The Culture Of Creativity And The Creativity Of Culture: Implications For Peace And National Development
Jenkeri Zakari Okwori
Literature, music and the fine arts have a significant role to play from within the framework of nation building. A truly Nigerian art must reflect values that will serve Nigeria in the long run. Faced with threats from the aggressive culture of the West, our own arts must reflect countervailing values that will be helpful to Nigeria (Adapted from a Press release, by the Singaporean Ministry of Culture, 28 June 1974).
The above preambular statement from the Singaporean experience adapted to Nigeria underscores the essence of this paper. It validates a truism that regardless of ethnicity and superficial features physiognomy and other differences as Nigerians, culture remains the upholder of our true identity. This includes our total creative framework, words, actions, postures, gestures, tone of voice, dressing, food, play, and the near sacred duty to protect our environment and defend ourselves. Culture helps define us, our world and our place in it (Hall, 1976: 36). Hall’s position herein implies that culture embodies the absolute definition of man.
Understanding Culture as a Way of Life It is imperative to understand that culture is an essential and peculiar way of life that embodies thinking, feeling, believing, the process of organizing, the setup of habitation, existence and development. It is the nexus of the ability to store, use and reuse society’s knowledge and wisdom from the past to the present and also store them up for future use. Culture is a design for living. It is a creative enterprise according to which society adapts itself to its physical, social, and ideational environment. As the enterprise for coping with our physical environment, culture includes such matters as food production and all technological knowledge and skills. Political systems, kinships and family organization, and law are examples of social adaptation, a plan according to which one is to interact with his fellows (Hesselgrave, 1992).
From the foregoing, it is evident that the entire process of culture implicates creativity. Thinking and feeling, knowledge, skills, organizing and governing are all processes of creativity, as well as culture. In order words, cultural processes are creative processes. Culture, which constitutes the fabric of society, is woven from the ongoing interaction with nature and by creativity. What makes a nation healthy is the demonstration of vibrancy of its people marched by efficient quality of the networks between them as individuals, groups, institutions or organisations; and the ‘social capital’ (the trust and respect) they create.
In order to properly situate the direction of this paper, it is imperative to explore the key concept of culture, demonstrate how it is an act of creativity, and how it is implicated in peace and national development. To understand culture, we need to understand nature, the world as created and given by God, that we have no control of but to exist within, either by manipulation, domestication or recreation. God is the master creative artist. He created the world, everything in it and us, human beings in his image. In turn, we are all creative artists, who have recreated God’s wonderful creations in ways that cater to our own needs and desires. Once we begin to utilize nature, our creative response to the way and manner of utilization then means culture.
As Eagleton (2000) informs us, ‘nature produces culture which changes nature’ and in similar vein culture produces creativity, which changes culture. Every single human action is an act of creativity. The simple act of converting raw yam to pounded yam, the act of transforming a tree into a table or chair, the fact of producing symbols and forming them into words and thereby having language are acts of creativity, which once done becomes culture. Culture then, as Goldbard (2004) posits, ‘is what we collectively make of the raw ingredients of life. Everyone participates in culture, even those who have no particular interest in art of any variety. And merely by participating – by exchanging words, observing customs, involving oneself in communal celebration and grief and the milestones of community life – everyone participates in creating and disseminating culture.’ By this explication, culture, therefore, is the pivot upon which all development revolves. This privileges the a priori position of culture as the enabler, the progenitor, the conditioner of all human endeavours and creativity as its vehicle. Therefore, culture cannot be seen in any other way but as a creative force as well as an agent provocateur of peace and national development (Okwori, 2013).
Part of the reason why culture is critical to any peace and national development effort is not simply because culture is the attempt to transform nature for human satisfaction which implies what development does, but because the relationship between culture and development is also double-edged invoking a complex of senses (Okwori, 2012). ‘The complex of senses indicates a complex argument about the relations between general human development and a particular way of life, and between both and the works and practices of art and intelligence. Within this complex argument there are fundamentally opposed as well as effectively overlapping positions; there are also, understandably, many unresolved questions and confused answers’ (Goldbard, 2004). The critical problems of peace and national development are attitude and behaviour related. Attitude and behaviour are processes of cultural seasoning. Yet it is through the same culture that effective peace and national development is enabled. Culture, therefore, is both the problem and solution to peace and national development. Therefore, engaging in peace and national development requires engagement with both the problem and solution aspects of culture (Okwori, 2012).
