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LAGOS DEVLEOPMENT: What Are The Socio-Cultural Factors That Influences It?

In the previous articles on Lagos development, we have looked at the physical, historical, political and economic factors that influence it (Lagos development). But in this one, we will look at the last one (out of the five identified for now): socio-cultural factors. Usually, the socio-cultural activities of man are the sum of the historic-political and economic activities on a particular physical location. The element that makes up the socio-cultural factors that influences Lagos development includes the following:

  • Socio-cultural institutions.
  • Integration and assimilations.
  • Religion
  • External cultural elements like music, dance, and so on.

Generally, culture has been defined as a mass of learned and transmitted motor reactions, habits, techniques, ideas, values and the behaviors that men may induce (according to Kroeber 1953). If the understanding of culture is accessed from the evolutionary approach (according to White – 1959), it could mean laying emphasis on symbolic asserts that man’s ability to be cultural is the meaning he attaches to the material world and that it is the only way man is different from the other animals. But from the structural point of view, the concept of culture denotes accumulated resources of a group of people which could be material and immaterial. Therefore, the following basic understanding can be drawn on culture:

  • The culture of a group of people is the pivot on which all relations stand.
  • Any society be it modern or folk can survive only when all cultural variables are fully developed and harnessed.
  • It is the culture of any society that gives meaning to social living, therefore the trivialization of cultural complexes could be a threat to social harmony and continuous existence.
  • Many societies in the world can hardly survive without culture if truly that mode of production, exchange system, political organization, religious rite and ritual, child-rearing practice, family and kinship ties and other normative patterns of society are culturally determined.
  • Highly urbanized societies like Lagos are highly cultured, been rich in cultural properties as highlighted by the basic functions of integration and continuity which culture performs for all social systems.
  • Therefore, culture can be defined as that complex which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, customs, tools and any other capabilities acquired by man as a member of society and which are learned and passed from one generation to another.
  • Cultural complexes are passed from generation to generation, and are also learned by all members in daily interactions i.e. historical determinism of cultural accumulation.
  • Lagos city state is a meeting point of the land and the sea resulting in a mixture of cultures from the hinterland and across the seas. Therefore, Lagos is a melting point of several other cultures from outside the city state, courtesy of the diverse commercial and industrial activities that bring together people of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
  • The manifestation of culture in any society includes the people concrete accomplishments of meeting daily ends through material and non-material dimension of culture; and their strategies to survive practically are through group philosophies, oral traditions, aesthetics norms and modes of organization.
  • Geography plays a major role in the development of the culture of a society and therefore, the non-uniformity in climatic characteristics account for why some complexes of culture found in a region are not present in another.

Therefore, we can say that a combination of history and geography of a given community dictates the cultural evolution and development. This means that the culture of Lagos is better appreciated by paying special attention to the history and geography of the environment because the abiotic, edaphic, topographic and biotic feature of Lagos contributes in no small measure in determining production systems, consumption patterns, stratification systems, exchange modalities as well as their accompanying normative structure. Moreover, the geographical location of the city has made it possible to become the nation’s nerve center of economic activities – manufacturing, banking, commerce, import and export activities, insurance, etc which makes it to serve as the magnetic force attracting diverse people of different political inclinations, economic motives and cultural orientations. The resulting human population invariably displaces a central value system distorting communal sense of solidarity and seriously altering the cultural complexes of the people, which lead to the operating family ties, marriage systems, religious beliefs, traditional mode of social exchange and other forms of social patterns to give way to more modern universalistic social organization.

The belief both in theory and practice that socio-cultural change distorts age-long established social order further accentuates rural people’s rejection of modernization.

SOCIO-CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS (with specific reference to the historical development of Lagos) includes these social and cultural organizations:

  • Ruling House;
  • The Age Groups;
  • Clubs of Professionals;
  • Religious Organizations (associations)
  • Lineage associations;
  • Political associations and so on.

