Wole Soyinka and Femi Kuti have advised the federal government not to consider history as just an academic exercise because an absence of historical knowledge can truncate growth.
The author and musician both made these remarks on Wednesday while speaking at the first edition of UBA’s Africa Conversations, a symposium organised by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, as part of activities to mark Africa Day.
Djibril Tamsir Niane, Guinean historian; Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana; and Tony Elumelu, group chairman of UBA, were also on the panel.
The theme of the panel session was ‘Africa’s History Redefined, Our Past, the Path to the Future’.
Opening the conversation, Elumelu said: “UBA understands the past- that Africa as a continent has always been united by the struggle for identity. UBA is a symbol for the development of Africa, for the economic empowerment of our people, the Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the big corporations.
“Thus, identifying with Africa and indeed Africa Day is synonymous with who we are as a bank. It presents us the opportunity to remind ourselves, the world and indeed Africa that we owe ourselves the duty of making Africa the continent of our dreams.
“Our past provides a veritable tool to fashioning the continent’s development, renaissance and economic growth.”
Commending UBA’s initiative for opening up discussions on these pressing topics, Soyinka lamented the growing erosion of history from the curriculum in African schools, adding that the lack of knowledge of our past makes children’s growth on the continent truncated.
“How can we cope with the modern phenomenon if we do not know the past? We should never forget the importance of history as it is not just an academic exercise,” he enthused.
On his part, Femi Kuti said: “Our children need to learn this history so that they can come up and build the continent. We need everyone – both boys and girls to work towards this vision.”
According to the bank, the UBA Conversations aims at aggregating discussions necessary for the growth and development of the continent.