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PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON THE NUTRITIONAL HABITS OF EZILLO COMMUNITY IN ISHIELU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE.

PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON THE NUTRITIONAL HABITS OF EZILLO COMMUNITY IN ISHIELU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE.

CHAPTER ONE

INTORDUCTION

 

1.1  Background of the Study

            In many ways, human beings who are members of one specie, one great family, with common ancestors are endowed with different skills, knowledge and characters. They perceive the world, feel thirst, and develop language through identical mechanism. This is obvious because the cultural background of every society influences the life style of the inhabitants to a large extent. According to Uzuegbunam (1998), culture is viewed as a set of all historically created decisions for living, explicit or implicit, rational or irrational and accumulated and transmitted from one generation to another as necessary guide

for human behaviour. Human beings unlike other creatures are not born with rigid, complex, behaviour patterns that enable them to survive in specific habits. Instead, they learn and invent cultural means of adapting to different environments, ranging from arctic snow to desert wastelands and teaming cities. According to Robertson (1987), culture is often used to refer to sophisticated tastes in arts, literature, or music. The sociological use of this term is much wider as it includes the entire way of life of a society. Robertson (1987), stated that culture consists of all shared products of human society. These

products are of two basic kinds, material and non-material culture. Material culture consists of all the artifacts. Non material culture comprises abstracts, human creation such as languages, ideas, beliefs, rules, customs, myths, skills, family patterns and political systems. It is imperative to differentiate culture and society. Culture is a shared product of society. The society is made of people who share a common culture. Both are closely related. A society could not exist without culture. A culture could not exist without a society to maintain it, (Richard, 1986).

In this work the term culture is defined as the totality of behaviour of people, which include everything that they do, that are not the product of innate factor but learned within the context of a given society. According to Captain (1980), culture is the mass of learned and transmitted motor actions, habits, techniques, ideas, values, and behaviours, that influence people in a given society. In this work culture is defined as a common behavioural pattern of a given society from one to another. Williams (1996), stated that when we speak of culture in general, we refer to the learned portion of human behaviour,

the way of thinking, feeling, eating and doing things, that man himself had developed as part of his environment. It includes all elements acquired from the group by conscious learning or by conditioning process. As a learned behaviour, ideas, and values, include beliefs, arts, morals, laws, and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. Many authors like Williams (1996) and Captain (1980) summarized culture as learned, shared behaviour that man acquired as members of a society. Culture is man – made parts of the environment (Boston, 1998). However, culture has

influence on the health of the people. Each person that belongs to any society must surely be affected by the culture of that particular group. Richie (1991) found that in many parts of Africa it is believed that eggs make women sterile and licentious. This is true in Ezillo Community.        Pregnant women are restricted from certain meat and fruits lest the child will be born a monster or develop skin diseases. Thus, pregnant women are restricted from certain food intake to prevent the child becoming too big. This in their belief causes difficult birth. Also in Ezillo Community, the father should not kill or wound any

animal during his wife’s pregnancy or else the child will be wounded in the same way (Richard, 1981). Bind (1989) stated that, biological factors operate within a cultural context, and culture has accepted ideas about appropriate behaviour. For example, eating of the round cocoyam  in Ezillo Community is a taboo, because it is believed that if anybody eats it, the offender will suffer from a skin disease known as leprosy. Again killing and eating of sacred fish is forbidden in Ezillo. Should anybody violate the law he or she will suffer from constipation and heart burn. Lack of particular essential food factors may lead

to the development of recognisable nutritional, deficiency noted (Felistlien. 1985). In Ezillo, the culture does not influence the food habits of the illiterate ones only, it also influences the nutritional habits of the educated ones. This is due to the cultural beliefs of the Ezillo community. The educated class of people living in Ezillo is ignorant of the danger of culture on the nutritional habits of the people starting from the pregnant women, unborn babies and the aged, in their community. There are certain diseases that are associated with poor nutritional habits such as anaemia, kwashiorkor and marasmus.