The 1982 World Conference on Cultural Policies defined culture as the “whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group. It includes not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value system, traditions and beliefs.” Rao and Walton (www.worldbank.org) lend credence to this view by defining culture as “the social structures, norms, values and practices that underpin social identities and behaviours, creative activities, and cultivation of imagination. Aesthetic expression, including "built heritage," forms part of this conception.” Culture, therefore, “is a roomy idea, one that can be stretched to accommodate everything human beings create” (Goldbard, 2004).
Creativity and Culture
Creativity is a term that is complex in definition because of its multi-disciplinary approach. Creativity can be used as both a noun to describe the creational quality of a person or a thing or can be used to define the actions of a person or an object. Basically, creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby something new is created, which has some sort of subjective value basically because the object created is not so in isolation but is created based on a combination of thought patterns and processes informed by experiences, events and expectations. Creative creations may involve jokes, music, paintings, poetry or technological inventions.
More often than not, creativity has been linked to the quality of mind that gives birth to creations and is thus associated with intelligence and cognition. Cultural diversity and creativity can hardly be discussed independently as creativity has been cited as being a product of culture itself. The cultural influences on the lives of people ultimately determine their level of creativity in the society. Because culture has been partly defined as a cognitive process, which structures the thinking and the mindsets of the people, it is hard to detract creativity from the daily interactions of a people.
Runco (2007) argues that the ability to identify a problem, think through processes of solving the problem and eventually arriving at a plausible solution can be said to be a creative process. Simply put, therefore, culture can be expressed creatively depending on the way a people make use of what is available to them in their own culture.
Creativity has diverse expression and plays a critical role in various spheres of life. We see evidence of creativity from technical innovations to teaching, from business to the arts, sciences and engineering, and all fields and aspects of humanity. Human beings are embodiments of creativity in that the everyday human acts of coping, adapting, and finding solutions to emergent survival problems are creative. Runco (2007) also adds that even children too are creative that “they may not be experts or even productive, but they are original and effectively expressive in their art, their dancing and singing, their imaginative play, and their perceptive questioning. It is even possible that children are more creative than adults, given their spontaneity and lack of inhibitions” (Preface to Runco, 2007). Indeed Runco believes that children do not rely on past experience, assumptions, and routines for their creativity like adults do.
Therefore, culture as an expression of the social construction of the life models adopted by the peoples over time, occurs through a permanent movement of change. In essence, since cultural diversity is a fundamental component of the history of Nigeria, submitting them to an intensive exchange of life perspectives, it also involves a constant process of building and rebuilding their identities. The cultural wealth and diversity of Nigerians are examples that the phenomenon of culture does not exist apart from the identity-producing contexts, and they are its deepest underpinning. This is a reference to the conditions of the possibility that self-recognition and creativity of the peoples offer alternative life models.
As globalization begins a broad unification of markets, and at the same time standardizes consumer patterns, accelerating mass consumption on a world scale through recent technological changes that affect the communications media and through the tendency to fuse cultural industries such as the audiovisual and computer industries, it threatens cultural diversity between nations and, by creating new and more agile means of communication among them, runs the risk of cultural uniformity. This uniformity would challenge cultural identities and some authors believe that it would call into question the very sovereignty of nations which could undermine their creativity.
Based on this understanding, it is easy to say that the creative potential of Nigeria is constantly constrained by its historical experiences. According to Nkom (2008), the colonialist mentality left in the minds of the Nigerian elites has caused a desire to acquire all things Western but without the cultural indices of productivity and efficiency. While the attainment of the Western way of doing things is hardly a wrong ideal, the mode of achievement can be said to be faulty as the infrastructure and facilities that will precipitate creative expression of cultural industries are severely lacking. There have been varying stifling institutions and policies from faulty educational systems that do not encourage creative thinking on the part of the students to poor working conditions that do not permit for creative expressions born out of intrinsic motivation.
