2014 CBAAC int’l confab: Harnessing culture’s immense potential (1)

Posted: December 16, 2014 in general

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The Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC)’s aim of using its just-concluded international conference to expose and fully showcase the viability of culture and its immense potential for a country like Nigeria, in Africa, and by implication portray the sector’s capability to grow the nation’s economy if fully exploited, could be said to have been achieved going by the fallouts of the conference in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

Before now, experts have continually highlighted culture as possessing immense potential to grow the economies of the African countries, including Nigeria, against the backdrop of the product’s availability, self-sustenance and also its immense viability if properly explored.

As the four-day conference/festival rounded off, it became even more obvious that indeed, Nigeria’s economic planners need to take look the way of culture as an industry capable of repositioning the nation’s economic outlook, that is already over-dependent on crude oil and in heavy need of diversification in fast changing global economic terrain.

While many thumbed up the centre for platforming a forum for scholars from various disciplines and different climes to interact, analyze and exchange ideas on the centrality of culture to Africa and the African Diaspora socio-economic transformation, others commended CBAAC for exposing the marketability of culture at the conference through not just the displays and cultural showcase, but also the media presentations and research materials unfolded at the event.

The international conference which held from November 25 through to 28 at the Ijaw House and also at the Peace Park, all in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, introduced a new dimension to cultural expose, as scholars mixed it up with the practitioners to fully express the theme of the festival/colloquium, which was: Using Culture to Drive the Transformation of Africa and its Diaspora in a new Global Order.

Organized in collaboration with the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and the Bayelsa State Ministry of Culture and Ijaw National Affairs, the international conference could well have been likened to a cultural carnival, of sorts, going by the array of film stars who thronged the Peace Park, to add glamour and glitz to the opening ceremony which held earlier.

Featuring a festival, conference and colloquium, the event witnessed the presentation of nearly fifty papers including the Keynote address by Professor Sule Bello Suleimon, the chairman, Africa Research and Development Agency, Kano; in addition to the four Lead Papers by Professor Emeka Nwabueze of the Department of Theatre and Communication Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan,; Dr Oshotse Andrew Okwilagwe of the Department of Library, Archival and Information Studies, University of Ibadan; as well as Dr Tony Ogbonna of the Enugu State Government House, Enugu.

The conference, which also provided an auspicious occasion for participants to interrogate and question the concepts of culture as it relates to the experiences of Nigerians, African peoples and institutions; offered a platform for historians, academics, pan-Africanists, activists and other experts within Africa and Diaspora from various disciplines and different climes to interact, analyze and exchange ideas on the centrality of culture to Africa and the African Diaspora socio-economic transformation; explore ways of restoring Africa’s traditional values by rebuilding families and communities in order to enhance our potentials for self-reliance; as well as strengthen historical and cultural ties between Africa and the Diaspora.  

Contained in the 10-point communiqué issued at the end deliberations therefore, participants expectedly, urged the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), to intensify its efforts in the preservation of African Culture most importantly, the re-introduction of the teaching of History in Nigerian Schools.

They also implored the centre to canvass for the de-colonization of the already colonized African cultures, as this is a challenge to all Africans.  This is to be done in partnership with the intelligentsia, artists, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and all allied agencies in Africa.  This will make for self-reliance, in socio-economic and cultural affairs of African State.

Other key points in the resolution include: That CBAAC develop a pathway through which the BOOK can be used for new value-system development, since the values of the past are continuously being eroded; That a national policy be established for use of Bibliotherapy in value-system re-orientation for behaviour modification, and change within the society; That the National Censors Board, in collaboration with CBAAC and allied agencies, aim at censoring music dramatization to ensure nudity is reduced at production – editing stage, before public viewing on air; That CBAAC canvass for the establishment of a Department of African Studies that would cater for a purely African Culture and the handling of African Traditional Affairs.

In addition, the experts called on the CBAAC to explore the possibility of incorporating traditional models of conflicts resolution devoid of modern adulteration, and institutionalizing these for use, in Africa.

“Gender must emphatically, not be a determinant in apportioning responsibilities.  When men and women render services from their natural areas of responsibilities without discrimination, development results, borne out of the exploration of potentials inherent in synergy” the experts noted.
Lastly, the participants stressed that films are capable of being used as instrument for making peace, and managing conflicts when scriptwriter, actor and director chose to make films that espouse pure culture, and ignore money-making, just as they also called on all, especially the academia to continue to give CBAAC their unalloyed support to ensure the actualization of all set objectives of the Centre.
In his keynote address, Professor Suleiman, noted that the Festival of Black and African Culture (FESTAC) remarkably inspired the greatest writings on Africa by Africans in history, just as he posited that these writings ought to serve as light to present day African to know their culture.
“If you cannot fight for or defend your independence, there are other people who will help you to use it,” Prof Suleimon stressed.

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