American Culture and the Nigerian Society


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Other traditions include the mother-in-law helping the daughter-in-law after giving birth and younger men going for apprenticeships with older and wealthier men. Nigerian food is mostly made up of meals that are high in carbohydrates, such as cassavas, rice, maize, yams, and plenty of vegetables.

There are many ways that these meals are prepared. For example, the cassavas can be ground up and the flour used to make a delicious and inexpensive porridge. The yams can be mashed or fried in oil. Meat is another delicacy that is prepared into something known as suya a form of meat resembling barbecue meat and wild meat from giraffes and antelopes. Most of the foods are spicy, especially in the west and the south.

Other forms of traditional food include fufu, eba, okra, egusi, and ogbono. Drinks include traditional brews like palm wine. Nigeria itself is home to several textile industries that go towards clothing the Nigerian people. Fashion is diverse and varies depending on the ethnic groups, culture, and religion. Some Nigerian ethnic groups , such as the Yoruba, and some northern Nigerian ethnic groups, had traditional, cultural identification marks, such as tattoo and scarification designs. These could have assisted a kidnapped and enslaved person who escaped in locating other members of their ethnic group, but few enslaved people managed to escape the colonies.

In the colonies, slavers tried to dissuade the practice of traditional tribal customs. They also sometimes mixed people of different ethnic groups together to make it more difficult for them to communicate and band together in rebellion. Since the midth century particularly, after Nigeria gained independence, many modern Nigerian immigrants have come to the United States to pursue educational opportunities in undergraduate and post-graduate institutions. In the s and s after the Biafra War , Nigeria's government funded scholarships for Nigerian students, and many of them were admitted to American universities.

While this was happening, there were several military coups, interspersed with brief periods of civilian rule. The instability resulted in many Nigerian professionals emigrating, especially doctors, lawyers and academics, who found it difficult to return to Nigeria. During the mid- to lates, a larger wave of Nigerians immigrated to the United States [ citation needed ]. This migration was driven by political and economic problems exacerbated by the military regimes of self-styled generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha.

The most noticeable exodus occurred among professional and middle-class Nigerians who, along with their children, took advantage of education and employment opportunities in the United States. This exodus contributed to a "brain-drain" of Nigeria's intellectual resources to the detriment of its future.

Since the advent of multi-party democracy in March , the former Nigerian head-of-state Olusegun Obasanjo has made numerous appeals, especially to young Nigerian professionals in the United States, to return to Nigeria to help in its rebuilding effort. Obasanjo's efforts have met with mixed results, as some potential migrants consider Nigeria's socio-economic situation still unstable.

Nigerian culture has long emphasized education, placing value on pursuing education as a means to financial success and personal fulfillment. Migrating to the US from Nigeria more than 40 years ago, Professor Olupona has furthered the academic study of traditional African religions, such as the Yoruba traditional religion, and has been a vocal advocate for Nigerian Americans and education initiatives.

A disproportionate percentage of black students at highly selective top universities are immigrants or children of immigrants. Harvard University , for example, has estimated that more than one-third of its black student body consists of recent immigrants or their children, or were of mixed-race parentage. According to the Open Doors report, the top five U. Nigerian migrants represent 0. Therefore, 60 percent of them, according to historian Douglas B. Chambers, could have at least one Igbo ancestor. It also estimates that these states have the highest Nigerian-born population:.

Historically, Nigerian fashion incorporated many different types of fabrics. Cotton has been used for over years for fabric-making in Nigeria. Silk called tsamiya in Hausa , sanyan in Yoruba , akpa-obubu in Igbo , and sapar ubele in Edo is also used. The import market for this fabric is dominated by the Dutch company Vlisco, [21] which has been selling its Dutch wax print fabric to Nigerians since the late s, when the fabric was sold along the company's oceanic trading route to Indonesia.

Since then, Nigerian and African patterns, color schemes, and motifs have been incorporated into Vlisco's designs to become a staple of the brand. Nigeria has over ethnic groups [ citation needed ] and as a result, a wide variety of traditional clothing styles. In the Yoruba tradition, women wear an iro wrapper , buba loose shirt and gele head-wrap. The women wear a puffed sleeved blouse, two wrappers and a headwrap. Antia 17 writes that "what a people hold to be true, right or proper with regard to those things explains much of the cultural traits by which they become identified".

What Antia calls "traits" here can as well be called values; and Etuk 22 writes that "no group of people can survive without a set of values which holds them together and guarantees their continued existence". The concern with values, whether moral or aesthetic, occupies a very wide area in the discipline of philosophy. To show the fundamental importance of values, it is regarded as a core area in philosophy, together with knowledge and reality. When we are dealing with actions that a people see as good or bad, right or wrong, praiseworthy or blame-worthy, we are dealing with the aspect of value theory that rightly falls under ethics or moral philosophy.

But when we are dealing with an appraisal of beauty in the arts and crafts of a people, we are dealing with the aspect of value theory called aesthetics. It does appear that while material culture can be studied and evaluated under the aesthetic aspect of value theory, non-material culture can equally be studied and evaluated under the ethical aspect of value theory.

