BY PRISCA SAM-DURU
The just concluded 2nd Toyin Falola Annual International Conference(TOFAC), organized by the Ibadan Cultural Studies Group, in collaboration with the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), saw scholars, identifying vibrant entrepreneurship, infrastructural, technological developments, zero tolerance to corruption, poverty reduction, greener economic, as factors which would serve as catalyst to reviving Nigeria and Africa.
The four day conference held in Lagos, with theme, “Cultures, Identities, Nationalities and Modernities in Africa and the African Diaspora”, had in attendance, scholars, intellectuals, cultural icons and experts within Africa and the African Diaspora. who discussed on possible way out of challenges facing Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.
Profs Toyin Falola in whose honour the annual international conference was instituted and BO Oloruntimehin, as well as Michael Vickers from UK, Timothy Stapleton from Canada and Barbara Harlow from USA who were the keynote speakers and Prof. Bessie House Soremekun from Indiana University who was the plenary lecturer, were among the distinguished persons that graced the occasion.
The Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, chief Edem Duke who declared the conference open, noted its timeliness because according to him, issues which the conference identified and addressed were relevant especially considering the urgency in establishing workable solutions to the teaming challenges presently rocking Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
He said the conference was designed as a global platform of academic tradition for intellectuals, researchers and students alike in order to tackle cultural issues as identified in the theme of the conference, adding that it would afford them the opportunity to chart policies that would aid global efforts aimed at global peace building.
According to him, “As an enduring legacy in honour of professor Toyin Falola, a distinguished scholar and teacher of African and African American History, this effort should be sustained to outlive him”, stressing that the conference should be instituted in honour of distinguished individuals who would remain committed to fostering the growth and development of their society.
The plenary session speaker, who is also the founding Executive Director of Centre for Global Entrepreneurship and sustainable Development, Indiana University, Prof. Bessie House Soremekun posited that a solid and vibrant entrepreneurship development is a major factor in moving the continent forward.
She described the concept of Africa Diaspora as an articulate effort aimed at promoting the political struggle of the African people both home and abroad noting that it is not a recent creation but a concept that is never completed. Prof Soremekun further suggested the establishment of Diaspora Development Fund for infrastructural and entrepreneurship developments especially at the rural communities.
The Director General of CBAAC, Prof. Tunde Babawale in his contribution, revealed that the Centre had employed strategies such as hosting lectures, seminars, workshops, symposia and exhibitions to achieve its statutory objectives, which are to promote public interest in understanding and appreciation of Black and African arts and culture by placing emphasis on the contributions of Black and African people to world’s civilization.
“Our decision to collaborate, organize and host this conference is one of the ways by which we direct public attention to matters of concern to Black and African people across the world”, He said.
He however noted that the socio-economic engagement of the people across the globe has continued to be defined and re-defined by change, evident in varying transitions, transnational boundaries adjustments and re-adjustments, wars fought and won in addition to new technological discoveries.
He however regretted that in the midst of these realities, African continent had failed to optimize its benefits and potentials to the development of the people.