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Letters, Opinion

Cultural Diversity: A tool For Universal Dialogue

Posted: May 22, 2015 at 2:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Sexual, racial, gender violence and other forms of discrimination and violence in a culture cannot be eliminated without changing (modifying) culture. – Charlotte Bunch

Our universe is embroiled with conflicts, crises and disputes of varying degrees and sizes, and our diverse cultures, ethnicities and religious beliefs and practices can be modified for creating sustainable cities and urbanization, reducing poverty, achieving quality education, fostering gender equality, sustaining environment and climate change, and promoting inclusion and reconciliation.

In developing countries and transitioning economies in particular, stakeholders often work with over-stretched and insufficient infrastructures under stringent conditions.Culture is usually acquired through enculturation – a process through which an older generation induces and compels a younger generation to reproduce an established lifestyle. Thus, culture is embedded in every person’s way of life. Ecological techniques are the different ways that people live around the world as distinct adaptations to the variety of environments in which they live. And ecological factors may lead to cultural change such as the development of technological means for harnessing the environment.

Culture and development is greatly beneficial in responding to the reality of change. According to Featherstone, ‘culture is now beyond the social and has become released from its traditional determinants in economic life, social class, gender, ethnicity and religion’. Culture has evolved into something altogether more influential. Of recent, development-based programs occur at grass-roots level and with direct negotiations with those in need. Money or wealth is the easiest and surest indicator of how developed a community is, and redefining development can spur people to appreciate other aspects of community without constantly referring back to how successful that community has integrated itself into capitalism. As a result, culture is an interesting tool to use in such developmental assessment.

In some cultures, independence and infants are highly valued, while in other cultures interdependence is more of the norm. Cultural influence affects infants’ development in several ways like expressing emotions, mode of greeting, thoughts on dependence and independence, and use of language.

Language which is the foundation of any culture must be preserved, as well as culture, which is the training and development of mind, manners, tastes and all other products of human works and thought processes. Preserving local culture by stunting development can deny communities their integration into trending global capitalism which will assist in their economic development.

Stakeholders are therefore urged to prioritize for the realization of human dignity for all, reduction of poverty, gaining quality education, fostering gender equality and positioning of culture and cultural interventions as potent and effective tools and enablers of just and sustainable development in reinforcing universal human rights and values.

In 2001, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, and in December 2002, United Nations General Assembly declared May 21 as World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

We are therefore implored and encouraged to celebrate this auspicious day by; Inviting people from a different culture to share our customs; Reading a book from another religion than our own; Inviting people in our neighborhood from another culture to share a meal with us and exchange views on life; Spreading our own culture around the world via social media; Exploring music of a different tribe and religion; Visiting a place of worship different than ours and participating in the celebration; Visiting an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures. And so on.

This day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together better and happier.


• Anthony Ajegwu Lagos