The country of Nigeria is located in Western Africa bordering the Gulf of Guinea (Bureau of African Affairs, 2011). The Cultural interview discussed in this paper was conducted on a 33 year old man who migrated to the United States of America from Nigeria 4 years ago. “Nigeria has over 50 languages and over 250 dialects and ethnic groups” (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011). The three largest groups are the Hausa-Fulani, the Igbo, and the Yoruba. Nigeria music is mostly folk-like. It is very popular worldwide due to the unique instruments played such as the gongon drums (Faola & Heaton, 2008).
The person I interviewed is a coworker of mine. Our interview took place in Taco Bell in Willoughby, Ohio, November 20th at 11 A. M. We spoke for about 1 hour and 40 minutes. During our interview I asked questions about the standards of living in Nigeria, and cultural beliefs and practices. I also asked individual questions about personal life and perceptions about Nigerian and American culture. According to my interviewee most of the houses in Western Africa are made out of brick. The only people who are able to have things such as air conditioning, televisions, and telephone service are rich people.
Most jobs in Nigeria pay in salary rather than by the hour. During my research for this assignment I discovered that the average interest rate to buy a home in Nigeria is 17% -24% (Bureau of African Affairs, 2011). The taxes are also higher when compared to the United States. The unemployment rate is increasing rapidly which is also accompanied by an increased in crime rates. Approximately, there is a hijack taking place every two minutes (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 2011). The traditional Nigerian family consists of the father, his wife, and their children.
The father is considered the head of the household and usually works to bring in the money while his wife takes care of the house and kids. The oldest male or father is the dominant figure in the household, and all the decisions that may affect the family go through him first. The oldest son in the family can take such a role in the absence of the father. From a very young age, children (especially males) are expected to contribute to family obligations, and help the family in any way necessary. Laziness is unacceptable and is considered a sign of weakness. The children’s responsibilities grow as they get older.
It is not uncommon for older sons to drop out of school so they can work and help the family. Daughters usually help with things such as cooking, doing laundry, babysitting, etc. Elders are treated with a lot of respect and their advice and guidance is always taken into consideration when making any important decisions. The proper way to greet an elder person is by kneeling down which is considered a sign of respect and obedience (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011). Because of the rising unemployment rates, women are now also expected to work outside of their homes and contribute to their family’s income.
There are certain parts of Nigeria that are extremely traditional and where women are treated like possessions with no rights and loss of identity. In many cases women are expected to work and earn an income, maintain the household duties, and fulfill the sexual desires of their men. Males are always admired while women are considered inferior. Females are usually raised to serve and be submissive and obedient to men (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011). There are many marriages that end when the woman in the relationship gives birth to too many females (Faola & Heaton, 2008).
My interviewee states that this is less common in bigger more develop cities. Many families have an average of 10 or more children which is considered a sign of stability and good status; however, this is also becoming less common as having more children also leads to economic burden in today’s society (Faola & Heaton, 2008). Nigerians tend to be very family oriented people, and are usually very close to extended family and relatives. Most Nigerians live with their extended family in either the same house or in separate houses that are close together.
Neighbors are often considered part of the extended family. It does not matter whether they are related or not (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011). My interviewee shared with me several stories of how when he was a kid his neighbors were very involved in his childhood practically raising him. Holiday celebrations are a reason for big family gatherings and parties. There are many similarities when comparing holiday celebrations in Nigeria and the United States. Nigerians celebrate New Year’s Day, Christmas day, and Easter just like people do in the United States.
Their labor day is often referred to as “workers’ day”. They also have a “freedom day” where they celebrate their first real election of April 27th, 1994 (Faola & Heaton, 2008). Election Day is also considered a public holiday. Nigeria has a “dry season” and a “rainy season” each year. Their Christmas is usually during the middle of summer. My research done for this assignment indicates that Rugby is the largest and most popular sport in Africa (Bureau of African Affairs, 2011); however, my interviewee states that Soccer is even more popular in Nigeria (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011).
There are usually big festivals that occur before and after each game for both sports. Hunting is also a very popular sport in Western Africa. My interviewee describes Nigeria as a very beautiful place full of nature, and where deer are a lot bigger than in the United States. It is very common to see lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo crossing streets or simply strolling around the side of roads. My interviewee is from South East Nigeria. Besides English, he speaks Ibibio and Efic which are two “vernacular” languages meaning they are native and indigenous in certain areas (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).
