- State the characteristics of culture;
- Identify the cultural similarities in Nigeria;
- Identify the cultural differences in Nigeria;
- Define cultural identity;
- Mention the levels of cultural identity;
- State the meaning of uniqueness;
- List and explain the aspect of uniqueness in Nigerian Culture.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURE
The following are some of the characteristics of culture:
- Culture defines a group of people. It defers from place to place.
- Culture is dynamic, flexible and changes with time as technology changes and as people come in contact with other cultures.
- It is a collective experience of a community or a group of people. It is not restricted to a person.
- It is a continuous process that is passed from one generation to another. There can be no people without culture. It is an enduring characteristic of human society.
- An individual learns the culture of his society through the agents of socialization such as family, the school, peer group, the community, mass media, etc.
- No culture is bad or inferior. Each group has its own definite culture as a result of its environment. This is called cultural relativity.
- Culture is neither inborn nor a biological feature. It is created by a community in order to ensure harmonious and progressive living of its members.
CULTURAL SIMILARITIES AMONG NIGERIANS
There are similarities in the cultural practices of the Nigeria people. The following are some of the similar cultural practices of the people of Nigeria.
1. Political System: Each community in Nigeria has a traditional political system under a paramount chief with different titles. These include the obas, obis, ezes, emirs, and the obongs.
2. Family System: Extended family is a common feature of all cultures in Nigeria.
3. Respect for elders: According respect to elders is a feature of all communities and cultures in Nigeria. Irrespective of one’s social status, elders are respected in Nigeria and their words of advice are considered important.
4. Marriage System: The system of marriage is similar in most of the communities in Nigeria. Virgin brides are highly honoured in Nigeria and her parents are praised and presented with gifts.
5. Religion: Religion is the specific system of belief or worship; and it is a way of life based on how people relate with their God. There are three main types of religion in Nigeria; these are Christianity, Islam and Traditional religions. Nigerian people are religious; nearly every Nigerian belongs to one religious group or another. Before the advent of Christianity and Islam, each community believed in the existence of the Supreme being and had a traditional way of relating with Him.
6. Taboos: All ethnic groups in Nigeria have one form of taboo or another against something. A taboo against something means a belief or custom that does not allow people to do, use or talk about a particular thing, especially in public.
7. Occupation: Farming and trading are common to all cultures. These form the basic occupation of the people before the arrival of colonial masters.
8. Cultural Relationship: All groups accept people at home, in the street, in the town as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ or ‘father’, even if there is no blood relationship. Outside the state or country, whoever is from your state or country is regarded as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ whenever you meet and discuss with other nationalities.
9. Naming Ceremony: All cultural groups, all religious practices allow new born babies to be named after a particular number of days of delivery as stipulated by the group. For examples, yorubas do naming ceremony after eight days of delivery.
10. Arts and Crafts: All cultural groups in Nigeria have their distinct work of art and craft in form of carvings, sculpture, weaving, etc. for examples, the people of Kano were known for their leather work, the people of Benin city were known for their brass-casting, the people of Abeokuta were known for their tie and dye called adire, etc.
11. Mode of Eating: Eating habit such as the use of one’s fingers to eat is common to all traditional communities in Nigeria.
12. Emphasis on Dignity of Labour: Nigerians place high value on dignity of labour, good neighbourliness and patriotism. No job is bad within the Nigerian culture. stealing is abhorred and disrespected.
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN NIGERIA
1. Language: This is of the most remarkable difference which distinguishes one culture from the other in Nigeria. We have over 250 indigenous languages in the country.
2. Religion: Apart from the two major religions : Christianity and Islam, there are various traditional religious beliefs in Nigeria.
3. Arts and Crafts: also differs. For instance, while those in the south engage in wood carving, the northerners engage in leather works.
4. Food: Those in the southern part of Nigeria eat food made mostly from tubers like fufu while the northerners eat food made from grains e.g tuwo.
5. Dressing: The Igbo man wears caftan and ties a wrapper while the woman ties wrapper with a blouse. The Hausa man on the other hand wears a babariga while the woman wear clothes that often cover the whole body.
6. Greetings: The various ethnic groups in Nigeria have their various patterns of greeting. The Yoruba man prostrates before the elders while the female ones kneel down. The Hausa male squats while the female kneel down.
Identity is used to refer to those who share the same culture and regard themselves as one people. Culture is a means of identifying people.
