March 4, 2013

Obasanjo decries invasion of Africa by western culture

Abeokuta – Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday stressed the need for youths and women empowerment for cultural security and development in Africa.

Obasanjo spoke at a regional conference on “Women and Youths in the Promotion of Cultural Security and Development in Africa’’.

The conference was organised by the Centre for Human Security, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) and the UNESCO Institute for African Culture and International Understanding.

Obasanjo, who decried the invasion of Africa by the western culture, said priority must be given to the promotion of African norms and values before they go into extinction.

He said Africa must resist attempts at underplaying its culture through the overplay of the western culture.

The former president, who stressed the crucial roles of women and youths, warned that the future of the continent would be endangered if adequate investment and attention was not paid to them.

Obasanjo said Africa must learn to uphold and promote positive aspects of its culture and discard negative ones.

He urged African countries to dwell on their common norms and beliefs to strengthen their relationships.

“I believe we must use our commonalities in culture to further strengthen our friendly ties,’’ he said.

Mrs Zainab Maina, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, in her address, regretted that the influx of western ideas under the guise of “development’’, had been a constant threat to African cultural security.

“In Africa, women have been involved in small-scale entrepreneurship. No doubt, this sector has been severely affected by the introduction of trade liberalisation.

“Women, in this continent, contribute the most critical factor in agricultural production, yet liberalisation has failed to ensure availability of credit and agricultural inputs to them,’’ she said.

Maina, therefore, stressed the need for Africa to develop its concept of development, adding: “economic growth without social and cultural justice cannot be our idea of development in Africa’’.

Mr Paul Mashatile, the Minister of Arts and Culture, South Africa, said women and youths were strategic to the preservation of African culture.

He described women as custodian of culture in Africa, adding: “they do more in instilling cultural values in the young ones’’.

The minister, who said that the youths were responsible for keeping the culture, added that attention must be paid to them so as not to lose “our values because they are receptive to new ideas from other places’’.

Mr Moijue Kaikai, the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs, Siera-Leone, urged African leaders to use culture as a tool to strengthen social cohesion.

He warned that huge social disparity could undermine the unity of a country and contribute to its fragmentation. (NAN)