3. THE PLACE OF THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES IN REFORMING THE SOCIETY: THE NIGERIAN RESTRUCTURING QUESTION
Ikenna Ukpabi Unya, Ph. D – History Unit, School of General Studies
Michael Okpara University of Agriculture,
Umudike Umuahia, Abia State.
Onyekachi Eni, Ph. D – Dept. of Languages, Linguistics, Literary Studies and Theatre Arts
Alex Ekwueme University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi State.
The role of the arts and humanities in reforming the society is enormous. The writings and activities of the great thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Lock, and Jean Jacques Rousseauetc were what freed Europe from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, with strong emphasis on human rights. The ancient Greek city states bequeathed an enduring civilization to mankind due to their philosophical thinking and engagements. During the period of Plato, the Athenian Greek city was in serious decline both in learning and moral ethics. Young Plato, who had wanted to participate in public affairs, became disillusioned with politics and engaged himself more in influencing political affairs through political education. Thus, so many societies were transformed through his teachings and postulations in the humanities. Similarly, Africa was saved from the shackles of colonialism through the activities of great African leaders who were exposed to liberal arts and the reforming spirit of humanities. However, in recent times, there seems to be a decline in the importance and role of the arts and humanities in reshaping the society. The Nigerian nation is in serious decline both in governance and in the role arts and humanities scholars play. There are serious agitations and separatist movements against the Nigerian government which makes the call for restructuring the polity more appealing. Yet, the voices of humanities scholars are low and their writings non-existing. The aim of this study is to investigate and evaluate the role the arts and humanities scholars are supposed to play in reforming our society. The study used Plato’s “The Republic” as a framework in reminding the humanities scholars of their major role in reshaping the society through their teachings and advocacy. The findings of the study reveal that most arts and humanities scholars are no longer interested in being social critics either in advocacy or writing. The study, thus, concludes by recommending, among other things, that humanities scholars should forcefully engage themselves in urgent national dialogue such as the restructuring question.
Keywords: Arts, Humanities, Reforming, Society, Restructuring, Nigeria