Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 10, June 2009
Algeria to host 2nd Pan-African Cultural Festival

One of the best kept secrets on the African continent this year is the 2nd Pan-African Cultural Festival of Algiers, taking place in the north African country 40 years after it hosted the first one.

The culture festival, to be held from 5-20 July 2009, is an official function of the African Union, authorized at the highest level, by Heads of State and Government, and is expected to adopt a Pan-African cultural charter.

The festival, with the theme of The African Renaissance, will showcase a wide spectrum of African cultural heritage from from all parts of the continent: performing arts such as music, dance and theatre; literature ad books; film, photography, painting, sculpture, fashion, and other visual arts and crafts.

The Algerian government has invited, and is supporting the participation of, artists from various African countries, including many in southern Africa, to participate.

The culture minister, Mrs Khalida Toumi, says the festival offers new opportunities for Africa to show the diversity of its people and its creativity in all cultural and artistic fields.

Her ministry has launched in internet site dedicated to the 2nd Pan-African Cultural Festival that covers a wide range of related topics and can be accessed at

The festival is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people to Algiers to celebrate Africa’s artistic renaissance, following the adoption of the Charter of Cultural Renaissance of Africa by the African Union summit in Sudan in January 2006 and the selection of Algeria to host the festival.

This renaissance comes 40 years after the first Pan-African Cultural Festival of Algiers, held in July 1969, and that period has witnessed revolutionary political changes on the continent, with almost all countries now independent of colonial rule.

Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962 following a liberation war that claimed more than a million lives, and subsequently continued to actively support the liberation movements in other countries, notably in southern Africa.

"In 1969 the call of the hour was liberation, because many an African country was not yet free and those who were had just obtained their liberation. It was a value," Toumi told the Pan African News Agency, PANA.

"Today if I refer to the member states of the African Union, of the 53 countries, 52 are independent. Only one is not independent. Otherwise we would say Africa has liberated itself."

She said the festival will celebrate the revival of Africa's artistic greatness and every African art form will be welcomed.

"Africa is in full renaissance. A renaissance at full swing. This why the slogan of the second Pan African Culture Festival is The African Renaissance, which we called literally in English, Africa is back," Toumi said.

"This fair will have both aspects, material and intangible, as well as the visual arts, paintings, culture, art, photography and including the fashion, since there is a whole movement in Africa of the creation of the fashion art, which is being developed," the minister said.

The Social Affairs Commissioner for the African Union, Bience Gawanas from Namibia, said the cultural festival is a statement of Africa's resurgence.

"It is part of our very, very broad mandate, and that is to create an image of Africa, an image of Africa that does not only speak of conflicts, an image of Africa that does not only speak of diseases, but an image of Africa as the cradle of humankind," Gawanas said.

Media directors and representatives of African media who met in Algiers earlier this year for the first Africa Media meeting, pledged to generate wide awareness of the event within and outside the continent by images, sound and writing to make the event "an African pride and a global success".

The two-week festival is expected to feature thousands of artists from Africa and the African diaspora, from wherever people of African origin may be.

Algeria, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the African culture ministers’ conference, has expressed the hope that a Pan-African Cultural Festival will be scheduled more frequently in future, through the African Union, and not something that happens only after 40 years.

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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