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Culture and quest for development

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RECENT events all around Nigeria have shown that there is lacuna between the meaning of culture and the leaders’ understanding of culture. The most annoying of this myopic knowledge is the pervasively annoying linkage of culture solely with festivals of all sorts. In turn, this has left culture and cultural matters at the doorstep of those holding tourism portfolios at the various levels of government. While not separating culture from tourism and  from physical cultural resources management, the need for culture-based personality development, sincerely speaking, must be seen far beyond this mark if indeed we are questing for development.

Culture, simply defined, is a total way of life of a group of people. As Kwasi Wiredu puts it, it goes beyond art, song and dance to include everything that is connected with people’s way of life as observable in their worship, courtship, their way of investigating nature and utilizing its possibilities, their way of viewing themselves and interpreting their place in nature; the manner in which they  house and cloth themselves; their method of conducting war and peace; their system of statecraft, of education, of reward and punishment; the way they regulate personal relations and the ideas underlaying their institutions and practices. It is holistically an  embodiment of what a people were, and likely to be.

The word “development” on the other hand means “expansion by a process of growth”. It connotes an improvement in the living condition for the average person. Within our context of discourse, development refers to the condition of any state characterised by economic productivity, high standard of living, technological advancement, stable political order, the absence of death, basic human needs such as food, clothing and shelter, high level of literacy, among others.

Countries that are characterised by the foregoing are described as “developed”, in a harsh term, or “developing”, to avoid embarrassment. One sure fact about development is that there is hardly anyone that detests it or derides better living standard. But like the popular saying, “everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die.” Many are unprepared to take the necessary steps that will bring about the needed change.

Omotayo Abiodun from Mapoly,

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