Academic journal article College Student Journal

An Integrated Approach to Social Work Practice in Nigeria

Academic journal article College Student Journal

An Integrated Approach to Social Work Practice in Nigeria

Article excerpt

The number of people in need of care, support and assistance from afflictions (natural and artificial) keeps expanding by the day. From a simple traditional based dislocation to a sophisticated 'man induced' social problems of wars, refugees, drug addiction, homosexuality, HIV/AIDS pandemics etc, the society today (either developed or under-developed) have had to grapple with increasing number of the un-served (mostly adults) requiring different types of support and assistance. As divergent as these problems and the people affected are, the means of resolving these problems by government remains exclusively, contemporary social work practice. This paper is an attempt at appraising the traditional practices with a view to drawing out practices capable of helping resolve some 'emerging' social problems. The paper believes that relying on contemporary practice as the official means of resolving social problem, without an attempt at utilizing some traditional practice of resolving problems is absurd. The paper proposes the integration of some practicable traditional practices as solution to some of the 'emerging' social problems.

Introduction

Most people nowadays want the work at hand done at once without a delay offered by a careful consideration of historical antecedents. But our forefathers argue that there can be no present without the past and that a nation without a knowledge of its past is doomed to fail. History opens our eyes to errors and mistakes, strength and weakness of the past. Perhaps that is why A.L. Rowse called History "the most important subject in the world". Unfortunately, historians have not yet made any impressive contributions to social work practice.

There has been a limited recorded account of how social work started in Nigeria. What we have had thus far has been a cursory look at the story of social work, agencies involved in social work and the prospect of social work in the coming years (Atolagbe, 1989). Such studies have given projections and assumptions based on empirical research, without taking into cognizance the assistance and relevance of historical survey to predicting the future based on lessons from the past. Perhaps, the considerable neglect or blatant refusal to look back has been largely responsible for the present status work of social work practice in Nigeria.

The aim of this paper, is to examine some historical antecedents of social work practice in Nigeria and the type of support rendered, believing that such might help in repositioning the practice (social work) in the country. It is also intended to expose the strength of pre-literate social work practice, with a view to examining the possibility of integrating such practice into the social work policy framework.

In the Beginning

While social work as a profession in the western world evolved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a part of the societal response to the growing social needs of masses of people, there has been considerable assistance for the needy, destitute and mentally ill, within the African, particularly Nigerian social set up before this period. Social work practice in Nigeria began with creation. For even the first citizens of the country needed attention and care that social work offers.

Since one of the prerequisites for an effective social work practice is to ensure equal distribution of resources, the indigenous Nigerian society with its emphasis on privileges based on birth, position, age and affluence, offered a fertile ground for action (Omolewa & Kazeem, 1991). The indigenous society was a caring one, eager to ensure that no one in the society was deprived of the basic necessities of life. There is an elaborate code of manners and etiquette, the observance of which serves to reduce the strains and frustrations of interpersonal relationship. Part of the code is that of salutation (greetings) for every conceivable occasions and situations. …

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