Culture workers, especially staffers of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), have been reminded that documentation of cultural assets is a veritable means of engaging tourists, thereby enhancing the investment opportunities in the culture sector in Nigeria.
Dr. Muhammed Awwal Yusuff, Mr. Olatunji Ganiyu and Dr. Lawal Ebenezer Ejalonibu, all of the University of Ilorin, made the call in a joint paper, titled, “The Roles of Cultural Research and Documentation in National Development,” presented by Mr. Ganiyu, at the technical session of the NICO staff capacity building workshop in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The idea of the authors on the role of cultural documentation and cultural research in national development include, making man understand himself better and be able to improve on his general life pattern, which could influence the general development of a nation, as it does not only bring out cultural elements or facts or monumental sites that are unique in nature and peculiar to the society alone, but can also serve as a pull factor for tourists and investors thereby making the people see the beauty of the nation and contributing to economic development.
They believed that development is a multi-dimensional concept and its achievement depends on economic, political, educational and cultural factors, which need to be handled with utmost concern, especially cultural development, which is an integral foundation of national development; and that one way a nation can enhance this, is by encouraging cultural documentation and cultural research.
According to the university dons, cultural documentation and research will not only bring development to our current world and help the incoming generations to know how they would bring about social development into their own life, but also make the country have good economic relationship and sell its good image to the outside world, including maintaining the continuity of the human world and eventual development.
The paper attributed the general setbacks and under-development Nigerians are faced with today to lack of general orientation and neglect of cultural documentation and research, which have brought about erosion of cultural values, replacing them with adulterated cultural patterns, leading to many social ills such as poverty, unemployment, civil unrest, corruption and the likes.
On ways the country could pick up herself from the shambles, the authors were of the opinion that, in the area of entrepreneurship, Nigeria should gather her traditional handcrafts and arts like blacksmithing, weaving, carving and so on, as countries like Japan, Korea, China and many others did and today they constitute forces to be reckoned with in the world economic order.
Noting that traditional medicine is an area where many countries of the world today have developed which is enhancing their international image and earning them enormous financial returns in the international market, they averred that, as a matter of urgency, Nigeria need to conduct serious cultural research and documentation of indigenous traditional medicine; and that as the old people in custody of traditional herbal formulae are passing away, proper documentation is imperative for the country to reap enormous financial returns which will generally enhance national development.
On the whole, the paper advocated for documentation of important cultural elements in physical and electronic formats now that the world is a global village; and that more museums and art galleries need to be built around the country for the safeguarding of our cultural products and assets.
Naseer Saeed Ategba