Two questions need to be answered. First, why are we ignoring the fact that our culture is slipping away from our fingers? The next would be what do we do to salvage our culture and make sure we pass on our rich heritage to our children? Nigeria is an amazing country proudly located in Africa. The country is one of the most populated countries in the world, and the most populated in Africa hence the name “Giant of Africa”. Nigeria has 36 states, and these states are composed of several local governments and villages that have very diverse and beautiful cultures, traditions, and norms.
Are you aware that it is believed that a good number of these languages and cultures have become extinct overtime ever since the white men came to colonise the country? The primary concern now becomes; how do we preserve these cultures, and make sure they do not die out in our time? This article seeks to answer these questions and proffer solutions to this situation that seems to have no way forward.
Thus, are you bothered by our nonchalance towards our culture? Read on for more.
The beginning of a problem-solving process is to know the cause of the problem in the first place. As the popular quote says, a problem shared is a problem half solved. So what is the reality of the state of our culture and tradition at the moment? Let’s start with this question; how often do you speak your language? If you speak it often, then at least assess your neighbours, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. If you did an honest assessment, you’ll realise that not many people speak their language often. Some can’t speak at all, while some can speak, but not fluently, on the other hand, some people can speak at a very good level, but not without immersing a lot of English into whatever language they are speaking.
Have you ever wondered or asked yourself this question “why do we have to speak our languages with a sprinkle of English language?” Have you seen any foreigners who can’t speak their language without adding a Nigerian language? That scenario is quite rare. Before the white men came to this part of the world to colonise us, were we speaking our language with English? So why is it that all of a sudden we cannot do without it? Well, this isn’t hard to answer. We practice what we are used to, and it’s going to be very difficult to speak our languages without any sprinkle of English, especially for those living in the big cities.
If we are being honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that a lot of our culture has been lost. In the olden days, children used to gather together while an adult told those fantastic stories of sly foxes, cunning tortoises, greedy goats, old witches, beautiful princesses, brave warriors, wicked stepmothers, stubborn children, supernatural occurrences, and ugly beasts. These stories positively shaped these children as they learned a lot of good morals and lessons such as the reward of hard work, the punishment that comes with lies, stealing, and stubbornness, the downfall that consumes wicked, greedy, and heartless people, the happy ending that good, kind-hearted people enjoy, and the difference between good and evil. Today, that culture has been lost, and now we see a lot of children who don’t even know their left from right. Even the schools that promise to help shape their character are doing a poor job today.
How can we protect our culture?
Even though the current situation seems bleak, there’s a lot we can do to salvage the situation as explained below:
- Speaking Our Languages More – This might be one of the most effective steps because it addresses the problem at its roots. When parents speak more of their language at home, it will encourage the children to be more interested in learning more about where they come from. If you need help with this process, you can get a tutor that can teach your children how to speak their language, and even how to read and write too. You’ll see an improvement in your children as even science has proved that learning a new language improves the brain capacity.
- Improving The Tourism Sector – The tourism sector is the best way and the largest platform for people to learn about the Nigerian culture on a large scale. On an annual basis, tourists from all over the world go visiting countries that peak their interests. Nigeria has to meet up with the tourism standards across the world to meet up with the competition. The sad reality is that we have a weak tourism sector, and even the current tourism sites have been poorly maintained and mismanaged. Places like Obudu Cattle Ranch that used to be tourism hubs have been left to rot with many of its facilities fast becoming dilapidated.
- Updating The School Curriculum – How many schools teach history and the basic Nigerian languages in their curriculum? Maybe we should start from there, because our children spend roughly 8 hours every day in school, 5 days a week. If schools have an updated curriculum that supports the protection of our history, culture, and traditions then we would go a long way. Another idea could be to infuse cultural fairs, and days regularly so the children are reminded of their roots.
There are so many things we stand to benefit when our culture is protected. First, we would be able to hold our heads high among the other countries who have managed to maintain their cultures even in the 21st century. Another benefit is that we can be sure that our languages can be passed on to the generations after us, another benefit is that our children will have a better brain capacity as that is one of the advantages of learning more than one language (Being bilingual). There are so many things we will gain but the ultimate is that we get the chance to protect our rich culture, which is the greatest treasure of all.