The Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ilorin, Professor Ayo Akinwale, has said that the only way Nigerian films can represent Nigeria’s culture and diplomatic relations well is for such films being exported out of Nigeria to be those that will properly negotiate the country in other countries of the world.
Stating this at the 4th NICO Annual Public Lecture, titled, “Nollywood as an Instrument for Nigeria’s Cultural Diplomacy: Reflections of a Cultural Administrator,” Professor Akinwale said this was necessary because the films promote the social, political, economic and cultural development of Nigeria, adding that these films also transmit and boost Nigerian culture, noting that they reflect the nation’s social identity.
He observed that a country cultivates diplomatic ties with another country to create bi-lateral relationship between both nations, so that both countries will benefit from the relationship, stating that cultural diplomacy aims at boosting the image of one country in the eyes of the other, such that, the totality of ways of life of both countries are presented as morally and intellectually sound before the other.
The former President of Society on Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA), who is also an actor, theatre director and playwright, continued: “Any film that will be exported out of this country must be one that will negotiate the nation very well in the perception of the other country. The issue of negotiating the country properly in the presence of another country with whom one is establishing a bi-lateral relationship is of paramount importance, while considering the issue of cultural diplomacy.”
Raising the question as to if all Nollywood films were doing the above, he expressed optimism that the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, had been transformed considerably to the extent that it had changed completely from being an enterprise under government entrepreneurship to one that is handled by private individuals.
“I can see a bright future for the Nollywood industry, a future in which relatively all the films will contribute greatly towards the improvement of our cultural diplomacy. I foresee a future, where all stakeholders in the Nollywood Industry will be well-trained formally. This is because such people will understand criticisms and be able to correct the errors pointed out to them. It is at that time that we will find more films paying attention to the nation’s cultural diplomacy,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Secretary, NICO, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, said the Institute’s Annual Public Lecture Series had become a fertile ground for alternate Inaugurals by the academia, where cultural knowledge is disseminated, adding that the series would be invaluable in charting policy directions in order for the culture and tourism sector to factor appropriately into the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The Public Lecture, with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), University of Lagos, Professor Duro Oni, as Chairman, attracted personalities from all walks of life, which included the Honourable Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, as the Special Guest of Honour, represented by the Acting D-G, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Mrs. Funmi Ladele; the Director, Research, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru-Jos, Professor Olu Obafemi; Dean, Faculty of Arts, Redeemer’s University, Professor Ahmed Yerima; immediate past President of Society on Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA) and Head, Department of Theatre & Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), Professor Emmanuel Dandaura; and notable Nollywood icons: Zeb Ejiro, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, Dr. Sola Fosudo, and Joe Dudun, among others. Also present at the occasion were, the Director, Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, Mrs. Laitan Otulana; the Zonal Director, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mrs. Ekene Okoroma; the Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Alhaji Abdallah Usman, represented by Mrs. A. Ekunke; Former Deputy Editor of The Guardian and Doyen of Arts Journalism, Mr. Ben Tomoloju, and former Editor of The Guardian on Sunday, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo.
Nwagbo Pat Obi