Globalization, African value system and the inter-generational relations: implications for the care of the elderly in Nigeria

Emmanuel Ajiboye, Lagos State University
Gbemiga E. Adeyemi, Lagos State University
Adisa Waziri

The veneration of old age in the traditional African societies goes beyond wisdom. It bestowed reverence because it is believed that old age has connectivity with ancestors. Aged/elderly receive better treatment from society because of benefits derived. Aged/elderly are regarded as the custodians of customs and traditions, considered often critical to the survival of the society. In view of the above, the cultural values and traditional practices emphasized that elderly members of the family be treated with honour and respect. The families of the aged persons ensured the needed care and support for them. Unfortunately, these traditions are dying in the contemporary African societies with the advent of globalization which has webbed the entire globe into one family. Today, the aura of neglect, attendant hopelessness and deprivation of the elderly population is now the order of the day. This paper focuses on the effects of webbing together of human societies as homogenous group without consideration for cultural differences. The paper critically examines the effect of globalization on the African cultural values system that emphasizes adequate old age security (both physically and financially) through inter-generational transfer and delayed reciprocity, and its impact on the well-being of the elderly in Nigeria. Effort was made to substantiate the relationships between globalization, African value systems and inter-generational relations with secondary data on the welfare of the elderly in Nigeria. The paper adopted World System Theory to extrapolate the dialectical relationship. To achieve this, the concept of globalization was examined. Various African cultural emphases on the care of the elderly were critically examined; the traditional forms and patterns, the changes that have occurred and the attitude of people toward the contemporary old age security arrangements in the Nigerian society were equally examined. Key Words: Globalization, African Value System, Inter-generational relations, Care of the elderly.

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Presented in Poster Session 1