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Oral literature experts spearhead campaign for cultural heritage

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Professor G. G. Darah

Professor G. G. Darah

The objective of the Campaign for Cultural Heritage (CCH) is to advocate support for Nigeria’s implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) to which Nigeria is a signatory. The Convention enjoins all States Parties of UNESCO to put culture at the centre of all legislation, policies and plans of economic, political, social, artistic, and spiritual development. The Convention contains programmes for the creation, recreation, safeguarding, preservation, propagation, and exploitation of cultural resources and expressions. Elements of intangible cultural heritage identified and submitted to UNESCO by States Parties are eligible for financial and technical assistance by UNESCO, donor agencies and institutions around the world.

Nigeria, with about 500 languages and hundreds of ethnic groups, is a major contributor to the world’s cultural heritage and is, therefore, a beneficiary of the Convention. In the past one decade UNESCO has enlisted several cultural elements and traditions in Nigeria, some of which are in danger of extinction due to destructive factors of globalisation and modernisation/westernisation.

Nigeria’s cultural heritage constitutes the foundation of our existence and identity. Culture is the treasure base of knowledge, languages, ideas, philosophy, skills, creativity, economy, technology, security, morality, ethics, and principles of inter-group relations. Culture is the reason for our humanity. We are human because we create and own culture; we create and own culture to renew and enhance our common humanity.

In furtherance of the above principles, there is an imperative need to establish Nigerian platforms to raise awareness about the primacy of culture in creativity and sustainable national development. To this end the Campaign for Cultural Heritage (CCH) is being set up under the auspices of the Nigerian Oral Literature Association (NOLA). The objective of CCH is to support the Government of Nigeria in the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention and to enlighten governments and the general public to give priority to culture in legislation, politics, economic planning, budgeting, education, business, security, and social affairs. Our advocacy is to ensure that no less than 20% of annual Federal and State Budgets is allocated to Culture and Education.

The Nigerian Oral Literature Association (NOLA) was founded in 2010 as a professional body of scholars, researchers, creators, promoters, and patrons of cultural heritage. Its aims include taking measures to sustain the excellent legacy of Afrocentric creativity and scholarship on Nigerian oral cultural heritage from the 1950s. NOLA members are in tertiary institutions, research centres and professional groups in Nigeria, Africa and the African Diaspora.

NOLA is the premier professional association devoted to the study of Nigerian oral traditions of creativity, transmission, and wealth generation; NOLA is affiliated to the International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa (ISOLA). Nigeria’s US-based Professor Chiji Akoma is the current President of ISOLA. Nigeria will host the 12th Conference of ISOLA at the University of Ibadan in 2018

The neglect of indigenous culture in Nigeria is responsible for the country’s economic backwardness, mass poverty, corruption, criminal acts, insurgent revolts, and disorientation of children, youth, and adults. Owing to the marginalisation of indigenous cultural assets, Nigerian governments and ruling elite waste resources and opportunities seeking solutions from the very western powers and institutions that caused, and benefit from, our economic woes and socio-political confusion. The implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage will cure this ideological and moral affliction.

It is significant to recall that in 1977 Nigeria hosted the Festival of African Arts and Culture (FESTAC). The festival involved African people on the continent and all parts of the world. The international representation and events celebrated the best and brightest in African cultural heritage from antiquity. FESTAC signalled an auspicious moment of African recovery and renaissance after decades of colonial plunder and degradation by imperialist European countries. But with the boom in providential oil wealth and regimes of military tyrants, Nigeria derailed and frittered away the historic opportunity to lead the people of Africa and the African Diaspora to redeem their cultural heritage, identity, and pride.

Yet, in spite of the neglect and destruction of our cultural resources over the years, Nigeria’s greatest fields of creativity and innovation are recorded in the cultural domain. Some of the world’s most celebrated artists and writers were fostered by our culture. Examples are Daniel Fagunwa, Amos Tutuola, Abubakar Imam, Tafawa Balewa, Gabriel Okara, Chinua Achebe, J. P. Clark, Christopher Okigbo, Wole Soyinka, Mabel Segun, Flora Nwapa, Elechi Amadi, Femi Osofisan, Niyi Osundare, Tanure Ojaide, Abubakar Gimba, Tess Onwume, and Ben Okri.

The Nigerian tradition of drama and video film known as Nollywood, now ranked as the second in the world, is nourished by our cultural ingenuity and diversity. Thanks to the resourcefulness of culture, Nigeria’s popular music has attained the iconic status of the anthem of the African continent. Our fantastic fashion designs, magnificent crafts and visual arts, and attainments in sports are testimonies to the versatility of our culture. These fields of creativity and enterprise have sustained Nigeria’s economic survival in the face of recurring cycles of mismanagement and recession.

