When I delivered a paper in Lagos on the 16th of August 2008, at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Titled: Re-imagine Nigeria, I began the first few lines with….”Obama is on the spotlight because he believes he can, today, YES WE CAN, has become a style, fashion, language and song in all the human minds that who believe in change and posterity.
Obama’s song, yes we can is been sang by all, because he did not sing alone like the birds do. We are singing YES WE CAN, because, he first of all said, Yes I can. He imagined he could, he believed he could, he saw himself in his mind’s eye as the President of the United States of America. Today, he can proudly say “Yes I have”.
May I invite you to take a journey back home to our beautiful country, and imagine all the possibilities if we can only believe and say : YES WE CAN, yes we can make it better than we met it.
Imagine a new Nigeria with National pride, imagine our Nation with great tolerance for each other, a nation with of social responsibilities…national consciousness, patriotism, education, innovation and creativity, a new state of mind, curious open mindedness in a population that welcomes the challenges of a global world.
Our story can only be told better by us….and our History-being His story, will be told when we had finished walked this path, the greatest part of our story, will be what we did for posterity and humanity…for we are not here for service to ourselves alone but for our neighbours. Our grand aim is to use culture and creativity to reinstall in Nigerians a lasting and trusting national pride and rediscover new elements of our cultural diversity.
Imagine, a Nigeria where we are rated the number one in the world brand index because of stable economy, sustainable democratic system, exposed tourism rich cultural value…cultural value is the basis of a nation’s strength, and I tell you ours is in our diversity. The cultural diversity of our country is the reason why I can sit beside another man that does not speak my language, and discuss politics, and the 7 point agenda of my president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
It is this strength of the cultural diversity of our beloved nation that will make me stop, on a busy day, to help that little boy on the other side of the road cross over, or pick up the abandoned baby on the roadside, without waiting for him or she to speak his or her first word, so I may confirm whether he or she my is tribe or not. It is in the strength of our diversity, that I was born in the north, grew up in the north and here I am again in the central north.
My beloved country men imagine a country, where CNN is streaming that young talented Nigerian who is a whiz kid, prototyping and building his own computer, where that Nigerian engineer is helping solve global issues at the International level, where a Nigerian is the head astrologist leading the next trip to the moon, imagine on Prime Time, the world’s global warming solution is discovered by a Nigerian scientist, where the most expensive art piece is the work of Ben Enwonwu or the likes of him, and a Nigeria with the greatest creative capital in the world.
Creative solution is creativity, creativity is natural, nature is what is common to a set of people, culture is simply a way of life or a belief of a people…our culture is a part of us, we need to harness these unending resources of ours. This is the most important aspect for Culture in a globalised world.
When you look at the artworks on display, we have successfully conducted a form of diplomacy. The way we present ourselves to the outside is increasing becoming more important to our self image and relationship with other countries. Artists are our best communicators and basically the greatest innovators of our time. This makes our project “Re-Imagine Nigeria” an important promoter of the nation’s image, culture arts and as an arena for cultural experiences. We must take a proactive attitude as society develops. To make a difference, it is vital that they are developing and renewing in order to attract the public at large. The message is look around, think a new, re-define, re-imagine and re-innovate Nigeria.