Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

National Consciousness and Multiculturalism in Ododo's Dramaturgy

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

National Consciousness and Multiculturalism in Ododo's Dramaturgy

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Introduction

One of the most essential feelings and philosophies that set a country in constant motion towards freedom and progress is national consciousness. National consciousness embodies good governance, accountability, progressive leadership and followership. It is sense of pride and identity displayed by a nation's citizenry particularly its political leaders, its literary statesmen and its religious leaders. National consciousness is displayed in sports, in scholarship and in many other sectors of the human society. It manifests in form of movements founded by patriotic group of people, social and literary critics to combat oppressive governments, retrogressive forces, philosophies, policies and human conducts that bring down the progress and dignity of a country.

National consciousness points to awareness of nationhood. Frantz fanon defined national consciousness as 'the all-embracing crystallization of the innermost hopes of the whole people' (119). Allen (1994) notes that consciousness is the state of being conscious, that is, the physical and mental state of being awake and fully aware of one's environment, thoughts and feelings (288). National consciousness implies a state of being that is spiritually, physically and mentally conscious of one's environment and the necessary feeling of bonding that goes with such awareness. To be nationally conscious is to identify with the spirit and aspirations of the nation as one soul in possession of one destiny and one identity (Geoffrey O. Ozumba 149).

We now turn to the concept of Multiculturalism, a concept which point to ethnic, cultural, linguistic and historical pluralism of a given society. In Towards a definition of Multiculturalism by Caleb Rosado the point is made that:

Multiculturalism is a system of beliefs and behaviors that recognizes and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or society, acknowledges and values their socio-cultural differences, and encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context which empowers all within the organization or society(3).

Rosado further argues that Multiculturalism also entails acknowledging the validity of the cultural expressions and contributions of the various groups. This is not to imply that all cultural contributions are of equal value and social worth, or that all should be tolerated. Some cultural practices are better than others for the overall betterment of society (4). The point has further been expressed that:

Multiculturalism is simply a national life in which different cultures drawn from ethnic nations that are original to a nation exist. Multiculturalism expresses ethnic diversity, accommodation and tolerance. It is folk concept in Nigeria which acknowledges ethnic pluralism and the need for collective progress. Multiculturalism as a term has its historical roots. "Multiculturalism" came into wide public use in the West during the early 1980s in the context of public school curriculum reform. Specifically, proponents argued that the content of classes in history, literature, social studies, and other areas reflected what came to be called a "Eurocentric" and male bias. Few if any women or people of colour, or people from outside the Western European tradition, appeared prominently in the curriculums of schools and colleges in the United States. This material absence was also interpreted as a value judgment that reinforced unhealthy sexist, ethnocentric and even racist attitudes (Gregory Jay 1).

Multiculturalism has its own demerits, it promotes acculturation, assimilation and ethnocentrism which violates human rights an even attempt to murder historical truth. Hence in Nigeria what is operational in the guise of multiculturalism is critical multiculturalism. It preserves constitutionally and through recognition distinct ethnic groups with no vision to amalgamate them as one culture. It allows different cultures to exist side by side in a nation. …

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