Otunba Segun Runsewe

By Osa Amadi

The Director-General of National Council for Arts and Culture and President, World Craft Council, Otunba Segun Runsewe, has recommended focal attention on culture and religious heritage as drivers of peace.

Runsewe made the recommendation while speaking as a special guest at the World Peace Conference hosted by People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

Worried by the rise in local and global conflicts occasioned by socioeconomic and political exclusion, Otunba Runsewe told the gathering of eminent political and business moguls from all over the world that culture is a potent weapon in engendering peace and unity.

“We must revisit culture as a veritable tool of ensuring the unity, peace and development of the society, hence every government and nation must strive towards the preservation of their heritage as means of collective identity,” Runsewe said.

Showcasing the impact of Nigeria’s iconic cultural festival, National Festival of Arts and Culture, NAFEST, Runsewe disclosed that the yearly celebration of the festival in Nigeria has sustained the unification of the Nigerian people despite the huge diversities. He noted that the festival helps celebrate what unifies Nigerians and not what divides them.

Recommending the NAFEST cultural tourism model to the World Peace conference delegates, Runsewe proudly explained further: “It is known locally as our Unity Forum, and through the platform, Nigerians from all ethnic backgrounds interact, exchange different cultural manifestations and build bridges of unity and friendship across ethnic nationalities.”

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Appreciating the government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for the opportunity to share insights and also provide solutions to the epidemic of global developmental dislocations injurious to peaceful coexistence among nations and peoples, Runsewe said respect and concern for the weak and the less privileged could help deescalate conflicts driven by socioeconomic and political exclusion.

Taking the global peace-seeking audience through interactive voyage on Inter-faith Dialogue, Culture and Heritage, the cerebral Nigerian culture icon warned that the slide to religious intolerance fuels bigotry, fanaticism, indoctrination and factionalism, with tension, conflict and outright violence as seed of discord, not peace.

He therefore called on world leaders and men of all faith to see God in the best of humanity.

“While we may not all necessarily share or hold similar religious views with others, tolerance of other people’s religion requires that we appreciate the fact that others are entitled to their religious beliefs and practices, and have the right to practice their religion without let or hindrance” Runsewe admonished, adding that religious conflicts are usually driven by lack of understanding of the meaning and purpose of religion.

“Religion, if positively deployed, can also be a veritable tool for fostering national and international development, peace, understanding and cooperation, and for driving the process of development. But if wrongly deployed, religion could become a liability,” he noted.

“Peace is not only for a community or nation, it’s the primary goal of all nations of the world. A breach of peace in one nation or continent is a threat to the peace of the entire universe.

“The world is now a global village. Therefore, what happens in one part of the world affects other parts,” Runsewe said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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