The Concepts Of Post Colonialism Cultural Studies Essay

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This essay aims to develop the concept of post colonialism through an ethnographical study in the catholic chaplaincy of Bradford University. Concentrating on the mode of worship and the way people behave in the church while comparing it with the practices of the Catholic Church in Nigeria. Cultural differences were visible despite the claim that the Catholic Church is the same. This study gives support to Post colonial theory as noted by (Young 2003) who opines that it seeks to change the way people think and behave to produce a more just and equitable relation between the different peoples of the world.

The 20th century saw one of the most spectacular events: the dismantling of colonialism, in the shape of European overseas empires, then one of the less immediate perceptible- but ultimately far reaching in its effects and implications- has been the continued globalising spread of cultural imperialism (Williams and Chrisman 1994). McLeod (2000) describes Post Colonial theory as an assessment of the impact and continuing legacy of the European conquest, colonisation and dominance of non European lands, peoples and cultures. The coming of the British in Nigeria has left foot prints in the life of the people. Christianity was one of the many things they brought with them instilling in the people their ways (Soyinka 19 81).Theorists of post colonialism, notably Nkrumah (1964) have attributed this to an attempt to reign over the people as the Christian religion according to him is idealistic which suffers from what he calls the "God complex". Yet, before the coming of Christianity, a traditional mode of worship was in place (Soyinka1981) .According to Ikenga (1987) the Traditional African Religion believed that there was an external being somewhere who controlled the affairs of the land, the high priest was a sacred being and the mediator between the people and their gods, a ritual was celebrated every fortnight with people dressed colourfully, clapping and dancing. Perhaps the similarities in both religions led to the acceptance of Christianity in the first place.

The Catholic Church is universal, agreeing in the unity of one faith and practice (Thurston 1908). The decor of the chaplaincy at the University of Bradford was similar to what i saw in the Church back home. There are pictures of different saints on the wall, an altar, a room for confessions, candles and the priest who is usually the chief celebrant because the mass is referred to as a celebration. The hymns were not foreign to me, the hymn book contained the same songs i sang back home. The apostle's creed was also recited exactly the same way i knew. Yet, our mode of celebration was different; we have mass celebrated in English, Yoruba, Igbo and Pidgin English languages. During offertory, we would dance and clap to the altar to present our gifts joyfully to the lord. I often wore bright locally made fabrics different from the everyday jeans and i was never lucky enough to find a seating space if i was five minutes late to church. I never for once saw anyone receive communion by hand, everyone was fed by the priest and so i presume that, our traditional religion was imported to Christianity. Why else would my mother consider the priest sacred, why would people dress differently on the days they dedicated to their God? Why will people clap their hands and dance joyfully? Why would i be amazed that a young woman stretched her hand to receive Holy Communion and lastly why would i think to say "You okay Fr. Is rude"? There can only be one reason for this, Culture.

Hofsede (1997) defines culture as the cumulative deposit of knowledge, attitudes, experiences, meanings, religion and belief acquired by a people from generations through group and individual strivings. Curtis and Nadel (1964) opine that the impact of colonization on indigenous people has resulted to the irreparable damage done to native cultures. To them, the destructive elements of imperialism cannot be measured. Arguably, a people's culture cannot be totally destroyed as culture and religion is deeply rooted in a people (Smith 2010).No doubt, colonialism influenced the people in a huge way but over time there seems have been an awakening in culture .A term which Nkrumah (1964) refers to as "Consciencism" ,awareness and an attempt to resist colonization. Lazarus (1999) also notes that Africa in the post independence period has betokened a conversion to western ideology. This may suggest why the church back home now celebrates mass in indigenous languages in addition to English and Latin. In the time of colonization, our aged mothers were made to recite prayers in languages that were completely alien to them (Holla 1997).

The English language was used in communication in the era of colonization, natives were taught to write and speak to achieve a common understanding (Ashcroft et al 1995).Even after independence, knowledge of English puts one in a social strata within the society. A notion acknowledged by the narrator in the novel, "The High life" by Saro- Wiwa (1985) who considers himself a bourgeoisie and boasts of high sales of his book in Onitsha, Nigeria attributing it to his use of "big grammar" (Holla 1997). However, in recent times, the Nigerian peoples have added to their languages, "the Pidgin English". A type of English mixed with vernacular and used for communication mostly among peers, religious, politicians, musicians and writers (Golia 2010). Perhaps this is an attempt to resist the language instilled by the colonizers. Yet there are similarities in words. An example of the "Pidgin English language is, where u dey go? Which means where are you going? One would expect that an entirely new general language will be used to communicate among peoples of various tribes rather than modify the English language.

Furthermore, colonialism has given room for colonial modernity through manners of speaking and dressing services where foreign brands like Levis, Wrangler and pepe-jeans have become willingly acceptable within colonized states (Dwivedi and Barei 2009). Yet there is evidence that more people wear the "Ankara" to church and occasions in Nigeria. Falode (2008) in a research on the Nigerian people's mode of dressing concludes that more people have realised the potentials in Ankara and would rather wear the fabric to events and churches instead of jeans, which he says is worn casually. He further states that this development is more on the increase in the last fifty years, being 1960, the year of independence.

Cultural transmission is by extension an exercise in indoctrination; all countries are expected to conform within a given framework (Hawley 1996). Through colonialism and the assimilation of foreign values, people in the ex colony have become a "Cultural Hybrid" (Ibie 1992).The early Nigerian Catholic converts were said to have been baptised; a ritual which cleanses them from their original sins and were made to adopt new Christian /English names to signify that they have become, a new creation(Barnes 1998). New developments in the Catholic church in Nigeria has shown that people have come to appreciate their native names more and so they use these names as baptismal names instead of Christian names which they hardly know their meanings (Onuh 1992). From my observation in the chaplaincy of the University of Bradford, using the post colonial theory, i can highlight that different peoples have different values and so it is difficult to expect all peoples to behave in the same way within a given framework. This seems to be in line with Achebe (1958) who states that people's cultural values are unique and cannot be completely manipulated.

In conclusion, the influence of western culture in the development of Nigeria cannot be dismissed. The missionary first made their presence felt in abolishing slave trade and built schools were natives could take their offspring's to become "educated"(Bleakley 1998). The exposure given, forced the colonized intellectuals to ask questions about their society and history which they had never asked before and generated an unprecedented level of self-consciousness (Pieterse and Parekh 1995). Even with an instrument as strong as religion, there appears to conscious effort to restore and repose culture that goes on long after independent nation states (Said 1993). Perhaps that is why the peoples of Nigeria are still seen to celebrate traditional festivals such as, Osun- Oshogbo festivals despite the dominance of the Christian and Islamic religions within the country (Back 2004). The festival is a celebration to the Osun goddess, the goddess of fertility. Osogbo orchard has a mature, reasonably uninterrupted forest canopy which supports a rich and diverse flora and fona.-including the endangered white- throated monkey. Some parts were cut during the colonial era and teak plantations and agriculture introduced but these are now being re-established (UNESCO 2010). Comparing my ethnographical study with the mode of worship in the Catholic Church in Nigeria, i cannot help but questions about the universality of the Catholic Church. Perhaps a conscious effort is being made by the Nigerian peoples to modify the European doctrine to accommodate their culture. Why else will the people's mode of dressing, languages and mode of worship be different from what is obtainable in the West? With this, i have come to a conclusion that supports the works of Pieterse and Parekh (1995) which states that the values and institutions introduced by colonial rule could not last or be understood unless they are grafted into the hospitable traditional analogues.


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