VALUES

Monday, June 2, 2008

Values are defined as,

Sociology. the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.
Despite this nice dictionary definition, I simply think of national values as the qualities that define a people. With regard to Nigerians, national values transcend tribal or religious groupings and are the terms and/or concepts that embody who we are as a nation.

Recent conversations with a fellow blogger and some of my mother's dear friends left me struggling with my attempt to define Nigeria's core national values. One individual flat out told me that he did not believe that Nigerians had values anymore. He concluded that Nigeria's leaders were to blame. Nevertheless, in general, most people I have spoken to about this topic can refer to a good amount of values that they were raised with and that qualify as national values. However, the general consensus is that the importance of those values i.e. education, respect for elders, charity, importance of morality e.t.c. are dwindling. That could be correct, after all, watching television would suggest that both Nigerians and non-Nigerians appear to be less interested in the achievement of a solid education and a good reputation. It does seem as if the entire world is more interested in gaining wealth quickly and achieving fame/infamy over the tenets that our parents and their parents were taught to hold dear.

Now, I understand that with modern times come newer ways of thinking, after all I personally have suggested that Nigerians turn away from some of the customs that arguably identify some of us as Nigerians such as the Igbo Osu Caste system, the Fattening Rooms (practiced by the Efik, Ibibio, Okrika and Kalabari people of Souther Nigeria) and my most controversial suggestion to date, the illegalization of polygamy. Despite this, I do believe that there are basic ideals that people, in this case, Nigerians, must never waver from because these ideals shape who we are for the better.

So, what values do you attribute to Nigeria and why? Do you consider these to be positive or detrimental? Are these qualities/concepts/ideals that you were personally raised with or that you have seen in others? And, do you have any suggestions on how to create/reinforce national values?

Just curious...






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Mwangi said...

If I may allow me to give an outsider's perspective as someone from the East. Something that fundamentally separates Eastern Africans with Naija folks is the general volume levels. East Africans tend to be quite a subdued, quiet people and even when we are arrogant tend to express this arrogance in a quiet manner.
West Africans on the other hand are loud, expressive and whereas these may seem like adjectives instead of values I think that perhaps these adjectives are expressions of some deeply held beliefs and values....a strong desire to be heard, wearing one's heart always on one's sleeves, perhaps?
But that one I have heard and seen over and over and over again....East Africa is almost on mute when compared with our West African brothers and sisters.

Stuck in my head said...

I think the respect given to elders and superiors is a value of Naija. Even when they come to the US (or wherever) there is still respect shown to people. And this respect is transferred to their children even when the children are not raised in Nigeria.

ababoypart2 said...

Respect for the rule of law is something I would drum on about. There is little or none of it back home. Its every dog to his own ways.

Quite different from Yardy's, I think for him and his cronies its a way of introducing delays in the system, and getting the criminals off the hook.

Doja said...

I am not sure of what values are left in Nigeria, I am particularly troubled by the lack of preservation of our Cultural traditional instituoins which are now labelled as evil and demonic.

omosewa said...

The only thing that comes to mind is hardwork. Nigerians are a hardworking people who are driven to succeed and sometimes they are willing to bend the rules.

Not sure if you've seen this- http://www.thisdayonline.com/TDSCORES.pdf

nneoma said...

@Mwangi - errrgghhh....i've heard time and time and time again from our east african brethren, and even from some of our west african brethren about how "loud" nigerians are - whether in speech, lifestyle or dress....and I personally find it aggravating, especially when at times it borders on insulting (though mwangi, you have not crossed gotten to that point...yet)

The West has this image of Africa as a "quiet and subdued" continent huddled in its poverty-stricken corners presenting its undernourished hand to donors for a handout. Personally, I think one of the core values of Nigerians, that I have seen many more times than not amongst our people, is to spit in the face of such notions - much to the resentment of some of our other African brothers and sisters. This is not always done in a "loud" manner - we express our defiance of such notions through a number of means - fighting to be recognized for our hardwork in both the classroom and on the job, through our pens and recently, through the blogosphere. I agree with omosewa that we do have that drive to succeed and I may add that Nigerians refuse to remain in the "quiet" recesses of "African poverty."

pyoo wata
the nollywood critique

naijalines said...