To Hemlin et al (2004), creativity can generally be defined as the generation of a product that is not only novel and imaginative but also useful and of good quality (see, for example, Mumford and Gustafson, 1988; Stoycheva and Lubart, 2001; Unsworth and Parker, 2003). Simply defining a novel or imaginative product as creative would take away much of the commonly supposed positive value of creativity, since low-quality or not very useful products are unlikely to be highly valued, however novel and imaginative they may be. For this reason, it is more useful to define a creative product as one that is not only novel and imaginative but also judged to be useful and of good quality.
It is also important to distinguish between a creative product and a creative process. On occasions one may be interested more in the features of the process leading to a knowledge product and the extent to which these are more or less creative, but more commonly the focus is on the creative features of the product (see Allwood and Selart, 2001). It is worth noting that there is no necessary connection between a creative production process and a creative product. Although a creative process may lead to novel results, the product may still not be seen as creative if it fails to meet the criterion of being of good quality. In spite of this, it is clear that the nature and characteristics of production processes (be they more or less creative) and the factors influencing them are relevant to any discussion of creativity.
The identification of a product or process as creative is, per se, a difficult and intriguing problem. Such a judgment is clearly dependent on the prior knowledge and understanding brought into play and the assessment of creativity may thus vary between different contexts and across different historical periods. In addition, it is important to note that the evaluation of a product as creative is usually a matter of social negotiation and thus at least partly influenced by rhetorical and other communication skills.
Creativity is an active invitation for all of us to be part of creating healthy nations. As nations shift and grow, we begin to experience the world differently. Our habits, our work, our homes and our social circles change colour and shape. These changes call for a constant re-evaluation of our engagement with our nation – to continue the work of reflecting, mirroring and mediating reality, bridging our relationships with ourselves, with others and with our society or nation. Seen this way, creativity is the necessary work of evolving community or national engagement using methods that honour people’s individual and collective knowledge about their lives and their environments.
As John Forester (Preface to Sarkissian and Hurford, 2010) contends, there may be no formula for effective engagement of people with their nations, simply because creativity is unpredictable and we view the world from different dimensions and perceptions. What is not in contention is that we do not create from the void. We create by applying in theatrical and Stanislavskian sense our emotional memory. That is, our creativity is borne out of lived experiences and in a sense becomes our unique ways of seeing the world. Creativity is therefore dictated by culture: locality, histories, environments and politics. This implies that methodologically, we need to examine the contexts and emotions that engender people to be creative and to provide opportunities that enable people build something new and unexpected.
Creative arenas should reflect both national engagement methods practised over several decades and experimental forms that illuminate creativity’s essential role in bridging conflict, changing the flavour of national discussions, opening citizens to new possibilities and framing lasting paradigms that transforms a nation and its futures.
The starting point of the relationship between creativity and national development is to understand that creativity is to a great extent influenced by the environment in which people work to produce creative products. This notion is consistent with the observation of Amabile and others that is applicable to national development efforts: Countries that wish to prosper in peace and national development must foster creativity and innovation within their citizens by not only paying attention to what sort of citizens they breed but also by paying attention to the environments they create for these potentially creative citizens (Amabile et al., 1996: 1180).
Adopting this standpoint is not, of course, to deny that certain citizens are potentially much more creative than others, depending on the personal characteristics that they embody. Nevertheless, the extent to which that creative potential is expressed in practice depends to a considerable extent on the environment in which the citizen works. Furthermore, people constitute an important part of the environment for others, since most creative work involves interaction or even collaboration with other people (Hemlin, et al, 2004). A creative environment is that environment, context and surrounding the characteristics of which are such that they exert a positive influence on human beings engaged in creative work aiming to produce new knowledge or innovations, whether they work individually or in teams, within a country or in collaboration with others.
The importance of this contention is that creativity requires a number of important features: the creative environments for people on a number of different scales or sizes. The first is the environment surrounding one individual or a small team or work group, where, for instance, the personal interactions and even whether the room in which they work is conducive enough to influence their creativity. At one extreme in terms of size of environment is the national level at which an institution and its employees operate. At another level, a nation will have specific institutional arrangements, laws, economies and regulations that may hinder or promote creative activities. One could perhaps describe creative environments as a number of nested layers of environmental factors surrounding the unit in which creative activities are undertaken.
