Presented by Farouk Ozigi Onimisi
The culture of a people is their identity as it affords them due recognition. It is their underlying distinguishing factor from other people. In fact, all societies across the globe have various and divergent cultures which they cherish and practice. Nevertheless, no two cultures, when juxtaposed are absolutely identical. In order for a society to operate functionally and effectively, they must ensure and maintain strict and constant adherence to the various components of their culture.
Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, customs, laws and other capabilities which are learned, shared by men as members of society, and transmitted from one generation to another. Any laxity, lassitude, and levity exhibited by its custodians would result in rapid erosion and disappearance of the uniqueness of the people and their culture. Since the genesis of culture, is as old as man himself, without it, man is reduced to an animal. Culture therefore has two essential qualities: first, it is learned and second, it is shared.
Sociologically, many activities of members of any society such as eating, music, dancing, occupation, education (formal, informal, and nonformal), visiting friends, courtship, marriage (its forms and types), beliefs (festivals and liturgies), naming and burial ceremonies, entertaining friends and guests, greetings, and system of government, are all found within the confine of nonmaterial culture. Material aspect of culture which comprises the physical and touchable implements or objects such as wears, computer, spoon, pot, cup, cutlass, building, phone, and sandal, is also invaluable and complementary.
Following Nigeria’s Independence in 1960 after a grave spell of colonialism, the country witnessed great fall in her cultural and core values in the name of modernisation. Some core practices became completely outshined and our values as Nigerian citizens became whitewashed, courtesy of Post-Colonial Modernisation.
In addition, what we have lost is the organic community with the living culture it embodied. Folk songs, folk dances, Cotswold cottages, handicraft products, and virginity among others are signs of something more; an art of life, a way of living, ordered and patterned involving social arts, codes of intercourse and a responsive adjustment, growing art of immemorial experience, to the natural environment and the rhythm of the year.
Nigeria’s culture is invaluable and priceless. It is what defines us as a nation. Without it, we lose our identity and it is important that all efforts are made to ensure that it does not erode in the face of a western invasion. This revival needs to cut across all the fabric of our social life, including our dressing, language and social interactions which have been kicked to the backseat in the name of modernisation. As part of contribution to the return of these lost values, the following suggestions are symbolically worth considering;
Parents have key roles to play. Family is the smallest cell of any society. If the family fails, the society fails. Present day reality has parents and their children competing with each other when it comes to abuse of morality. With the display of unhealthy behaviours, they lose the temerity to caution the younger generation. This needs to change as each parent’s duty is direct their children to the right path.
Young people are expected to be the promoters of culture but this generation does not seem to be interested in it. The craze to adopt foreign belief system is overwhelming and youths need to see the value of Nigeria’s culture. Conferences should be organised for them so that they can see the value in our culture. The more young people appreciate our culture, the less people have to worry about anti-social behaviours.
Finally, the past is a perfect compass for the future. Recall a time when women left the doors of their stores unlocked and unmanned through the night without the fear of being robbed crossing her mind. This was the degree of trustworthiness and sincerity members of communities has with each other. If you try it today, everything in your store will disappear in a jiffy! That past can be restored if efforts are made to teach children the importance of being responsible.