Nigeria-Brazil unite on cultural relations

Professor Tunde Babawale and the recipient of Etisalat Nigeria 2015 Merit Award

Nigeria and Brazil have signified their commitment towards executing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the area of cultural rights, promotion of racial equality and related activities both countries signed on March 15, 2010 in Abuja. A meeting convened on June 3 in Abuja by the Centre for Black African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), a parastatal of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation saddled with the task of implementing the content of the agreement, critically examined how to go about the task. Representatives of the Culture ministry parastatals, educational and cultural institutions were among those in attendance. The MoU is to consolidate the gains of two international conferences held in Brazil in 2008 and 2009 on improving relationships between Africans on the continent and those in the Diaspora.


The Director General of CBAAC, Professor Tunde Babawale, explained in his opening remarks that the meeting was a technical one to draw a roadmap for the MoU. He added that it was to ensure that the agreement “stands out from others that have been signed and because the Ministry is determined to make the MOU an exemplary one.” Brazil’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Ana Candida Perez; vice chair, Senate Committee on Tourism, Culture and National Orientation and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Senator Yisa Braimoh and Representative Kingsley Oguakwa, respectively; and Director of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, George Ufot, all noted the uniqueness of the meeting which they said was the first time a roadmap for the implementation of an agreement between Nigeria and another country would be held.


The Pan African Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG); the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), and the Institute for African Culture and International Understanding (IACIU), Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, all indicated interest in different areas of scholarship. Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe of the IACIU stated that the institute is interested in human security and culture. The Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, will focus on culture. Its Director, Dele Layiwola, noted that “ancient societies had cultural liberation before economic liberation. We will hope that in further exploring the relationship between Nigeria and Brazil, we will be able to reach our goals of development. We will be able to turn the negatives of slavery into positives through culture.”


The director of the Institute of Cultural Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, Akin Alao, wants a Brazil-Nigeria Centre for Cultural Studies to be established in the institution. He gave reasons including an existing Directorate of Linkages, supportive university administrators, a course on African and Diaspora histories and a house the university owns in Bahia, Brazil, to justify why OAU should host the centre. Representatives of other institutions including Usmanu Dan Fodiyyo University, Sokoto; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Benin, Federal University of Technology, Minna and the University of Maiduguri, said their institutions would focus on linkages, trainings, exchanges  and collaborations with universities in Brazil. The National Council for Arts and Culture, (NCAC), will concentrate on training, research and exchange. The National Troupe of Nigeria would explore “capacity building in the performative arts, exchange of playwrights, directors and designers.” Mike Anyanwu of the Troupe’s corporate affairs department added, “We will seek to deepen the relationship through periodic residencies and workshops. We will also embark on joint projects on Nigeria’s music and dances in the Diaspora.”

Among the resolutions agreed are that both countries would step up their co-operation. The Brazilian government would set in motion the machinery to facilitate the establishment of the Brazilian Cultural House in Nigeria, similar to the one done in Brazil by Nigeria. Also, all existing and ongoing inter-institutional exchanges between Nigerian and Brazilian institutions would be brought within the context of the MOU.