It is against these backgrounds that we will examine some of the arenas where creativity plays critical roles in peace and national development. Whereas every sphere of human endeavour is a creative arena, some specific practices are noted for their creative engagements because of their ability to be transformational, reflective and mediatory. These arenas are variously described as cultural industries or cultural entertainment industries. A few examples are illustrative:
From the UNESCO declaration to the various practices of culture the world over, there is now a widespread acknowledgment that culture is a critical component of human development, even if there is no agreed model for describing how this should occur. In the last decade, significant advances have been made in understanding the role of culture in development. What has become apparent in cultural policy considerations is the productive capacity of culture through the identification and propagation of cultural industries. Through the cultural industries, culture is pragmatically implicated in peace and sustainable national development. This is because cultural industries, as creative arenas, apart from providing avenues for the expression of the creative spirit, are economic spheres that also provide needed livelihood and boost Gross National Product (GNP) for the nations that have the political will and capacity to comprehend their great potential.
Throsby (2008) notes that recognition of the cultural industries has, of course, been with us for a number of years; but it has been only relatively recently that analysis of their structure and measurement of their performance have begun to take shape. A sharper understanding is accumulating of the contribution the cultural industries make to a range of economic and social objectives including GDP growth, employment creation, regional development, urban revitalisation, and social cohesion. From this is emerging a realisation that in both developed and developing countries, cultural industries paradigm offers means of linking culture and the economy in ways that acknowledge both the economic importance of creative activities and the specific cultural value inherent in and produced by these activities.
Ojameruaye (2005) indicates that generally, ‘cultural industries are knowledge and labour-intensive; they create employment and wealth, nurture creativity, and foster innovation in production and commercialization processes.’ He notes that the past three decades have witnessed the exponential growth of cultural industries, both in terms of employment creation and contribution to GNP. He draws attention to the fact that in the periods, 1980 and 1998, the annual world trade of printed matter, literature, music, visual arts, cinema, photography, radio, television, games and sporting goods, increased sharply from US$95.34million to US$387.927million. The only problem he contends is that the trade is dominated by a few countries to the detriment of others like Nigeria. Consider that in 1990 alone, Japan, USA, Germany and UK were the biggest exporters of cultural goods and services, which accounted for about 55.4% of total exports and about 47% of total imports. The dominance of only a few countries in the exports and imports of cultural goods is however on the decline because new players like China, South Africa and India have become forces to reckon with. Why the volume of the overall trade in cultural products increased dramatically since 1991 is traceable to the boom in multimedia, audiovisual, software and other copyright based industries.
Ojameruaye notes that by 1996, cultural products (films, music, television programmes, books, journals and computer software) became the largest US export, surpassing, for the first time, all other traditional industries, including automobiles, agriculture, or aerospace and defence. In essence, the rise in demand for cultural goods and services has led to the rapid expansion of international cultural trade. Beginning from the 1990s, the development of new digital technologies and the firming up of national, regional and international (de)regulatory policies have dramatically reorganized the structure of cultural industries worldwide.
In order to ensure that Africa finds its rightful place in the growing trade in cultural goods and services, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organized an ad-hoc Regional Consultation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU), in Dakar. The meeting x-rayed the problems facing the cultural industries – craft, arts, books, music and the performing arts, cinematography, cultural heritage in Africa, and recommended ways of overcoming some of the problems, thus:
a) Large-scale production of works of cultural goods and increased professionalism in marketing;
b) Holding regular exhibitions and workshops on the criteria and aesthetics of African art;
c) Encouraging the establishment of professional associations or national unions;
d) Reproducing works of arts digitally on the Internet in order to facilitate their distribution and promotion;
e) Encouraging local production of books and developing regional market; raising reading habit/rates; and promoting regional book salons and fairs;
f) Combating piracy and ensure surveillance of the electronic market;
g) Training of local artists in specialized schools as well as in creative workshops;
h) Identifying cultural operators, producing structures and developing networks in order to ensure rational returns on current efforts;
i) Ensuring that cultural goods relate to African reality (to ensure that people relate to them) while at the same time adapting to modernity. Modernity requires adequate infrastructure;
j) Expanding programmes aimed at the identification of sites and monuments of historic importance.
