BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN NIGERIA: NEW STEPS TO FOSTER AFRICAN CULTURAL UNITY
In a twin-event that again took the University of Ibadan (UI) campus by storm, celebrating this year's Black History Month in Nigeria expectedly triggered some challenges to all Africans.
The first poser at the lecture and exhibtion organised by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) is that only youths who are prepared to trail the footsteps of their forebears can truly work for African reinassance, and thereby actualise the continent's cultural unity and development.
Secondly, Africans in Diaspora have a duty not merely to integrate their kinsmen, but also to open wider avenues for networking that can facilitate social and economic empowerment of their brothers and sisters at home. This implies that a union of Africans both at home and abroad is crucial to African unity and economic development.
Prof Lupwishi Mbuyamba, Executive Director of the Centre for Observatory Cultural Policies in Africa, Mozambique, used his lecture, African Diaspora, African Unity and African Development, to list many factors that undermine African identity, as well as those that have relegated it to the background over the years. But he equally identified several ways through which Africa can regain its lost glory, given the right environment and willingness by people to make sacrifices.
Some of these sacrifices, which the lecturer tagged pillars of African reinassance, include; raising elite's consciousness, providing access to culture, respect for democracy and equal involvement of people, preserving memories of people's history, heritage and legacy, integration of the entire cultural process, contributing to African integration at regional and global levels as well as adopting cultural policies from local to federal levels.
And having observed that only sons and daughters of Africa are those that can transform the continent and bring about its cultural unity, Prof Mbuyamba said: It is when people believe in their own capacity to transform and develop that the change,the progress can happen.Africa will develop from the Africans' conviction, determination and rationale commitment and action.The Africa's future is in Africans' hands, all scholars, youth, woman, local, national decision makers,civil society sharing the same vision.
For African youth, a special call should be made, you are the future.This is the Roadmap your elders are drawing for your long itinerary, cultivate the love for your homeland, the Mother Africa, initiate and get used to the intellectual efforts for study and analysis in all circumstances, establish cultural and professsional associations,microcosms of the world to come and know the governance exercise and observe the on-going events, publish the results of your studies and reflections and produce information and promotion materials, connect and confront your experiences to those of colleagues in the African Diaspora, transcend the divisions of ethnicity,nationality, religion, ideology and class, have a dream of Africa and design what you see it will be like take commitment to dedicate your life to Africa and fight for its place and voice in the world governance.''
Earlier in his welcome address, Prof Tunde Babawale, Director-General of CBAAC, said the theme of the lecture was sequel to United Nations' declaration of 2011 as the 'International Year of the People of African Descent, aimed at promoting knowledge and respect for African heritage and culture, and ensure participation and integration of people of African Descent into their society.
Said Babawale: Africa's Diaspora remains a hugely untapped resource by Africa itself. There are quite a number of ways Africa can benefit from the Diaspora. Africa can tap from her Diaspora's link to vast global networks that can make the continent gain strategic access to wealth, information, innovative business ideas and skills. Africans in the Diaspora, given their exposure to western technologies and education are in a vantage position to transfer same for the growth and development of the African continent.''
Also Alhaji Sadiq Abubakar Mohammed, Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, who was represented by Mr George Ufot; Director of Culture said: 'Unlike the continent's natural resources whose economic advantages are subject to dictates of market forces and are expendable, Africa's Diaspora confers on the continent limitless oppirtunities of socio-economic growth and development.
The Diaspora is also best placed to market the economic advantages that potential investors can enjoy in their home countries…we should therefore begin a process of identifying and attracting our Diaspora whose unique contributions have helped the growth and development of societies we live in''
An exhibition of photographs and works/heritage of Africans was also declared open at the Institute of African Studies, shortly after the lecture.
Among African personalities whose photographs and achievements were displayed at the exhibition include Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Miriam Makeba, Grace Alele Williams, Fela Anikuplapo-Kuti, Nesta Robert Marley, Julius Nyerere, Rosa Parks, Wole Soyinka, Kwame Nkrumah,Kofi Annan, Chinua Achebe, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Nnamdi Azikiwe and John Pepper Clark.