Development of arts, culture central to national growth, say Folklore experts
The need for Nigerians to value and up-grade the cultural artefacts at the disposal of the country has been canvassed. Speaking at the fifth yearly congress and 14th Conference of Nigerian Folklore Society (NFS) held at the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Abuja from April 29 to 30, 2019, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, said that great nations of the world got to their present enviable stage on account of their dogged commitments to the development of arts and culture.
Runsewe gave the keynote at the conference, which had as main theme, Resilience and Dynamism in Folklore in the 21st Century. A number of sub-themes came up for discussion. Professor Afam Ebeogu of the Abia State University, Uturu, who presented the lead paper, titled, Teaching Folklore in a Nigerian University: A Tentative Model, made impressive narrative of his personal experience locally and overseas in studying and teaching of folklore at graduate and post-graduate levels. He went on to enumerate elements of folklore studies to be included in a model for the teaching of folklore in Nigerian universities.
President of Nigerian Folklore Society (NFS), Dr. Bukar Usman, while delivering his yearly address, spoke on the state of NFS and how to move it forward. He urged NUC and tertiary institutions in Nigeria to give serious and urgent attention to developing curricular to produce the required professionals for Nigeria to realise its potential in digital media presentation of its folklore.
Professor Hamman Tukur Saad who chaired the opening ceremony also presided over the plenary session. In his remarks, he stressed the need for a society like the NFS to continue to make giant strides. A total of 55 papers were presented.
A director in the Office of the Executive Secretary NUC, Chris J. Maiyaki, who represented his boss, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, articulated the various contributions of the commission to the advancement of the Nigerian university system as well as in widening the frontiers of scholarship by asking NFS to collaborate with the NUC in proposing a curriculum for Bachelor of Arts degree in Folklore Studies in Nigeria.
The various syndicate sessions were quite illuminating as various aspects of the main theme were explored in details. The papers presented revolved around proverbs, power relations and cultural diversity, folklore and new media, aspects of material culture in folktales presentation, folklore and its transmission, folklore as a medium of cultural revival and renaissance, folklore as an instrument of education, and the need for folklores to be preserved in multi-media genres – films, video games, cartoon, etc.
General observations on the various papers presented emphasised the need for theoretical framework as basis for discussions, the importance of contextualisation, the need to avoid generalisation and the place of deeper research in paper presentations.
At the end, the conference resolved that senior academics of NFS should encourage and challenge the younger ones to aspire to greater heights, younger and middle cadre academics should continue to explore for their career development scholarly platforms provided by the society under prevailing environment, policy-makers and functionaries need to create conducive atmosphere for the promotion of folklore and culture generally, “NFS welcomes NUC proposal for collaboration to review and strengthen the curriculum for folklore studies in Nigerian universities, NFS recognises the need for the preservation/promotion of folklore generally and oral narratives in particular, seed money/funding should be sourced to kick start substantial and sustainable funding in Nigeria folklore for the development of arts and culture,” the body noted.
Other resolutions include, investment in Nigerian folklore industry should focus on creation of video games, field work should be encouraged to complement existing data bank of Nigerian folklore, “NFS should collaborate with captains of industries and media pundits in the electronic and print in fashioning ways to cash in on the abundance of arts and culture in Nigeria, as the younger generation hardly relishes reading texts in hard copies nowadays, folk narratives should be stored in electronic formats to catch their attention.”
In that regard, NFS is desirous of partnership with any organisation to produce tales and forms of folklore and oral literature using ICT-compliant media. Such rebranding, apart from its environment and commercial potential, will doubly ensure that the younger generation becomes more acquainted with Nigerian culture/folklore.
Also, participants in the NFS yearly conferences and congresses were encouraged to submit their papers on time in order to create more room for robust discussions, as well as efforts should be made to publish NFS conference proceedings in journals to accommodate the many quality papers presented.
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