By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Nigerian Folklore Society (NFS) has urged the Federal Government to include folklore and folktales in the curriculum of tertiary institutions in the country as a way of creating jobs and preserving the cultural heritage of the peoples of Nigeria.
The President of the Society, Dr. Bukar Usman, made the call in Abuja on Monday at the annual conference of the society, which had as its theme, “Resilience and Dynamism in Folklore in the 21st Century”.
Usman, who defined folklore as the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people, explained that it encompasses the traditions common to that culture.
According to him, the conference is focusing preservation and promotion of folklore in Nigeria.
“I am particularly concerned with how our children who now watch television with rapt attention to stories largely based on foreign culture could be redirected to a culture which they are or should be much more familiar with.
The president emphasised that its inclusion in the curriculum would enable the Nigerians to acquire skills to create folklore or folktales based on our local environment as against the trend of foreign cartoons in our modern media.
He emphasised that attention should be focused on the production of dramas, motion cartoons and animation to educate the children on our local culture aimed at character building as well as instilling in them diverse cultural heritage.
Usman, however, frown at the trend and presentation of foreign cartoons, animations among other tales like Nickelodeon, Tom and Jerry in the media that attracted the attention of the children for about 24 hours undermining other activities including food.
He emphasised that majority of these cartoons portray western or foreign culture at the detriment of the indigenous ones blaming these on lack of manpower development or skills in our society to be able to produce such dramas.
He said: “Our emphasises at the conference is folklore and social media. How we can present our folklore in our modern media.
“Media games like Tom and Jerry, Nickelodeon and other cartoons which we find our children preoccupied with exclusion of anything else undermining their studies, these are tales of foreign culture yet we have stories locally which can be reflected in the modern media.
“If we can get our children involved in it, it will not only preserve our culture but it will also create a lot of jobs all over the world.
He further noted that folklore and folktales among others could be reflected on social media popularly known as “media games”.
“We are not only advocating for folklore inclusion in our curriculum but also the profession and professionalism which embody the skills for the professionals in the field to be able to create motion cartoons, animations among others.
“First and foremost, you must acquire the skills and in order to achieve these our tertiary institutions must include it in their curriculum such as engineering profession among others.
“Through this measure as soon as they finished their programmes they can create films or cartoons carrying the background of our culture.
“It is time for the National University Commission (NUC) and our tertiary institutions to give serious and urgent attention to developing curricular for study to produce the required professionals who will get Nigeria to realise those potentials,” he noted.
Usman quoted the Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed as saying in November at the French and Japanese Embassy Animated Film Festival: “with the inclusion of Nigerian content in the animation film festival it would create adequate employment.
“It will as well contribute to the growth and development of the nation’s economy. Animation has great role to play in shaping the minds of our children and instilling in them our diverse cultural heritage.”