Over the past few weeks I've spoken with Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma, the Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in Abuja, regarding Nigeria's cultural diplomacy efforts. Established in 1993 as a joint initiative between the Nigerian government and UNESCO during the World Decade for Cultural Development, NICO is responsible for researching integral assets of Nigerian culture in order to utilize those values to complement the nation's various developmental programs. Dr. Ayakoroma revealed to me a fascinating yet subtle approach that NICO is undertaking in order to first build a firm foundation for cultural diplomacy: cultural reorientation.
Nigeria, like much of the planet, has had a dramatic decade in terms of globalization. Politics and economics aside, indigenous Nigerian culture has been influenced--and in some cases altered--by Western style preferences and signifiers. Though cultural amalgamation is often beneficial and auspicious for human progress in general, the issue remains if our collective innovations should ever replace important elements of cultural history and tradition.