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May 25 2016

Africa Day 2016

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25th May is widely celebrated as Africa Day, and in some countries a string of festivities run across the whole month of May.

It is a moment to consider Africa as a whole continent, not just a fragmented scattering of peoples, languages and geographies, but a moment to consider the enormous challenge of building unity between the diverse societies in which we live. It is an opportunity to consider how important arts and culture is to our societies, the value they bring in terms of social cohesion, and just as important, in terms of educative and awareness-raising activities, and in precipitating necessary change.

There are many positive steps which demonstrate the central role of arts and culture for growth and development in Africa, evidenced in the conscious shaping of cultural and creative industries in some countries. Culture is an essential element for the success of Agenda 2063, the African Union’s vision document for the continent. Aspiration Five envisions an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics, and that Pan-Africanism and the common history, destiny, identity, heritage, respect for religious diversity and consciousness of African people’s and her diaspora’s will be entrenched. However, these goals cannot be achieved without fulfilling Aspiration Three, which envisions an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.

Celebration of Africa’s rich cultural life and heritage must therefore go hand in hand with dedicated efforts to make Africa a prosperous continent based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. (Aspiration 1); a continent where development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth (Aspiration 6); a continent where cultural and creative industries offer good prospects for development; a continent with a dynamic youth superior to 50% of the population that is a major asset for the development and that raises real hope for the future of our continent.

There is much work to be done, to bring the potential of Africa to full fruition, so that we can celebrate Africa, not just today, but every day.

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