Intentionally or non-intentionally, changes are inevitable. Changes are meant to better position us for the current challenges, and better contend with issues that past generations failed at. On the other hand however, cultural changes are meant to help a nation and its citizens discover the values that are deeply rooted in its rich histories, and acquaint the future generations with the in depth knowledge on past heroes. With the current spate of things in Nigeria however, our trademark cultures are fast going the way of dinosaurs as extinction is imminent, and imbibing foreign strange cultures is fast becoming the order of the day. Is it a good way to re-brand?
Recently, Niger state staged the 23rd National Festival of Arts and Culture. As expected, the week-long celebrations featured parades, cultural dances, durbars, masquerades and several other expected features of a typical cultural event. It was a beautiful sight to behold but is it a true depiction of the 21st century Nigeria?
Since time immemorial, culture, has been synonymous with the distinguishing lifestyles of the group of people. In the west, the Yorubas are depicted as the ever happy indigenes that wear adire dresses and are always smiling while devouring hot plates of amala and ewedu.
In the south we have the Chinedus, Uches, Nnekas, and Ogechis. They are reputable for being illustrious, hardworking and unimaginably smart. Their ladies are also something else as they personify epitomes of beauty.
Northern Nigeria is also not left behind. In the far north are the Hausas, fulanis and their cows. The popular northerners are the type of people that are not desperate to get wealthy but are only concerned with having productive cows, beautiful wives and huts for their children. But like change however, our cultures are changing, and the end is not in sight.
Hausas are no longer satisfied with cows, Yorubas like me despise amala and ewedu, preferring oha spiced with egusi as supplement for firm akpu. While the people are changing and redirecting the course of predestined orders, another wave of redefinition and re-branding (in the words of Prof. Akinyuili) is blowing across the nation, that concerned with leadership as the leaders are also stepping up.
In Ogun state for instance, the passion for adire dress is long gone as their lawmakers prefer to bare it all. In Oyo state, touts are redefining the agelong culture of peaceful cohabitation and in Osun state, Oyinlola and AC are exemplifying ritualism and shady acts as better choices in place of Awoism.
In the east, MEND and others have discovered simpler, faster and more lucrative tax undetectable sources of income that warrant presidential visits- militancy and kidnapping.
In the north, a microsomal fraction is dispelling the assertions of Sultan Bello, Aminu Abubakar, Amadu Bello and other vanguards of better northern education in what they call Boko Haram which outlaws western education. Needless to say that kidnapping is also warming its way into the hearts of the Arewas.
All over Nigeria, we are redefining our cultures. Rather insidiously emphasis is being taken away from peaceful existence to personal aggrandizement and self-centered ulterior motives. Service is giving way to disservice, the labors of past heroes are best left as history, and as far we are concerned, it’s not a big deal. This connotes a lot.
On the bright side, it shows that like culture, we are dynamic. Our actions are products of the challenges we face. On the other hand however, we are deviating from the landmarks set by our forefathers. But aren’t we justified?
The issues before the present generation are quite numerous. Unlike our forefathers, we have global recession on our hands, the temptation from oil windfall is another issue coupled with the enormous inputs from science and technology and population upsurge which makes the struggle for survival much fiercer than before. From another point of view, they lived their lives under no rules except those they made for themselves and should therefore allow us to live ours as we deem fit.
In the light of these, measuring up to the standards of past generations is an almost impossible task, but creating a new world and order for ourselves is not. The usual depiction of our culture takes us several light years back and is a far cry from what truely obtains.
We should therefore not be ashamed of how we’ve changed as individuals, as a group and as a nation inasmuch as no one drove us to our present status. We are victims of circumstances and citizens of a nation where change is the only permanent thing.