Lesson Notes By Weeks and Term - Primary 6

External influences on Nigerian family life





TOPIC: External influences on Nigerian family life


By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

  • list the foreign influences on Nigerian family life.
  • explain how religion influences Nigerian family life
  • discuss the influences of working parents on the Nigerian family

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS: A chart showing couples getting wedded.


Scheme of work

All relevant materials     

6-Years Basic Education Curriculum

Online information


Pupils are familiar with the topic in their previous classes.



Meaning of external influences

External influences are the lifestyles of other people, which our people now imitate and practice. These influences come mainly from Europe, the Middle East (i.e. Arab countries) and the United States of America.


Family life in Nigeria before the advent of foreign influences

In the past, the Nigerian family life was simple. Everybody had something to do for a living. In the family, the man, woman and children contributed to the upkeep of the family. Marriage practices were based on the African traditional system, while the ethnic group one belonged to determined one’s mode of dressing and lifestyle. All of these have greatly changed as a result of foreign influence, though some of the traditional practices still exist.

FIG. 1

Influence from foreign countries on Nigerian family life

Our contact with foreigners has affected our family life in many ways. The following are among the factors responsible for these changes: 1 Education: The education of the child used to take place in the family. Parents and older relatives such as grandparents, uncles and aunts were the teachers. But today, there is a complete change from the traditional education to Western education as a result of foreign influences on our family life. Children are now sent to schools, away from their homes, where they are taught to read and write under the supervision and guidance of trained teachers.

  • Food and eating habits: In the past, all members of the family worked and helped on the farm to produce the food needed at home. People ate mainly local food like yam, plantain, and cassava which was processed into garri and Now, many people prefer to eat bread, cakes, cornflakes, custard, noodles and other processed foods. In former times, Africans, especially the children, usually sat on the floor and ate together from a big bowl or tray, using their fingers. Now many people use cutlery to eat their food, including our staple foods like eba, tuwo and fufu.

 FIG 2

  • Baby feeding habits: In the past, babies were fed only on breast milk. But nowadays, there are many types of baby food, which are produced from cow milk. Many mothers who work as traders, teachers or office workers, use the different types of baby food to feed their babies.
  • Religion: Before our contact with foreign culture, we practised the African traditional religion, which involved the worship of gods and goddesses. However, in these modern times, many of our people practise Christianity and Islam. Many people today still practise the African traditional religion, even along with Christianity and Islam.

 FIG. 3

Christianity, for instance, forbids the worship of gods and goddesses. Those who practise African religion are called pagans or idol worshippers by Christians and Muslims. Rather than obey the traditional priests and priestesses, Christians are expected to obey the pastor and the teachings of the Bible while the Muslims are expected to obey the Imam and the teachings of the Quran.

  • Marriage practice: In the past the parents of young people arranged marriages. A young man expected his parents to choose a good girl from a good family for him. In some cases, parents forced their children to marry people they (the children) did not even like. Now, young men and women choose their own partners and plan their own marriages. Sometimes, they even conclude all the arrangements before they inform their parents.

We now have Christian, Muslim and ordinance marriages. These types of marriage have been added to our traditional forms of marriage. Traditionally, the whole community should be involved in a marriage ceremony, but now a couple may decide to get married quietly at the registry. They may invite only a few people to the ceremony. Many people have also found a way of combining the traditional marriage ceremony with the foreign ones.


  • The extended family practice: The extended family practice, which is a way of showing deep love and concern for members of our family and those around us, is gradually fading out of Nigerian family life. Many people now prefer to have a small family. Some people who are not even Christians just maintain a nuclear family.
  • Music: Our traditional forms and styles of music are now giving way to Western music. The traditional musical instruments and ways of playing music have changed to the use of sophisticated musical instruments, and the recording of songs on tapes, VCD, audio CD and DVD.
  • Language: Many of our indigenous languages are going into extinction because many parents prefer to communicate with their children in English. Also, some schools discourage pupils from speaking their mother tongue in class. Pupils who disobey this order are sometimes severely punished.

Influence of religion on Nigerian family life

Marriage pattern: African traditional religion allows and even encourages polygamy, in which a man marries many wives and has several children. Christianity changed this as it preaches one man one wife (monogamy). As a result of this, most Christian families now practise monogamy. With this, the man has fewer children to care for. He may also have fewer problems in maintaining his family. Islam permits a man to have up to four wives.

FIG. 4

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