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More Guinness is drunk in Nigeria than, wait for it, Ireland.
LAGOS, Nigeria — There are no shamrocks or leprechauns at the Seaside Bar here in the Ikoyi district of Lagos.
Few of the Nigerian drinkers would even recognize their significance on St Patrick’s Day. But on Tuesday night, just like any other, there’s sure to be plenty of Guinness drinking going on.
Across the world, revelers are preparing to raise a glass of Ireland’s most famous brew this week, in honor of the Emerald Isle's patron saint. But many might be surprised to learn that more Guinness stout will be drunk in tropical Nigeria this year than the U.S., or even Ireland, home of the black stuff.
Saint Patrick’s Day, on March 17, is a national holiday and traditional feast day in Ireland and widely celebrated in the United States where drinkers literally paint the town and themselves green — Ireland’s national color. That's when Guinness sales peak.
Here in Nigeria, nestled just north of the equator and steamy-hot all year round, few Nigerians associate the drink in their hand with Ireland.
“I’m a confirmed Guinness drinker. I’ve drunk Guinness all my life,” says Agibola Williams, 43, who’s never heard of St Patrick’s Day. As he sups a mid-afternoon Guinness in a small outdoor bar he explains his preference. “I like Guinness because it is bitter, it is good for you,” he says, “and it gives you power, especially for sexual intercourse.”
Guinness has a strong brand in Nigeria, promoted through television ads, billboards and sporting events that target Nigerian men. Funny adverts like “Guinness gives you strength” or “Rich, dark and deeply satisfying…” are widely understood in Nigeria to be a reference to sexual potency. Nigeria is now the second largest Guinness market in the world after the UK, and according to Guinness, the company is selling more every year.