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The Double Standard in Nigeria’s Cultural Evolution


Are we doing a poor job at selectively evolving our culture?

Nigeria is home to some of the richest and most diverse cultures on the African continent, and in the world. From the time before the arrival of the colonial masters, we have been known to relish in our culture and go to great lengths to preserve it and ensure that it reaches our children and their children.

However, over the course of time, especially with the arrival of the colonial masters during the period of slave trade fast forward to modern-day neocolonialism (don’t argue this), our culture has evolved. A lot has been taken out and a lot has been inserted.
Let’s skip the conversation of the intentionality of the mild ‘tweaking’ our culture by the West, and focus on talking about how we are selectively changing our understanding of what is accepted to be a part of the ‘Nigerian culture’ without even knowing (hopefully).

1. We accepted Western religion

Before the arrival of the colonialists, we were proud of our tradional religion. My tribe, Igbo, boasted of the power of the great Amadioha with people of different sub-tribes worshipping different arusi with so much pride and complete absolution of judgement. Until Christianity arrived. At first we fought it because it condemned our gods by calling them agents of Satan. Gradually, we developed a common view of these gods and demigods as ‘heathen’ and ‘ungodly’. We accepted the gospel of Jesus and now swear by the Bible. We changed our culture. No, we ‘tweaked’ it. We voluntarily merged ‘Western religion’ with ours. We have now called ours what was originally theirs.

2. We accepted Western art

It is not uncommon today to find the average urban Nigerian teenager listening to music from Beyoncé, John Legend, Fetty Wap, Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj, etc. You may argue that this is as a result of globalisation and the fast rate of acculturation which is happening across the world. But don’t. Acculturation is a fusion of cultures, but what’s happening in our case is a complete abandonment of our indigenous music as we embrace Western-powered music. What happened to our gongs? What happened to our atilogwu? We have come to accept the opinion that twerking originated from the West. Have we forgotten our very festive egwu umu agbogho? Wasn’t that twerking? So what are you saying? Even though the proliferation of Western art in Nigeria is hurting the revenues of our creative industries, we don’t even flinch.

We accepted Western education

Before the arrival of the colonialists, did we know what education was? Until they came and made us feel dumb for not thinking like them, learning like them, speaking like them, acting like them. We then accepted their educational system in the hope that we would become more like them and be able to match up to their ‘high standards’. Don’t get me wrong, we have reaped a whole lot from adopting their system of education. My ‘beef’ is that we have, in the process, unlearnt what made us unique. Learning used to be fun. We used to sit under the mango trees as we listen to grandma tell us folk stories. We learnt by trial and error. There were no right or wrong answers. But today, these Western academic structures have programmed us to think in Boolean terms, 1 or 0, yes or no, up or down, right or wrong. And we say that’s okay? Nobody is saying “it’s not part of our culture”?

So why we are fighting diversity?

Yes, this is another talk about the LGBTQIA+ community. Before you close this tab, please listen.
We speak a lot about how homosexuality is “un-African” and “not part of our culture.” But how many things have we adopted which weren’t originally a part of our culture? How many times have we evolved our culture to accommodate the integration of Western ones? How does the elimination of oppression towards people of different sexual orientations harm us?

Our adoption of Western religion has created tension among Nigerians (Christians vs. Muslims), but that’s not called out as being caused by the adoption of cultures which are originally “un-African?”

Our adoption of Western pop culture is steadily robbing our indigenous creative industries, but that’s okay?

Our adoption of Western education has made us forget our roots and our history. How often do we teach Nigerian history in our school? We only teach what ‘they’ want us to teach, and that’s fine?

What is the worst that could happen if we protect the LGBTQIA+ community and treat them like everyone else? What is so wrong with that?
Again, did you know that homosexuality is no stranger to the Nigerian/African culture? This article would better explain to you how the ideology of homosexuality being ‘un-African’ is a total myth.

So why the double standard? Just why?

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Arinze Obiezue

Arinze Obiezue


CEO @ Kenga Media • Schwarzman Scholar • Incoming Stanford MBA • ALU ’20