Art and culture as a key part of development

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4th Pan-African Cultural congress (pacc4) Article

The ACTION Support Centre was represented at the three day 4th Pan-African Cultural congress in Sandton. The purpose of the event was to create a platform for cultural experts and practitioners to dialogue and to make recommendations on policy issues pertaining to the culture and arts sector in Africa. The Africa Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the government of South Africa and the Department of Arts and Culture organized the congress. Held under the theme: “Unity in Cultural Diversity for Africa’s Development”, the congress was attended by participants from African Union Member States, AU Diplomatic Missions in South Africa, Pan-African Cultural Institutions, Civil society organizations, UN and International Organizations and the Diaspora.

The African Union Chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma highlighted that arts and culture was described as central to Agenda 2063, as cultural workers, curators and practitioners have a crucial role to play in the implementation of all aspirations of Agenda 2063, in particular Aspiration 05 which is: “An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics”. They were urged to popularize the Agenda 2063 by developing tools such as cinematic expressions on each of the 7 aspirations.

In relation to human rights the congress agreed that by acknowledging and promoting respect for cultural diversity within a human rights approach, the Member States could facilitate dialogue, prevent conflicts and protect the rights of marginalized groups thus creating optimal conditions for achieving development goals. The need to focus on human development, indigenous people and children whilst promoting cultural diversity was underscored.

Cultural diversity and cultural governance were encouraged, as there were calls to protect heritage sites in situations of conflict. A model culture policy for Africa was proposed, containing the elements of institutional structures and decision-making, arts policy domains and instruments. The meeting encouraged member states to develop databases and mapping of existing artistic trends, and to into participants from other countries to foster integration and tolerance between cultures. There was also need to put an end to the suppression of cultural expressions of one group by another.

There was a call for an intercultural and interreligious dialogue and linguistic diversity, to build a common identity, based on a review of immigration policies to promote intercultural dialogue, free trade and free movement of people. There was also a recommendation to view language as a depository and vehicle of cultural diversity and factor for Africa’s development and integration.  The need to speed up implementation and use of the Pan-African Lingua Franca (Kiswahili) was also underscored.

Follow up actions decided on were to convene a follow up meeting of the Pan-African Cultural Congress to develop an implementation plan of the recommendations of the Congress; ensure that the proceedings of the congress were adopted by the 2nd Specialized Technical Committee Meeting on Youth, Culture and Sport to be held in 2016 and the African Union Executive Council.