Globalization of cultural heritage: issues, impacts, and inevitable challenges for Nigeria.

Author:Nwegbu, Mercy U.


Culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted customs, knowledge, material objects and behaviour. It includes the ideas, value, customs and artefacts of a group of people (Schaefer, 2002). Culture is a pattern of human activities and the symbols that give these activities significance. It is what people eat, how they dress, beliefs they hold and activities they engage in. It is the totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempts to meet the challenges of living in their environment, which gives order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious norms and modes of organisation thus distinguishing people from their neighbours. In Federal Republic of Nigeria (1988), culture comprises material, institutional, philosophical and creative aspects.

The process of expanding culture has been under way for many centuries, but technologies have increased the speed and have also broadened the distribution of cultural elements beyond communities and nations' territorial frontiers.

However, culture can be transmitted or acquired through information or symbol. Cultural identity is those attributes, behavioural patterns, lifestyles, social structures and norms that distinguish a people from other peoples (Omekwu, 2003). These are passed on laterally or inherited from one generation to another (cultural heritage), or horizontally passed on from one society to another through such agent as globalization. Henslin (2007) sees globalization as "the increased interconnectedness and under dependence of different societies around the world". He also sees it as the breaking down of national boundaries because of advances in communications, trade and travel.

Today the paradigm is shifting with the new opportunities and challenges created by new technologies. The message of this paper is therefore to examine;

* The emerging issues in the globalization of Nigerian cultural heritage.

* The impacts of technologies on the globalization of Nigeria cultural heritage.

* The role of libraries in the documentation, presentation and globalization of cultural heritage

* And the challenges and suggestions on how these effects may be overcome.

Now, what are the: Issues, Impacts, and Emerging challenges?

Contemporary Issues

Colonial Legacy: One of the greatest issues is that Nigeria is a heterogeneous society. Before colonialism, the territory known as Nigeria today was inhabited by different peoples, empires, tribes and kingdoms. These peoples have different cultures, traditions and religion. The colonialists did not consider these divergent issues, but went ahead and welded them together as one country. Until 1977, when the only cultural show was performed in Nigeria (FESTAC) there had never been attempts to nationalize Nigerian cultural heritage. So when we talk or plan for globalization of the heritage it is pertinent to start at home/domestic level before internationalization (i.e. cultural nationalization before cultural globalization).

Cultural Diversity: Nigeria is a society with abundant rich cultural heritage that are scattered within the diverse ethnic nationalities. These cultural heritages include language, marriage rites, burial rites, birth rites, dressing, greeting, music, folklore, religion, and other tangible cultural monuments, natural sites and cultural landscapes. Some of these cultures have died due to western cultural influence and therefore needed to be revitalized and uploaded in the net if those who know how they are performed are still alive.

Information Technologies: The advent of ICT has forced libraries and librarians to operate with such concepts and phrases like information society, digitization, computer or information explosion, globalization, cyberspace and information superhighway. These technologies have forced the developed world to operate in a context of change which automatically affects the ways our cultural heritage are documented, preserved and practiced. It has brought the culture, folklore and heritage of western countries into our doorsteps, reading tables, desktop or laptop with just a press of the computer keyboard or a click of mouse. Where are Nigerian cultural heritage in the world cultural arena?

Cultural Policy: Efforts to globalize Nigerian cultural heritage have not been fully discussed, evaluated or strategized by the Nigerian government. There is serious lack of co-ordination of Nigerian cultural...

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