The Lagos Ruling House emerged as a result of political development which has membership and serves as the arrow edge in the socio-cultural development of Lagos. This group includes the King (Oba), their princes and princess with their wives; as well as the chiefs and all the members of the ruling council. It is the major dominating organization in the process of urbanism and architectural development of Lagos. It must be noted that even when the political power exchanged hands in 1851-1861 (from the Lagos Ruling House to the British forces on ground) and in the 1950’s and 1960’s (from the British government to the indigenous people), the membership of this group have always been within the corridors of power. Even, in today’s setting, anyone that wants to rule Lagos or be relevant in the ruling circle must be linked or have the fellowship hands of this Ruling House.

The Club of Professionals are the oldest organizations in the Lagos urban setting. The Idejos fishermen cooperatives were the first, the Market Women Association of the pre-colonial era (which is still strong and influential till today headed by the Erelu of Lagos – a female chief in the Ruling Council). The new class or club (associations) of professionals that emerged with the returning freed slaves includes artisans like bricklayers (masons), carpenters, and so on. This class became responsible for the construction and design of modern buildings that characterized Lagos streets. Moreover, with the new skills and abilities they took many local inhabitants as apprentice which influenced the existing socio-cultural settings positively. The numerous guilds formed by these professionals contributed in no small measure to the elevation of men in the Lagos Society. The associations of the merchants (Europeans and locals – Saros and Amaros) evolved into today’s chamber of commerce in charge of exports and Imports.

The Council of the Elders (Agbagba) was one of such socio-cultural organizations. The adoption of slave trade in Lagos during the mid-pre colonial era produced this new class of traditional elites whose power and status depended on the wealth they derived from the slave trade. They formed an oligarchy which shaped the context and direction of politics within Lagos.

The Linage Associations and The Age Groups are traditionally known socio-cultural institutions not specific to Lagos alone but to the Yoruba states and the Benin Kingdom where the Lagos people originated from. The basic unit of the Yoruba social organization is the lineage which exist at different levels and the most inclusive been the maxima lineage which sometimes covers the best part of a town, although it was more usual for a town to be made up of several partri-lineages.

Religious Associations include the traditional religions of the various groups like the Boat Regetta, Zangbeto, Adamu Orisa (Eyo), Orisha Iroko Agemo, Kori, Egungun, Islamic Religious Associations and Christian Religious Associations. The influences of these various socio-cultural institutions in the development of Lagos are so numerous as it covers all the material and in-material aspects of Lagosians life.

INTEGRATION AND ASSIMILATIONS (with specific reference to Lagos development) explains how various groups came to Lagos at various time of history under various circumstances, gradually mixed up to form a new identity called LAGOSIANS. The Aworis, the Binis, the Ijebus, the Egbas, the Ilajes, the Ijaws, the Hausas, the Nupes, the Saros, the Amaros (the Agudas), Europeans, etc found themselves here and gradually melted culturally to form a new society of Lagos. Migration of people from one area to another has been a common phenomenon throughout the history of mankind which also played a major role in the process of the formation of Lagos society. Some can be internal (from one part of an empire or country to another) while others were across territorial boundaries such as those created by the refugee problem arising from famine, drought or war. The “forced migration” across the sea by slave trade is the most noticeable form of migration that has ever been in human history. The usual cause (or factors) of migration could be political, social, cultural or economic as well as ecological push which is mainly as a result of man’s inability to cope with his natural environment. The search for new markets, health reasons, the pull effect of city life and the push of rural life, love for change or adventure in addition to wars, drought, famine, political upheavals, population pressure induces migration. The Aworis were the first migrants to Lagos, followed by the Ijebus. It is most likely that the Ijaws cum Ilajes followed the Ijebus in order of migration to Lagos. While the Binis came following these early migrants as an invading army, establishing themselves as the Ruling House of Lagos till this day. Thereafter, others migrated from the hinterland and mixed up to form today’s Lagos society. The Europeans and the returned slaves brought the overseas cultures into Lagos society. The process of integration and assimilation that produced the existing Lagos society had been completed by 1900; though new migrants came into Lagos in the 1900’s including those from other African countries (Niger, Chad, Togo, Benin Republic, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia-the refugees of the 1980’s and 1990’s civil wars). The existing Lagos society has the two sides of the coin (the negatives and the positives) like any other urban and cosmopolitan setting. The youth thuggery, hooliganism, high incidence of armed robbery and fraud are the expression of the negative side of the coin; while the positive side expresses the zealous, energetic, dynamic working class whose ruggedness and determination to succeed in the mist of various mountainous problems is a positive cultural value that has sustained the Lagos for five centuries. The continuous increase in the population of the city state every year is an evidence that the migration process continues even in the 21st century – from the hinterland and overseas. It is a common scene in Lagos society today to see not only Europeans, but Chinese, Arabs, Indians and other foreigners as part of the Lagos society. Knowingly or unknowingly, these people bring tier own culture in and are gradually been assimilated into the existing Lagos cultural value systems. The application of the ETHNOLOGY will be of help now to measure the impacts of these new migrants into Lagos society in the 20th and 21st centuries. The end product of this integration and assimilation is the emergence of a new cultural value system known as Lagos society having its own dialects and ways of life – values and norms.

