The Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation rallies intellectuals and culture promoters for the Black History Month celebrations, AKEEM LASISI writes
With music supplied by veteran folk/highlife singer, Jimi Solanke, many intellectuals gathered in Ibadan, Oyo State capital on Thursday, to discuss how Africa can banish the socio-cultural and political dilemmas facing it.
It was at the 2014 edition of the Black History Month organised by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation. Held at the Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan, which has in, recent years, been collaborating with CBAAC through the Institute of African Studies, the programme attracted experts from different parts of the country and beyond.
In his keynote lecture by the Director, Centre for the Advanced Studies of African Society, Capetown, South Africa, Prof. Kwesi Prah, explored various ways the dreams of Pan-Africanists such as the late Kwame Nkrumah can be translated into a kind of reality that will accelerate development on the continent.
In the lecture titled Pan-Africanism and the Challenges of Global Unity, Prah noted that from the origin of the ideology at the end of the 19th century, the Pan-Africanist argument had slowly evolved, adapting to changing circumstances and altering as challenges of the emancipation process of Africans moved from one phase to another.
Prah stressed the need for Africans to reconcile the struggle to liberate their historical and cultural heritage with other aspirations they have as a people. According to him, by getting united, they would be able to release the full potential of Africa as historical and cultural products because the people’s culture and historical entities override the existing neo-state borders.
Predicting that neo-colonisation would be arrested in the 21st century, Prah noted, “We need a cultural movement which will mobilise writers, teachers, artists, musicians and others to focus their minds on the celebration of our African belongings as baggage for a forward movement; a cultural renaissance which will strengthen our sense of identity as Africans and provide the pride and confidence necessary to forge ahead.”
In his address at the event, CBAAC’s Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Tunde Babawale, recalled that the Black History Month celebration began in the United States as the Negro History Week. It was pioneered by the renowned African American historian, Dr. Carter Woodson, to protest the exclusion of the contributions of African Americans from history textbooks in the United States.
“Since it began nearly 90 years ago, the celebration of the Black History Month has grown and gained global acceptance,” Babawale said. “The Black History Month has become an annual event instituted by the centre to celebrate the appreciation of Black and African history. Over the years, as part of our statutory responsibility, CBAAC has used it to direct attention to matters of concern to Black and African peoples across the world.
“We have also instituted this celebration as an annual event to celebrate the appreciation of Black and African history and reecho the triumphs of Africans over forces of domination, discrimination and exploitation. The centre also uses it to address the myriads of challenges being faced by Africans and black peoples around the World.”
On the choice of the theme of the celebration as well as cultural performances and an exhibition that will be staged during the event, Babawale noted that they arose from CBAAC’s belief that African art and culture have an enviable depth.
“We have packaged all of these to ignite our pride as Africans and reassure us that we have what it takes to develop. Pan-Africanism is a philosophical and ideological construct conceived to encourage unity among Africans and people of African descent”
He commended the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and other prominent members of the university community, who, he said, were partners in progress with CBAAC. One of the dons, Prof. Dele Layiwola, was the chairman of the programme.
The Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke; and Chairman, CBAAC Governing Board, Senator Yusuf Braimo, commended CBAAC and UI for organising the event and pledged government’s support in further advancing the sector.
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