The declaration was made by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed at the opening of the sixth edition of the Edinburgh International Cultural Summit in Edinburgh, Scotland.
He said that if the African continent had been left alone with its culture, tradition and religion, it would have developed better and at its own pace.
At an interview he granted to newsmen at the summit, the minister underscored the importance of culture and its industry to development, civilisation, economy, stability and security of nations.
A transcript of the interview was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday by Mr Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President (Media).
Adeyemi is attached to the Office of the Minister of Information and Culture.
“When we look back to what happened to us in Africa, we see that in trying to bring a new religion, they destroyed our cultures.
“In destroying our cultures, they did not only destroy our ways of life, but also the essence of our lives.
“Most of the destruction on the African continent today emanated from that action,’’ the minister was quoted as having said.
Mohammed also told newsmen that a play written by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, “Death and the King’s Horseman’’ captured the essence of the destruction of African cultures and traditions through colonial incursion.
“In the play, you would see that the British colonialists simply did not understand why the king’s horseman should die with the king and he was arrested.
“In arresting him, they thought they were protecting him not knowing that they were destroying the whole cultural and traditional ecosystem,’’ he said.
Alhaji Mohammed also noted that African countries’ medicines and healthcare systems were rooted in their cultures, but rather than the colonialists to understand them, they were frightened and destroyed their essence.
The minister stressed that the summit was apt because it centred on diversity and equality of cultures and peoples.
He said from submissions of participants at the event, the world had come to realise that peoples and their cultures might be diverse, but they must be treated equally.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the summit had “Culture and a Sustainable Future’’ as its theme.
It focused on the urgent need for the construction of an investment plan for the future.