Just as ethics and aesthetics are twin sisters that form or constitute value theory, the non-material and material dimensions of a culture together constitute two related aspects that give a people their unique identity, hence the relationship that exists between ethics and aesthetics. Having seen the centrality of values to African culture and any culture for that matter, it can be stated that the values of culture are what give it uniqueness and identity.


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Let us now look at African culture and values. Having looked at the concept and meaning of culture and having established the place of values in a culture, we want to bring this down to the African context. A culture is an embodiment of different values with all of them closely related to each other. That is why one can meaningfully talk about social, moral, religious, political, aesthetic and even economic values of a culture.

Let us now look at these values piece-meal, as this would give us an understanding how they manifest in an African culture and the importance being attached to them. Social values can simply be seen as those beliefs and practices that are practised by any particular society. The society has a way of dictating the beliefs and practices that are performed either routinely by its members or performed whenever the occasion demands. Hence, we have festivals, games, sports and dances that are peculiar to different societies.

These activities are carried out by the society because they are seen to be necessary. Some social values, especially in African society, cannot exactly be separated from religious, moral, political values and so on. This is why we can see that in a traditional African society like in Ibibio land Nigeria , festivals which were celebrated often had religious undertones - they ended with sacrifices that were offered to certain deities on special days in order to attract their goodwill on the members of the society.

Social values are backed by customary laws.

They comprise of those traditional carnivals that a people see as necessary for their meaningful survival. Let us illustrate with an example: the new yam festival as practised in Ibibio land has a way of encouraging hard work and checking famine. It was a thing of shame for any man to buy yams for his family within the first two to three weeks after the festival. Doing so would expose a man as being too lazy. These festivals really discipline the society because nobody is to do anything when it is not time. For instance, new yam could not be eaten until the new yam festival has been celebrated.

African culture is embedded in strong moral considerations. It has a system of various beliefs and customs which every individual ought to keep in order to live long and to avoid bringing curses on them and others. Adultery, stealing and other forms of immoral behaviour are strongly discouraged and whenever a suspected offender denies a charge brought against him, he would be taken to a soothsayer or made to take an oath for proof of innocence. In Ibibio land for instance, ukang ordeal is very popular as a method of crime detection.

The soothsayer who specialises in it sets a pot of boiling oil, drops a stone into it and asks the suspects to attempt to retrieve the stone. The guiltless can reach to the bottom of the pot and retrieve the stone without the hair on his arms getting burnt. But when the culprit approaches the pot, it rages and boils over in a manner that even the most daring criminal would hesitate to make an attempt at retrieving the stone. The fear of being made to go through such ordeal or to be stripped naked and taken round the community as in the case of stealing, adequately checks crimes of some sort.

African proverbs and wise sayings have a rich repository of wisdom. The proverbs warn the African against evil conduct and, according to Mbiti 8 , are "therefore a major source of African wisdom and a valuable part of African heritage". African culture has a moral code that forbids doing harm to a relative, a kinsman, an in-law, a foreigner and a stranger, except when such a person is involved in an immoral act; and if that is the case, it is advisable to stay away from such an individual and even at death, their corpses would not be dignified with a noble burial in a coffin and grave.

Mothers of twins were not welcome and were regarded as the harbinger of evil, hence unacceptable.

Causes and Consequences of Rapid Erosion of Cultural Values in a Traditional African Society

Religion in African societies seems to be the fulcrum around which every activity revolves. Hence religious values are not toyed with. African traditional religion, wherever it is practised, has some defining characteristics. For instance, it possesses the concept of a Supreme Being which is invisible and indigenous. It holds a belief in the existence of the human soul and the soul does not die with the body. African traditional religion also has the belief that good and bad spirits do exist and that these spirits are what make communication with the Supreme Being possible.

Above all, it holds a moral sense of justice and truth and the knowledge of the existence of good and evil Umoh African religious values seem to permeate every facet of the life of the African and the African believes that anything can be imbued with spiritual significance. The worship of different deities on different days goes on to show that the African people hold their religious values in high esteem. Sorcerers and diviners are seen to be mediating between God and man and interpreting God's wishes to the mortal.

The diviners, sorcerers and soothsayers help to streamline human behaviour in the society and people are afraid to commit offences because of the fear of being exposed by the diviners and sorcerers. The African society definitely has political institutions with heads of such institutions as respected individuals. The most significant thing about the traditional society is that the political hierarchy begins with the family. Each family has a family head; each village has a village head. From these, we have clan head and above the clan head, is the paramount ruler.

This kind of political arrangement is observable in the Southern part of Nigeria. Prior to the coming of Western colonisation and its subsequent subversion of the African traditional political arrangements, African societies had their council of chiefs, advisers, cult groups, and so on. It was believed that disloyalty to a leader was disloyalty to God and the position of leadership was either hereditary or by conquest.

In Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, for instance, even though the traditional political institution was overwhelmingly totalitarian, there were still some checks and balances. Any ruler who attempted to usurp powers was beheaded by the Ekpo cult. Antia writes that "such checks and balances were enforced by the existence of secret societies, cults, societal norms, traditional symbols and objects, various classes of chiefs who performed different functions on the different aspects of life". Hence, with respect to political values, we can see that it is inextricably linked with religious, social, moral values and so on.

