ARTS: Africa Union’s fifth language to spur continental development

On the 23rd of August, in Ethiopia, the Citizen’s Diaspora Directorate (CIDO) of the African Union Commission welcomed ASIKO International Arts School. The CIDO team, which was led by the Acting Director – Mr Ahmed El-Bashir, welcomed the ASIKO team under the leadership of the founder of ASIKO, Ms. Bisi Silva. Also received by CIDO was the CEO of DYMDC Creative Consultancy and Liaison Officer to the African Diaspora Forum, Dr. Desta Meghoo. The purpose of this meeting was largely to come up with innovative strategies and pathways by which artists in Africa and the Africa UNION (AU) can positively influence the economic transition Africa is currently realizing through CIDO’s facilitation.

At the core of the meeting, The department’s director for CIDO affirmed and tasked the audience – which was made up of artists selected from twelve countries in Africa, to develop effective roadmap to which they can use their individual artistic works to assist in the communication of key information in the sectors of health, economy and education, among others, regarding the African continent.  Also, the representatives at the meeting were urged to put re-strategize and rebrand their respective works into Civil Society Organizations (legally registered) to enhance easier inclusion, partnership, and collaboration with activities and plans of CIDO and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC). More so, heeding to that advise will assist them in following up with the policies that involves the sector of arts at the AU level and also to help them to access grants and funding opportunities.

The representatives from across the continent received much information on the mission and visions of CIDO and other major activities including the revival of Encyclopedia Africana. The Encyclopedia had been revived with the target to give much knowledge about the history, cultures, and social institutions of African people and people of African descent. CIDO has termed African arts, as “the Africa Union’s fifth language”, thus acknowledging the power of the sector as a strong medium capable of connoting change and driving development in Africa.

Also at the meeting, there was a presentation of the Africa Union’s major development agenda – the Agenda 2063. The presentation focused on aspirations 2,5, and 6 which are briefly – free movement within the continent, a culturally strong Africa with common ethics, and economic development. It obvious that the Arts sector has so much role to play in ‘aspiration 2 – culturally strong continent’. In view, the audience of artists were inspired to engage with their local governments in the realization of aspiration 5 of Agenda 2063 using their artistic work. Additionally, the audience were also keen to learn about the current structures put in place by the AU to assist them in their work towards the achievement of some of the goals of the AU. The value chain within the sector across countries was also another issue that spurred during the meeting. According to CIDO, this meeting is a start point for another workshop they will organizing with  DYMDC and Diaspora African Forum scheduled for September.

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