A Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Benin, Benin (UNIBEN) and former General Manager, MUSON Centre, Lagos, Professor Muyiwa Peter Awodiya has drawn the attention of government to the imminent dangers awaiting Nigeria, if the nation’s cultural heritage is allowed to be suppressed by foreign cultures.

Professor Awodiya, who gave this warning, while delivering the 169th Inaugural Lecture of UNIBEN, entitled, “Managing our Culture and Securing our Future,” on Thursday, 17th March, 2016 at the Akin Demo Main Auditorium, Ugbowo Campus of the University, said apart from the need to develop our cultural heritage, government should also intensify efforts towards resuscitating and implementing cultural orientation programmes through the services and operations of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO).

According to him, the Nigerian culture is currently facing crises of abandonment, bastardization, bankruptcy, lack of appreciation, patronage and preservation and except government realizes what has befallen the nation and seeks for solutions, the nation may be heading to no destination.

“We must manage our culture if we must progress as a nation and as a people who live in a well-ordered, disciplined and morally valuable society long before the coming of the Europeans,” he averred.

Also drawing attention to the rapidly changing economic environment of the 21st Century, driven by the need to change management strategies of all sectors of the Nigerian economy, Professor Awodiya maintained that instead of the continued overdependence on crude oil, as source of revenue generation which has hindered the nation from rapid economic growth, Nigeria can stimulate its national economic development through culture.

He expressed the view that as Nigeria shifts attention to appreciating and repositioning its arts and culture sector, the potentials in the sector has the capacity to avail a unique opportunity for the nation to expand its economic base to meet the yearnings and needs of its teaming population.

Expressing regrets over the bastardization and denigratory psyche of Nigerians, the Professor of Theatre Arts had this to say: “We have to re-order the damaged psyche of Nigerians. Unethical submission to modernity devalues our cherished and hallowed core African values, a consequence of which is the adverse culture of ethically-induced violence and unrest in many parts of the society.

“We are not proud of what we have, who we are, and what we can do or achieve. We are not proud of motivating ourselves to do the best for our country. Nigerians do not even wear our locally-made fabrics. We are enchanted and fascinated by foreign textiles and merchandise.”

While stressing that any country that prides itself in importing other people’s culture, products and commodities will never develop its own industry, Awodiya said the lack of interest in our culture is because we have not made it appealing and that urgent steps must be taken to brand our culture positively, monitor it, and let it influence the world.

To him, harnessing and revitalizing Nigeria’s cultural resources and teaching them to children in schools is a starting point, which will not only teach, promote or sustain our cultural heritage but also develop a sense of pride in ourselves and our culture as a people.

He therefore urged government to culturally programme children to respect and admire traditions as well as introduce historical, cultural and museum studies to the nation’s elementary and secondary schools syllabus.

Principal officers from UNIBEN present at the inaugural lecture were Professor F.F.O. Orunmwense (the Vice-Chancellor), who was represented by Professor Abiodun Falodun (the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics), Professor Aduwa Ogiegbaen (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Ekenhuan Campus), Mrs. O. A. Oshodin (Registrar), amongst others.

Also notable among theatre scholars present were Professors Femi Osofisan, Olu Obafemi, Marcel Okhakhu, Sunday Ododo (National President of SONTA), and Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), who was accompanied by his Special Assistant, Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit