Culture plays important role in national integration. Culture in simply term can be defined as people ways of life. it also means the activities of man on earth which he employs in his struggle to better his standard of living. The term culture includes the language of the people, their mode of dressing, dancing, marriage pattern, religion, music, festivals tradition and farming.
In Nigeria there are about 250 ethnic groups and 359 languages with diverse culture. Culture is a strong instrument for national integration; it acts as a bond in national undertakings. The role of culture in national integration cannot over emphasize.
The three major languages in Nigeria, Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba should be made a national language. Once everybody speaks and understands the same language the greater part of the issue of national integration will be solved. It is perhaps the cultural similarities of most ethnic groups that bind the people together.
For instance Northerners in Nigeria share similar culture, tradition and religion, different from those in the south. The South East and their Southern neighbors shares similar cultural practices mostly the Niger Delta region.
While the Yoruba and the Benin people of Edo state shares similar cultural heritage and traditions. Dynastic ties are one of the integrating cultural forces that bound ethnic groups together.
Oral tradition is replete with dynastic ties that existed between Ife and Benin, Igala and Yoruba, Igala and Nupe, Nupe and Hausa states, Ife and Itsekiri, Itsekiri and Benin and Ijaw, Urhobo and Benin, Igala and Igbo etc.
The Igbos began to diverge from other related languages such as Edo and Yoruba perhaps four thousand years ago. We are all descendants from Eri, but Igala went one way and Agukwu another. It is clear that some founders of Onitsha and that of Igala may have come from Benin. There are also dynastic ties between some Hausa states and Borno.
The understanding of the unity which culture promotes, calls for emphasis in the history of most communities in Nigeria. Apart from dynastic ties, art works by the various ethnic groups tends to promote unity among the people.
It has been pointed out that the technique of making Benin artwork was introduced from Ife. There are also similarities between art works and those of Nok in Northern Nigeria. The Igbo art works are similar to those of Benin.
The arts works of these ethnic groups help to promote Nigerian culture and Nigeria unity. Festivals organized by ethnic groups could be a good integrating factor in Nigeria.
The Mmawu festivals organized annually in Enugu State helps to promote unity among the groups of people that were formerly in East Central states.
Such festival helps to bring people together and give room for interaction and understanding. Nigeria now has an annual cultural festival in Abuja. Religion, both traditional, Christianity or Islam acts as a binding force among believers. Those who see themselves either as Christians or as Muslims interact as brothers and sisters.
Sadly, there are marriage barriers between Muslims and Christians, encouraging the marriage of Christians and Muslims would help to promote national integration. The trading of locally made goods across ethnic groups is a good way of promoting national integration because the indigenous goods of one ethnic group could be introduced to another.
The culture of Nigerian ethnic groups should be respected and those who claim to have imbibed western cultures should allow the indigenous culture to survive so that our identity could be preserved.