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The Influence of Colonial Rule on Nigeria’s Culture and Tradition

The colonial masters, majorly the Europeans invaded Nigeria in the 19th century. They introduced many things and displaced the culture and traditions of Nigeria. There was influx of culture and they dominated almost all areas of Nigerian’s lifestyle. There was change, development, modernization and all sorts of positive changes. Some barbaric traditions were thrown into pits, some were reviewed while some were replaced with new ones. Also, the coming of the Europeans also brought negative changes to the heritage of the country. Although some parts of the country were rigid and firm about their culture as they stood vehemently against change while some culture allowed total influence of the colonial masters. Some of the areas that were influenced, both positively and negatively are;


1. Religion

The religion that predominate Nigeria before the invasion of the foreigners was traditional religion. The colonial masters brought Christianity because many of them were missionaries from the Roman Catholic Church. Crusades were conducted and many Nigerians were converted. Shrines, worshiping house of the gods were burnt down. Through trade and contact with the Arabs, Islamic religion was also introduced to Nigerians. These new religion grew and were divided into many branches to the extent that only few people still practice the indigenous religion.

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2. Traditions

Many traditions were stopped with colonilisation. Traditions that involve the killing of people for rituals and sacrifices were abolished. For example, the killing of twins was put to stop by a Western Nurse named Florence Nightingale. On the other hand, some traditions that were important and those that curb immorality were destroyed. An example is the important of virginity before marriage. This practice has gained less ground and no more founded in the culture. Modernization has destroyed some positive and good aspects of Nigeria’s culture.


3. Works of Arts

Many arts, artifacts, sculptures and old images were being carted away by the Europeans when they were leaving the country. During their rule, these works of arts were being bought, some were stolen while some were given away by the corrupt elders. The remaining works of arts are those that were left behind and they cannot be compared with the good ones that flew away with independence.

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4. Dressing

This is one of the areas that were negatively influenced by colonial reign. The main motive and reason for wearing cloth is now a thing of the past. Before colonilisation, the clothes wore do cover the nakedness and are with modesty. When the Europeans came, they introduced their dressing and sense of fashion. The new dress code has eaten deep down and has destroyed the initial moral standards of Nigeria. The traditional attire is hardly worn, clothes are now worn for the sense of fashion and not to cover the sensitive body parts.


5. Marriage

Marriage is one of the universal cultural behaviour. The type, forms and people’s view about marriage has been influenced both positively and negatively by the Europeans. On the positive side, polygamous marriage was reduced while monogamous marriage was encouraged. Family size has been reduced compared to that of the olden days. on the negative side, divorce rate has been increased. Before the colonial rule, despite the large family size and numerous number of wives, the head of the family was responsible and there is no or low divorce rate. Divorce was on special cases, grounds and occasions. But story has changed with the coming of the Europeans, divorce is now seen as a normal procedure. Marriages hardly last for a decade before the couple call it quit.  Responsibility, marital dedication and the quote “for better, for worse” are now things of the past in many Nigerian’s marriage and family settings. 

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