A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Centre for Black African Art and Civilization in Lagos
Africa: CBAAC/PanAFRSTRAG Confab: A Pan African Mandate that Must be Fulfilled
For the new director of the Centre for Black African Art and Civilization in Lagos culture are not only artifacts or crafts and all other kinds of visual products but also includes those other intangible aspects of life including languages, indigenous technologies, native science, traditional governance systems and religion.
found at allafrica.com İVanguard (Lagos) October 15, 2006 by McPhilips Nwachukwu
WHEN Professor Tunde Babawale of the Department of Political Science of the University of Lagos was in August, this year, appointed the new helmsman of the Centre for Black African Art and Civilization (CBAAC), not a few eyebrows were raised as to the pedigree of this scholar but no doubt, a political theorist and pragmatic scientist.
This feeling was probably informed by the fact that stakeholders in the culture sector have always clamoured for one of their own, in the very deep sense of the word, of one who is fully rooted in the turf of culture and its sub sectors as one to pilot the affairs of the culture sector.
But contrary to that expectation, when the new Culture and Tourism Ministry, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, carried out a reform change in the parastatals through the re-shufflement of some former directors. CBAAC which until then enjoyed the maximum leadership of Dr. Duro Oni of the University of Lagos, Creative Arts Department was to have a new manager: a new figure head, a person of diminutive stature but frankly, one that possesses abundant creative facilities capable of transforming the unit.
Why do we say so, you may ask? There are many reasons that give birth to such conclusions. The man, Tunde Babawale for instance, talks confidently and behaves like a man who understands the dynamics of the parastatal, which he is appointed to head. Though coming from the background of social science, he appreciates the fact that he is to pioneer the affairs of a culture parastatal and feels prepared to bring his multi-disciplinary knowledge to bear on her activities. And it is important he embarks on such approach and methodology given the fact that as the world is continually embracing globalization, efforts are geared by every country of the world toward harnessing every form and aspect of knowledge towards the advancement of mankind.
Thus, last week in a media parley, the CBAAC boss told a gathering of Arts editors that he is committed to transforming the parastatal's activities to meeting up with some important millennial aspirations. According to him, "we want to move CBAAC beyond the realms of artifacts to embracing the totality of our cultural life." For the new director, the meaning of culture should be made to assume more pragmatic stance, to the extent that it can begin to impact on both the advancement of human civilization and as well, contribute to improving the nation's national growth.
In his proposition, he feels that the time has come for the masses to know that the things that constitute culture are not only artifacts or crafts and all other kinds of visual products but also includes those other intangible aspects of life including languages, indigenous technologies, native science, traditional governance systems and religion. "It is through Chinese traditional practice of medicine that China developed a brand that is today known as acupuncture. So, why can we not do a thing like that? Why for instance can we not bring culture to the study and understanding of our own variant of democracy? Or for instance, apply culture in the settlement of disputes?" he queried.
Beyond this function reform changes intended for CBAAC, Prof. Babawale also promised to continue from where his predecessors in office stopped. "We shall retain the tradition of using lectures and symposiums to propagate African culture and civilization." And to this effect, the new leadership of CBAAC has in the pipeline two important lectures to be hosted in November and December this year.
Coming on November 7 is a conference titled: CBAAC/PanFSTRAG. Working on the theme: Advancing and Integrating Research and Studies in the Interest of Africa and African Diaspora. The conference, according to Babawale, becomes necessary because of the urgent need to meeting the Pan African mandate of CBAAC.
Established immediately after the hosting of World Black African Arts and Civilization in 1977 under Decree 69 of 1979, CBAAC was among other things established to serve as custodian of all the materials and artefacts that were put on display by the 59 countries that participated in that historic event.
According to Babawale, the conference, which takes place at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago is expected to be used for realizing the Pan African mandate of the parastatal. "We have been having conferences in Lagos and it will look foolhardy if we restrict the hosting of such conferences in Lagos without taking to other African and diaspora African countries. Such attitude doesn't meet with the pan African aspirations of CBAAC."
The conference, CBAAC chieftain said will address such important subjects like; The Politics of Philosophy as History of Culture, African Gnosis in a Globalized Epistemic Order, Bantu History, Philosophy and Cultural Identity, Review of the Theory About African Ancient Migration to America and West Indies, The Love of Freedom Brought Us Here: An Introduction to Modern African Philosophy and The Place of Education in Promoting Dialogues Between Africa and the African Diaspora among other issues.
It is expected that over thirty five scholars from across the world including America, Nigeria, South Africa, England, Canada, and Netherlands will address issues at the event. "It is important that we go there to relate with our kith and kin in the West Indies. They are very eager to relate with us. In fact, the last time I went to Trinidad, I was surprised that many of them have changed their names to Nigerian names. Ironically as it were, while many of us here want to loose our identity, a Trinidadian will be happy to learn Igbo or Yoruba or Hausa, because he desires what we have that we don't appreciate more because he wants to tell the white man that he has something that he has not."
Again, as part of the gain that will accrue from the Trinidadian conference, Babawale explained that a policy paper will be arrived at the end of the conference. This policy paper he said will be sent to government of African countries at home and in diaspora to serve as a guide in the formulation of cultural syllabus for the teaching of cultural studies in schools.
Also in December, the Centre for Black African Art and Civilization will host its popular CBAAC lecture. The lecture series which in the past has been addressed by such important African scholars like; Professor Ali Mazuri, Professor Ogundipe Lisle and Chinweizu will be held in a yet to be disclosed venue in Lagos. This year's lecture will be delivered by General Shola Williams, a man who, according to the director," is one distinguished Nigerian, who though have a military background but stood firm in the locust days of Sani Abacha to challenge the desecration of democratic structures.
"We are also collaborating with African Art Centre, formerly Nimbus Gallery to go out on a roving exhibition of some of those works in our custody. This roving exhibition will make it possible to get to the six geo-political zones of the country in our commitment to re-orientating the Nigerian youths on the values and mores of our society," he said.
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