South Africa celebrates Africa Day

22 May 2015

Celebrate Africa Month by visiting the We Are Africa design and innovation exhibition at the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts (KZNSA), in Glenwood, Durban, which is on until 7 June.

Africa Day is held on 25 May each year across the continent to mark the founding of the Organisation of African Unity – now known as the African Union – in 1963. It is a celebration of the diversity of and a call to unity for the continent.

South Africa is celebrating Africa Day with a month-long celebration of what it means to be African. Africa Month sees a festival of ideas and cultural exchange with the aim of promoting and strengthening the creative economy, cultural diplomacy and social cohesion. The theme for Africa Month is: “We are Africa – opening the doors of learning and culture to promote peace and friendship from Cape to Cairo.”

“We believe our programme will contribute to the attainment of the African Union’s vision 2063, which strives for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena,” said Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Exhibition

As part of the festivities, his department, in partnership with Design Indaba, is presenting the We Are Africa themed exhibition. It brings together the work of 55 designers and innovators from 16 countries across the continent, including Senegal, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda and South Africa.

It provides a visual survey of emerging, established and unexpected talent in the fields of ceramics, fashion, jewellery, furniture, textiles, graphics, animation, architecture and industrial design. The work featured at the exhibition was selected and sourced by Design Indaba, through a call for entries put out to creative communities across the continent.

“It is exciting to see the level of craftsmanship and innovation that African creatives are producing right now. In celebration of Africa Month, we hope the exhibition will continue this trajectory, inspiring others to contribute to our continent’s creative future,” said Kim Seeliger, the Design Indaba expo manager.

Africa Month aims to increase appreciation and demand for arts and culture as well as goods and services, all in the hopes of stimulating competitive intra-Africa trade. Activities take place across the country and include music, literature, theatre, visual arts, film, fashion, food, seminars, exhibitions, lectures and panel discussions.

Anthem

Meanwhile, schools throughout the country will mark Africa Day by singing the AU anthem during assembly. The Department of Basic Education said a ministerial directive had been issued to all provincial education departments to instruct schools across the country to call special assemblies at 8am on 25 May.

The AU, which comprises 53 member states, aims to promote greater unity and solidarity between African countries as well as accelerate the political and socio- economic integration of Africa. It is also at the forefront of the drive for peace, security and stability on the continent.

Cultural congress

In Johannesburg, the fourth Pan-African Cultural Congress will start on Africa Day, running until 27 May, at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The theme is “Unity in cultural diversity for Africa’s development”. The congress is being held by the AU Commission in collaboration with South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture. It will be attended by cultural experts, policy makers, private sector and civil society organisations working in the arts and culture sector.

The objective of the congress is to take stock of the challenges and record good practices on harnessing cultural diversity to enhance development. Specific objectives include:

  • To facilitate the exchanges of ideas and experiences among arts and culture professionals, researchers, creators/producers of culture, decision/policy makers in the area of cultural diversity in Africa;
  • To organise a thematic exhibition on African shared values and the spirit of pan-Africanism to showcase Africa’s creative and cultural potential with a view to boosting sustainable development; and
  • To provide pointers for the development of the first 10-year implementation plan for Agenda 2063 as it particularly pertains to Aspiration 5 and other related focus areas and flagship projects.

SAinfo reporter