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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cultural Development

Neither in the sphere of economics, nor in the sphere of politics, Nigerian authorities and Nigerian intellectuals have never denied culture a very important role. The need to integrate cultural activities and values in all spheres of life has been very loudly pronounced in the post-independence development of Nigeria. General ideas on Nigerian development were linked to the authentic cultural values.

However, the clash between modernization (westernization) on one, and the traditional cultural values on the other side could not have been avoided. The traditional cultures have been more or less left to the local initiatives. In the context of rather radical developmental changes, they have generated different types of pop-cultures: pop-music based on the strong authentic traditions; pop-literature (market literature) produced for the barely literate audience and expressing the general popular concerns; performing arts and groups inheriting the status of traditional performers (like for instance popular theater performances by more then 100 Yoruba professional popular ambulant groups), etc. Cultural industries and new technologies have very much influenced such developments by enabling fast communication and creation of internal (music, literature, etc.) markets.

The most important issue of cultural development is certainly the issue of creation of either national Nigerian, or affirmation of ethnic cultural identity. This is also an important political issue, as the Nigerian federalism tried to put together the achievements of the modern democratic West European state and the local cultural traditions. The whole process of restructuration and adjustment is in fact the process of defining the identity of Nigerian peoples and individuals.

Development of education, establishment and growth of cultural institutions and cultural industries all reflect the constant processes of change in Nigerian life and Nigerian cultures. It is impossible to quantify these processes, but it is evident even now that the cultural growth is reflected in the new type of Nigerian culture and identity. It is not based on the merging of different cultural traditions, but it implies a certain selection of values that would define a modern cultural identity of Nigeria.

Recent evolution of cultural life

The local cultural milieu of Nigeria is extremely diversified, and depends not only on the ethnic cultural values and habits, but also on religious habits and obligations. There are also major differences between rural and urban cultural life, and rural and urban habits and norms.

Generally speaking, the cultural life in Nigeria is to the large extent marked by tradition, and traditional forms of cultural events are most popular: festivals, exhibitions, performing, playing music and dancing in the open. This can be illustrated by citing the actions planned to be implemented in cooperation with UNESCO: National Festival of Children's Toys, Rhymes and Games; or, National Exhibition of the Craftsmanships of the Nigerian People; or, Developing Educational Activities for Children and the Youth in Nigerian Museums, etc.
On the other side, the cultural life is very much influenced, and defined, by the cultural industries, particularly mass media. Cultural industries bring into the Nigerian cultural life new civilizational and technological standards that are easily accepted by the majority of population.

The recent evolution of cultural life in Nigeria is thus strongly marked by the traditional and religious habits, and by mass media and easily spreading cultural industries.

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