Ojameruaye (2005) attests to the fact that ‘language is perhaps the most important and distinguishing aspect of any culture.’ Accordingly to the Centre for Endangered Languages in its Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights in Barcelona (1996: 10), “Language is the key to the heart of a people. If we lose the key, we lose the people. A lost language is a lost tribe, a lost tribe is a lost culture, a lost culture is a lost civilization. A lost civilization is invaluable knowledge lost… the whole vast archives of knowledge and experience in them will be consigned to oblivion” and we can add that a lost language is a lost foundation for creativity.
The promotion of indigenous languages, argues Ojameruaye, has positive impact on some of the development variables, such as education, books production, health, human dignity, and so on. He insists that ‘economic development has adversely affected many indigenous languages, including Urhobo language. In fact, Urhobo language is classified among those at the risk of extinction. An increasing percentage of young Urhobo people at home and in the Diaspora are unable to speak the language. If the current trend continues, the language is likely to disappear as early as within the next two generations. Today, Urhobo language is not taught or widely spoken in most schools in Urhoboland.’ Yet, language is central to creativity and cultural production, especially in the arts of literature, theatre, film, music and even everyday interaction. People think in words and languages; people conceptualise in words and languages, people create in words and languages.
As is consistent with studies elsewhere, Ojameruaye, notes that ‘studies in the US have shown that children who learn in their mother tongues for the first six years of school perform much better than those immediately immersed in other English and there is reason to believe that the process of learning follows the same pattern in other countries including Nigeria. Thus, there is a strong case for promoting the use of Urhobo language for instruction at the primary levels in Urhobo villages and towns, especially in communities that are predominantly inhabited by Urhobo people.
To this effect, UNESCO recommends that Nigeria and other multicultural societies should adopt three “official” languages: one international language (English in the case of Nigeria), one lingua franca – that serves a local link language to facilitate internal communication within different linguistic groups and mother tongue – and per adventure there is no lingua franca or international language, UNESCO expects countries to recognize all three as official languages or at least recognize their use and relevance in formal contexts, such as in courts or schools.
Film as creative culture worldwide reflects both an extensive and complex relationship of national sub-systems, and is thus not as easily situated. In the context of films, culture can be seen to have both direct and indirect relationships to the citizens that consume it as well as to society in general. All citizens are simultaneously influenced by society and in turn constitute an influence on society, which leads to a reasonable argument that culture does not produce film and film does not produce culture; instead they mutually determine each other. Part of the problem of seeing film as culture, is because film is produced and distributed as an imposed culture. Film might be understood as an instrument through which culture, especially western culture, is imposed, considering that it is also a commercial product over which the people have no control beyond watching.
Yet, in the case of Nigeria, Nollywood has changed the coloration of Nigerian society since it began its national journey in the 1990s. For good or for bad, Nollywood has built a case for Nigeria, locally and internationally, in terms of cultural projection, even if the cultures projected are arguably not national but sectional masqueraded as national. And certainly, it has brought great fortunes in economic development in ways that no other creative practice or investment has been able to do for Nigeria.
As at 2006, UNESCO rated Nigeria as the second biggest producer of movies with 800 films a year, next to India then with 1091 films and trailed by America with 485 films. However, this rating is not based on quality but quantity because while American and Indian films continue to make international impact in the uptake of American and Indian values and products, the same cannot be said of Nigerian home videos. As noted elsewhere, “how much of the much exported culture of Nigeria through Nollywood is being replicated elsewhere the way we replicate American dress sense and behaviour or even narrative sense in Nigeria? How many people who receive Nollywood films are dressing in the flowing robes of the Igwes, in the satellite dish headgears of the women of August Meeting? Or are we re-exporting our inherited fashion instead? What is Nollywood a forerunner of? At least, we know what Hollywood achieves for America: As early as 1912, it became clear to exporters of Hollywood films that they were forerunners for the demand for US goods” (Okwori, 2011).
