THE IMPACT OF NIGERIAN NATIONAL THEATRE AS A VEHICLE FOR CULTURAL PROMOTION AND COMMERCIAL VENTURE.
Africa has variety of Arts, craft and Religion which had contributed to the popularity of its society. From the investigations made by archaeologists and anthropologists into the life of the people over the years, Art and religion had played major roles in the development of the continent in the past and present life of the people. The African masks which were used for religious and social purposes pioneered the European art. Picasso and other artists preferred it to artistic expression of the classical and Renaissance art. According to Smeets (1975) “our generation, in fact has only just discovered the magnificence of the so-called primitive cultures. In the Paris of the young Picasso and Breque, African masks and sculpture had the impact of thunder.” In Nigeria some early artifacts which were collected by K.C. Murray and some excavations which revealed the Nok, Igboukwu and Ife artifacts to mention but a few gave insight into the rich heritage of Art objects, religion and cultural practices which made the society a dynamic socio-cultural religious entity. The ancestors of the Nigerian ethnic groups bequeathed objects especially sculptural forms in wood, metal, ivory and terracotta. According to Eze (2008) “These materials were used by early sculptors using simple tools and hands to turn them into sculptural pieces.” Symbolism was the driving force which produced the art works that were used for utility, religious worship and the development of the ethnic groups. Art, religion and the development of Nigerian ethnic group is not separated from each other. They compliment each other and keep the traditional society going and alive. Anyachonkeye (2006) states: Our people are guided by their ethos, the things they value and revere. They are firm believers in their cultural heritage the things that hold and bind them together. The norm and moral ethics can not be extricated from their material and non-material culture-morals, religion, food habit, dialect, values system and others.
Many Nigerian traditional ethnic groups in effect practiced art and religion in order to communicate with their gods because of their belief in the human soul and spirit which are ever at work. Some of these gods were worshipped in shrines with art objects. This kept the societies intact and developed.