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Cultural diplomacy as tool for political, economic growth

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Cultural diplomacy has been identified as an important tool for bridging the gap between people of diverse interests. It also stimulates political and economic dialogues that will foster mutual understanding and respect between countries.

Former Director of Culture, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, George Nkanta Ufot, made this assertion. Ufot was a guest speaker at the yearly foundation week lecture of Ansar-ud-deen High School Old Students Association (AHOSA) tagged: ‘Cultural Diplomacy: A Vehicle For Promotion Of National Image.’ The lecture was held in Lagos.

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According to Ufot, Nigeria’s cultural diplomacy should promote the dissemination and teaching of its indigenous languages, adding as well as highlighting the uniqueness of the country’s culture.

Ufot who added that cultural diplomacy is beneficial to any nation, expressed optimism that it’s effective propagation is better done by an admix of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with other conventional partners.

He said: “National image is better laundered through the soft power of cultural diplomacy that can be copiously propagated through the diffusion of our music, films and literatures (translation to different international languages), promotion of our national fabrics, body adornments, crafts, cuisines, religious beliefs an d teaching of Nigerian languages abroad.

Nowadays, the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, and the music industry have become creditable vehicles for promotion of national image internationally via the propagation of Nigeria culture — that is the power of cultural diplomacy.

“Some notable musicians like Davido, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage have become very proficient in this direction by winning international laurels in the musical circuits. It is notable that our football stars have also matched the worldwide fame achieved by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti for Nigeria in this realm in recent times. It is equally remarkable that Nigeria has virtually dwarfed the entire African countries in the musical world,” Ufot said.

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Ufot urged the government to do more in promoting these positive developments by building more performing spaces and theatres for the teeming youths to express their talents.

He also called on government to “enforce the copyrights regulations in line with world best practices to ensure that the artistes get maximum benefits from their creative investment; provide a conducive tariff situation to enable the importation of musical equipment for these musicians; among others.”

He recommended that the government should do more by harnessing the more than 50 cultural agreements signed with friendly nations to stimulate various cultural manifestations as effective vehicles for the promotion of national image.

“It must equally be mentioned that the Nigerian cultural landscape is replete with cultural centres of different countries being utilised as platforms to promote and further their images and national interest through propagation of their culture (languages, music, film, couture cuisine) among Nigerians.”

He therefore stated that the country needs to have a cultural renaissance and be alive to the responsibility of reciprocity and do more in terms of cultural orientation and diplomacy to effectively harness the benefits inherent in the peaceful initiative for promotion of national interest and image globally.

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