The slogan “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Catalysts for Building Africa We Want” was the theme chosen this year to celebrate Africa Day that coincides with the establishment of the Organization of the African Unity on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the predecessor of the African Union.
Today is an opportunity for every country in the continent to organize events aimed at promoting rapprochement between African peoples. It is a deeply rooted tradition that highlights the entire African continent’s struggle for liberation, development and economic progress.
Africa is considered the cradle of humanity for a large number of peoples, languages, religions and traditions, which at the same time cannot obscure the sad records kept by the continent, as the per capita GDP is the lowest in the world and the current development does not seem to be moving in the right direction despite the extraordinary natural resources that abound in Africa.
The indebtedness of African countries is still very heavy due to the lack of harmonious economic development in addition to the shortage of drinking water, which is a source of concern as its consequences for the health of the population are great, and in the meantime, AIDS causes serious repercussions, especially since the African continent has the highest rate of HIV infections in the world.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the celebration of Africa Day will be held, as well as the entry into force of the African Cultural Renaissance Charter through remote communication technology. On this occasion, the Secretary-General of the United Nations issued a letter reaffirming his “full solidarity with peoples and governments of Africa in the fight against Covid-19”, calling for “respect for democratic practices”, in light of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, which would cause postponement of election dates in several countries.
He said, “On this African Day, the focus is on arts, culture and heritage, as tools for building the Africa we want. The rich and diverse cultural and natural heritage of Africa is important for sustainable development, poverty reduction, peace-keeping and peacebuilding, as a solid basis for comprehensive economic progress as the continent strives to face challenges facing the economy due to the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Coronavirus has caused a global recession, exposed vulnerabilities and inequalities, and was a reason to jeopardize hard-won development gains in Africa and elsewhere.
He explained that the pandemic “highlighted conflict factors, increased inequality, and revealed the fragility of governance in many countries, especially with regard to the provision of basic services such as health care, education, electricity, water and sanitation. The crises have also been exacerbated by the climate crisis, which disproportionately affects developing countries “.
To stop the pandemic, support economic recovery and achieve sustainable development goals, Secretary-General of the United Nations adds, “We need to ensure fair and comprehensive access to vaccines against Coronavirus,” explaining at the same time that there is currently a profound imbalance in the distribution of vaccines between countries, according to the latest figures, as African countries have only received 2 percent of vaccines.
For his part, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, highlighted African culture and thought as a fundamental heritage in the search for “building a solid African consensus.”
In a communiqué published on the AU website, on the occasion of African Day, Faki Mahamat explained that “Africa has always marginalized the role of culture in strengthening and shaping nations,” affirming his intention, during his tenure, to “correct this trend” and pay more attention than he did in the past to African culture and thought.
“I indicated that I will appeal to academics and sociologists from all cultural fields to make their contribution to building a strong and applicable African consensus,” he said, stressing that “this is the message that the African Union would like to convey through the theme of 2021 dedicated to arts, culture and heritage as levers for building the Africa we want.”
He pointed out that this year’s slogan was symbolically merged with Africa Day to start implementing the Charter for the African Cultural Renaissance adopted in 2006 in Khartoum (Sudan), and one of the goals of this charter is to enhance the role of culture in promoting peace and good governance, as the African Union recognizes the role played by arts, films, audiovisual expression and other creative industries in the process of African integration as a factor of peace, understanding and conflict prevention.