Culture in Conflict With Childhood Training and Religious Leadership in Nigeria: Lessons From Daniel

Culture in Conflict With Childhood Training and Religious Leadership in Nigeria: Lessons From Daniel

Sylvester Dan Udofia (University of Uyo, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2574-6.ch008
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It is becoming generally accepted that child development is culturally constructed. Cultural values and attitudes regulate child rearing values, developmental expectations, and emotional orientations. Employing descriptive methods in studying this problem, the chapter observes that leadership style in many societies have been plagued with greed, violence, indiscipline, and corruption. This study places blame on poor home foundation as it reasons with the Hebrew sage that nothing serious can be built on a faulty foundation (Ps. 11:3). Consequent upon this, the study upholds that if children who are Nigeria's future leaders are groomed in families that have religion and morality as the bedrock of their education, then God fearing leaders would be produced. To achieve this, the chapter further suggests that adapting and combining lessons from traditional African families and those of ancient Israel in the home training of Nigerian children would result in producing leaders like the biblical Daniel who remained incorruptible even in the face of serious challenges.
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Opinion is mixed on how similarities and differences between cultural beliefs, values and practices affect children rearing and impact on child development. While the empirical evidence is scarce, there is strong theoretical support for the idea that children’s cultural experiences and child care settings promote optimal development, and that major differences pose developmental challenges, especially for children in very early childhood (Wise & Sanson, 2000). It is becoming accepted that child development is culturally constructed. Cultural values and attitudes regulate the childrearing values, developmental expectations and emotional orientations of caretakers, and their childrearing scripts for achieving valued developmental outcomes, as well as the physical and social settings of everyday life (Rosenthal, 1999). Parents’ beliefs and practices about children and their development are defined by what is considered adaptive in their cultural setting.

There is general agreement among scholars that culture has the potentials to influence child development and care. Within any culture, children are shaped by the physical and social settings within which they live. Similarly, culturally regulated customs and childrearing practices, as well as culturally based belief systems play a critical role child upbringing and growth. It is apparent that there exist strong theoretical support for the idea that similarities in the practices and values manifested in home and in child care contexts enhance the developmental potential of each setting and child development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979), and some empirical evidence that major differences between systems negatively influence behavioural, social and cognitive outcomes (Harrison & Ungerer, 1997; Laosa,1982; Harkness & Super, 1992).

Nigeria as a country is the home of about one hundred and forty million black people. She can rightly be described as a land flowing with milk and honey because she is richly blessed with fertile land and abundant mineral and human resources. However it is in this nation that only a few people are fabulously rich while the overwhelming majority wallow in abject poverty. Abioje rightly observes that this problem stems from laziness, senseless spending, favouritism, inequality of opportunities, dearth of the spirit of sharing, exploitation, misappropriation and embezzlement of public funds, explaining that the above makes the rich richer while the poor get poorer in Nigeria; submitting finally that it largely has to do with “leadership problem” (Abioje, 2004:64). Achebe had earlier hinted that the Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility and to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership. He further explains that “the wealth of the nation which would have been used to transform the lives of the poor and the needy have been squandered, embezzled, consumed, stolen and salted away by people in power” (Achebe, 1985:3). As a way out from this problem, Abioje (2004) posits that many Nigerians are looking up to religion to help form the moral character and rectitude of Nigerians. President Obasanjo is quoted as saying that no institution is better placed than religion to help mold the character and attitude of Nigerians and Adams Oshiomhole is credited with the view of soliciting the support of religious groups in the struggle against anti-people policies and decisions by government. With this as a background the paper makes bold to suggest that the family which is the first school for proper character formation should be the first target in Nigeria’s effort to produce useful future leaders.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Family Values: These includes values supposedly learned within a small unit of society called family. Typically, they sum up high moral standards and discipline.

Superstition: This refers to attitudes counted as irrational and ignorant towards the supernatural beings or objects. It also refers to the beliefs in magical powers that may instill fear.

Inculturation: The rooting and reception of a certain cultural practices in a particular into another cultural area.

Culture, Cultural: All the acceptable customs, traditions, values and practices as well the institutions that express them such as family, schools, law courts, clubs, churches, mosques and shrines.

Praxis: This refers to actual and habitual practice or action. This is opposed to actual theory or teaching.

Child Abuse: A child is a young human who is not an adult. Abuse connotes misuses, maltreatment, insult and all forms of corrupt practices. It involves using something wrongly or harmfully. Therefore, child abuse is about the misuse, maltreatment or exploitation of children. It occurs when children are handled unjustly or corruptly by adults in the society either verbally, physically, mentally or otherwise. Child abuse is considered a criminal act because it denies the fundamental human right of children. 7 Maltreatment of any kind meted to any person, child or adult should not be considered as the will of God. God desires discipline and training not abuse. In the Bible, it states, “Do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord discipline those he loves” (Heb. 12:25-26). Child abuse is a crime of harming a child.

Syncretism: This refers to the mixture of two or more cultural or religious practices or systems inimical to the growth of each other.

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