In recent times, there has been a downward slope in the number of children who actually know about their culture or understand the intricacies of their roots.
Mostly, what we have come to see, and to a large extent, accept as Nigerian children are those whose entire lives have been dedicated to the study and appreciation of foreign cultures and traditions. This is an assault on the very things that constitute the foundation of every Nigerian culture.
With this deplorable condition in mind, the need to clamour for change has become important. In this article, the ‘how’ to raise culturally conscious children who will hoist the flags and banners of Nigerian traditions is explored.
As it is, it is safe to assume that part of the reasons why majority of the younger generation don’t really appreciate Nigerian culture is because of their upbringing.
You can imagine a child who for 18 – 20 years has being in an urban city where nothing but foreign lifestyles are applied, such an individual will not understand his culture. This is more so especially when he is not from around that place.
Cultural values should be instilled into every child right from when they are born. Here are some of the ways to go about it:
1. Give them traditional names
In Africa, names are significant in terms of meaning and identity. In terms of identity, there is a sense in which the child grows up with the feeling of being a Yoruba if his name is OluwaFemi, or Igbo if his name is Chukwuemeka, etc.
Giving children traditional names is a constant reminder of their roots, of their home, of their language. There is no harm in giving them English names alongside the traditional ones, but by all means, make the traditional one their first name.
You know, some critics insist that this is another form of colonialism, that is, preferring foreign names to local names. Consider this: English parents don’t give their children Igbo or Yoruba names, or do they? They don’t! So put our culture first before every other one, that is what matters.
2. Take them home
There are many young boys and girls today who have never, or have been to their villages only once or twice in their life.
In other words, they do not even know what the place looks like or how the people there behave. What they know is restricted to what they have seen on the internet and TV, heard from people, or even imagined.
Worse still, because they have been so immersed in the urban city they find themselves, getting any detail at all about their roots may be the last thing on their minds.
As a parent it is your duty to take them home regularly, and teach them the ways of their people. It is not enough to tell stories, let them experience those stories.
Pictures are good (worth more than a thousand words right?), but personal observations are better (worth more than countless words). That way, they grow conscious of who they are, why things are the way they are, and the need to keep the culture alive.
3. Teach them the language
Human language is as important as human life. How? Without communication there is no meaning and without meaning there is no life; but there is confusion, anarchy leading to extinction.
Every particular human language is special and needs to be preserved so that the people that speak it don’t die out. Actually, it is the language of a people that defines their heritage.
I can’t begin to tell you how relevant the language of a culture is, you already know, therefore, the need to teach it in other sustain it. English is good, it is a global language.
It is good for professionalism but it is not good enough to warrant the relegation of your mother tongue to the background. In some cases, you see a parent fluent in his tongue meanwhile his children are completely ignorant.
So when he says something in his dialect, they either ask for confirmation in English or answer in English if they are already familiar with that line.
Dear parents, it doesn’t take much to teach them. The onus is on you, start from when they are toddlers and they will pick it up early.
4. Send them to culturally informed schools
These are schools that do not only teach English and French, but also other indigenous languages. These are schools that encourage their students to be culturally active.
So make your research before deciding on what school they would attend. Give them the opportunity to learn more than one language. Multilingualism is a great advantage for any individual.
Biko nu, ejo, this is a clarion call for us to keep our cultures alive, let us ensure that foreign competitions do not thrive in our homes to the detriment of our cultures.
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