A University of Lagos (UNILAG) don at the Department of Political Science, Prof. Olatunde Babawale has spoken of the need to ensure that indigenous languages and cultural practices are not only taught in schools in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, but are used as medium of instruction.
He lamented that the country had lost a lot of grounds as a result of the neglect of the resources and potential of its culture, but expressed optimism that the situation was not totally irredeemable as there is room for opportunities to recover the lost grounds.
Babawale, a former Director- General of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) disclosed this in his paper: “Reflections on the Need for the Promotion of Nigeria’s Cultural Heritage,” he delivered at the Distinguished Public Lecture of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), Osogbo, Osun State. To correct this anomaly, the don explained that the government should improve the funding of the cultural sector and put round pegs in round holes.
“There is an urgent need for cultured people and visionaries in leadership positions; the type that will realise that Nigeria has nothing to lose by promoting her cultural practices, but instead stands to gain and attain global leadership position if we can look inward culturally for solutions to our numerous problems,” he said. Babawale, who stressed the importance of putting culture first in all we do as a nation, however, pointed out that the youths should be trained to be able to think in their indigenous languages.
“This is an investment that will go a long way to advance indigenous knowledge and accelerate technological progress,” he added, insisting that though modernism, as desirable as it is, is at different levels, Nigerian modernism should not be tailored after or made to be an appendage of Western or Arabian modernism. He said: “Our peculiar identity, needs, philosophy and aspirations should be the driving force and determinants of our modernism. We should discontinue the aping of alien incompatible brands.
“Therefore, our cultural products such as festivals, artifacts, heritage centres, monuments, costumes, knowledge, values and farm produce, among others should be packaged as alternatives to crude oil in revenue generation.
Many countries of the world today depend on their cultural products for revenue generation. Nigeria has enough of these products to package and market to change its fortunes and also make it a tourists’ destination.”