World day for African and Afro-Descendant Culture 2022: Moving Culture from the Sphere of Petitions of Principles to a Local Practice and Policy through the Action of Cities and Local Authorities

The umbrella organization of African local governments, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), celebrated on 24 January 2022 the World Day for African and Afro-descendant Culture. To that end, an online workshop was organized around the theme chosen by UNESCO: “Culture, an element of expression of African identity”.

The panel discussion was composed of : Ms. Asmaa Rhlalou, President of the City Council of Rabat, Mr. Abdelilah AFIFI, Secretary General of the Moroccan Ministry of Culture Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. John Ayité Dossavi, President of the African Network of Cultural Promoters and Entrepreneurs (RAPEC), Mr. Alain Bidjeck, Director of the Movement Of Creative Africa (MOCA), Forum of African Cultures and Diasporas in France, Mr. Raoul Rugamba, CEO of Africa in Colors, Fields of Cultural, Creative and Digital Industries in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region, Mr. Monceyf Fadili, Essayist, author of (Rabat, un printemps confiné), His Majesty Ness Essombe, Secretary General of the Union of Traditional Authorities of Africa and Mr. Mustapha Moufid, Director of the Department of Culture, Migration, Peace and Security of UCLG Africa.

The various speeches highlighted four issues on which the participants were invited to debate.

1) Africa’s contribution to universal culture. Africa has a very significant cultural depth but is the most missing from the World Heritage register.

2) The loss of African cultural identity, materialized by the ignorance of young people who are unaware of their origins and traditions.

3) The under exploitation of the creative and cultural industries, which is a blind spot of development in African countries, yet these creative, cultural and digital industries are extremely important to economic development.

4) The Foundation of relations between African countries first on the recognition of the common cultural heritage to be revived through South-South cooperation around culture. The goal is for culture to contribute in raising awareness about what Africa brings to the world.

“Cultural heritage is a fundamental lever of human life that participates not only in the promotion of peace, balance, continuity and harmony of human societies, but it is above all a strategic opportunity for the promotion of a sustained, shared and sustainable economic growth, as indicated in the Sustainable Development Goal No. 8” Ms. Asmaa Rhlalou, Mayor of Rabat

The exchanges with the participants led to rich contributions and perspectives. The following recommendations were made for African local authorities:

– Integrate culture as a component of economic development: this requires the promotion and training in new professions in the field of culture;

– Identify and classify cultural sites first at the national level, then at the African level and finally at the universal level. These sites are a tangible and intangible heritage, and on this point there must be an effort on the part of public policies, but also an effort on the part of local authorities. This must be done from the local to the national level;

– Create through UCLG Africa, an African platform of culture;

– Ensure a Production of cultural works between each session of celebration of the World Day for African and Afro-descendant Culture in order to have a common cultural fund to unearth and promote talents every year;

– Rely on African diasporas;

– Develop the African culinary art.

In his concluding message, the Secretary General of UCLG Africa reiterated the willingness of cities, local authorities and their national associations to take up the challenge and make the culture in African daily life shine.  “We want this project to be carried out by local governments, because most of the creators live in local communities and until now, local governments have not been very attentive to young creators, to culture.  We want to move culture from the sphere of petitions of principles, of national or international injunctions to become a practice and a local policy, thanks to the action of local authorities.  In all of the Africities summits, we have a Culture Day and a Diaspora Day. We also have a Digital Day. For this 9th edition of the Africities Summit scheduled for May 17 to 21, 2022 in Kisumu, Kenya, I invite us to continue these exchanges in the framework of the Culture Day. Because this work that is beginning must not stop until Africans identify with their culture and the world recognizes the contribution of African culture to the culture of the world “, pleaded Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi.

The proposals from this workshop will also be forwarded to the current Chairperson of the African Union, His Excellency Félix Tshisekedi.

As a reminder, the World Day for African and Afro-descendant Culture was proclaimed in November 2019 by UNESCO at the 40th session of its General Conference.  It is celebrated every 24th of January, which coincides with the date of the adoption on 24 January 2006 of the Charter for the Cultural Renaissance of Africa by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. This celebration is the result of efforts led by the African Network of Cultural Promoters and Entrepreneurs (RAPEC) with the support of UCLG Africa.

For more information, please contact:

Gaëlle Yomi: Tel: + 212 610 56 71 45