African culture conference is gaining momentum

BY TENDAI SAUTA / WINSTONE ANTONIO
NATIONAL Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) Executive Director Raphael Chikukwa said yesterday that this year’s edition of the International Conference of African Cultures (ICAC) 2021 could make the country a pan-African hub for critical discussions on the continent.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to officially open the conference which will be in hybrid format and will take place November 23-25 ​​at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Chikukwa said the conference, which is in its third edition, will bring together African voices on United Nations cultural declarations in accordance with Vision 2030, in accordance with national sovereignties and world laws.

“In accordance with NDS 1 [National Development Strategy 1] and the government’s mantra regarding the re-engagement program, we think it’s important to host another ICAC and not to have a one-time event. Thanks to the ICAC, Zimbabwe is going to be a pan-African hub for critical discussions for the Africa We Want, ”he said.

Chikukwa said Africa has been deprived of its heritage financially, academically and artistically.

“It is in the gallery’s reflection that there is a need to create this platform on African soil. This debate should not remain in the West because it is about our heritage which includes archives, human remains and objects ”, he declared.

“We shouldn’t pretend, as practitioners of culture, that it’s business as usual, the point we’re here to stress is that we have to face this issue of repatriation and restitution from our own point of view. seen. The question of our human remains, artefacts and archives is no laughing matter, and we must ask ourselves why they want to conserve our heritage.

Chikukwa said he hoped the conference would provide an opportunity to produce a position paper that could contribute to the African Union repatriation workshop and the continent’s aspirations.

“As the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe as a whole, we believe that the need to celebrate Africa in Africa is long overdue. The time has come and our voices count when it comes to heritage, human remains and archives, ”he said.

“The idea that your own inheritance benefits others is unfair and needs to be corrected. We hope that having our legacy will see the need to heal the colonial scars that colonized peoples have and continue to suffer from. “

Chikukwa said the conference will be held at the same time as an exhibition on certain objects and artefacts that need to be repatriated.

Speaking at the same event, Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation director Biggie Samwanda said the focus of discussions at the conference would also be in line with NDS1 and inclusiveness. .

“Zimbabwe takes the government’s mantra of engagement and re-engagement seriously. As a ministry, we are also working to make the ICAC a success. The conference will also address the important aspects surrounding the intangible phenomenon of cultures and tangible objects, ”he said.

NGZ board member Solomon Guramatunhu said the conference was of extreme importance as it reinforced cultural values ​​and esteem.

“I think we are privileged to be alive at this point where we discuss and share issues relating to the restitution and repatriation of artefacts, human remains, objects and archives from a point of view. African view, ”he said.

“Colonial mentalities and oppressive synergies as presented to the British Parliament by Lord Macaulay should be abandoned and abolished. “

Meanwhile, the government said preparations for the conference were at an advanced stage.

“As presented by the Minister of Youth, Sports, the Arts and Recreation, the Honorable Dr Kirsty Coventry, the nation is informed that preparations for the organization of the conference are at an advanced stage of completion,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told post-Cabinet media. briefing on
Tuesday.

The conference, which will be broadcast live on all social media platforms, will be held under the theme Africa Speaks: dealing with the restitution and repatriation of artefacts, human remains, objects and archives from African countries, while the exhibitions will take place under the theme Looking Back and Looking to the Future: Celebrating Africa in Africa.

The conference will bring together 34 delegates from Zimbabwe and the African continent.

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