Nigeria

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					                            Nigeria
Geographic Location and Current Events

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Background Information

      Name of Region: Africa (West Africa)
      Name of Country: Nigeria
      State Capital: Abuja (former Capital, Lagos)

Ethnic Groups

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups. There are 3 primary
indigenous groups in Nigeria (most of the various ethnic groups stem from these three).

      Yoruba 21% predominant in the South and South-West
      Hausa 29% predominant in the North
      Igbo 18% predominant in the East
      Other 32% most other groups are off shoots of the above listed 3 major ethnic groups.

Languages

English is the official language spoken.

Pidgin English - a slang-version of the English and ethnic languages that is used among the locals. It is
especially used when bargaining for items at the marketplace.[4]

The 3 primary indigenous languages spoken are:

      Yoruba
      Hausa
      Igbo

NOTE: The Nigerians that attend ISU are predominantly Yorubas [5]

Religions
       Christian 40%
       Muslim 50%
       Other 100%

Government Involvement with Religion

Religion plays a big part in the Nigerian economy and in the overall harmony of the country.

Attitude Towards Counseling

What is the cultural attitude toward counseling?

Counseling is looked at as a specialized field of psychology that deals with mentally unstable individuals. They
attach the name counselor to the idea of a psychiatrist and associate people that see counselors as ones with
personal mental problems that stray far from the average individual, thereby needing professional help. [6]

Does this notion exist in the culture?

Counselors do not really exist within the Nigerian society. It is believed that there is no challenge or problem
that cannot be solved within the family. Anything outside this would have to be abnormal, thereby needing
special help.

There are usually at least two or three members of the family that one can turn to, depending on the problem at
hand. When a problem arises and one needs help, he or she would usually turn to the most experienced credible,
and/ or respected family member in that related area. [7]

Is it typical for people to contact a counselor in a crisis situation or is it avoided?

Nigerians believe that any problem can be solved from within the family, so the idea of looking outside the
family towards a counselor wouldn't even come to mind. Rather, there are several acting counselors within the
family system.[8] This acting counselor(s) ranges from the in-laws to older or younger siblings or closed
relatives.[9]

If it is avoided, what are the other preferences (family members, friends, memorial service organizations, etc.)?

Preferences are simply: Family, friends, and sometimes, traditional or spiritual leaders (depending on the
problem at hand). [10]

What are the cultural beliefs about medication?

Beliefs about medication vary, depending strongly on how much of a traditionalist one is. People in the more
rural communities do tend to have a greater inclination towards traditional medicines than those in more urban
communities. Those in highly urbanized communities lean more strongly towards modern medicine. [11]

Issues related to Gender, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Death

How is information shared about crisis/death?

Information is shared and discussed tightly within the family - immediate, close extended, and close family
friends. [12]
If something has happened in the family at home (somebody got seriously sick, etc.), is it common in the culture
not to inform the student until he arrives home?

It is common to not tell a student about serious illnesses so he/ she would not have to worry about it, and allow
worrying to affect performance. It all depends on the closeness of the sick person to the student and the stage
he/she is in the semester. But once death becomes inevitable, then the student will be informed as soon as
possible. Sometimes it is just a matter of waiting for the right time to tell the student. But should the person die,
the student will be informed immediately, especially a student of the immediate family, for they would be a
significant part of the funeral ceremonies thereafter. [13]

What is the cultural attitude toward gossip / confidentiality? Do people relay on the grapevine to inform or is it
strongly avoided?

Nigerians value confidentiality, strongly, and entrust sensitive issues to close family and friends. However,
information will be more readily available by a roommate or close friend who of course intends to help in
anyway he or she can. [14]

What are the cultural / religious beliefs about death and suicide?

The reaction and response towards natural death strongly depends on the age of the individual that passes away.
In general, Nigerians believe in the spiritual afterlife and that as ones body grows old, there comes a time when
it stops and the spirit moves on, because they strongly believe that one's spirit never dies. Consequently, death is
a call for great celebration when one dies at a ripe old age. The older the deceased, the greater the
celebration.[15] However, there is no celebration if a person of young age dies, such as infant to early forties. It
is very common for Yoruba parents not to attend their children's funeral because of a common saying among the
Yoruba people that goes thus: May you not bury a child in your lifetime, and may your children succeed your
old age. Occasionally, there is a minimum celebration for the death of young adult if the person already had
children who are old enough to understand the impact of the deceased person in their lives, this is implying that
the children are celebrating the life of their deceased parents. [16]

Suicide is a taboo. No celebration. The burial is very swift and short. It does not involve any elaborative
ceremony, other than prayers and wake-keeping because suicide is frowned upon, and viewed as a sign of
weakness. [17] Some traditional believers might perform sacrifice rituals to ensure the redemption of the soul of
the deceased person. [18]

What are the ways to approach people about religion?

It is generally best to ask anyone if they have a religious preference. If the answer is yes, they should usually
introduce it to you. You can usually tell from their reply roughly how inclined they are to discuss their religion
with you. This will suggest whether to push the issue or not. Nigerians take a lot of pride and celebration in
their religion so you should not have a problem with a politely stated "what is your religion?" Still, it is better to
be safe than sorry. [19]

What is the culturally approved grieving process?

The grieving process varies with the status of the individual that died.

