Prof. Stella Omonigho of the Department of Foreign Languages, University of Benin, Benin City, has enjoined Nigerians to appreciate their culture and refrain from perceiving it as a curse.
Omonigho gave the advice during a symposium organised by the Centre for Black Arts and African Civilisation (CBAAC) in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77) Friday in Abuja.
The symposium which is held physically and online has its theme as “Cultural Diversity, Integration and Nation Building in Africa and the Diaspora: Forty-Five (45) Years After FESTAC.”
Omonigho said rather than thinking low of African culture, individuals should harness its enormous potential for economic benefits.
She said it was high time Africans intensified efforts on commercialising culture to create wealth.
“It is unfair that colonisation and westernisation have adulterated our culture, our culture should not be seen as a curse as many see it.
“We must come together to harness the enormous potential in our culture and commercialise it, this is what the western world has done and we are imitating them.
“Using human hair and wearing western designed attire is enriching the western economy at the detriment of our economy.
“If our culture is properly harnessed, we will be envied globally, our culture in music, arts, crafts, literature should be focused on for growth,” she said
According to Omonigho, African culture should be embraced for self realisation, development of moral values, knowledge acquisition, stability and discipline.
She said a deep understanding of African culture would also enable individuals to proffer solutions to complicated situations.
“African culture dwells on moral values, how a woman should comfort herself, it teaches women to close their laps and cross their legs while sitting but we can see women sitting carelessly now, this is a departure from African culture.
“African culture gives native intelligence that no school can offer, it is observed that children raised in the villages are more intelligent than those in the city.”
Omonigho noted that to address youth restiveness, intra-school cultural competitions should be constantly organised by the government.
Earlier, Dr Adebayo Ogunlewe of the Department of English, University of Lagos decried the decline in readership of Nigerian literature, which is an aspect of African culture.
Ogunlewe urged Nigerians to consciously create ample time to read African literature for knowledge acquisition.
The director, Theatre Arts Department, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Mr. Sam Agbi, urged the government to go the extra mile in creating a market for cultural products produced locally.
Agbi noted that the government could drive demand for cultural products like the various local fabrics in Nigeria when schools are mandated to use local products as uniforms.
He said all organisations could also patronise local products like art works when they acquire them for use in offices and individual homes.