LEVELS OF CULTURAL IDENTITY
ii. Age group: A person identifies with his age-group. He tries to defend the interest of such group. Each age-group has its own norms and practices which members must obey. It may also have some means of communication which non-members may not understand. Age-group is very important in Igbo land and a man who fails to identify with his age-group may not be recognized.
iii. Town/Village: A person identifies with his place of birth. He contributes to its progress both in cash and in kind. He belongs to one or more associations in his village or town.
iv. Cultural or Ethnic group: Another level of identity is the cultural or ethnic group. Each Nigerian identifies himself as a Yoruba, Igbo, Kanuri or Bachama. Language, dressing and eating habits reveals the cultural background of a person.
v. Local Government: This is the smallest political unit in Nigeria. Every Nigerian belongs to a local government, the development of which he contributes to and from which he enjoys some services and social amenities.
vi. State of Origin: A person identifies himself with his state of origin be it Cross River or Taraba State. He may like his state to win in an inter-state sport competition.
vii. National Identity: All the 36 states form one country which is called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are one people under one Federal Government, enjoying the same services and obeying the same law. The Nigeria passport, the National Anthem, the National Pledge and the Nation Flag are all symbols of identity for Nigeria citizens both at home and abroad.
UNIQUNENESS OF NIGERIAN CULTURE
To be unique is to be special. Every aspect of Nigerian culture is unique in its operational mode.
Aspect of Uniqueness of Nigerian Culture:
- History and ethnic relations
- Unity in diversity
- Kinship Groups
- Presentation of Kola-nut
- Death and the after life
History and Ethnic Relations: Every ethnic group in Nigerian has its own stories of where its ancestors came from. These vary from takes of people descending from the sky to stories of migration from far-off places. Archaeologist have found evidence of Neolithic humans who invited what is now Nigeria as far as far back as 12000 BC. This history makes the culture unique unlike other countries that belief that man came from Ape or Monkey.
Unity in Diversity: Nigerian is one nation but has so many nations in the nation. It is a country with many ethnic groups with different languages and their dialects. Each tribe in Nigeria no matter how small it may be has a particular language and dialect that it is known with.
Marriage: There are three types of marriages in Nigeria today. They are:
- Religious Marriage
- Civil Marriage and
- Traditional Marriages
A bride price can take the form of money, cattle, or other valuable goods paid to the woman’s family.
Kinship Groups: While men dominate Igbo Society, women play an important role in kinship. All Igbo’s, men and women have close ties to their mothers’ clan, which usually lives in a different village. When an Igbo dies, the body is usually sent back to his mother’s village to be buried with his mother’s kin. If an Igbo is disgraced or cast out of his community, his mother’s kin will often take him in.
For the Hausa, however, there is not much of a sense of a wide ranging kinship. Hausa society is based on the nuclear family. There is a sense of larger extended family, including married siblings and their families, but there is little kinship beyond that. However the idea of blood being thicker than water is very strong in Hausa society. For this reason, many Hausa will try to stretch familial relationship to the broader idea of clan or tribe to the diffuse tension between or among neighbours.
Etiquette: Age is greatly respected in Nigeria. In an area where the average life expectancy is not very high, those who live into their senior years are seen as having earned special rights of respect and admiration. This is true of both men and women.
Socially, greetings are of the utmost importance. When one come in contact with an individual or visit a friend, it is considered rude not to engage in a proper greeting before getting down to business. Shaking hands, eating, or passing things with the left hand are unacceptable. The left hand is unaccepted. The left hand is reserved for personal toiletries and is considered dirty.
Presentation of Kola Nut: Presentation of kola nut is a unique aspect of Nigerian culture especially in Igbo land. The presentation of kola nut shows the acceptance of the visitor. Kola-nut has been described as a nut of unity because the Yoruba produce it, Hausa buy and sell and eat while the Igbo deeply respect it.
Death and After-life: Christians and Muslim Nigerians believe that there is judgment after death before going to heaven or hell. Many traditional religions, especially those of the eastern tribes believe in re-incarnation. In these tribes, people believe that the dead will come back as a member of his or her mother’s or sister’s family.
Dressing: Nigerian culture is unique in dressing pattern. Each tribe in Nigerian has a particular type of dressing they are known for. Each tribe in Nigeria is being recognized or identified by their native wear. Nigerian culture despite the type of dressing for different tribes sees it as a taboo for not covering delicate part of human body after dressing unlike other country culture where improper dressing is not seen as a crime.
Done studying?See previous lessons on Social Studies.Take a quick test for this lesson
- Mention five characteristics of culture
- State five cultural similarities in Nigeria.
- Explain the stated cultural similarities.
Mention five cultural differences among the different ethnic groups in Nigeria.
- Mention five levels of identity
- Define the word ‘unique’.
- List five areas of uniqueness in Nigerian culture.