Keynote Address: Leadership and Cultural Diplomacy in Nigeria

Akin Alao



In spite of the enormity of the challenges facing research into indigenous knowledge in post-independence Nigeria, the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan is continuing in the search for African alternatives to human-centred development.

Despite the near-futility of relying on hard core, conventional means in the management of conflicts and contradictions among the disparate ethnic entities of the Nigerian state, it is important to recognise the pivotal role of leadership in developing soft power modalities in promoting mutual acceptance of differences and developing overarching national ideologies based on the aggregated cultural values of the federating units.

There is a thin line between cultural influence and cultural diplomacy. Arguably, cultural influence could mean the adoption of certain cultural productions of one group by the others. It could just be the adoption of visual or performing art traditions of one group by another or the transfer of technology developed by a group to another. On the other hand, cultural diplomacy is a

deliberate and conscious effort of one group to, without advertising it, impose its own value system on another group for the purpose of using this to establish a relationship of unequal partnership. Cultural diplomacy is usually an ideological project of power relations to impose hegemony through value change. In this context, the postulations of Michael Foucault on power relations will find ultimate relevance when he argues that it is wrong to consider power as something that institutions possess and use oppressively against individuals or groups. Accordingly, power is not something that can be owned but rather something that acts and manifests itself in a certain way; it is more a strategy than possession. He therefore, posits that:

power must be analysed as something which circulates, or something which only functions in the form of a chain ... Power is employed and exercised through a nethke organisation . .. Individuals are the vehicles of power and not its point of application.

Full Text:



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