RELIGION is the spiritual covering of mankind. Therefore, hardly is any society without a form of spiritual activity, neither is there any race in the world without a religion of its own which is usually part and parcel of the total life experiences of the people which encompasses the cultural, social, political, ethical as well as individual and societal expectation in their ups and downs. This means that religion is the mirror of all other aspects of both the societal and individual life patterns which they depend on for their functionality. The three major religions of Lagos society are Traditional, Islamic and Christianity; as they came into Lagos society in that order. The following should be noted about religion as it affects any society including Lagos:

  • There is a vacuum which will be impossible to fill and is likely created if religion is taken away from the lives of most people; therefore, there is no substitute for it though some worship the unknown in their ignorance.
  • Religion is a catalyst of change in the society which may be social, economic or political.
  • The indispensability of religion has been attested to by both numerous sociological theories of religion that have characterized human development and also the outward multiplicity and quality of religious practices in the physical ascendancy of devotion to religion.
  • Religion has an universality that is compelling; therefore, it has no bounds in terms of place, time, sex, race or color. That is the reason why all people in all ages accept and practice one form of religion or the other.
  • There is the currency of religion as a human phenomenon and in which case it is ever present in the thoughts and action of men which can either be positive or negative.

The increase in the number of religious centers in Lagos reflected by the numbers of buildings, prayer meetings, crusades, religious programs on radio and television as well as the new media seems not to impact on the moral values of majority of Lagosians. This is a worrisome situation and there is the need to address this issue in the course of the emerging mega city.

EDUCATION implies a worthwhile activity and a process that results into both personal advancement and societal development, thus it is both intrinsic and instrumental, giving the individual happiness and making the society to progress. Basically we have three forms of education of which Lagos development has benefited tremendously from (informal, formal and non-formal education).

The informal takes place in pedagogically unorganized setting with instructed learning pattern – to this belong the traditional, pre-colonial African education and the bulk of pre-European; now known as home training. The non-formal education covers the learning and instruction taking place in situations like a mechanic workshop without the benefit of a structured curriculum, though the duration of study may be fixed. The current adult and literacy education (for those who missed formal education) belongs to this in the contemporary society while the formal education takes place within a fixed place (known as schools) with the help of structured learning pattern and a standby instructions to pass (transfer) the required skills.

The indigenous educational system of Lagosians like other African society was well established. Generally in Lagos society, education is regarded as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Therefore, to Lagosians education is life-long, related to the environment, equip individuals with saleable skills and place greater emphasis on practical and the principles of functionalism than on the theory. There is thin line between religion and education but the two have developed together in Lagos like in any other society.

EXTERNAL CULTURES include literature and drama, music and dances; arts and crafts, while internal cultures include religion and education. It must be noted that external cultures are tools and means of expression of internal cultures. If music goes with dances, art and craft goes together, so also does literature and drama. As the various groups were integrated and assimilated into Lagos society their previous external cultures were duly integrated and assimilated. The volume and the scope of the infrastructures and the supporting facilities for both the external and internal cultures within Lagos at all the stages of its development are witnesses to the importance attached to them by Lagosians like in any other society. The schools and religious centers for internal culture, the monuments of arts and crafts, and the museums/cinemas for external cultures are classic examples. Hardly can you move in a 1000 meters distance within the modern Lagos without meeting a building/structures dedicated to the service of culture (external or internal).

This post first appeared on Eni-Itan's Family, please read the originial post: here

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LAGOS DEVLEOPMENT: What Are The Socio-Cultural Factors That Influences It?


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