By Ayodele Olaleye Victor
National development is the capacity of a country to raise the basic standard of its citizenry, with the provision of adequate basic livelihood and employment that create growth, bring progress and positive change.
However, Nigeria as a nation since 1960 is without any meaningful socio-economic and political development. Poverty, regional inequality, socio-political crises, corruption, religious crises and lack of national and emotional integration have enveloped the nation’s psyche.
These problems however emanated through the influence and acceptance of European values and civilization hook, line and sinker, coupled with relegation of our cultural intangible values system, ethos and norms which our forebears used for community integration and as a means of social control to the background. The cultural intangible heritage are the folklores, myth, folktales, legend, proverbs, jokes and riddles. Others are songs, music, dance, ceremonies, poetry and oral tales about our traditions and customs that are passed from one generation to another. Intangible cultural heritage teaches us about life, our environment, knowledge, practices and morals that accept fantasy and people’s contributions towards community cohesion and group spirit. The use of music and dance or body talk to make statement to praise individual’s positive contributions to societal growth and at the same time to correct wrong doings in the society as means of social control, place the society on good pedestal.
The contemporary socio-economic and political decadence witnessed in Nigeria today calls for retracing our steps to the past positive norms, customs and value system of our forebears, hence the need for museum as an institution that acquires, preserves, conserves, communicates and exhibits our intangible cultural practices, ethos and value system to provide platform for our cultural revival and renaissance.
In this regards, museum has a vital and important roles to play to revive and rekindle our intangible practices through exhibitions which are salient witnessed of the past. Pictures of legendary heroes and heroines, such as Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti and other nationalists, captains of industries that have contributed immensely to national development should be mounted for exhibition for the younger generation, in order for them to have someone to look up to as mentors as well as have a sense of belonging.
Moreover, museums should endeavor to capture the festivals that reflect societal values, social organization and structure, attitude and respect in exhibition guide, labels, catalogue, postcards to educate the youths and adult, the acceptable social values and the role of an individual for nation building. Likewise, the productive, creativity and ingenuity of an individual in the society. These efforts will galvanize youth’s ability and potentials positively towards national growth and development rather than engaging in 419 syndrome and money making rituals that have permeated the psyche of our youths nowadays.
In addition, museums should embark on outreach programmes to schools, religious centres and other public places to educate the people through oral tales, lectures, drama shows, film shows, mime and role play, which play the roles of historical characters to enlighten the populace and to promote communal understanding as well as reflecting societal ethos and values for national growth and advancement.
Furthermore, museum should be in position to use the positive attributes of our cultural intangible heritage, to educate the citizenry to appreciate our cultural diversity that encourage intercultural dialogue which promote mutual respect that will develop in us positive attributes that promote social cohesion, national identity for greater Nigeria.
Museum should be able to deploy audio visual and other multimedia technologies to exhibit the intangible cultural practices to Nigerians in order to appreciate our living heritage. This will further encourage the preservation of heritage for tourism development, spiritual, social life and communal living.
In conclusion, for Nigeria to be relevant among the comity of nations in term of developmental strides, efforts should be geared towards the preservation and application of our cultural intangible heritage to solve the contemporary socio-economic problems bedeviling us as a country. The cultural practices of our forebears will promote relative peace and socio-cohesion needed for national development. Since history, a subject that studies the society in the past and the deeds of heroes has been removed from the school curriculum.
Ayodele writes from National Museum, Akure.