In Nigeria, film culture is in shambles as there are no effective professional bodies to regulate the activities of members. The few guilds we have are not national and professional in nature and there is no single umbrella for filmmakers in Nigeria. The Nigerian Film Corporation, the National Film Institute and the National Film and Video Censors Board, all governmental bodies saddled with the affairs of the film industry, are ill-equipped and technically deficient to provide the much needed intervention. In essence, the industry is disorganized so much so that there are no adequate data on production costs and sales, just as productions are deficient in quality in terms from story to sound and postproduction.
As if all these are not enough, piracy has remained at unprecedented levels so much so that investment in the film business is too risky to venture into by those who have the capacity to deliver. Currently, pirates have been packaging 20 best-selling Nigerian movies into one single DVD for sale as low as two hundred naira as against the current price of three hundred naira per movie.
Quite contrary to the thinking that the music and dance of indigenous people are not supportive of modern national development, that the people spend too much time singing and dancing rather than producing commodities, the reality is that music and dance are essential elements of all human societies that contribute significantly to peace and national development. Modern technology has not only increased the appeal of music to both national and international audiences, they have made its spread and access very formidable.
The music industry has demonstrated that there is potential for export and the development of markets nationally and niche markets worldwide. That development has in turn fuelled the expansion of related facets of the music industry, such as continuing improvement of our recording studios, the creation of digital storage and retrieval platforms that paves way for efficient distribution, retailing and marketing facilities.
On a global scale, as far back as 1992, the world retail sales of record albums were US$28,705 million (Report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission: The Supply of Recorded Music 1994). In 1998, UNESCO’s World Culture Report indicated that 1995 world sales of recorded music were US$39,689.4 million. The International Federation of Phonographic Industry reports indicate that the global music market was worth US$38.5 Billion in 1999. The RIAA reports that sales in Latin Music were valued at US$490,602 million in 1997, US$570,849 million in 1998, US$626,687 million in 1999 and US$608,522 million in 2000. The RIAA also reports that music industry sales in the United States based on manufacturers’ unit shipments were valued at US$12,533.8 billion in 1996, US$12,236.8 billion in 1997, US$13,723.5 billion in 1998, US$14,584.5 billion in 1999, and US$14,323.0 billion in 2000.
It is this kind of analysis, which has to be undertaken, if Nigeria is to attain the level of efficiency that will facilitate its competitive edge in the global music market. Music, like other forms of capital, is affected by technological change in the means and process of production, distribution and consumption. Although it is not to be expected that government will finance the development of music, it is imperative that governmental policy does not frustrate music activity. Any governmental policy must recognize the need to provide the type of enabling environment that will facilitate entrepreneurial ventures that will serve to stimulate economic activities within the area of music.
A panoramic survey of the contribution of the cultural industries to various countries is useful to indicate their essence to national development. Arguably, it always when these cultural industries are implicated in economic terms that they draw attention. Even when it is appreciated in economic terms, sight must not be lost of the simple fact that economic development is sine qua non to national peace and development. This is because if people are economically buoyant, incidences of crime and violence are likely to be at the low ebb. For example, a major argument for insurgency and militancy in Nigeria has been laid at the foot of poverty and if the cultural industries are properly harnessed to contribute significantly to the reduction of poverty by providing massive livelihood opportunities, then it underscores the power of creativity as a significant mainstay of national development. A summary of some of these contributions to their countries is illustrative:
United States of America: Film/Television/Music. The outstanding aspect of the US effort was that it was able to use Film/TV and Music to sell and propagate the American culture over the world. They exported American values, the American brand of liberal democracy and capitalism and very ably created huge demand for American goods and services enabling it to claim a supposed superiority of culture all over the world. The Hollywood industry defined the aesthetics of film production and gave the world a narrative trope of creativity. It is noteworthy that this American effort created job opportunities for Americans and enhanced America’s economy but more importantly defined and nurtured an American spirit and nationalism. As a multicultural nation with a huge population, Nigeria also can tap its creative industry of film, television and music.
