Artwatch Africa interviewed Mamou Daffé, the regional representative of Arterial Network in West Africa, during one of the recent Artwatch Africa training sessions in Bamako, Mali. This pioneer of Malian cultural entrepreneurship shared his insights on the state of cultural and artistic rights in Africa and the advance of freedom of expression in Mali.
Can you tell us about the Artwatch Africa project?
Creative and artistic freedom of expression is an important issue in Africa. Indeed, in Mali, freedom of [removed]in particular that of artists) is respected according to Article 8 of our Constitution. Unfortunately, in other countries they still experience pressures and oppression from the authorities and society.
Moreover, at Arterial Network, Artwatch Africa is a project we are particularly fond of. We launched the project more than a year ago and we are happy that it is going ahead very well.
What can Artwatch Africa contribute to the cultural and artistic sector in Africa?
I think that as a result of these national training courses which have begun, artists will be better equipped to defend their rights. But, more importantly, they will have better knowledge of their rights, as people, citizens and artists. It is important to know the Conventions and International Treaties, but also the Constitution. I think that during these training sessions, actors in the cultural and artistic spheres have come to realise this.
What advances have been made in Mali in terms of artists’ rights?
During the last two years, numerous efforts have been made. First of all, in the field of royalties. The main effort, however, has been the establishment of the artist’s status, which is currently at the level of Secretary General to the Presidency.
Where are the gaps in the cultural and artistic sectors in Mali?
One of the biggest problems in Mali is lack of cohesion amongst artists. There is an abundance of talent but, unfortunately we are unable to speak with one voice.
So artists must learn how to be structured. It is true that we have FEDAMA, but it is important that, at their level, artists should become professionalised and have viable structures.
What are your expectations from Artwatch Africa?
I think it has started well and that there is still a long way ahead. But we must not relax our efforts. We must continue to communicate and to train, but also to be more persuasive towards the relevant parties and lastly, we must create national and regional cohesion, because together, we are stronger. This is also one of the reasons that Arterial Network exists.
NOTE: The Artwatch Africa training session was held in Bamako from 14 to 16 September with 21 people present.