The UNESCO Convention for Intangible Cultural Heritage opens a new vista for humanity to rediscover itself and restore culture to the centrepiece of living and development. Accordingly, the Campaign for Cultural Heritage will devote effort to ensuring that the Government of Nigeria implements every aspect of the Convention. It is the most sustainable way to explore the riches of our culture to diversify the economy and overcome the tribulations of economic recession. You are welcome to the campaign.
Members of Interim Steering Committee: Professor G. G. Darah (President, NOLA) National Coordinator, Professor Nereus Yerima Tadi VP, NOLA, Dep. Coordinator, Gombe State University, Professor Felicia Ohwovoriole VP, NOLA, Dep. Coordinator, University of Lagos…

Professor Olusegun Adekoya, Editor-In-Chief, NOLA, Obafemi Awolowo Univ
Professor Chinyere Nwahunanya,Dep. Editor-In-Chief, NOLA, Abia State Univ
Professor Asaba Kabir Usman, Uthman Danfodio University, Sokoto
Professor Leticia M. Nyitse, Chief Archivist, NOLA, Benue State University
Professor Idris Amali, Nasarawa State University
Professor F. B. O. Akporobaro, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo
Professor Rose Aziza, Delta State University, Abraka
Professor Sophia Ogwude, University of Abuja
Professor Adegboyega Kolawole, University of Abuja
Professor Mabel Evwierhoma, University of Abuja
Professor Ademola Dasylva (University of Ibadan
Professor Afam Ebeogu, Abia State University, Uturu
Professor Grace Ogwu, Delta State University, Abraka
Professor Nkem Okoh, University of Port Harcourt
Professor Lucky Akaruese, University of Port Harcourt
Professor Union Edebiri, University of Benin
Professor Tony Afejuku, University of Benin
Professor Muyiwa Awodiya, University of Benin
Professor Ben Egede, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma
Professor Bridget Inegbeboh, Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa
Professor Ahmed Yerima, Redeemers University, Ede
Professor Bola Sotunsa, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo
Professor Christopher Anyokwu, University of Lagos
Professor Isaac Idamoyibo, Delta State University, Abraka
Professor Michael Nabofa, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island
Professor Barina Ngaage, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island
Dr. Mark Osama Ighile, Administrative Secretary, NOLA, Benson Idahosa Univ
Dr. Toyin Jegede, Financial Secretary, NOLA, University of Ibadan
Dr. Sola Olorunyomi, University of Ibadan
Dr. Daniel Omatsola, University of Abuja
Dr. Bosede Afolayan, University of Lagos
Dr. Philomina Ofuafo, University of Lagos
Dr. Ojo Olorunleke, Lagos State University
Dr. Sunny Awhefeada, Delta State University, Abraka
Dr Atinuke Layade, Delta State University, Abraka
Dr. Stella Ansa, University of Calabar
Dr. Ogaga Okuyade, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island
Dr. Dumbi Osani, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island
Dr. Kevwe Abamwa, Delta State University, Abraka
Dr Rita Mebitaghan, Delta State University, Abraka
Dr. Emmanuel UfuomaTonukari, Delta State University, Abraka
Dr. Martins Tugbokorowei, Delta State University, Abraka
Dr. Eunice Uwadinma-Idemudia, Redeemers University, Ede
Dr. Enajite Ojaruega, Delta State University, Abraka
Mrs. Karoh Ativie, Delta State University, Abraka
Mr Okey Okwechime, University of Benin, Treasurer, NOLA
Mr. Anote Ajeluorou, Publicity Secretary, NOLA, The Guardian, Lagos
Ms Evelyn Osagie, Publicity Secretary, NOLA, The Nation, Lagos
Mr. Peter Emuejevoke Omoko, Membership Secretary, NOLA
Mr. A;ex Roy-Omoni, Delta State University, Abraka
Mrs. Joy Aruoture Omoru, University of Lagos
Mr. Henry Unuajohwofia, Ovu Grammar School, Ovu
Mr. Karo Ilolo, Commissioner, Ministry of Urban Development, Asaba
Mr. Stephen Kekeghe, College of Education, Warri
Mr. Kennedy Edegbe, Tayo Akpata University, Benin
Mr. Eyakuaire Moses Darah, Delta State University, Abraka
Mr. Lucky Ejobee, Delta State University, Abraka
Mrs Aghogho Okune, Nasarawa State University
Ms Onyebuchi Nwosu, Federal University, Ebonyi State
Mr. Akpobome Diffre-Odiete, Baptist Mission, Warri



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