In the ever-changing and dynamic economic terrain of the global society, nations are constantly evolving strategies to leverage on the comparative advantages which they have over others and articulate framework of ideas to grow their various through these advantages.
For countries in Africa, including Nigeria, culture becomes one of such marketable products which at various fora, experts have consistently highlighted as possessing immense potential to grow the economies of the continent’s peoples and countries against the backdrop of the product’s availability and also its immense viability if properly explored.
The 21st century has been tagged the century of Africa’s development. Indices from some African countries suggest that steadily, Africa is beginning to take the necessary steps to growth and development. There are also indications that the leaderships and governance of most African and Diaspora countries and communities are becoming more transformational in their disposition and it in this context that the current realities could be explained.
However, many also believe that if Africa and its Diaspora are to come to compete with the rest of the global economy, Nigeria and the rest of the continent need to accelerate pace of development and one of such ways of fast tracking development remains, according to them, exploiting the viable option of cultural development.
Indeed, Africa’s cultural diversity remains a treasure largely unexplored in her continued quest for development.
African culture encapsulates the totality of the learned and shared ways by which Africans have survived through the ages. It encompasses the tangible and intangible as it also incorporates the subtotal of the material and immaterial tools, art works and works of art and knowledge accumulated by the people. Africa’s cultural heritage is enviably rich.
Hence, its relevance to Africa’s political, social and economic growth and sustainable development.
This position also takes into cognisance various economic models evolved and initiated in the past in an effort to drive development. However, culture remains of such yet to be fully tapped into with a view to driving economies of the various African countries.
Since culture is a way of life, there is an urgent need to reconcile its substance with the ongoing search for effective tool for arresting the tide of poverty, unemployment and misery ravaging the continent and its Diaspora. A culture compass is also desirable to entrench progressive human development, enhance creativity and increase productivity for the common good.
It is therefore against this backdrop there that the forthcoming conference by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) is fully appreciated and commended, as the agency seeks to traditionally offer a platform for scholars from various disciplines and different climes to interact, analyze and exchange ideas on the centrality of culture to Africa and the African Diaspora socio-economic transformation.
The international conference slated for November 27 and 28 in two states of Rivers State, is expected to provide opportunity to interrogate and question the concepts of culture as it relates to the experiences of Nigerians, African peoples and institutions; offer a platform for scholars from various disciplines and different climes to interact, analyze and exchange ideas on the centrality of culture to Africa and the African Diaspora socio-economic transformation; explore ways of restoring Africa’s traditional values by rebuilding families and communities in order to enhance our potentials for self-reliance; as well as strengthen historical and cultural ties between Africa and the Diaspora.
Organized in collaboration with the University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, the international conference will hold under the theme of: Using Culture to Drive the Transformation of Africa and its Diaspora in a New Global Order, and expected to gather Pan-Africanists, historians, academics, activists and other experts within Africa and the Diaspora.
At the end of the confab, it is expected that a veritable platform would have been provided for harnessing the gains of cultural pluralism for sustainable development in Africa; an avenue would have been provided for enhanced international exchanges on the centrality of culture to Africa and the African Diaspora socio-economic transformation; lessons would have been learnt on ways of using Africa’s traditional values to enhance African culture potentials for self-reliance, in the same way as opportunities would have been created to further strengthen cultural ties between Africa and the Diaspora.
The two-day international conference will various look at; Theoretical and Epistemological Issues; Using Culture to Fasttrack African Development; Popular Culture and Development; Culture and Management; Cultural and Heritage Management; The Nollywood Industry in the Promotion of National Development; Indigenous Knowledge Systems and National Development; The Youth, African Culture and Development; Any other issues and sub themes considered germane to culture and the transformation of Africa and its Diaspora in the new global order, as sub-themes.
Meanwhile, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, has charged the management of CBAAC to ensure proper documentation of old cultural values of the country, noting that these heritage items serve to preserve the history of the nations in the minds of the people.
The monarch said this when newly-appointed Director-General of the agency, Sir Ferdinand Anikwe led his management team which included CBAAC Directors Mrs. Funmi Ladele, Dr. Tony Onwumah, Dr. Mrs. Chuma-Ibe, and Mrs. Osaro Osayande on a courtesy visit to the palace of Oba Akiolu, Iga Idunganran, last Tuesday.
‘I would charge you as Director General of the centre to work to ensure proper documentation of old cultural values, artifacts and art works as these are very important in the preservation of our culture and tradition as this goes a long way in familiarizing the generations yet unborn with the history of the African continent,’ said the monarch.
The traditional ruler who assumed office in 2003, in his welcome remarks noted that the African tradition especially the Yoruba culture is a very rich and interesting one.
Citing examples of different cultural beliefs, Oba Akiolu promised not to relent in his efforts at propagating it to the rest of the world, just as he noted that although he was born a Muslim, he has a 100 per cent belief in the traditional customs and values as the sustainability of what is left of the African world after the colonialists’ invasion can only be found in our culture.
He further acknowledged the fact that it was needful for us as Africans to move forward as see the past as gone.
“Often times, I’ve had reasons to argue with some foreign expatriates on how they have influenced our cultural values especially among the younger generation.
“Now that most of these expatriates have left for their countries, the needful for us as Africans is to re-invent our lost values and embrace them again,” said Oba Akiode.
Oba Akiolu thereafter pledged his unflinching support for the centre and promised to attend any of the its functions when invited.
Responding, Sir Anikwe thanked the monarch for his insightful comments and observations, as he further pointed out that the visit became imperative ‘as the Oba’s assistance, blessings and co-operation is highly important in order to help project our cultural values to the outside world, which is one of CBAAC’s mandate.’
He reiterated the fact that for CBAAC to succeed excellently, the Oba and council’s collaboration and partnership would make a significant impact and ‘as CBAAC is a stakeholder in the cultural sector, an affiliation with the traditional ruler would go a long way in helping the Centre achieve laid down goals and ambitions.’
He said even though the Centre is faced with problem of poor funding, they are trying their best to make the use of the minimal allocation they receive from the Federal Government.