The Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation, CBAAC, recently held its annual public lecture in Ibadan. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that the key derivative was to explore the complex relationship between culture, security, and democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa
When the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) was established by Decree 69 of 1979, following the successful epoch-making hosting of the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC’77), its statutory responsibility was to be a storehouse of all the materials, which constitute the core collections and those artefacts and rare cultural items that were exhibited during FESTAC’77.
The decision to handover these materials to Nigeria was to reinforce and build on the gains of the historic festival, hence the centre was established in fulfillment of Nigeria’s pledge to keep the materials in trust for the 59 black and African countries and communities that participated in the festival.
Thus, to effectively discharge this mandate, CBAAC holds arts exhibitions, cultural festivals, performances, conferences, public lectures, workshops, youth programmes and other activities that promote Black and African Culture in its totality both locally and internationally.
Beyond this, it also has a library, archival collections and audio/visual library, an art gallery, a studio, and a Hall of Fame with varied collections of significance to Black and African Peoples all over the world.
The centre also engages in other activities, which project the overall image of Black and African Peoples and enable their cultures to be appreciated globally. Statutorily, the centre is charged with the responsibility of preserving, promoting and propagating Black and African Cultural Heritage in its totality.
Through its numerous programmes, the centre has continued to contribute to the pool of universal knowledge on Black and African Peoples. The centre has a strategic mandate and plays a key role in making Nigeria the arrowhead in the preservation, promotion and propagation of African Cultural Heritage.
It was as part of the mandate to preserve culture and open up discussions around heritage that CBAAC recently held its 2023 public lecture held at the KAAF Auditorium, University of Ibadan where the platform was provided for experts, scholars, and leaders to share insights and ideas on these pressing issues.
Themed “Culture, Security and the Future of Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa”, the lecture set the stage for a crucial discussion on the interplay between culture, security, and democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the hope of finding solutions to the challenges that threaten the future of democracy in the region.
Director-General of CBAAC, Hon. Oluwabunmi Ayobami Amao, during her welcome address urged a deeper understanding of these critical factors in the region’s future. Expressing her gratitude for the productive partnership between CBAAC and the university, particularly through the Institute of African Studies, she emphasised the commitment of CBAAC under her leadership to strengthen and expand this cooperation for mutual goals and objectives.
Highlighting the significance of this event, she mentioned that it marked the second program hosted by CBAAC at the University of Ibadan in 2023. The previous event, the Black History Month celebrations themed “Cultural Imperialism, Black Resistance, and Development in the 21st Century,” showcased their dedication to this partnership and the warm reception they have received from the university.
The DG further explained that the annual public lecture is a vital part of CBAAC’s mission, serving to stimulate public interest in topics of general concern to Nigerians, Black and African communities worldwide, adding that the theme, “Culture, Security, and the Future of Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa,” holds particular contemporary relevance.
While highlighting the challenging democratic journey in Africa, emphasising that despite notable progress in the past, democratic gains are now being threatened by insecurity, she described Africa’s democratic path as marred by conflicts and insecurity, a sad departure from the African Union’s aspiration for peace on the continent.
She noted that despite the AU’s “silencing the Guns” initiative in 2020, violent conflicts, genocide, gender-based violence, and civil wars continue to plague the region, while pointing out that the fallout from these issues has led to a growing disillusionment with democracy and democratic governance among Africans. “This disillusionment has been reflected in the celebrations following recent coups in various African countries, especially in the West African region,” she added.
The DG concluded by emphasising the need to examine the future of democracy in Africa, especially in the face of heightened insecurity. She raised important questions, such as the role of African culture and traditional systems of government in contemporary democratic practices on the continent.
On his part, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Kayode Adebowale underscored the timeliness and urgency of the topic at hand, emphasising the dynamic nature of Sub-Saharan Africa.
As the region undergoes significant transformations, Prof Adebowale highlighted its rich cultural diversity and historical heritage, as well as its resilience, optimism, and untapped potential.
He stressed the vital significance of exploring the intricate relationship between culture, security, and democracy in shaping the destiny of nations and their people.
Prof Adebowale, who was represented by Dr. Seunfunmi Olutayo, hoped that these insights would stimulate meaningful and constructive dialogue among the attendees, recognising that it is through the exchange of ideas and knowledge that a brighter future for Sub-Saharan Africa can be collectively envisioned.
He further harped that the University of Ibadan is known for its role as a center of knowledge and enlightenment, pledged its commitment to fostering critical thinking, encouraging research, and promoting a deeper understanding of the interplay between culture, security, and democracy. It was reaffirmed as a hub of knowledge and a catalyst for positive change.
At the public lecture, it was harped that
Africans must learn to confront their challenges and proffer solutions to them independently without western influence or aid. Thus making African solutions to Africa’s problems.
The lecturers also posited that Africa’s greatest problem is neo-colonialism, thus Africans must be conscious of the fact that democracy cannot triumph where there’s neo-colonialism, injustice and bad governance.
Also, African Governments were charged to note that insecurity issues cannot be curbed when the masses are hungry and that to achieve full democracy, democratic studies should be inculcated into schools’ curriculum in order to acculturate Africans to its dictates.
To tackle the problem of insecurity in Africa, they posited that the African culture of selflessness, honesty and taking responsibility must be displayed by all Africans, adding that we must go back to the status-quo as Africans and begin to bridge the gap between ethnic loyalty and national unity, as well as desist from covering up crimes and at the same time, be one another’s neighbour.
Africans were also charged to take cognisance of indigenous language to achieve continental development, while harping that Sub-Saharan Africa is not just a region of challenges, it is also a region of boundless potentials.
Summarily, by understanding the role of culture, addressing security concerns and nurturing democracy, the consensus was that we can work towards a future where the people of sub-saharan Africa enjoy peace, prosperity and the full realisation of their democratic aspirations.
Essentially, the importance of recognising Sub-Saharan Africa’s boundless potential was stressed; understanding the role of culture, addressing security concerns, and nurturing democracy were identified as key steps toward a future where the people of Sub-Saharan Africa can enjoy peace, prosperity, and the full realisation of their democratic aspirations.
Thus, the event served as a crucial platform for advancing these discussions and ideas to chart a positive course for the region’s future.
Africans must learn to confront their challenges and proffer solutions to them independently without western influence or aid. Thus making African solutions to Africa’s problems