Using culture as a tool for national development
Toyin Falola, a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies, once solicited setting up of a task force to expose and document hidden assets of nature and culture in the country.
According to him, natural and cultural resources generate points of attractions, which are linked to tourism that can boost development.
“Tourism is an industry that generates books, photographs and training of experts in guided tours to visit sites.
“However, natural and cultural resources on their own will not generate employment unless they are developed and announced to the world besides anchoring them to tourism.
“Nature and cultural values can be commercialised in positive ways, culture is powerful and its impact can be seen in all spheres and sectors of society,’’ he opined.
He insisted that the country should utilise its cultural heritage and other enduring aspects of its nature by adapting them to contemporary demands and circumstances.
He said that the country’s heritage, if harnessed in that regard, would continue to serve as powerful reminders of the country’s contributions to civilisation.
“Heritage and culture have been the main source of constructing identity, reinventing ourselves in the face of external imposition and the subsequent changes that followed.
“Sustainable development requires the ability to relate nature with the economy and politics; cities and villages should promote natural history,’’ he said.
He called for the training of more heritage professionals who in turn would teach people at the grassroots and enhance capacity in research and heritage values to create new forms of natural and cultural entrepreneurship.
Alluding to Faloa’s opinion, analysts observe that there should be cultural revolution to diversify Nigeria’s economy.
They insist that the culture industry has a great role to play in the ongoing diversification of the country’s economy in view of dwindling earnings from crude oil.
Highlighting the importance of culture, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, enjoined the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) to work towards getting more national monuments in the country enlisted as world heritage sites.
Represented by Alhaji Yusuf Abdallah, Director-General of National Commission for Museums and Monuments at a recent retreat organised by NICO in Kaduna, the minister said this would attract local and international tourists.
He also observed that there should be good working relationship between his ministry and Ministry of Education with the aim of integrating museum studies in the educational curriculum.
“This will enable students to have deep knowledge about their culture and give them sense of belonging.
“ It will also create avenue for them to know about indigenous arts and industries at their early ages,’’ he said.
In his view, Dr Barclays Ayakoroma, Executive Secretary of NICO, solicited regular use of Nigerian indigenous languages, promotion of Nigerian dress culture, building orientation and food culture, hard work, respect for elders and constituted authority, among Nigerians.
“If we can imbibe these in our ways of doing things in the country, we would achieve a positive cultural revolution,’’ he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Hope Eghagha, an analyst, said “a developed culture is a prerequisite for the general development of any society.’’
In the same vein, Alhaji Yahaya Ndu, President, African Revolutionary Movement, said that culture was “fundamental to the development of any society because it is the totality of the way of life of a given people.’’
He said Africa must ensure the preservation of the continent’s rich cultural practices and warned against harmful traditional practices.
“For cultural renaissance campaign in Africa to make practical sense, it must begin with the processes of living and acting in consonance with the cultural essence of Africans as a people,’’ he said recently at an event.
Corroborating Ndu’s view, Mr Ferdinand Anikwe, Director-General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation, said Nigerians should look back at the country’s history and take important decisions that would contribute to the progress of the country’s economy.
“Nigerians are complaining of low level of income from the oil sector, this could be a blessing in disguise.
“There are so many other things, culture sector inclusive, that we can do to improve the revenue generation for the country,’’ he said.
By and large, analysts insist that cultural exhibitions would boost the country’s economy and strengthen relationships among the citizens.