However, some people say that environmenta, factors such as accidents have the most influence on the health of the people but generally nutrition is the major environmental factor under human control which influences the health of the people, (Bauer, 1988).

PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON THE NUTRITIONAL HABITS OF EZILLO COMMUNITY IN ISHIELU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE.

1.2  Statement of the Problem

The fundamental problems of culture on the nutritional habits of Ezillo Community in Ishielu Local Government Area include the problem of malnutrition of most pregnant mothers and children. This has clear indications on their bodies, as some of them look pale and malnourished in appearance. This cultural practice creates nutritional problems for the people by inhibiting their utilization of some of the highly nutritive food items available. The problems of poor physical and mental development of the people of Ezillo may be due to poor nutrition, as a result of cultural influence. The researcher is disturbed by the incidence of malnutrition among pregnant mothers, for instance, anaemia, and among children for instance kwashiorkor and marasmus in the area. Hence, this project intends to identify these beliefs, how they affect the people’s feeding habits and then suggest some solutions to the identified problems.

PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON THE NUTRITIONAL HABITS OF EZILLO COMMUNITY IN ISHIELU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE.

1.3  Research Questions

            To guide this study, the researcher has formulated the following research questions.

  1. What are the food items forbidden for children in Ezillo Community?
  2. What are the food items forbidden for pregnant women in Ezillo Community?
  3. What are the nutritional disorders commonly experienced by women and children?
  4. Why are pregnant mothers forbidden to eat certain food items?
  5. What food items are forbidden for Christians in Ezillo?

1.4  Delimitation of the Study

            The study was delimitated as follows:

  1. The study attempted to investigate the incidence and practice of cultural beliefs and the Health implications.
  2. The study was delimited to Ezillo Community in Ishielu Local Government area of Ebonyi State.
  3. The information required for this study was delimited to pregnant women, children and Christians.
  4. In the analysis, raw numerical scores were computed into percentages for each particular option.

1.5  Limitations of the Study

            During the investigation, certain difficulties were encountered which restricted the scope of the study. The factors that limited the work of the researcher included:

  • The data-gathering methods adopted in this study were the questionnaire and oral interview. Thus, the study was subject to weaknesses inherent in a questionnaire format that requires individuals to accurately convey their internalized perceptions.
  • The study could not cover all the entire Local Government Areas due to restrictions posed by time available for the study, which was too short to allow for effective coverage.
  • The attitudinal behaviour of some of the women and men also affected the study in some small measure. Some of them were reluctant to answer or supply the needed information.
  • Financial constraint was another factor that limited the scope of this investigation.

1.6  Significance of the Study

            The study is intended to identify the cultural beliefs of Ezillo people and how they influence their nutritional habits. It will expose the dangers of such cultural beliefs on the health of people. The result of this study may encourage the people to appreciate the need for rejecting some of the taboos on some nutritious food items. Through the results of this study people of Ezillo will know the need for providing their children with diet.

PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON THE NUTRITIONAL HABITS OF EZILLO COMMUNITY IN ISHIELU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE.

1.7  Definition of Terms

Culture – All the arts, beliefs, social institutions etc characteristic of a community, race.

Society – Way in which people are organized, a group of people who live in the same

                 way. Association of people with the same interests.

Belief – Feeling sure of something / convictions.

Custom – Habit. Usual and generally accepted behaviour among members of a social   group.

Myth – Story, handed down from olden times especially concepts or beliefs.

Grass cutter – A bush animal that is hunted for meat. It is highly nutritious when eaten as bush meat.

Kwashiorkor – A nutritional disorder of infants and young children when the diet is persistently deficient in essential protein.

Marasmus – Wasting away of the body, especially that of a baby, without apparent cause.

PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON THE NUTRITIONAL HABITS OF EZILLO COMMUNITY IN ISHIELU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE.

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