Chinelo Chikelu, Abuja
The Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Knut Eiliv Lein, has revealed why his home government failed to prioritize culture as part of its key areas of bilateral relations focus with Nigeria in 2021.
Ambassador Lein, who spoke in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, said the decision not to prioritize the cultural relations between Nigeria and Norway is as a result of the limitation of what is achievable in the sector.
The ambassador who is a music enthusiast with a keen interest in Nigerian music, said he had anticipated exploring Nigerian music and attending music concerts, adding that COVID-19 had limited what should have been achieved between both countries in the cultural sector bilaterally.
He, however, noted that the embassy was looking into ways to unite Norwegian and Nigerian musicians, as well as other artistes within the cultural purview.
“Ever since I learnt I was coming to Nigeria, I have been looking forward to diving into the culture, particularly, the music. For me, I cannot wait for COVID-19 to go away to be able to go to concerts and really get to learn more and enjoy more of this rich culture of music. Hopefully, we will be able to do some of that, but let’s see what the year brings,” he said.
Mr. Lein, in his first media briefing with journalists in the FCT, said the Norwegian government’s focus during his tenure would include strengthening of business relations, SDGs and regional stability cooperation with Nigeria.
Although, Nigerian artistes are in communication with their Norwegian counterparts, festivals and cultural exchange travels between the two countries for events such as the Children and Young Adult Theatre Festival (ASSITEJ Norway) and Ibsen Festival among others are very difficult to come by due to expensive air travels and tough visa regulations which limit relations between the artistes who lack cultural agencies to mediate their relations.
“I would love to dive into it, to learn more about it to help promote such exchange. For now, it is difficult to travel but absolutely, I hope next year, we will do much better,” said Lein.