Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

African Cultural Practices and Health Implications for Nigeria Rural Development

Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

African Cultural Practices and Health Implications for Nigeria Rural Development

Article excerpt


African continent is one of the largest continents of the world and it's a multi-ethnic society with its peculiar nature and diverse practices (Ojua and Omono, 2012). Also one sees that Nigeria as a country is made up of people from different ethnic groups and cultural practices with the dominant groups being Igbos, Yorubas and Hausas. It has more than 250 ethnic groups with different cultural practices. Some of these cultural practices, which have endured centuries of practice work for the people. It is not uncommon to think of something crude and bad whenever one talks about cultural practices as it concerns health. Not all cultural/traditional practices are bad however, some have stood the test of time and have positive values, others are uncertain and negatively harmful. It is essential to have an idea about cultural practices of some communities because the practices a community adopts fulfill certain purposes for the culture bearers (Idehen, 2007).

The cultural practices of people not only affect their health but also affect all aspects of life including social relationships, contribution to societal functioning and disease condition. Man living in an interactive society is affected by what happens in his environment and how he reacts to it. All people, no matter the race, have their beliefs and practices concerning health and disease. Each society or community has its peculiar way of doing things and these practices go a long way in influencing the people's perception, attitudes and behavior in the management of diseases and health related problems that befall them (WHO, 2007). One therefore looks at the Nigerian experience over the years as one of the largest and most populous nations of Africa, which also harbours different ethnic groups and endures different operation of cultural practices. Culture is a way of life of a people, therefore, the way of lives of the people can determine their development over time in all ramifications as compared to global growth and societal development. It is necessary to conceptualize some key concepts for the purpose of this paper.

Culture: Culture according to Edward Tylor (1871) quoted by Abasiekong (2010), "is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society". Culture in its simplest form and for the purpose of this paper can be said to be the way of life of a people.

Health: Health on the other hand, is defined by World Health Organization (WHO) "as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". It is a fundamental right of everyone. Though, many definitions of health abound, the one by WHO is seen as ideal definition because it embraces all aspects of life.

Experience: Experience knowledge and skill one gathers through doing something over a period of time.

Health-seeking behavior: Health-seeking behavior refers to all those things people do to prevent diseases and to maintain health.

It is clear that every individual desires a healthy living and society. This is altruism because the cultural practice which is a way of life determines the health condition, strength and activities of the people in any developing or developed societies. Recently, different groups and individuals have collaborated with various African governments, signed memorandum of understanding (M.O.U.) at different times, and others sponsoring health programmes in Africa etc. just to help in the improvement of the health conditions of the people, but to a greater extent the results have not met the commensurate investment targets. The problem generally as highlighted by Oke (2001) and Abia (2012) has to do with change of cultural beliefs and behavior towards health provisions and accessibility.

Health-Seeking Behavior and Sociocultural Implication

Health-seeking behavior according to Tipping and Segall (1995) is "any action undertaken by individuals who perceive themselves to have a health problem for the purpose of finding an appropriate remedy". …

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