Nigeria has a very diverse culture. In the country, there are different ethnic groups including the Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, and therefore, different cultures and beliefs. In the beginning, before Nigeria was colonized by Great Britain, separate ethno-linguistic groups lived separately within the territory. However, colonization led to the mergers of the different territories. In 1906, the Lagos Colony became part of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, and in 1914, the Southern and the Northern Protectorates were united. For this reason, Nigeria formed an amalgamation of people from different ethnic groups, speaking different languages, and following different religions and cultural beliefs and practices. The confusion did not end there. In the following years, the groups were divided again into regions – North, East, and West – and into different states. In 1991, Nigeria officially had thirty-one states and by this time, people learned to culturally integrate. However, the people are still divided because of their religion. The division is caused by the differences between Christians, who mostly occupy Northern Nigeria, and the Moslems (Okehie-Offoha & Sadiku, 1996).
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Ethnicity and religion have largely influenced the way of life in Nigeria. Race and religion, for instance, influence the political system implemented in the country. Those who are highly religious and superstitious regard political events as those that reflect the will of their god. When Nigeria’s dictator, Abacha, died in 1998, many people believed that his death was the will of God. Moreover, Abacha was alive, some of the religious fanatics never participated in protests or demonstrations against the dictator, but merely prayed that God would provide a solution for the hardships of the people. Consequently, when the dictator died and the country needed a new leader, the people voted based on which political candidate supported their religion (Albert & Uzoigew, 1999). In terms of ethnicity, Nigeria has roughly four hundred fifty ethno-linguistic groups. Ethnic and territorial differences often led to conflicts and civil wars in Nigeria. Due to the wars, people from different ethnic groups establish different groups as representation of their culture and concerns. Some of the groups include the Edo Union, Calabar Improvement League, Egme Omo Oduduwa, and the Ijaw Progressive Union, among others (Mwakikagile, 2001). The formation of different groups proves that Nigeria hosts very diverse groups of people with different cultures and beliefs.
Aside from religion, social and economic structure also set the people apart. While some places in Nigeria are rural and nonindustrial areas, other places were palpably influenced by urban developments. However, most people choose to remain in the rural areas and take jobs that pay the basic salary. Those who remain in urban areas, on the other hand, are within the middle-income groups. The population is unevenly distributed in both rural and urban areas, and therefore, the state services such as healthcare, for instance, are distributed unequally. Most of the people living in rural areas are impoverished and they do not receive the same benefits and state services as those who live in urban areas. Moreover, those in the rural areas do not have the same number of job opportunities when compared to those who live in urban areas (Ali-Akpajiak & Pyke, 2003). In terms of social structure, Nigeria is still struggling to implement and maintain liberal policies. Women in the country, for instance, are still lobbying for the implementation of equal rights among men and women. The organization, Women in Nigeria (WIN), has been fighting for “the elimination and gender and class inequalities in Nigerian society, called for a future constitution in which social justice, self-reliance and popular democracy would be granted” (Jega, 2000, p. 110).
Cultural beliefs and value systems differ among those that live in Nigeria. However, one of the most dominant groups – the Ibibio – has the most distinct cultural practices. The manner of greeting among them, for instance, is unique – they often greet each other, and the younger ones are obliged to greet the elderly. However, greeting is not enough because they must always engage in talk to ask the other how they are. Since many people live in rural areas, the people have developed a sense of community. The Ibibio respect their neighbors and they openly share their food and properties with other people. Borrowing personal things, like cookware, is common in rural areas in Nigeria. Another tradition practiced by most people in Nigeria includes the different events for each day of the week. For instance, Fiong Aran is a day meant for the worship of the sun, while Edet Etakha is another day meant for the worship of God. Other days are meant for going to the market, resting and spending time with family, and worshiping other entities like the god of agriculture (Okehie-Offoha & Sadiku, 1996). The value system in Nigeria includes respect for other people, including the elderly, and the people’s trust in God. The country is highly religious, therefore, the core values are based on religious practices. “Nigeria is a multiethnic society, with a value system that derives from… respect for elders, honesty and accountability, cooperation, industry, discipline, self-confidence and moral courage” (International Monetary Fund, 2005). In terms of business practices, Nigeria does not have solid standards when it comes to maintaining a level of dignity and accountability among those who conduct business in the country. Corruption is common not only in the Nigerian government, but also among private businesses (Deming, 2010).
Overall, the culture and way of life in Nigeria are highly influenced by diversity. The years of colonization and reorganization in Nigeria has resulted to large gaps between groups belonging from different ethnic groups and religions. Moreover, the social and political disorganization of groups in the country increase the difficulty of the people in overcoming their problems such as socio economic diversity and corruption in politics and business. At present time, Nigeria is still considered a developing country, not only in terms of its economy, but in other areas as well - culturally, socially, and politically.
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