A widowed woman, whose husband died, stays at home and cuts her hair for a grieving period of forty days.
The same rule applies to a widower, whose grieving death of his wife, but the grieving period for men is
sometimes less than the women's grieving depending on the region, family traditions, religious practice, and
personal preference. It is an occasion when they finally come out of grieving. There is no right or wrong way of
grieving. It can be private or public. Nevertheless, it is very appropriate to grieve openly. [20]
Are there any specific things to be aware of? For example, is there a timeline for a funeral? (If there is one,
people can feel pressured to meet it).

Traditionally, Yoruba people believe in life after death and reincarnation. The Islamic burial is done
immediately. The Christian burial can be immediate if all the children of the deceased and relatives are
available for the funeral. Otherwise the dead body can be taken to a mortuary until all the family members are
ready and available for the final rites of passage for their deceased one. The funeral process can be very tedious
at times. The families of the deceased are usually expected to provide all the necessary burial elements. On rare
circumstances where there are unknown family members, or the family members are too poor to provide for the
funeral, the church will fund the funeral. [21]

What is the typical structure of the services?

Structure depends on the religious practice of the deceased person. However, regardless a typical service
structure consists of prayers and song services, and reading of the family praises (poetry), giving the dead
continuous praise. [22]

What would be expected of someone visiting who is not part of a culture? Would it be respectful for him/ her to
follow the same traditions? For example, to bring the right flowers to memorial service?

One who visits should acquaint him- or her-self with the family of the deceased, with an introduction of the
relationship to the deceased. From that point, you stand as a part of the family and they will tell you all that you
need to know or the person can just follow what everybody else does if desired. [23]

What is the appropriate attire if attending a funeral or memorial?

Appropriate attire: depends on the age of one who died:

Specific colors are picked and worn by members of the family of the deceased. It is usually a combination of
two colors that will be the attire for each individual family member, including little children. This occurs when
the deceased lived to a significantly old age.

Dark and dull colors are worn by all for the youthfully deceased, for it is a sad occasion. [24]

What is the appropriate way to approach the surviving family members and friends? What is the appropriate
way to have contact with the family?

Sources indicated that there is no preferred way to contact the family, as long as it is done in a respectful
manner. Approach the family solemnly and be respectful of the deceased and the family. [25]

Who should be contacted?

Contact older family member or close friends nearby. It is important to contact one nearby so that bearing the
pain is not done in solitude. [26]

Who should initiate the contact?

The contacted family member or friend should be the one to initiate the contact. It is preferred that such tragic
information be heard from a loved one, family, or close friends or someone entrusted. [27]

Who would / might be the family spokesperson?
The father (most eligible male representative of the family) is always the family spokesperson or sometimes the
oldest/closet person available at the present. [28]

What is the appropriate way to ask questions about the deceased?

Ask questions in the same manner that you would expect anyone else to ask you about a relative's death with a
great deal of respect. [29]

Burial customs

The religious burial customs depend on the age of the individual who has died. Yorubas believe in reincarnation
and thus the celebration of life after death. [30]

Old Tradition: No funeral home used; family prepares the body.

Preparation of the body.

Christian:

Wake keeping (at home; everybody stays awake to watch the body). This custom involves a lot of singing, bible
reading and prayer.[31]

Bury of the body at church's cemetery.

Reception (celebration).

When body is completely prepared, dressed and put in a coffin, a goat or other animals are immediately
slaughtered.

Continuous preparation of food from death till about 8th day after the burial ceremony.[32]

Islam:

Must be buried regardless before the 2nd night.

40th day prayer.

How can we protect students from assuming too much responsibility in a crisis (death, etc.)?

It would be helpful to get group of friends/ acquaintances that will empathize and keep him/her busy and
preoccupied. [33]

Should we be directive or facilitative regarding administrative needs?

Care should be taken to facilitate people in specific issues like that of tragic death within the family. Traditional
roles have to be fulfilled by individual members of the family. [34]

What existing organizations should we contact?

Contact the Nigerian Student Union (NSU) on ISU campus, or the nearest embassy. [35]
What are the political attitudes that might influence the situation (finances, political concerns, etc.)?

Can be extremely costly and have cultural concern/ preferences (e.g. where the body is to be buried.) [36]

Web Links

      www.motherlandnigeria.com

       This is an excellent interactive site to get information on Nigerian ethnic groups, cultures and languages.

      http://www.countrywatch.com/cw_country.asp?vcountry=128

       This is an information provider for schools, universities, libraries and individuals who need up-to-date
       information and news on the countries of the world and for the public and private sector organizations
       with global operations and interests.

ISU Organizations

      Nigerian Student Union

       http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/general/NIGERIANSTUDENTSUNION.html

Footnotes

      [1] Maps.com: http://www.maps.com
      [2] CountryWatch.com: http://www.countrywatch.com/cw_country.asp?vcountry=128
      [3] CountryWatch.com: http://www.countrywatch.com/cw_country.asp?vcountry=128
      [4] Nigerian undergraduate student A, 2000 & Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [5] Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [6] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [7] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [8] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [9] Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [10] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000, Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2000
      [11] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [12] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [13] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [14] Nigerian undergraduate student A, 2000; Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [15] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [16] Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [17] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000; Nigerian undergraduate students A & B, 2000
      [18] Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [19] Nigerian undergraduate student A, 2000; Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [20] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000; Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [21] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000; Nigerian undergraduate students A & B, 2000
      [22] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [23] Nigerian undergraduate student A, 2000
      [24] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [25] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [26] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [27] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [28] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000; Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [29] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [30] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [31] Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [32] Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [33] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [34] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000
      [35] Nigerian Faculty member at ISU, 2000; Nigerian undergraduate student B, 2001
      [36] F.E. Fasehun, 2000

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