20th Edition of Fez Cultural Forum

The Euro-African Foundation (FO.R.C.E in its French acronym) held, on Saturday 18 April 2015, the 20th edition of Fez Cultural Forum, in the Moroccan city of Fez, under the theme “The Cultural Identity of Africa: Unity in Diversity”.

This edition is in line with the framework of the support of the national strategy lead by the leadership of His Majesty the King Mohamed VI and had objective to value the African culture through the implication of different communities from Africa settling in the city of Fez.

UCLG Africa Secretary General, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, represented by Mr. Lionel NZAMBA- NZAMBA, was invited to the forum among other personalities, namely Mr. Hassan SKOURI, Chief of staff within the Land Management Ministry, Mr. Driss Faceh, President of the Regional Council of Tourism of Fez city, Mrs. Nouzha Bouchareb, President of Connectingroup International, Mr. Amadou Illo, President of the Tahoua region in Niger, Leila Hila, a university researcher and writer. Four big moments highlighted the forum: the opening, the speakers’ interventions & debates, the artistic exposition of African communities and finally the artistic and cultural soirée.

In the opening, the forum director, Mrs. Zhor Cherkani, thanked the different diplomatic delegations and guests for their presence. After a short presentation of the program and the speakers, the director recalled that the main ambition of the forum is to contribute to the cultural project of the city of Fez. In his welcoming allocution, the president of FO.R.C.E, Mr. Abdesselam Idrissi Erkik, expressed his joy to see Africa gathered in Fez to celebrate its diversity. He evoked the diversity and complementarity of the cultures of Africa at the origins of human progress and he stressed the role of education in the transmission of African values.

Mr. Hassan Skouri, congratulated the president of the foundation for opening Sup’ Management and the Foundation for African Environment. He also saluted the participation of UCLG Africa in the forum recalling the nice memories he kept from Rabat 2013, an event organized by UCLG and UCLG Africa.

The President of Connectingroup International invited all actors in Africa to think more about innovative solutions in order to implement and develop the cross-cultural dialogue for a sustainable development. She also called upon African women to play their role in the transmission of culture while strengthening their leadership. The signing of a partnership convention between FO.R.C.E and Connectingroup International closed this first part of the forum.

The second part of the program was dedicated to interventions around the theme of the forum “The Cultural Identity of Africa: Unity in Diversity”.

In his intervention, Mr. Driss Faceh, President of the Regional Council of Tourism, paid tribute to the organizers before presenting the big lines of the regional plan for Fez touristic development. He believes that this kind of events contribute in the repositioning of the city in order to make it a touristic destination rather than its actual perception as tourists stop.

Speaking on behalf of UCLG Africa Secretary General, Mr. Lionel Nzamba- Nzamba started his intervention by presenting the organization’s condolences to the families and the Moroccan Government after the tragic accident in the city of Tan-Tan, taking away the lives of 35 people. The important part of his speech then concerned the place that culture occupies in development policies and strategies within African cities. He insisted that the integration of the cultural factor as a fundamental element in sustainable development is relatively recent and this highlighted the validity of considering the cultural problematic in the perspective of the African cities sustainable development.

Recalling the principal disruptions that African cities witnessed, namely colonization, globalization and urbanization, he raised the necessity for the public local and national authorities to take into account the new urban cultures strongly influenced by the western culture. In the end, Mr. Lionel Nzamba- Nzamba announced to the audience that UCLG Africa is ready to take the initiative of promoting the choice, each two years, of an African Culture Capital, under the hospices of the UNESCO in order to reinforce the idea of culture as an element of cities development in Africa.

Mr. Amadou Illo, President of Tahoua Region, Niger, reminded that the cultural identity of Africa is not homogeneous but relies on typical African elements: an oral civilization, polygamy, circumcision, enthronization of chefs… and each of the cultural identities of Africa are principally formed from historical, linguistic and psychological factors.

Mrs. Leila Hila, academic researcher, writer and Secretary General of Connectingroup International, has focused in its intervention on the link between culture, sustainable development and gender issues. She explicitly shown the impossibility of disassociating the role of women, education and diffusion of culture within African societies.

The artistic exposition and the cultural soirée constituted the festive moments of the forum. In fact, the exhibitors demonstrated the extent of the African culture Diversity through exhibiting artistic products, culinary, clothing and artisanal of different African communities. The evening was a mix of fashion shows, dances, sketches of the 15 communities represented.

For more details about the event, you can read here the report in French.