It is the political value that a people hold which makes them accord respect to their political institutions and leaders. The African concept of aesthetics is predicated on the fundamental traditional belief system which gave vent to the production of the art. Now art is usually seen as human enterprise concerned with the production of aesthetic objects.

Thus, when a people in their leisure time try to produce or create objects that they consider admirable, their sense of aesthetic value is brought to bear. If we see art as being concerned with the production of aesthetic objects, then we can truly say of African aesthetic value that it is immensely rich. Let us have an example: the sense of beauty of the Ibibio people is epitomised in their fattened maidens whom they call mbopo. These fattened maidens are confined to a room where they are fed with traditional cuisines. The idea behind it is to prepare the maiden and make her look as good, healthy and beautiful as possible for her husband.

This is usually done before marriage and after child birth. The Western model of beauty is not like this. It is often pictured as slim-looking young ladies who move in staggered steps.

American And Nigerian Culture Essay

This shows that the African aesthetic value and sense of what is beautiful is markedly different. Aesthetic value is what informs a people's arts and crafts as it affects their sense of what is beautiful as opposed to that which is ugly. The aesthetic value of a society influences the artist in his endeavour to produce aesthetic objects that are acceptable to the society in which he lives.

Economic values of the traditional African society are marked by cooperation. The traditional economy, which is mainly based on farming and fishing, was co-operative in nature.

Nigeria - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette

In Ibibio land, for instance, friends and relatives would come and assist in doing farm work not because they will be paid but so that if it happens that they need such assistance in the near future, they will be sure to find it. Children were seen to provide the main labour force. That is why a man took pride in having many of them, especially males. The synergetic nature of the African society is what made two or more individuals to pool their resources together and uplift each other economically through the system of contributions called osusu.

Apart from this, they even cooperated in the building of houses and doing other things for their fellow members. When any of them was in difficulty, all members rallied around and helped him or her. Hence, we can state without fear of contradiction that the economic values of the traditional African society such as the Ibibio were founded on hard work and cooperation. Having looked at some of the values that characterise the African culture, it is important to state here that these values are inextricably bound together and are to be comprehended in their totality as African cultural values.

Acculturation and Assimilation

It is pertinent to examine some of the changes in culture and the problems of adjustment. Within this context, "change" means a significant alteration or marked departure from that which existed before. Invention, discovery and diffusion are some of the ways by which a culture can change or grow.

Invention, for instance, involves the recombination of existing cultural elements to fashion new things. Ogbum , on this view, maintains that "the rate of invention within a society is a function of the size of the existing culture base". The culture base or the cultural elements, objects, traits and knowledge available in all sections of the pre African society were limited in types and variation.


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Thus, few inventions which could profoundly alter the culture could take place. Most appliances and utensils used then were made of wood, as metal was not a commonly known cultural element of the people. For example, a canoe was the only available means of transportation then.

It was wooden in all aspects until recently modified with motorised propeller and tarpaulin. Also, building materials were wooden frameworks, sand and leaves knitted into mats for roofing. In spite of the introduction of new inventions from other cultures, most houses are still built in the traditional methods using traditional materials, probably for economic reasons and sheer conservatism. Again, the pre-European-contact African pattern of exchange was mainly by barter.

The need for currency did not arise and so none was invented. Trade by barter, sale without standardised weights and measures and the general non-contractual pattern of exchange, all went a long way to foster, enhance and sustain social solidarity. The introduction of currency along with imported material artefacts generated or at least accentuated acquisitive propensities and profit orientation among the people, thereby gradually articulating social inequality based on purely economic criteria.

Inventions may be material or social in nature. Apart from invention, culture can change and grow through discovery and diffusion. Discovery, unlike invention, does not involve recombination of traits but the sharing of knowledge of an existing but yet unknown thing. The importance of discovery in culture lies in its use and or when it generates certain challenges to the people, which in turn metamorphose into invention for the development and survival of the society.

Another process which can bring profound change in the culture of African people is the process of cultural diffusion the spread of culture traits from one society into another through cultural contact. Diffusion entails intentional borrowing of cultural traits from other societies with which the beneficiary society comes in contact, or an imposition of cultural traits on one society by a stronger society intending to assimilate the weaker society.

The likelihood of reducing the period of culture lag is very much dependent on the desirability of yielding to change in the non-marital culture, the compatibility of the anticipated change with the existing culture or its flexibility, and the nature and magnitude of force available to exact or induce compliance. However, the desirability of yielding to change in the non-material culture depends on whether the people perceive the new mode of conduct to be better than what they were used to. In most instances the attractiveness of yielding to change is often mediated and conditioned by the compatibility of the expected change with existing culture.

American Culture and the Nigerian Society American Culture and the Nigerian Society
American Culture and the Nigerian Society American Culture and the Nigerian Society
American Culture and the Nigerian Society American Culture and the Nigerian Society
American Culture and the Nigerian Society American Culture and the Nigerian Society
American Culture and the Nigerian Society American Culture and the Nigerian Society
American Culture and the Nigerian Society American Culture and the Nigerian Society

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