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Culture Paper

Words: 2894, Paragraphs: 41, Pages: 10

Paper type: Essay , Subject: Language

This Chapter attempts the review of various definitions of Culture. It also tries to bring out the common characteristics of culture In various deflations, which Include being dynamic and transmittable from generation to generation. Factors that can influence culture in a particular society and how people can come into contact with the culture of another society are also highlighted.

Some aspects of the Nigerian ultra heritage were discussed while the problems of neglect of our culture, looking down on some aspects of our culture while paying more attention to other people’s cultural heritage are also discussed. Recommendations on how to preserve our cultural heritage are made to both Individuals and the Nigerian Government.


The word culture has various definitions. Different writers attach different meanings to it.

Humanists, Sociologists and Anthropologists have different meanings to the concept of culture according to their orientations. Culture according to Eke (1989) Is “construct (with diverse applications). Used In an attempt to analyze and interpret events and Ideas In a broad spectrum of areas of society”.

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In Its broadest sense, culture embraces the total repertoire of human actions which are socially transmitted from generation to generation. One of the foremost anthropologists that ever lived, Tyler (1871) defined culture as a configuration of institutions and modes of life.

He defined culture as ‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as member of society. Musses. 1963), on his own defined culture In terms of reservoir of knowledge that Is characteristic ways of thinking and feeling, attitudes, aspirations and ideals. Foster (1962) defined culture as the common learned way of life shared by members of a society, consisting of the totality of facts, techniques, social institutions, attitudes, beliefs, motivations and systems of values known to a group.

The Comparatives Education Study and Adaptation Centre (CEASE)(1979) simply defined culture as the way people live which consists of a system of Ideals, values, beliefs, knowledge and customs transmitted from generation to generation within a social group. According to CEASE (1 979, this way of life includes arrangements and methods of obtaining food from the environment and adapting to it. It also includes beliefs, religion and moral behavior.

One of the common characteristics of the above definitions includes the fact that culture is learned, acquired, transmitted or diffused through contact or other media of communications General Studies), 2001 From one generation to another and from one society to the other. Man learns culture through the process of colonization, imitation, personal experience and’ through deliberate indoctrination or teaching. Bearable (1970) opined that the individual inculcates the requisite values which enable the society to survive and be perpetuated.

Another notable common feature of culture includes the fact that though some cultural practices die hard, culture generally is dynamic and not static and so can lie modified or changed as circumstances dictate. The learning of culture is a lifelong process, it continues from cradle to the grave. As a person grows and assumes new roles, he continues to learn the ways of life which fits his status in the society. The content of what he learns vary from society to society and from one stage o another as the society develops.

On the whole, there is an important relationship between the society and the individual which is mediated by culture thus enabling the society TO attain its goals.


Culture has many aspects and can be categorized into two, namely, material and non-material cultures.

(a) Material Culture: Consists of the products of man’s industry or works of Art e. G. Carving, food, dress, pots, paintings, weapons, cloths, houses, etc They are objects, which are peculiar to a society, and man has learned to make them using the available resources in the society and his knowledge.

These objects are used to satisfy certain needs in the society.

(b) Non-Material Culture: These are abstract things. Man cannot see or touch them because they are not concrete things but man has learned them as part of the way of life. Examples are language, dance, religion, music, literature, morals and values such as freedom, Justiceћ honesty, love, beauty etc. Every society has its own culture. In Nigeria for example, there are several groups of people. These are the Your. Bobbie, Nanas. Fulfill, the Hausa, the Gobo, the Kanji, the Tip and the Robot Just to mention a few Each of these has its own culture


There are many factors that can-influence culture in a society. Some of these factors include: Physical Environment: Physical environment influences culture. For example, the Your live on land and this influences them to have legends and beliefs centered on land, agriculture and earth gods. On the other hand, the ‘Jaw people who live in revering area, centre their legends on water, fishes and water goddesses. Occupation: the nature of work of people influences their culture, especially their mode of dressing, eating and thinking.

While the Fulfill pastoralist lace a high value on cattle Leading issues in General Studies: Humanities & Social Sciences, (Book of Reading for General Studies), 2001 And pasture, the Gobo or Your has no such values for cattle and pasture bin on agriculture and trading, affects the ways he views problems and the environment and his manner of choosing wife, getting married, raising children and caring for the aged. People tend always to judge the cultures of others in terms of their own. Generally, people feel that their culture is superior or better than any other culture.

