Whichever part of the world one is, barriers to relationships with the Government and people of Nigeria, due to distance, do not exist because there are appointed representatives of the country assigned to handle state matters around one; they are the ambassadors and these diplomats are well trained to promote Nigeria’s interests in foreign lands.

This was the position of Chiugo Felicia Esedo, a postgraduate student of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) Training School, National Theatre Annex, Lagos, during the Seminar in Cultural Diplomacy programme, when she discussed who diplomats are and what they do abroad from the culture perspective.  

According to Esedo, diplomats are representatives of a government usually assigned to embassies, consulates or international bodies to promote the various interests of the home country; and that these diplomats work hard to make foreign countries appreciate Nigeria’s cultural values, beliefs and customs which enable target nationals to understand Nigerians and consequently respect our likes and dislikes.

“Our diplomats protect the rights of Nigerian citizens abroad by making use of diplomacy, which is the art of subtly winning the hearts and mind of others without resort to military force,” she said.

She further noted that, dance as a tool of cultural diplomacy was used by the Nigerian Envoy in Mexico to change the negative perceptions on Nigeria by Mexicans, informing that, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, when Ambassador (Prof.) Iyorwuese Hagher introduced the Nollywood Festival, Toronto in 2008, in order to change the negative mindset about Nigeria as a country of email scammers in Canada.

It is interesting to note that apart from the efforts of government to promote Nigeria’s culture abroad through embassies, most ordinary Nigerian women within and outside the country also promote our cultural identity through attractive traditional hairstyles or ‘hairdos.’

This was what Mr. Peter Daramola examined in his paper, entitled, “Reinventing Traditional Hair Styles in Nigeria as a Means for Cultural Identity: A Global Perspective,” in which he posited that traditional hair styles enhance cultural relationships of different groups; and that women from across different ethnic and racial entities tend to learn trending traditional hairdos from each other and this fosters intercultural relationships.

Nigerian women, he continued, also showcase their attractive hairstyles during burial, marriage and naming ceremonies, festival and church outings, and during foreign trips, much to the admiration of the rest of the world; and that, making traditional hairstyles has become a profitable business to many hair stylists in Nigeria and outside the shores of country.

The last word from NICO news here is that, while many Nigerian hair stylists are smiling to the banks everyday due to the widespread acceptance of traditional Nigerian hairstyles, let us all commend the cultural diplomacy efforts of our ambassadors and other promoters of Nigerian culture for the awareness they generate which leads to cultural actions that bring financial benefits to our dear country, Nigeria.

Anthony Okafor                                                                                                         

Corporate Affairs Unit                                                                                                      

NICO Training School, Lagos