Cultural Imperialism

Change takes place on daily basis, and whenever this happens, people’s lives are affected one way or the other. Right from our mothers’ wombs, we are all affected by the word “change.” As a result of this change, the world is growing into a huge family with all the people in different countries, knowing about, sharing and caring for one another. This occurs as a result of people copying what they see others do, especially when they watch television and films. Human beings learn new things from the radio, especially from news reports and stories. They also learn by traveling to other lands to see how the people there live. They imitate what they read in books, magazines and newspapers about other countries that they think are more developed than them.

It is important to note that no country or group of people or even a person can live alone without others. There is need to associate with people of other countries to share, borrow and exchange ideas and methods. However, this consumption of a sizable proportion of foreign culture to the point of dislodging the original culture from developing is popularly referred to as Cultural Imperialism. Also, talking about Cultural Transmission, we mean the transfer of culture from one generation to another. This helps in the development of cultural awakening and stimulating the imaginative, creative and artistic abilities in individuals thus leading to the production of cultural artifact. The mass media as a major carrier of culture help in so many ways in supplying the cultural shapes and vice versa in all developing countries. In the real sense of it, Cultural Imperialism can be both good and bad.

In Nigeria, we can see the positive sides of cultural transmission as a means of access to culture and all forms of creative expression to millions f people. Today, a Yoruba man may not know about the Igbo or Hausa culture without watching them on television. Many religious programmes that are meant to share ideas and to inform people about the existence of other faith are also showcased. Many good ideas and methods copied from developed countries like England, France and the USA have helped in no small measure to improve the country in areas like education, health, housing, style of living, agriculture, trade and industries, systems of government and technology. We have been greatly influenced by ideas we borrowed from other countries.

Just as we are quick in copying the good things in foreign and developed countries, we are also quick in picking up some habits. Over-exposure to foreign culture has led to a shift in the cultural and religious organizations of Nigeria. Many programmes aired in Nigeria are foreign and their impact on the youth is that it has bred anti-social behaviors and negative values on the Nigerian youth. This is because their culture and way of life are quite different from ours. As a result of this influence, many Nigerians, mostly the youths, now dress, talk, eat and even behave like foreigners. Some adult females try to look like the whites by bleaching their skins, to make them lighter. In most cities in the country, you will find mostly the young boys wearing ear-rings on one or both ears and having funny hairstyles. They wear strange clothes that are not suitable for our hot climate. Crime has greatly increased partly because of the influence of foreign films which the youths watch on TV, and films. Such young people have little or no respect for our culture and values which place great emphasis on respect for the family, elders, parents, teachers and society.

Therefore, apart from the positive function of Cultural Transmission, which can be seen on the major role it plays in the implementation and democratizing culture, research has shown that it breeds Cultural Imperialism or domination. The way and manner in which foreign films, materials, and media contents influence our modes of dressing, behavior, dancing and general physical appearance is alarming, which if left unchecked could result to turning our nation into a cultureless society. It should be understood that our social system frowns at programmes that are completely not in conformity with our indigenous cultures and social values. Let us learn to be proud of our own culture as we have no other place to call our own, but Africa.

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