They believe that another culture s good provided it does what their culture does. For example, they feel that their own language is the best language and people who speak the same language show a higher degree of trust and love for one another. The feeling of the superiority of one’s culture as compared to others is known as ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is not good because it hinders friendship and understanding between people and different cultures. No culture is superior to another. Culture Relativism: There is no universal standard which man can use to evaluate culture as either good or bad.

We can understand other peoples’ customs only when we relate these customs to their culture, this is known as culture relativism. When we relate people’s customs to their culture, we shall be able to know what their culture is all about. For instance, it is wrong to say that because the Muslims do not eat pork, they are more civilized than the Christians are. We should be objective in our assessment of others, and in other to be objective, we need to interpret other people’s customs and behaviors in the context of their own culture. Culture relativism helps to Judge and interpret others’ customs objectively.

It removes biases and promotes mutual understanding and peaceful living together. Sub-culture. This is when a minority culture is practiced within a larger culture. In complex industrial societies, there are sizable numbers of people who share certain Values, customs and beliefs with that larger culture, even when they have their own customs called subculture which they share within their own ethnic group but not with the rest of the society. In Nigeria for example, the Gabon-agar areas of the Hardbound, Gabbling, etc. Contain minority people who retain their own picture within the larger culture.

Similarly, the foreigners living in Nigeria retain their own subculture e. G. Language, food, dress, etc. Which they share within themselves, while they still share part of the larger culture in order to keep their existence in Nigeria Language: Language is the pivot of culture because it allows human beings to express themselves in a way which can be understood by others. No society exists without the language of its own. All human cultures are based on language and all human languages even including those of non-literate people are efficiently complex to transmit the full totality of a human culture.

Language, whether verbal or nonverbal enables man to acquire the culture of his society.


This is when a society or a person acquires the language, religion, politics, etc. Of another society or person through contact. People copy some items of culture from other society, particularly neighboring societies, for example, most Nigerian copied new forms of dress, writing, speaking, eating habits, etc. From the Europeans Leading issues in General Studies: Humanities & Social Sciences, (Book of Reading for General

Studies), 2001 People come in contact with the culture of others as a result of internal and external movements from their societies. People move to other societies to seek marriage so as to live with family members. People also move to undergo trainings, attend schools, colleges and other institutions of higher learning. In Nigeria, the Federal Government has also established the National Youth Service Corps, the Unity Schools to pro note the movement of people deliberately Effects of Culture-contact on Contemporary Nigerian Culture-contact has helped Nigerian to have respect for and tolerate different ultras of Nigeria.

It contributes to the economic development of different places. It promotes peace and harmony and reduces conflicts. Culture contact results in marriage of people of different cultures and in that way it encourages the growth of families which cut across different cultures. It contributes to the development and integration of Nigeria. It helps people to work as one people to achieve common goals. It makes Nigerian to work together to maintain one identity. Culture-related words are learnt from one society to the other. It enables Nigerian to live and work anywhere in the country.

It enables Nigerian to work as brothers and sisters and as friends.


According to Broom and Clinics in Awed et. Al (1983), culture in itself, is a man’s entire social heritage I. E. All the knowledge, beliefs, customs and skills acquired as a member of society. Thus people become distinctively human by the acquisition of culture. Culture presumes the existence of a human society and provides, the necessary skills for making society work. Below is some of the Nigerian cultural heritage as enumerated by CEASE (1980).

Art: By this we mean fine arts which present whatever is beautiful or whatever appeals to the taste which man creates. Examples are carving, painting, and architecture. Some works of art can be seen in Ill-life, Benign, Ibid and Oho. They are used in ceremonies e. G. The terracotta beads of Ill-life, the bronze head of Benign and Fife, the NOOK figure of the Niger, Venue and Iron and the brass works of Ibid. Art depicts the culture of a people and the theme always reflects the pre-occupation of that community. Language: This is the pivot of all communication whether verbal or written.

Every language is able to express the dead needed for life in that community. There are many languages in Nigeria. Language enables man to express what he has in mind; it helps to preserve the tradition of the community. Oral Literature: This includes poetry, play or drama, folk- tales, music and songs. Music is an integral part of one’s culture. Each ethnic group in Nigeria has its own traditional music being played at ceremonies whether religious or social connected with manage, funerals. Birth house warming, hunting, etc.

Music brings life and meanings to our culture and traditions. Music is usually accompanied either by drums or other musical instruments such as flutes, gongs, bells, horns, rattles and trumpets. The Hausa music for example, makes use of Kananga. The Fulfill, Gobo and Tip make use of movement alone while the Your music makes use of talking drums. Leading issues in General Studies: Humanities & Social Sciences, (Book of Reading for General Studies), 2001 Dance: is used to accompany music. In Nigeria today, there are many types of dances.

