'Nigeria needs inter-marriages to foster cultural integration'

By Undiandeye Justina

A professor of Marketing and Communications at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and Chairman, Brands Academy, Nigeria, Sama’ila Mande, has said that inter-marriage between various cultural and ethnic groups in Nigeria was one of the ways to improve cultural integration and assimilation.

Mande, who is a former Dean of the School of Postgraduate Studies of the university, explained that such marriages have the tendency to promote the appreciation and respect for other cultures other than the ones people  belong to.

He was speaking at the virtual meeting of the Nigerian Prize for Literature, which was held on May 29, 2022, with the theme: "Re-thinking Culture: Identifying and Harnessing our Shared Heritage."

As one of the 3-man panellists, he argued that when people inter-marry it gives the different parties a clearer insight into behaviours, cultural practices of the other ethnic groups and helps clear misconceptions and stereotypes.

While mentioning that there are a lot of similarities between Nigerian tribes especially ethnic groups within close proximity of each other, Mande stated that the Igala tribe had some similarities with the Yoruba and Nupe ethnic groups and even had identical tribal marks with the Nupe people.

He also disclosed that the Itsekiri tribe is having cultural affinity with the Yoruba and if there were no interactions between these groups the similarities would have been largely unknown.

Mande also advocated for a national language that will combine the three major ethnic groups and other minority languages that will create a unified language, which everyone would understand and subsequently reduce suspicions among the several ethnic groups in the country.

The Executive Secretary of the NPL, Dr. Ike Neliaku, stated that Nigeria needed the right leadership that would unite the several ethnic groups in the country, stressing that Nigeria should cultivate a culture of excellence, where the right things are chosen over a quick buck.