I agree with Doja and Nneoma. The sistas have expressed what I want to say. Regarding Doja's comment, I think it is a shame indeed that christianity especially has eroded our traditional customs to such an extent that we almost do not know who we are anymore. I am a christian but I rebel against that extreme form of christianity that demands that you renounce all your history including your vastly rich cultural traditions.

Our values whether as an individual or as a nation, is very much tied up in our identity. Our identity is largely defined by our culture both past and present. We have to appreciate who we are, our past and present. It is only then that we have the values worthy of being passed to our children... for our future as a nation.

As to the 'Nigeria in Africa' identity, we can only be who we are and take pride in it.
Our African brothers and sistas can appreciate or criticise as they see fit. Even in West Africa itself, we are set apart... it's been said you always can tell if someone is Nigerian. Loud, confident, arrogant,... adjectives galore! We've always blazed the trail, led the way... never been afraid to say our mind... we'll continue to do so.

Kiibaati said...

Nigerian national values?

Isn't that an oxymoron?

femme said...

I was thinking only last night how traditionally Age is reverred by Africans,the wisdom that comes with age and the befitting status we attain with every passing year-not so any more.
Elders are disrespected because we live in a modern world,and 'this na city'.
we knock of a couple of years from our age, dye our hair and wear age inapporiate garbs in the fight to cling to youth.
lets not go into botox and surgical help.
its funny that we see how wrong the westerners are about many things and yet we gaily tag along.
Generally we are still very respectful but like my people say the- if the soup is sour in the morning, someone put a finger in last night
(dont mind me, i just wanted to work that in. lol)
how now?

guerreiranigeriana said...

..i agree with doja, nneoma and naijalines...we are a people who do things with passion, whether that is worship, learn, play football (usually), love or even 419 others...we are taught to do it with heart...i may have to sit and think some more on this one...pride, being proud of who we are...generally, naija people are damn proud-hence the arrogant, confident, etc adjectives used on us...

controversial said...

lol! no offense to mwangi, even the food out there in the East is muted. Good stuff, but nothing compared to Western African flavor.

Anyway, look Nigeria, like anyother nation has its own set of values. But, if you asked the pure water seller on the street to list 3 of them, he would laugh at you.

Nigerians don't have time for values anymore. They are too busy living hand to mouth and struggling to deal with the man made chaos that is living in most parts of the country. Particularly if you happened to be born poor.

I most definitely think that Nigeria has to do something to reinforce national values , whatever they may be. I am tired of hearing stories about how boys make it rich internet cafe style.

Femi B said...

I believe Nigeria still has a lot of national values in terms of culture and tradition. Nevertheless some moral values, as related to corruption and abiding laws have been tarnished over the years. And about the East Africans quietness and West Africans loudness, Well i see why most West African countries got their independence before most so- called quiet African countries.. i guess it sometimes pays to be loud and demanding

Mwangi said...

Just to be clear, I don't think that the loud, exuberant nature of the westerners is a negative thing...kinda makes me wish I was born in Naija too, our subdued nature bores me a lot of the time.

t said...

Yoruba Past:
Respect for Elderly wisdom.

Lagos Present:
PARTY.
Public display of prosperity. Struggle, especially for money.

Now I can read other people's answers: ha, same things.
What Wafa Sultan said in her criticism of her own Muslim people maybe holds for Nigerians today who have huddled close to religion in the throes of a daunting life of struggle: she said THEY ARE NOT PEOPLE OF THE BOOK, THEY ARE PEOPLE OF THE BOOKS. In other words, many books is preferable to preoccupation with one book.
May we have diversity of thought among Nigerians again, Amen.

Unknown said...

Wow,this is so intresting,i will bring this up on radio,i personally think we have ignored most of our traditional festivals like eyo,igue and so on in favor of foreign ones,imagine a nigerian celebrating hallowen in nigeria,kiloshie?abi u be american ni?,n ur kids cant say come in thier language,they cover up by saying our festivals are idolistic,is hallowen not based on death festivals,parents and educational institutes have to start emphasising on these values,as for us been proud,haba we are arrogantly naija,we no dey carry last o...

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