Examples of such dances are the Geol. of Hausa, the Juju the physique of the body and strengthens the faith of the people in their duties specially in those communities that dance during festivals to please their gods. Poetry: This is a form of literature used to record feelings about an event or experience. It is used during important occasions like funeral ceremony of a hunter, a warrior or great leader. The poet sings their dirge recounting the activities of the heroes during their lifetime. Poetry serves as a corrective weapon to erring leaders.

In Your land, there are many Ewe exponents, who usually Chant about the ills of the Nigerian society Technology: These are inventions of people which include the weapons and tools seed by man. Traditional weapons like bows, arrows, hoes, cutlasses, axes are used to kill animals, to farm and to fight their enemies. Clothing: This includes the various types of clothes we wear. The various ethnic groups wear their own types of clothes; for example, a typical Your man wears gasbag, gabbier. Etc. The Husband Fulfill wear dong and turban while the Gobo wears shifts. Singled, and hats.

The clothes we wear tell much about our culture. It identifies us. Through it, we can identify a king, a soldier, a prisoner, etc. Clothing also helps to communicate the mood of a person e. . One who is bereaved may show it by wearing black cloths. Agriculture: In Nigeria, agriculture reveals the culture of a people; for example, the Your people grow food crops like yam, cassava, etc. And hence they are farmers. The people of the Importance animal husbandry because the grassland favors the growth of cereals and cattle. At the seaside, people fish and thus the culture of the people include fishing.

The ways by which the Nigerian ethnic groups grow their food items are associated with religious festivals, which form part of their culture. Religions: Religious beliefs include airships and ceremonies. These activities bring people together and form part of their culture. Some of the religious worships and ceremonies reconnected with important events in the society such as the death of a king and the new yam festivals, Most ethnic groups in Nigeria believe in God who cannot be approached easily hence,they approach Him through different divinities.

It is as a result of this that the Your people believe in the worship of Gun (god of iron) and Gangs (god of thunder). These ethnic group also believe that they come from the earth and they will also return to the earth. They in other words believe in reincarnation or life after death and that is the reason why they offer rituals to gods for their deeds.


Looking at the happenings in Nigeria today, one observes that our culture has not been given the necessary encouragement it deserves.

While the government attitude towards culture in recent years has changed, much has not been achieved for the development of our country. General Studies), 2001 Most of the problems we have in Nigeria concerning our cultural heritage are that most individuals and government are looking down on our irritate. Agriculture has for a long time Benedictine while the economy of Nigeria is centered on oil. Instead of making use of things belonging to us as heritage, we world today did not reach their current heights in technology by looking down on their cultural heritage.

They did not start their development plans by looking for everything they needed from outside. They did not look down on their heritage as things irrelevant to their developments Japan, the leading world electronics producer started her Journey to the top by imitation. Using the available resources from thin, before perfection stage was reached. In realizing the role of culture in our development, governments must effect some developmental programmers. There is the need to revive those good and useful aspects of our culture. The Governments at Federal.

State and Local levels should continue to encourage Nigerian scientists and liberal art experts in their quest towards scientific and technological feats Some Nigerian have been providing their worth and expertise whiles outside the country than when they were residing in. The country. Higher institutions of learning should e adequately funded so as to contribute their quota to the realization of the dreams of the country by carrying out more researches in the field of Arts Sciences and Technology through organization and promotion of our traditional festivals and folklore’s to attract tourists.

The exhibition of our products both within and outside the country should be encouraged and financed by the government. Our Western- trained scholars need to be re-orientated as well as the general public on the need to promote our culture. Qualified Nigerian should be deployed to implement our developmental programmers. We do not need to bring in foreign experts with their own cultural systems entitled knowledge of our culture to man of our industries. Agriculture should . Be given more attention and the rightful pride of place in the country.

Application of traditional implements will go a long way to annihilate the sufferings people encounter in practicing modern agriculture, more so when the modern implements are hard to come by. Individuals should stop deriding our culture while allowing foreigners to take such values to their countries We need to have a historical record of our past cultural activities and from this historical respective; we will be able to know our failures and achievements, which in turn would be of benefit in starting a good course for our future developments.

About the author

This paper is written by Sebastian He is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; his major is Business. All the content of this paper is his perspective on Culture and should be used only as a possible source of ideas.

Sebastian other papers:

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