By Anthony Isaac
The Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe has said that respect for cultural values across Nigeria would reduce ongoing tension in the country.
Otunba Runsewe who spoke to a group of online media publishers in Abuja noted that acts of banditry, murder and kidnapping were alien to Nigeria’s culture.
He pointed out that Nigerians need to be more tolerant of other people’s culture and practices as it was done in the past.
According to him, “If we had respected each other’s cultural value, there will be less tension in this country. All these rancors going on to a large extend is because we lost our cultural values.
“Take for instance, the rate at which people are being kidnapped, being murdered these days, I can tell you that it is not part of our culture. Our culture is about togetherness, protection of each other’s interest.
“Few years ago, nobody cared where you came from, whether you are Yoruba, Igbo or Shosho or any other tribe, nobody bothered. What we bothered about was living together in unity”, he added.
NCAC boss explained that to help solve the problem, he came up with a strategy known as Cultural Diplomacy.
He explained: “Cultural Diplomacy in the sense that if you look at culture, understanding your neigbours’ culture saves you from getting offended by your neighbour.
“Two, diplomacy is about sending the message softly, not in a hard way. There are two major strength of diplomacy: soft and hard. The soft diplomacy is sending the message without hurting anybody. The hard one is out of track now, it is by force which nobody is using per say now.
“For me as a person, I believe strongly that if we do appreciate and understand the value of our cultures, we will do better. The Igboman says if you are coming to my house bring a kolanut so that we can pour libation before we start discussing. The Hausa man says remove your shoes before you enter my house, I say my prayers there, and you feel offended that I just bought a skin shoe.
“Yoruba man wants to eat amala with his hand that the smoke of the amala will be in-between his fingers. That is his joy and you are angry. So if we sit down and respect each other’s cultural values there will be less tension.
“Religion has been with us for a very long time but some people want to hide under religion to cause unnecessary rancor. So, for me, cultural diplomacy should be the in thing for us to use to resolve all these challenges that we are facing”, he counseled.