English is considered the official business language. My interviewee has a wife and two kids. He used to have his own business in Nigeria being a traveling agent and attended college to study marketing. His main goal is to become a Registered nurse (which he is currently attending school for) and to one day own his own business. Education is perceived to be very important in Western Africa culture even though many people never get the opportunity to attend college.
Traditionally, most young adults continue living with their parents until they get married, even if they have to travel long distances for school (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011). Most people living in Nigeria have diets based on organic foods that are low in preservatives, non-fried foods, and non-animal fat. Eating meat and going out to restaurants are options that are often avoided because very few people can afford them. Most food consumed comes from local farms and mainly consists of crops such as plantains, corn, yams, and sweet potatoes.
Papaya, pineapples, coconuts, oranges, mangoes, and bananas are also readily available. My interviewee’s favorite dishes are cassava which is a starchy root with a crisp white flesh and Nigerian Suya which are considered delicacies. Nigerian Suya is a method of roasting meat that tastes like barbecue. My interviewee dislikes American food because he says is very unhealthy and very hard to chew (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011). West African culture is rich in health care practices that consist of a variety of home and folk remedies.
Many people visit shamans, exorcists, card readers, advisors and sorcerers just to mention a few prior to seeking conventional medical help from doctors. Many ethnic groups in Nigeria are against Western medicinal practice including vaccinations or taking any type of pill (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011). Home remedies usually include special teas and foods recommended for specific illnesses. My interviewee states that when he or anyone else in his family is sick they try to rest as much as possible, take plenty of fluids, and visit a doctor.
He also does yearly doctor checkups. One major risk behavior in Nigerian culture is the lack of protection when having sex and having multiple sex partners or sex with strangers (Unites States Agency of International Development, 2011). Not participating in Western medicinal practices can be considered a risk behavior. Even though people seem to be very well aware of the dangers of such behavior they continue to do same thing out of ignorance and a variety of personal beliefs. My interviewee shared with me how difficult it was for him and his family to adapt to a new culture.
Some examples given were: learning how to drive on the right side of the road, learning how to handle U. S. currency, and understanding American slang. I have been living in the United States for 13 years and I still do not understand American slang. My interviewee also had to learn how to pump his own gas. In Nigeria gas stations pump the gas for you because they are afraid that you might try to drive away without paying (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011). One of the hardest things my interviewee had to learn was to control his Sense of distance and attitude when approaching people for the first time.
He states that in Nigeria everyone is very close and friendly with each other. Touch is considered an integral part of Nigerian culture but is misinterpreted in the United States (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011). He states that when he first moved here he immediately noticed how people reacted to him “strangely for acting too happy and friendly”. Now he tries to be “a bit more serious and reserved” when meeting someone for the first time (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011).
According to my interviewee most people in Nigeria are Christians. The few people that are not Christian usually worship different deities, spirits, ancestors, and Gods. There is a God for every element on earth and many other ones. The reason why Christianity is expanding rapidly is because of the many missionaries that come every year to help people in need and expand the message of God (Anonymous Personal Communication, November 25, 2011). My interviewee did not mention anything about Muslims or Islam.
According to my research “it is estimated that 50 percent of Nigerians are Muslims, 40 percent are Christian, and that remaining 10 percent practice various indigenous religions” (McLaughlin, 2006). Differences between Muslims and Christians have created a lot of conflict in Nigeria. This is why most Nigerians try to marry within their own religion. The majority of Christians live in the southern part of Nigeria while the Muslims predominate in the North (McLaughlin, 2006). This assignment was challenging but very rewarding.
I like to travel around the world and learn about different cultures. I will put the knowledge learned from this assignment into action and encourage others to do the same. I think that it is important to keep an open mind and respect and value any differences in culture. Expecting others to assimilate to one’s culture is wrong and futile. Cultural diversity will always be a very important issue in nursing practice for many years to come. The United States of America is becoming a lot more than the so called “melting pot” and we nurses need to be prepared.
Courtney from Study Moose
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