Nigeria is considered a super-power in the African continent, little wonder the saying “When Nigeria sneezes, the rest of the African nations (with the exception of South Africa) catch cold.” It has the largest population in Africa and the land is endowed with vast quantities of natural resources. It is the sixth largest oil-producing nation and has a well-educated and industrious society.
Before the advent of Western colonialism, Nigeria had consisted of over 450 linguistic or ethnic groups, each of which was independent of the other, having its own values, culture, religion, politics and economic activity. None of these groups had anything to do with the others. It was the British colonialists that brought these disparate groups together under one political umbrella and called it Nigeria.
In order for these disparate groups to live together in harmony and to enable the colonialists comfortably exploit the natural resources of the territory without disturbance, the British imposed on the people their mores, culture, education, art, language and religion, presenting the Nigerian cultural and social values as archaic and anachronistic, which must be discarded and replaced with European culture. This made the people to abandon their culture and replace it with Western culture.
Culture plays a vital role in the physical and mental development of an individual in any society. The functioning of every human body is not only moulded by the culture within which the individual has been reared but also by the way he was born into society with a definite culture; been fed and disciplined, fondled and put to sleep, punished and rewarded.
The current phase of globalization has further alienated the people from their roots as a result of the impact of information and communication technology. Through the globalized media, people all over the world are being made to look the same, profess the same faith, speak the same language, wear the same type of dress, enjoy the same type of music, and eat the same type of food. It is globalization that is responsible for the destruction of primitive cultural practices such as communalism, the dignity of the human person, respect for elders, hospitality and brotherly love, women not having equal recognition with their male counterparts and others such as, bigamy, the killing of twins and the use of human heads in burying notable personalities like kings and queens, which caused blatant violation of human rights. While globalization is therefore eulogized for bringing about the belief in the universal validity of the notion of human rights, the same globalization is also blamed for slavery and colonization, which caused the violation of the rights of Nigerians
It was revealed in a study that globalization has put many Nigerians in conflicting situation over what constitutes their real cultural identity and the result is, the Nigerian who is neither wholly indigenous nor totally foreign but a split personality.
If colonialism did not completely succeed in uprooting Nigerians from their roots through the imposition of foreign rule and missionary activities, globalization is, through the activities of the new media – the internet, email, Facebook, twitter, cable and satellite televisions. Acculturation or cultural globalization has thus created conflicting situations, which trespasses on cultures undermining acculturation and human relations.
The big question before us now is how do we remedy this situation? How do we revamp our unique indigenous culture? How do we rescue the Nigerian from this foreign cultural onslaught, which has debased him and made him a stranger in his own country? How then can the Nigerian come back to his original root? For some people like a former Nigerian Minister, Mazi Mbonu Ojike, who campaigned against imitating the European way of life, the ubiquitous presence in Africa, and insisted that Africans should content themselves with what they have; the only way is for the country to close all its doors and windows and not allow any air from outside to contaminate or foul it. In other words, it is for Nigeria to turn its back completely on everything foreign.
Nevertheless, while rejecting foreign cultural impositions, Nigerians should, at the same time resist the temptation of throwing away the baby with the bath water. They should recognize the weaknesses or limitations of the communal society, its cleavages and differentiations, such as the multiplicity of castes, status, secret cults, professional and religious groups. Also, while refusing to be sandwiched by foreign cultures, Nigerians should know that it is not everything that comes from inside that is good, while it is not everything that comes from outside that is bad. It is in their interest therefore, to be wise enough to make right judgment.
Nigeria must come to terms with her own subjectivity by modifying traditional and foreign cultural values in conformity with the realities and exigencies of the day. The modification of these values will yield a system of cultural values that are peculiar to her, but open to all societies. Accordingly, the Nigerian must discard or kick against traditional norms or practices that could render him increasingly weak, or could imprison him in the past.
Nigeria, in the era of globalization, should not see herself as an island, nor a means, but an end. She should assimilate aspects of European cultural values which are progressive in nature but avoid the rigidity associated with them, as it is based on a social conservatism rooted in the exploitation of man by man. Nigeria therefore needs to strike a necessary balance between her indigenous cultures and foreign cultural influences to meet with the realities of current globalization. True globalization therefore, affirms mutual inter-exchange of cultures and not isolation, or the domination of one culture by another.
Even though Nigeria is coming up strongly in her movie industry, popularly known as Nollywood, which is being showcased all over the world through the communication media, Nigeria needs not proclaim only flag independence, she needs to develop appropriate technology suited to her people and her environment to free herself from this foreign and cultural domination. This technology must be used to improve the welfare of man and his environment and must be in harmony with nature. It should aim at benefitting all sections of the country.
There should be an outburst of poems and scholarly articles targeted at recapturing the lost identity of Nigeria, as well as more movies and songs like the akwaibom ayaya, which showcases the rich Nigerian culture.
Government should among other things enrishine in the school’s curriculum of primary and secondary schools language teaching and learning in their mother tongue and some other major languages in Nigeria like Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. They should encourage development of the orthography of many more Nigerian languages, and produce text-books in Nigerian languages.