CULTURE can be defined as a set of ideas, behaviors, attitudes and traditions that exist within large groups of people usually of a common religion, family or something similar. These ideas, behaviors, traditions etc are passed on from one generation to the next and are typically resistant to change over time.
It has been observed that mind and culture are inseparable and mutually constitutive meaning that people are shaped by their culture and their culture is also shaped by them. This cycle of culture consists of four layers; Institutions, Individual Interactions and Ideas.
Culture is made up of institutions in which everyday interactions take place. These determine and enforce the rules for a society and include the family, legal, government, economic, scientific, philosophical and religious bodies. Institutions encourage certain practices and products while discouraging others, for example in the Urhobo community - persons are divided into age grades responsible for the overall and proper administration of the community. The Children sweep the village square and town halls while the elders are mandated to take decisions which are usually implemented by or effected by the youths. Thus we learn about cultural values such as team work and cooperation.
The individual thinks about and expresses himself. Studies have shown that individuals are likely to describe their personalities based on their environment. Thus an Urhobo man whose environment has been influenced by a certain animosity towards the Oil Companies would describe himself as brave, resourceful and intelligent.
Interactions with other people and product reinforce cultural behaviors on a daily basis. Stories and songs are methods of interaction that guide individuals in a culture to promote certain values and teach them how to behave. For instance, in the Urhobo culture, stories such as - "how the tortoise broke his back", are told by Grandparents to Children in order to place emphasis on the effects of greed and how it can affect a person's relationship with other members of the community.
The Merriam Webster's dictionary defines and Idea as an entity (as a thought, concept, sensation, or image) actually or present to consciousness. It can also be seen as a formulated thought or opinion. An Idea when acted upon can lead to changes in an individual, it can change the way he interacts with his community. If a person because of his "lack" decides to steal from his community, the way he interacts with the community has changed due to the singular idea that stealing would provide for him thus leading to him committing crimes which oppose the communities' laws and statutes
Personhood In The Urhobo Cultural Area
The Idea of militancy started with a person and has since become a culture in some parts of the Urhobo community. Taking up arms in other to fight for a perceived right and injustice being permeated by the government as well as the Multi National Oil companies became a way of life. When the farmland or fishing pond of a person becomes polluted with oil, He is aggrieved and his grievance leads to anger which springs up especially when he is not compensated for his loss. Collectively, aggrieved persons come together and make up institution of their own, a militant group. These days, young person's now see militancy as a means to an end, a way to make money as well as providing for their family. It has become for them "a way of life".
A woman is forbidden to engage in extra marital affairs in the Urhobo land as the ramifications for this can be massive. It is usually believed that the average Urhobo woman works more than the man or the husband. This can lead to the woman having the belief that because she provides more she can do whatever she likes thereby engaging in affairs. If the husband is aware of her promiscuous activities, then he is not to eat food which has being cooked by her or have sex with her but if he is aware and does these things then he puts himself at risk because he and his children fall mysteriously ill which could lead to death.
Stories like this have been passed on from generation to generation through interactions in families. This eventually leads to a reduced rate of extramarital affairs by women of the Urhobo community.
Polygamy is considered to be the norm in the URHOBO Community as such the boys in the community grow up with the impression that having more than one wife is OK. A man is not considered a man if he has only one wife and he could be ostracized amongst his peers. The more wives a man has, the more respect he garners as more wives means more children which in turn means more people to work in farms, thus it therefore means he has more money hence the respect.
This concept of polygamy has thus permeated to the young boys who use it as a sort of permission to cheat on and have more than one girlfriend at a time. To them, if their fathers can have more than one wife, then it is allowed for them. Even the young girls are not exempted, since some of them are children to "second wives" they see nothing wrong with being a second wife thus the cycle continues.
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Posted 8:02am, Mon 23rd January, 2017 by Iyanu Victor