Our basic definition of culture is that it is the way of life of a particular group of people inhabiting a geographical location. True! Furthermore, culture which encompasses customs and traditions is dynamic, active and sacred, and indisputably, it goes a long way in preserving and promoting national unity and integration.
There are diverse aspects of culture such as dressing which has to do with traditional attires, language which involve the way people communicate, artwork which ranges from carvings to paintings and the likes, and ceremonies like festivals, marriage rites and so on.
However, it is saddening that Nigerians and Africans in general have totally adopted the western way of life and left their own culture to wallow in the waters of neglect. Nigerians ought to be proud of their traditional regalia even though their gele may be too conspicuous, their sokoto may be too short and their beads, too heavy. They should don it with unflinching pride like the whites wear their suit.
Language is one of the easiest ways to identify different cultures around the globe. The ways and manners in which each Nigerian tribe greet is not only to give respect but to show the pride in their culture and traditions. Every single ethnic group in Nigeria celebrates festivals, in peculiar ways. The Igbos are known for their new yam festival, the Hausas, arugungun fishing festival while the Yoruba people are recognized for their glamorous Eyo festival. There are differences in the ways they conduct their coronation ceremonies and marriage rites; traditional marriage is complementary to the western type of marriage. It is mandatory in Africa, particularly Nigeria, for prospective couples to perform traditional rites and pay dowries in accordance with the customs of their community.
Different cultures specialize in different crafts and artworks like bead making, basket and mat weaving, dyeing etc. The Edos are very well known for their carvings and gold smithing. The festival of arts and culture (FESTAC) which took place in 1977 was an unforgettable one and the famous Edo sculpture of Queen Idia’s face was used as its logo.
These artifacts represent the tradition vocations, tools, weapons of war, domestic appliances and history of the people in general. Most of these artifacts are kept in museums where people see them from time to time.
Our culture serves as a strong unifying force both in times of celebration and adversity. Its ways may seem stringent or limiting at times, nonetheless, we must all strive to preserve our culture and traditions.
– Osarennoma A. Ogbeide