NOT even the paucity of fund that the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) has had to grapple with in recent time as well as the Hurricane Sandy that ravaged certain part of the United States of America few days before the hosting of the international conference (October 29 to November 1, 2012) could dissolve the will to go ahead with the yearly programme. Director General/CEO of CBAAC, Prof. Tunde Babawale declared in this brief online chat that the outcome of the conference justified the resources expended on it.
WITH the kind of frustration encountered in the quest for fund for the conference and natural disaster of Hurricane Sandy in the US, how did CBAAC manage to scale through the organisation of the conference?
The determination to hold the Conference in the face of insufficient funding that has nearly castrated the Centre, was borne out of our desire to protect Nigeria and this administration’s image and to demonstrate our commitment to the propagation of African culture and the strengthening of the relationship between the African continent and the Diaspora.
This spirit energised us into forging ahead even in the face of threats from Hurricane Sandy.
The timing of the conference appeared strategic — less than a week before the US Election, ditto the theme: Africa and Diaspora in the new Millennium... were these mere coincidence or deliberate?
It is an annual Conference that usually takes place at this time of the year. We knew that this year’s edition will coincide with the elections and we felt that would be a good opportunity to highlight the problems facing Africa and its Diaspora.
With the kind of preparation that went into the organisation of the conference would you say the outcome is justified?
This year’s Conference has been very successful.
For CBAAC, what are the major lessons for future programmes?
The lessons learnt include the need for early preparation and the imperative of linking up with professional associations across universities in Europe, America, Africa and the Caribbean to enhance greater participation and attract more scholars.
CBAAC has had series of international conferences in the last couple of years, will you assess the implementation of some of the resolutions that emerged from these conferences against the backdrop of critics saying enough of talk and talk but implementation?
A number of recommendations from previous conferences have been and are still being implemented. The outcomes include the formation of SICADIA at the instance of CBAAC, the recent granting of OBSERVER status to CBAAC by the AU as it considers it for adoption as a Pan-African Cultural Institution; the facilitation of the signing of an MOU between Nigeria and Brazil in 2010; CBAAC’s contribution to the re-writing of Africa and African Diaspora history, opening of doors to African scholars on best practices in research and scholarship, and the possibility of networking with other scholars outside of Africa. It has clearly enabled CBAAC to showcase African culture while acting as the arrow-head of cultural diplomacy for Nigeria. Interestingly, both Brazil and the University of Missouri have urged the Centre to encourage Nigerian Universities to explore opportunities for partnerships in the US and Brazil.
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