Nigeria has over the years been able to prove her worth; this is demonstrated by the hosting of Festival of Arts and Culture in 1977, it was initiated with a determination to propagate the values and originality of black culture. This festival has left behind great legacies, this legacies are what formed part of this research work. Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage which is widely varied, culture is one area which they have a lot to showcase to the rest part of the world, developing the Nigerian culture is a collective responsibility which has been supported by both the civilian and military governments, this is why it has been given consideration in the Nigerian constitution.
The Festival is a topic that has been discussed a lot, with enormous media attention, but in few academic works. This research work thus will fill an important gap in the literature complementing several other works on culture and development in Nigeria, it will also explain how FESTAC 77 became a package of modernity, the performance of progress and the expression of glory. The activities of FESTAC 77 are about the representation of culture in a post colonial, modernised world. It was truly a class act that brought people of all races and nationalities to Nigeria in celebrating of arts and culture that has since not been surpassed. Most of the festival took place in Lagos except for the Durbar which was taken to Kaduna state. FESTAC 77 projected the modernisation of culture, but also put forth the ideology of race equality with the west and other continents.
FESTAC 77is closely tied to the history of the Blackman and his struggle for recognition and equality with the rest of the human race. The blacks sought for identity, their own values of civilization, they were anxious to rediscover their own personality.
Indeed the expectation was that the culture that FESTAC 77 celebrated would be the source of development generating ideas to transform Africans, rather than using the same ideas so that the colonialist had to present them as barbarians. The power of pre-colonial states and their institutions was restored. In their full glory and displayed for the post-colonial people to see.
Perhaps it is pertinent at this juncture for me to point out that the initiation of FESTAC was made mainly to improve and develop the African culture and Nigeria in particular most importantly to leave a legacy that the younger generation will live to remember and uphold. This is clearly observed in the Festival Anthem which stated thus:
Let a new earth rise
Let another world be born
Let a bloody peace
Be written in the sky
Let a second generation
Full of courage issue forth
Let a people loving freedom
Come to growth.
Let a beauty full of healing
And strength of final clenching
Be the pulsing in our spirits
And our blood
Let the martial songs be written
Let the dirges disappear
Let a race of men now rise
And take control.
FESTAC 77 brochure ( 1977: 9)
The above, is a song recited during the closing ceremony of FESTAC 77, the wordings conveys a message of hope, hope for a new generation, a call for the Africans to realize what it means to be free and make proper use of the resources available at their disposal to develop their various countries. Thus, FESTAC 1977 could rightly be seen as a demonstration and call for African unity and culture development.
The policy of Nigeria towards the African Diaspora has followed closely her continued determination to make Africa the centre piece of her foreign policy.
FESTAC 77 is a topic that has been discussed a lot with lots of media attention but in few academic works. However, the purpose of this chapter is to review some relevant literature relating to the topic under study. Various literatures will be reviewed under the following sub-headings.
THE CONCEPT OF CULTURE
The central aim here is to present a clarification of the concept of culture as well as it’s elements and relationship with the society. However, different opinions of some scholars on vital aspects of culture will be reviewed.
Culture is an all embracing phenomenon that defines not only the social and political institutions of a state, but also the values and comportments of the citizens. Culture is a word in common usage. Like all other common words, it has an obvious meaning of the level of common sense understanding.
“All peoples in all ages have had a culture, for Nigerians culture has spanned over 2000 years. It is one thing to live a culture, it is another to study and analyze it. As time passes, and old customs die away. It is the study that enshrines the heritage. various scholars, Nigerian by birth or by proven attachment to Nigerian culture have shown it to be a living culture deeply rooted in the past as depicted in the antiquities of the ancestors which featured among others, the Nok figurines, the Ife terra cottas and bronzes, the Igbo Ukwu objects and the Benin bronzes and ivories. They have also shown it to be still fresh and evolving through the arts and crafts, the music, the dance, the dress, the drama, architecture and even through the literature of the Nigerian people, all of which bear testimony to the abiding cultural values of the Nigerian” (Biobaku 1976:1).
Based on this premise, Nwankwo (2006:62) assumes that Culture as a concept is only meaningful in the context of human society. In other words, it presumes existence of human society and is imbibed with tools and skills with which the human society is enabled to work. As an entity that incorporates the totality of people’s ways of life, culture is both incorporative of and synonymous with a given society’s ways of life.
However, in Bromiley’s (1999:746) own view “Culture can be referred to human work detached from the nexus of individual experience and action, consciously given shape as a construct, to be appropriated in the understanding and then passed on to others, it can be reproduced in their experience and deeds and can be transformed by them, but it also forms them....we are creators of culture but also its creatures”. Ahiamadu (2011:299). Here, Bromiley proves that culture means something extra added by an individual for the purpose of transforming the society.
