How To Harness Culture, Tourism For National Development, By Falola
For both sustainable development and economic benefits, Professor Toyin Falola has called for the setting up of a task force for the whole country to reveal and document hidden assets of nature and culture.
Delivering the Second Chief John Agboola Odeyemi Annual Lecture by Natural History Museum (NHM), on the theme, Museum for Sustainable Society, in Ile- Ife, Osun State, last Thursday, Falola maintained that natural and cultural resources generate points of attractions, which are linked to tourism.
He noted that tourism is an industry that generates books, photographs and training of experts in guided tours to visit sites. He however argued that 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, which in turn will depend on uninterrupted electricity supply and good roads.
“Nature and cultural values can be commercialised in positive ways. Many are very well connected to the tourism industry, very many others to daily practices.
“In Bahia, Brazil, the Ile-Aye, a training ground for carnivals, is a school, a club, an apprenticeship and many more providing jobs for hundreds of people.”
Falola stated that culture is powerful and its impact can be seen in all spheres and sectors of society noting that a number of analysts mistakenly believe that change will come only when Africans create a distance with their older traditions and belief.
He therefore observed that rather than throw away the country’s heritage and other enduring aspects of its nature and culture, it is more fruitful to preserve them and to seek the means to adapt them to contemporary demands and circumstances.
“Indeed, what takes place on a daily basis is a creative adaptation to local and global changes, the invention of new ideas and values to meet new challenges, the acquisitions and multiple uses of Islamic and Western education for self- empowerment.”
He said that the country’s heritage will continue to serve as powerful reminders of the country’s contributions to civilization.
“More importantly, 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.” Falola argued that sustainable development requires the ability to relate nature with the economy and politics.
He therefore said that cities and villages should promote natural history, set up societies that will keep records of plants and plant use, fungi, birds, insects and animals.
He also felt there is a need to train more heritage professionals who in turn will teach people at the grassroots level as well as enhance capacity in research and heritage values and create new forms of natural and cultural entrepreneurship.
“Constant reminders to those who manage museums and borders that selling pieces to treasure hunters and raiders is like selling one’s birth right and heritage.
Once sold, they may never be recovered.” Dr John Odeyemi, in his remarks, thanked all who made the programme a success, especially the organising committee.
He also commended the director of the NHM for his doggedness in ensuring that the NHM building which had been abandoned for over 30 years got completed.
Odeyemi noted that if not for the push of Dr. Adisa Ogunfolakan, though he provided the link, the building would not have been completed. The Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Prof Omotayo Ajayi, commended Odeyemi for his passion and commitment to cultural issues which are reflected in its many contributions to the university.
The Director of the Natural History Museum, OAU, Dr. Adisa Ogunfolakan, stated that the theme is apt as it came at a time when the nation needs to be reminded in more than a subtle manner of the vast natural and cultural resources available and how they can be harnessed for sustainable development of the society at large.