Nigeria is not just a geographical entity with abundant oil wealth, hampered by security challenges and under-achievements but has, unarguably, the highest conglomeration of people in Africa with diverse and rich cultural heritages to excite the rest of the world.

This was focal point of the maiden edition of a 2-Day Seminar on Cultural Diplomacy organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) Training School held in the Lecture Hall II of the Institute’s Training School complex, National Theatre Annex, Iganmu-Lagos, beginning from Tuesday, 27th October, 2015.

Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, NICO’s Executive Secretary and Visiting Associate Professor, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), who is the course lecturer that initiated the event, kick-started the seminar sessions, informing the August audience that the NICO Seminar on Cultural Diplomacy is designed to improve the public presentation proficiency of students in order to enhance their competence as cultural communicators before the media and other culture stakeholders.

The first paper, presented by Emovwerha Ofuafo, entitled, “Promoting Nigeria’s International Relations through Theatre: Towards a Practical Approach,” emphasized that theatre is an indispensable tool for the promotion of cultural diplomacy in the sense that it can be used to express positive ideas, beliefs and values to promote the desired image for Nigeria.

He stated that, theatre is pivotal in the pursuit of an aggressive foreign policy for Nigeria in the 21st century but that the repositioning of the theatre industry must be done to meet the dynamics of the country’s foreign policy in a modern, globalised world.

Joan Funmilola Owan net took the podium to speak on “Drama as a Tool for Social Change and Cultural Diplomacy in Nigeria,” in which she posited that, the world is a stage and drama is that vital tool used to showcase who we are, what we believe, and what we do to the rest of the world, adding that, drama, as exemplified by Hollywood, is a soft power, a persuasive means of influencing others to appreciate another country’s interests and respond accordingly.

Owan stressed that Nigeria too can use Nollywood, its film industry, as a veritable tool to unite the country and effect desired changes in the areas of internal security, economic productivity and social cohesion, furthermore noting that, we can rebrand Nigeria by promoting our indigenous languages, Nigerian foods and beverages, as well as Nigerian dresses and local fabrics.

Another presenter, Flora Sodje, who talked on “Dance Tradition as a Tool for National Development and Cultural Diplomacy,” stressed that dance is a unique form of artistic expression, which employs a universal body language that everyone understands, and that while the purpose of dance is to entertain, it is so powerful that one is likely to be interested in a people if you love their dance.

She therefore emphasized that, dance is a useful vehicle of cultural diplomacy, which has the power to bring recognition to particular cultures and secondly, foster understanding of the traditions, values, history, language and general ways of life that is important to the engaging parties.

This is the maiden edition of an all-engaging Seminar on Cultural Diplomacy attracted culture experts from the academia and culture organisations, including Otunba Tunji Sotimehin of the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, Mr. Shaibu Husseini of the National Theatre, Mr. Tunde Obalana (National President, NANTAP), Mr. Louis Eriomala (Director, NICO Liaison Office, Lagos), Mrs. Brigitte Yerima (Director, NICO Training School, Lagos), Mr. Abayomi Lagada (Resource Person, NICO Training School), and Mr. Law Ezeh (Lecturer in NICO Training School and Special Assistant to Executive Secretary), among others.

Anthony Okafor                                                                   

Corporate Affairs Unit                                                                                  

NICO Training School, Lagos