The African Union (AU) says it is placing cultural values at the center of its upcoming Assembly of Heads of State and Government, in the announcement of a theme that will continue throughout the year – a a year both of challenges related to the pandemic and its economic fallout, but also of opportunity as the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) begins to unite the countries of the continent.
The AU said the theme “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers to Build the Africa We Want” celebrates the foundation of its unity through the diversity of cultural expressions in communities across Africa, citing the observation by AU chief Moussa Faki Mahamat that “culture is the main marker of identity and through it we know who we really are.
Moral values are at the heart of Africa’s heritage and serve as a guide for the future, the AU explained.
“African culture is expressed in its arts and crafts, its folklore and religion, its clothes, its cuisine, its music and its languages”, The AU announcement said. “Cultural expressions are abundant in Africa, with great cultural diversity not only in different countries, but also within a single country. “
One aspect of the theme aligns with the preservation of African goods, including art and artefacts. Recent years have seen an increase in long-delayed African requests for the return of valuable coins taken to Europe during colonial times, with France and other countries agreeing to return items to places like Egypt or Benin.
The AU plenary meeting will be held on February 6-7, with the AU Executive Council scheduled to start its meetings next Wednesday.
Image: Quai Branly Museum – Jacques Chirac file