens book about impact of being racially abused growing up in Northern Ireland". Belfast Live. 28 May 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2018.

External links[edit]