8 Sep 2022


The Importance of Cultural Heritage

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Academic level: College

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My cultural heritage can be traced in the western part of Nigeria, and my people are recognized as the Yoruba. I come from a reserved culture, though civilization and enlightenment have influenced most of our beliefs and practices. Being a Yoruba means holding on to our beliefs, especially about religion, moral, and the way we related to each other. My family ancestry runs deep with various generations, and each one responsible for educating those behind them the importance of upholding our values and living as an example, despite western influence. Despite my family being a modern family, we have adopted most of the practices from Yoruba culture, for example, our names are from the previous generation. The way we share the household duties, for instance, my parents expects us to contribute in all work. We are also required to share meals regularly, which is a cultural thing believed to ensure that the unity of the family is maintained. Exploring my culture is a way of understanding it more and appreciating some ceremonies, practices, and beliefs I am expected to uphold. 

My cultural heritage is not only found in the western part of Nigeria, but also other areas such as Benin, Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast, my research shows that all these groups have the same beliefs as I have, with the only difference being the geographical location. We have lots in common such as language, the traditions, ceremonies such as death, naming, weddings, and others. I came to understand that among my people, naming is the most important ceremony. The event is a celebration of a new life added among the Yoruba as well as honoring the ancestors by ensuring that the child carries their name (Larkin, 2000). In my family, for example, our names have a specific meaning related to our religious or cultural beliefs. In addition, the name is passed down in generations from our ancestors. During the naming ceremony, the oldest family members conduct the ceremony and bless the child to make sure that they can carry down the family name. Such ceremonies are always happy where we eat, dance, and celebrate life. 

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My culture has a specific cuisine made up of traditional meals such as Iyan, Okra, EFI rir, Akara, which is bean cake and others. I have been observing my mother prepare these meals, especially when there is an occasion related to our traditions. I have even learned to prepare some of them since I help at times when they are being cooked. There are specific dishes for ceremonies and festivities, for example, fried rice, ofada rice, and jollof rice (Forde, 2017). Despite trying to maintain our cuisine, my family has always tried dishes from other cultures as a way of appreciating them as well as learning more about nutrition and dieting. These extra trials are, however, done only in the family but cannot be tried in ceremonies as my relatives may consider it as abandoning our culture, which is wrong. 

I have learned more about my culture through art, which is seen in sculpture and textile. In our house, there are different sculptures hung on the walls which have some famous faces from Yoruba culture. I, at times, feel that these sculptures are ugly and have even asked my parents to pull them down. However, I always get the same response on the importance of appreciating our culture and people. There are textile weaving carpets and ragged mats at home. My parents indicated that they are part of our traditions. There are Yoruba people who make a living from making the textile and weaving. Yoruba people believe in helping each other and that why even if one does not require the weaved material, they end up buying (Larkin, 2000). Assisting each other where possible is one of the values we are expected to uphold in my culture. I have also watched my grandmother and some of my aunties weave some baskets for storing things and marketing purposes. 

Norms are activities and practices part of the life of my culture. Religion runs deep in my culture. Yoruba people are religious, and it is believed that it imparts good morals and values to the people, thus making them live in harmony and respect. There are different faiths such as Christianity and Islam, and they are all accepted in my culture as long as they play the role of passing down values. In my family, prayers are not only to God but also our ancestors (Na'Allah, 2019). They are considered as our guardian angels, protecting us against harm ways as long as we follow the values that are passed down to us (Obadare, 2018). The Yoruba people do not let religion to hinder how they interact despite belonging to different faiths. The belief of the same ancestors is what is important and binding these individuals together. Exploring other faiths and enlightenment is allowed, which is seen with new religions rising among the Yoruba people. 

Ceremonies are considered essential in my cultural heritage. They are essential as they mark a life passage. The naming ceremony introduces the child to the world and ensures that the ancestral name is given to guide the child in life. Wedding festivities are considered important in marking the climax of the courtship. In my culture, weddings are both traditional and religious. In a traditional wedding, there is a lot of dancing, eating, drinking and celebrating. I have attended a religious wedding, and it is mostly making vows before the higher being that the couple believe it. It is considered important as it helps connect the couple spiritually, and they get the values they require to guide them in the marriage (Obadare, 2018). My mother once told me that traditional marriage is considered more important among the Yoruba. There are elders who sit with the newlyweds to give them advice on how they should live. Experienced men guide the groom while women guide the bride. 

My family stresses the importance of moral behavior and values that should guide us all through. Values are principles which are supposed to guide me and the rest in acting right. These values are from the Yoruba culture, which believes that the values help people to live peacefully and respect each other. I remember when we were young, we would get a serious beating if we did not follow the values we have been taught. Cheating, for example, could lead a serious punishment to the point that it could even discourage other siblings from lying. Our parents are expected to teach us values from a young age. When I was growing up, I remember my grandparents would call us together and tell us stories where we were to learn specific values to follow (Forde, 2017). Some of them are honesty, sharing, respect for every person, whether old or young, caring, loving, helping each other, and others. These values have played an important role in my life as I know how to interact with people. I rarely get into trouble because I was taught my limits from a young age. These values are passed down in generations, and someday, I will impart them to my family. 

My people believe that each life has a purpose, where each individual is expected to search for the meaning of their life and yearn for the best. Yoruba idealism was introduced by Divinity-philosopher Orunmila, indicated that the Yoruba in Nigeria and those in places such as America, carried through slave trade should seek ways of improving their lives. Enlightenment is thus allowed in my culture, and that explains the western influence in most of our operations. In my family, for example, my parents believe in supporting all our dreams and ideas as long as they will improve our lives. The support is mostly through education, where my siblings and I are encouraged to work hard and reach the highest levels (Olajoke & Oluwapelumi, 2018). The Yoruba people can also be seen thriving in other areas such as business and leadership, as they all follow the idealism of yearning for the best. 

Aboriginal culture is made up of individuals who originate from Australia. The beliefs and practices of Aboriginal and Yoruba are very different. Aboriginal can be considered more traditional, as seen in their healing practices. There are traditional healers which are consulted by the Aboriginal people, which is different from Yoruba, who have adopted and appreciate modern medicine. Aboriginal have more faiths than Yoruba, ranging from Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and others. However, the two cultures appreciate their music, and it is practiced are ceremonies such as weddings and burials. Aboriginal has been influenced by western culture just as Yoruba. Art in the two cultures has been carried down in generations, and it is used to signify the traditions, beliefs, and some objects among the people. 

The number of foreign people settling in Nigeria has been on the rise. That increases the chance of a cultural revolution among the Yoruba occurring. Some festivals which are outdated, such as death rituals will be abandoned. The Yoruba idealism will thrive on yearning for the best life since there will be more opportunities. However, some traditions which are important among my people such as naming will be passed down to the next generations. 


Forde, D. (2017). The Yoruba-Speaking Peoples of South-Western Nigeria: Western Africa Part IV. Routledge. 

Larkin, B. (2000). Hausa dramas and the rise of a video culture in Nigeria. Nigerian video films, 73, 209. 

Na'Allah, A. R. (2019). Yoruba Oral Tradition in Islamic Nigeria: A History of Dàdàkúàdá. Routledge. 

Obadare, E. (2018). On the theological-theatrical: explaining the convergence of Pentecostalism and popular culture in Nigeria. Africa at LSE. 

Olajoke, A. S., & Oluwapelumi, A. M. (2018). A Study on the Extinction of Indigenous Languages in Nigeria: Causes and Possible Solutions. Annals of Language and Literature, 2(1), 22-26. 

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