The Sun News

Wanted: A new generation of time keepers

African time, a bastardisation of the global norm and culture in keeping to time, has eaten into every fabric of Nigerian society. From schools, churches, mosques, private and public institutions, late-coming to events has clearly become catholic and has eroded confidence and integrity of the Nigerian way of life and so strangely accepted.
With this negative trait, now a cancer that has refused to be surgically addressed, Nigeria and Nigerians clearly have set global records that the rest of the world, even other Africans, find difficult to emulate.
Apart from valuable man-hours that are lost to this strange character deformation, this pastime has grown into a Frankenstein monster, eating up the root of our cultural values of integrity, love for others above self, prompt attention to social dislocations and respect for tradition and communal living.
At airports, hospitals, railway offices, banks and road transport stations, it is strange to see operators and beneficiaries of services arrive on time. Everybody in Nigeria is so busy doing nothing, a trend that seems proudly a luxury package in emerging events across the nation.
Here in Nigeria, to apologise or make excuses without shame for coming late to an event has crept into the lexicon of every Nigerian invited to an event or by those who initiate public events.
The days of early birds to events and community or town hall gatherings are gone and so seem to be accepted. To foreigners in our midst and those invited to any Nigerian event or gathering, it beats their imagination at this deviant attitude so celebrated with its attendant negative consequences.
It is now wholesomely accepted in Nigeria today to invite people to an occasion slated for 8am for instance and to expect their arrival for 12 noon or a 4pm event with guests arriving at 10pm. This celebrated “African time” is about to reversed and given a knockout off our cultural calendar.
Segun Runsewe, Nigeria’s culture barometer supervisor and administrator, told a gathering of the Nigerian culture community that time has come for Nigerians and Nigeria to be seen and accepted as a people and nation that respect time-keeping, particularly at this point when government desires a change in attitude in promoting and identifying the inherent benefits of our goods and services.
Runsewe, who was stunned at the very late appearance of invitees to the first-ever stakeholders’ meeting of emerging culture sector, repeatedly admonished the practitioners to live up to the billing of showing the way forward, if Nigeria’s culture must become the new oil sector.
“I am on the expressway,” he thundered, “and would not stop to look back or pick up those who would drag us back in our mission to use culture as a veritable tool to bring change in every area of our life, particularly in addressing the negative growth of cancer of late time-keeping.”
Runsewe’s change strategy is to begin with the Nigerian child whose character will be remoulded to accept that time is the essence of true and progressive living. To grow the initiative, he informed his august gathering that cultural studies would be given priority in schools and places of learning in Nigeria.
“We shall be catholic about this initiative; both teachers and school administrators will be fully involved to grow the new generation of Nigerians that will respect our culture and its huge value chain,” he said. Not done, the director-general of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) stressed that the culture community must be repositioned to drive the change on how Nigerian culture and its culinary wonders can rival the Chinese challenge, a development welcomed by practitioners, including the media support group.
Interestingly, NCAC flagship programmes such as African Arts and Crafts (AFAC) expo and National festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) will become the laboratory where practitioners will be given opportunities to learn and experience the true impact of our culture.
Though NCAC has launched and proposed 37 cultural wonders of Nigeria as key to unlock iconic cultural manifestations of each state, its drive to encourage the practitioners to initiate strategic and unique cultural models and products that can generate jobs and employment is indeed the way to go, particularly at this time when grass root development and empowerment must showcase some form progressive template.

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