By – Montage Africa Media
Do you love your culture? Are we proud of our heritage? Do we appreciate our traditions?
These are the questions that should be asked when broaching the topic of culture and tourism in a nation like Nigeria. As country with high level of diversity in culture and tradition in West Africa, you would expect that we would wear this culture with pride and export it accordingly.
But no, it’s only relevant in discussions over the national cake and not in the conversations of income generation.
The investment and revenue generating opportunities within our culture can not be overemphasised if only we could see the true power within our heritage.
Westernization has done us good and bad. We want to be what we are not and learn what is not ours to succeed. Yet the world is curious about who we truly are and what we stand for. What better way to express and exhibit our uniqueness but through our culture and tradition.
America as a country has no culture. Though its original inhabitants were Red Indians, it was taken over by settlers from Germany, slaves and immigrants. In the absence of a heritage they created an identity and used the diversity of their settlers to establish an entertainment industry that is second to none in the world.
Asia is a stronger reference. In China, their first language in their native tongue and their culture is their bargaining chip. Their economy is hinged on the structure they have created from their culture with a mix of hard work and technology.
India, used film as the platform to sell their culture from their colourful outfits, to their festivals and music. Bollywood has even taken over the Nigerian airwaves with the introduction Zeeworld on DSTV.
Ask yourself what could we do with the culture we seem to cherish but do not appreciate?
A discussion arose amongst intellectuals at a gathering once and the expatriates present expressed their disappointment with the absence of Nigerian culture. They had hoped to be exposed to our food, language, local attires, festivals and even dance but found that the average Nigerian wanted to be white and didn’t see why they had to portray a Nigerian attitude when they could try badly to be someone else. It was a slap across the face to some while others didn’t get the point.
The world is curious about the Nigerian culture. It is what makes us unique, it is our selling point but how do we harness it to its full potential if we do not even appreciate it, let alone uderstand?
We can sell Nigeria to the world on culture and tourism alone.
Dooney’s kitchen is a raving success in the UK because she makes and sells Nigerian food and has grown popular, it is nothing short of miracle. Why? Because she is providing a rare commodity, Nigerian cuisine.
Laolu Sebanjo is probably one of the fastest rising Nigerian artists in America. He took our local ritual art and has turned it into an art movement that translates into exhibitions, body art and fashion and is a major hit! Why, because Nigerian art is exportable!
The list is endless.
We are a blessed nation all we need is to accept what makes us Nigerian, appreciate it and develop it into the money we all desperately want.
Oil isn’t the only answer, our culture is.