The impact of colonisation on Nigerian culture 

The password to the cultures of Nigeria is found abundantly in the artifacts of the people. It is, of course, noteworthy that some archival materials and antiquities of Nigerian life and living would prompt one to want to belong to the past. But the past has gone, the present is unfolding, and no doubt the future holds a greater rebirth of cultural values in Nigeria.

However, civilisation or modernisation in Nigeria to date could not be described in any cultural or normative term apart from a recycled civilised culture. Nigerians had known civilisation in their cultural practices long before copying foreign cultures. This explains why after centuries of colonisation and decades of decolonisation, Nigeria is more at home with her traditional cultures. 

It is therefore not by accident that the great cultural revolution that surged in Nigeria after the unholy matrimony with western culture fell out of the undying worship and royal culture of the people. Many foreign cultures have been introduced into Nigerian society and these have affected our ways of life. Some of the aspects of our values and cultures that were affected are dressing, religious practices, food, marriage, music, dance, etc.

Before the advent of Europeans and colonisation, traditional institutions headed by traditional rulers were the bedrock upon which social, religious, and cultural life or affairs of communities in Nigeria were built, but now they have been hindered. Therefore, there is no doubt that the black people have always had their civilization and such could not be lost by any later cultural clash.

Cultural Usage of Beads in Nigeria

A bead is a tiny ornamental object that can be made out of a variety of materials including stone, bone, shell, glass, ivory, horn, plastic wood, or pearl, and has a tiny hole for stringing or threading.

A bead is as old as culture itself, it is an ornament used from ancient times. The evidence of bead usage in Nigeria dates far back in history, the Nok cultures and other works display beads used on the neck, wrist, ankle, and head.

Beads may be worn or used for different purposes including wealth, power, status, aesthetics, etc. Because of their wide usage, they continue to play different roles in many traditional rites and ceremonies such as coming of age, marriage, burial, and other festivals. Beads have a range of symbolic meanings in Nigerian culture. The cultural values are as follows: 

Symbol of Royalty 

Coral beads are worn by kings, queens, and other members of the royal families. Beads are used on special occasions and during traditional ceremonies by monarchs and others who hold special positions in royal courts. The wearing of coral beads conveys power, wealth, and prestige, setting apart the traditional rulers from the common people.

For Adornment  

Beads are used to adorn the human body. For instance, in some parts of southern Nigeria during traditional marriages, the bride wears beads on top of wrappers. In some others, the beads are used to make headdresses for the bride to wear while some adorn the native hairstyle to make them look gorgeous on their wedding day. People also wear beads on their necks, wrists, ankles, and the head to look good.

For Decoration Beads traditionally exemplify beauty and are used for decorations. In the southwest and southeast of Nigeria, the Oba and Igwe wear beaded crowns, and shoes, and their staff of authority are usually decorated with beads. Beads are also used for decoration of clothing materials, head ties, bags, flower vax, etc.

For Identification In most Nigerian tribes, the bead is a symbol of celebration of womanhood, feminity, fertility, healing, and protection. In Hausa culture, there is a belief that beads can be used to ward off evil, preserve virginity, and protect girls from getting raped while some Yoruba women believe that when they adorn the waist with beads they are protected from any sexual diseases. 

Other Cultural Uses

Beads are used in rituals. The traditional priests wear distinctive amulets and beadwork around their heads, wrists, elbows, and ankles which aid in identifying them and their work.

Beads are worn to communicate cultural and social messages about the wearer’s age, and status and even reflect the wearer’s connection to ancestral spirits.

BosedeAfolayan-Bakari,

Education Department, National Commission for Museums and Monuments Headquarters, Abuja.