Similarly, (Ahiamadu 2011:20) pointed out clearly that “Culture refers to people’s way of life and to human activity shaped by experience and action. When related to the divine image of God in man, culture means people’s accepted mode of life as reflected in art, development, enlightenment, education and tools which are prone to adaptation and change”. This definition goes a long way to attest the fact that a people’s culture is being reflected in their day to day activities.
In his book ‘Culture and foreign policy’ Adefuye referred to culture as a complex phenomenon which is subject to several definitions and capable of being viewed from many angles. He noted that culture consists of values, beliefs and perceptions of the world that underlie a people’s behaviour and which are shared by members of a particular society. It is also an aspect of our existence that makes us similar to some people, yet different from other peoples of the world.
From the foregoing, it becomes evident that there are people at the helm of this concept but for effective understanding, we start with our own view of how this concept evolved.
The concept of culture is evident in Edward Tylor’s 1871 work, ‘Primitive Culture’ which include the first formal definition of culture. According to him, “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of his society”.
Ever since Tylor’s time the concept of culture has been the central focus of anthropology, it is pertinent for us to state here that culture although labelled a whole, is actually treated as a list of elements. The fundamental element of culture is the “culture trait”. Traits assume many forms ranging from material artefacts to behavioural regularities and also to abstract concepts and beliefs. All of these different and complex manifestations share one feature in common, that is to say that they are symbols and as such express meaning.
In his book “The culture concept” Micheal A. Elliot (2002) returns to the moment that culture was first articulated, tracing the concept of culture to the writings, folktales, dialect, literature, local colour sketches and ethnographies that provided its intellectual underpinnings. According to him culture is a ‘term’ we commonly use to explain the differences in our ways of living.
Stephen Ekpeyong (2003:88) while trying to discuss the major concepts in sociology said that culture is a broad concept which is essential in analyzing the ways human beings relate to one another. It is a concept common in human disciplines including anthropology, sociology, humanities, biology and the medical sciences. He further stated that culture has some emotive connotation, for the fact that it is common for some people to be described as cultured while others are seen as uncultured. This is an indication of whether or not such persons are socially misfits or cultural deviants within a given social organization or setting.
Nigeria's cultural heritage covers their works of arts, songs, dances, rhythms, customs, mannerisms, behaviors to one another. Respect from the young to the old, protection of the young by the old and humanism.
Between January 15th and February 12th 1977, an oil rich Nigeria hosted Africa's second world black arts Festival to celebrate the individuality, the antiquity and the power of the black and African world. We believe that a festival like FESTAC 77 represents an attempt on the part of Nigeria to understand the past in order to work for the future
This long essay work is well organised into six chapters. The first chapter deals with the general introduction. Chapter two is strictly meant on the literatures and relevant materials which were reviewed based on scholarly opinion which helped us with facts and evidences on how culture societal development works.
Chapter three deals with the study area: Nigeria, a brief history, the geographical location, and the historical background to FESTAC 77. Chapter four is about the reasons behind the initiation of FESTAC 77, the aims and objectives, its impact on Nigeria’s Religio-cultural life and how FESTAC contributed to culture development in Nigeria.
Chapter five is the core of this research work, the legacies of FESTAC 77 was outlined, FESTAC influence on Nigeria’s cultural and foreign policy was also analyzed.
Lots of work has been done in the preservation of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, there is a need for systematic research and documentation of various components of her cultural heritage including language, government and development strategies.
In an age when the black man has unashamedly been copying other cultures, festivals like FESTAC 77 are more than necessary to enable the black man realize and re-establish his identity by being made to see, hear and appreciate the achievement of his fore-fathers as well as those of the present generation of black man, in the realm of culture, science, history, literature etc. The contributions of the black man to world civilization have been deliberately undervalued over the centuries and this is by people who do not appreciate the black heritage. African governments and peoples should awake to the onerous task of depicting the relevance of African civilization and art to a new world economic and cultural order.
FESTAC 77 has promoted cultural dialogue which has enhanced mutual understanding between Nigeria and other countries. Understanding other cultures can prevent prejudice and hatred. It has also promoted cultural exchange and enriched new forms of artistic expression which in turn has provided fresh insights that has broadened the Nigerian horizon.
It is indeed time for Nigerians to feel an instinctive and spontaneous pride in belonging to a race which possesses a rich cultural heritage and potentials, some of which have been exhibited prominently in museums all over the world.
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