American and Nigerian Culture
American and Nigerian cultures are alike in some aspects of life, while being dissimilar in other aspects. This idea is clearly exemplified when one compares their own experience and knowledge of culture in America to that description and portrayal of Nigerian culture as seen through Buchi Emecheta's novel, The Wrestling Match.
Both of our societies can be looked at as parallel in how teenagers are typically stereotyped, rivalry among towns/villages, and the attainment of manhood or maturity through experiences or accomplishments.
Contrary to the similarity of the cultures, there are also some basic differences. One of the main distinctions is that we live in a technologically advanced empire while Emecheta shows us that Nigerians are more typically a primitive nation.
No matter in what culture you find teenagers, they will probably be stereotyped. This is evident in the novel as well as in our own culture. For example, the Akpei people (neighbors to the nearby Igbuno village) have found that someone has fished and trampled in their stream. ( This is a very bad thing because the vegetation and fish are now no longer available) The blame immediately lands upon the Uma aya Biafra, or teenagers of Igbuno. There is no question, it is just assumed that teenagers were involved. (Unfortunately, Uche, a teenager from Igbuno, has committed this heinous crime). Also, when the people of Akpei find that someone is stealing from their huts, again without any evidence, they surmise that teenagers are to blame. Lastly, Okei's ( Okei is a teen who lives in Igbuno and is the novel's main character) Uncle Obi Agiliga is convinced that the teenagers of Igbuno are setting an terrible immoral example for the upcoming generation.
How many teenagers in our society have not had an immediate finger of blame pointed at them when something happens or goes wrong? How many of us have not been told what a terrible example we are setting for our younger siblings? Teenagers seem to be synonymous with rude, obnoxious, and difficult, stubborn, etc.
Another similarity of cultures gleaned from Emecheta's writing is reaction to rivalry. A very important event to the villages in the novel was the wrestling match which pits the Akpei Uma aya Biafra against the Igbuno Uma aya Baifra. There is much preparation of the athletes and many people attend. In addition, at the market, the Akpei people would not purchase produce from Josephine Kwutelu and other girls also from Igbuno since they are from the competitors' side.
A similar event we have right here in the Pennridge Community is the annual Pennridge -Quakertown Football game. It generates quite a rivalry, much time is spent in preparation and many many people attend.
Finally, in both Nigerian and American cultures, it is perceived that manhood is dependent upon certain achievements. The wrestling match symbolizes the coming into manhood of the Nigerian teenager. Also, working on the farm with your father in Nigeria is another step toward manhood.
In America, a job, the right to vote, graduation from high school, and even owning or driving a car seem to be thought of as indications of manhood or maturity.
Though our cultures seem alike in the above ways, they are very different in their technological status. We in America enjoy computers, modems, faxes,video equipment, cellular phones, huge supermarkets, and discount stores, etc. These are not restricted only to city dwellers or the upper class, many of these things are commonplace. In Nigeria however, the bulk of the population lives a much more primitive lifestyle without the advantages,privileges, and benefits that these modern conveniences provide. ( Of course, they also do not have the problems generated by these modern wonders).