As the world continues to become more liberal, conservative principles and convictions are becoming more challenged. The formerly accepted belief that life is sacred and worth-living or saving is now a global controversy. While Africa remains a generally pro-life continent, pro-choice initiatives, movements and advocacy begin to emanate. This article discusses the idea, progress and promotion of pro-life in Madagascar and Nigeria.
The world’s fourth largest island located between the Mozambique Channel and the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is rich in diversity. Its major ethnic groups are Malayo-Indonesian, African, Arab, French, Indian, Creole and Comorian. In terms of religions, Malagasy people are mostly Christian, then indigenous and Muslim. Madagascar’s youth population – just over 60% are under the age of 25 – and high total fertility rate of more than 4 children per women ensures that Malagasy population will continue its rapid growth trajectory for the foreseeable future. The population is predominantly rural and poor; chronic malnutrition is prevalent, and large families are the norm. Many young Malagasy girls are withdrawn from school, marry early (often pressured by parents) and soon begin having children. That’s why life promotion is considerably important in the country.
In Madagascar, pro-life initiatives are mainly promoted at Christian churches, in the form of Sunday school teachings for every group age. There are also conferences and seminars with topics related to life promotion but are largely Christian-led initiatives. Pro-life movements are not really seen or heard by the general population. On social media, there are less than 5 official pro-life initiatives available for the 27 million people throughout the nation. Despite its worth, pro-life promotion is noticeably lower than pro-abortion or pro-choice promotion on social media, especially Facebook where 9,936,454 people spend at least 60 minutes every day. But Malagasy culture plays a big role in that. Conservative to their unique native values and wisdoms, Malagasy people are originally pro-life and are reluctant to accept new value trends particularly in terms of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Even if the government tries step by step to adopt current policies regarding to population development, frequently pressured by international institutions, major numbers of Malagasy people remain unwilling to accept these new ideologies, and instead remain pro-life in their beliefs.
With a population of over 200 million people and more than 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria is at its origins a pro-life country. While Nigerians may not term it as pro-life, the lifestyle, culture and beliefs show regard for life and frown upon induced deaths. However, this initial idea of the dignity of life is beginning to change with the younger generation.
Generally, older Nigerians are pro-life. They have respect for the dignity of life either for the unborn or for the aged. A typical Nigerian family with poor finances, living in a room, can have up to 8 children and would take care of their old relatives till natural death comes. That is, abortion and euthanasia are not usual options for the majority of older people in Nigeria. Nevertheless, on issues like murder, theft and sexual violence, lynching, especially by burning and stabbing, is usually done. This attitude cuts across major cultures in Nigeria.
On the contrary, however, millennials are beginning to change the narratives and question pro-life beliefs. They are looking to minimise responsibility, reduce unwanted burdens and of course ease their life. Regardless, the law does not permit major pro-choice activities and so can only be done secretly. It is safe to say that, the older generation is pro-life as opposed to the younger generation who are increasingly more pro-choice.
It is very important to understand why millennials in Nigeria would choose to be pro-choice over pro-life. The poor living conditions, hunger and lack of proper welfare and health services that manifest from generation to generation in Nigeria are reasons why the younger generation prefer pro-choice. Sometimes, they live in conditions that make them question their existence on earth and are therefore not desired for their unborn generation. This is a sad reality: one that leads individuals and communities to turn away from valuing the life of the unborn child. Unfortunately, the deplorable situation of the country does not encourage a pro-life mindset because so many are not being cared for or supported in other ways.
It is still unlawful to have major pro-choice activities in Nigeria, but there must be more than laws. People must be cared for from the beginning as well as through their lives, provided with the essential needs of food, water, medical care, and community. As many of the younger generation turns away from pro-life beliefs, it is hard to say what the country truly stands for.