The seminar presentation of students of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation entered its second day, Wednesday, 28th October, 2015, as it geared up with another set of students wetting the academic appetite of members of the academic board, NICO staffers, audience and the press on cultural diplomacy in the Lecture Hall II of the Institute’s Training School Complex, National Theatre Annex, Iganmu-Lagos.
The first presenter, Olayide Adesina, in her paper, entitled, “Festivals as an Instrument of Cultural Diplomacy: The Example of Osun Oshogbo Festival,” stated that festivals are occasions for dancing, music, masquerading, and showcasing of artistic talents and cultural heritage, noting that the celebration of festivals cuts across a wide array of events, such as, planting and harvest, marriages, birth, rites of passage, funerals, chieftaincy ceremonies, hunting, and fishing, among others.
Adesina stated that apart from UNESCO recognising the Osun Oshogbo groove as a World Heritage Site, it is one among the numerous cultural traditions that have stood the test of time, informing that the height of the Osun Oshogbo Festival is the votary maid (Arugba), a personification of the Osun goddess, who must not stumble while carrying the calabash and lighting the 645 years old atupa merindinlogun (sixteen point lamp).
James Aweda presented a paper, entitled, “Carnivals as a Key Factor to Nigeria’s Economic Development: A Cultural Diplomacy Perspective,” in which he put carnivals as theatre and myth at its best and that those participating in them are the actors and prime creative innovators of the events, also likening carnivals to mobile amusement with sideshows and rides.
Carnivals, according to Aweda, are meant to educate and entertain, and that they are veritable platforms for fashion displays, musical shows and indeed developing awareness, providing avenues for artistes and participants to interact and exchange knowledge or share experiences; just as they promote cooperation between participants and build bridges, and being veritable tools for revenue generation.
He posited that the Notting Hill, Rio De Janeiro and the Calabar Carnivals and the Emancipation Day celebrations of Trinidad and Tobago are revenue earners and, as such, governments at all levels in Nigeria need to key into the organisation of carnivals, as it will increase not only revenue but also spur tourists from far and near and improve economic activities and generate employment, among others.
On her part, Jane Atoyebi, in “The Application of Cultural Diplomacy in Promoting Religious Dialogue Among Nations,” argued that there is only one religion but with different versions; and that culture is a co-efficient agent that has the potential to bring about both change in a given situation and a positive attitude towards new things that fit neatly as an interpretative conjecture.
She stated that, culture “lays the foundation to further understanding of faith-based diplomatic activity within the context of a particular tradition, community, set of values and perception that those cultural tools available are to be used so as to obtain long-term results.”
Citing the example of Islamic and Christian pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem, Atoyebi argued that Nigeria has been able to establish not only bi-lateral relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel, but also a momentum of religious dialogue and understanding, adding that, religion should serve the central objective of religious diplomacy.
She therefore submitted that there is no justification in promoting one religion as being the true faith while the others are false and that the common goal should be to create a peaceful and prosperous society based on respect, religious freedom and mutual understanding, which entails learning about and respecting diversity and appreciating the uniqueness of other people’s culture, especially their religion.
Cultural Diplomacy is taught at the Postgraduate Diploma level in the Training School of National Institute for Cultural Orientation and it is being handled by the Executive Secretary, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who is also a Visiting Associate Professor at Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK).
In attendance were the Director, NICO Lagos Liaison Office, Mr. Louis Eriomala; Director, NICO Training School, Mrs. Brigitte Yerima; Deputy Director and Special Assistant to ES, Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh; Head of Admin, NICO Lagos Miss Victoria Overo; Head of Protocol, Office of the Executive Secretary, Mr. Ibrahim Malgwi; Chief Public Relations Officer, National Troupe of Nigeria, Mr. Shaibu Husseini; and President, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Artists, Mr. Tunde Obalana.