Malaysia: Culture/Environment. The Malaysian nation consciously worked hard to harness its cultural diversity and environment to create an enviable nation that has become a major player in tourism. Ranked 11th among the 35 leading countries in the tourism sector, Malaysia has been able to deploy its arts and environment to unprecedented nation building.
South Africa: Environment/Culture. South Africa’s aggressive packaging of its culture, hospitality and interesting heritage sites, have not only washed off its pariah status due apartheid but has overtaken Nigeria as the ‘giant of Africa’ in virtually all spheres save for population. Its creativity in film and soap opera production and entertainment investment has not eclipsed Nigeria but has dominated Nigeria’s internal entertainment and communication consumption. The case of South Africa is like the case of a football team coming from 3 goals down to win a trophy. There is a need for Nigeria to take a closer look at the techniques employed by South Africa in its creative industrial sector. South Africa is ranked 25th among the 35 leading countries in the tourism sector and number one in Africa.
India: Film and Health. India has a historical reverence for its culture; a reverence, which has not only endured but has greatly fertilized its narrative trope in films. The Bollywood film industry, the first largest in the world has so successfully exported Indian cultural values so much so that a critical mass of Northern Nigerian film and music production apes those creative industries. India film in no small way created a consciousness about India so much that perhaps it helped paved the way for the knowledge of India health delivery system, which has become a major foreign exchange earner for the country. India has taught the world about the power of a rich cultural heritage, which it has used effectively to instil the spirit of nationalism and pride among Indians.
China: Culture. China’s cultural protectionist policy has not only paid off handsomely but has projected it into contention as the leading superpower in the world. Even though China is opening up, it has refused to compromise its culture. This has remained its greatest strength, and why it is ranked No. 4 among the 35 leading nations in the world tourism sector.
Brazil: Culture (Carnival). Brazil has never failed to keep the world riveted on its carnivals, which, apart from providing a massive platform for the expression of creativity and the promotion of Brazilian culture, is also revenue earner for the country. Believed to have originated from Africa, the carnival essence is being rediscovered across Nigeria as can be seen in the Abuja Carnival. It remains to be seen how these celebrations can be employed to engender peace and national development.
Dubai: Visionary Leadership/Business. Dubai’s unfolding history has endeared it to the entire world as a country that ably converted vision to monumental reality and success. The vision of one leader saw the transformation of a desert into an oasis or ocean of splendour and an empire of business success.
From all the above, it behoves of Nigeria to stop continuing to ignore or treat with levity the development of its cultural industries: theatre, dance, music, film/video, arts and craft, museums and monuments, foods and cuisine, fashion, festivals and ceremonies, literature and publishing.
Instead, Nigeria should empower and strengthen the mandate of establishments like the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to develop and monitor a mechanism in which all planning especially at the sectoral level involving all ministries, departments and agencies include a cultural component that would determine the effect of intervention of that sector on the people in cultural terms. The argument should not be about creating and providing budget for cultural ministries or departments. That is valid for prosecuting specific cultural aspects of national life, but the most fundamental issue is the embedding culture in very sphere of governance operation.
The consultations (in each sector) leading to the identification of development programmes should be a process of identifying cultural resources as well obstacles, which will help, provide a cultural impact assessment. The identification and assessment will then lead to a proper definition of the cultural environment and institutions that will interact with the development action. The formulation of the development programmes will then be framed within the cultural challenges that must be addressed and cultural resources that must be used to enable success. The specific cultural objectives to be met will then be articulated and designed for. The agencies would then develop cultural indicators that would form the basis of assessment. Such indicators should take into cognizance the cultural impacts of the development action, considering what will change, if such change is desirable (Okwori, 2012).
It is in the arena of cultural production and especially in cultural industries that creativity finds its most eloquent expression. A nation that ignores its creative industries does so at its own peril, not just because of the economic potentials that they liberate but more essentially the values, the sense of nationhood, the pride of being and belonging, the identity and national pathos that they engender and nurture are the building blocks of peace and national development.
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***** Jenkeri Zakari Okwori is a professor in the Department of Theatre & Performing Arts, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, NIGERIA.