Asilah Arts Festival explores secrets of ‘African creativity’

Victor Borges, former foreign minister of Cape Verde, said creativity was associated with innovation in everyday life.
Saturday 13/07/2019
Panellists take part in the “African Creativity in Africa and in the Diaspora” symposium in Asilah. (Saad Guerraoui)
An eye on future challenges. Panellists take part in the “African Creativity in Africa and in the Diaspora” symposium in Asilah. (Saad Guerraoui)

ASILAH - Creativity is tied to an efficient educational system, which is a key driver of African countries’ development in various sectors, said experts and politicians at a symposium on the sidelines of the 41st Asilah International Cultural Moussem.

The 3-day symposium “African Creativity in Africa and in the Diaspora,” which kicked off African cultural week in Asilah, included a panel of experts, researchers and politicians from across Africa.

Mohamed Benaissa, secretary-general of the Asilah Forum Foundation and former Moroccan minister of foreign affairs, said: “Asilah is taking this year a major leap towards celebrating Africa by dedicating a whole week to celebrating African creativity in poetry, literature and music.”

Victor Borges, former foreign minister of Cape Verde, said creativity was associated with innovation in everyday life. “I am persuaded that creativity is crucial to Africa’s future in arts, culture as well as agriculture and economy,” he said. “Creativity constitutes a decisive element of our tomorrow’s identity.”

Borges said education should instil information, competences and creativity tools and promote a critical reflection on the situation in Africa. He said the socio-political life, including peace, stability and security, is another determining factor of creativity.

“These elements are very fundamental to supporting and enhancing creativity that is necessary to the transformation of African societies,” said Borges, adding that creativity was dependent on factors that are at the heart of governance and the development process.

“We are often told that people create history. I would say that creators shape history,” he said.

Pierre-Michel Nguimbi, CEO of the Expert Group on Institutional Reforms in Africa, said Africa needed to reinvest in education, training and research to prosper and boost the culture of creativity.

Nguimbi called for African governments to give more importance to women because they carry strong values and beliefs that will propel Africa’s development.

“Without reforming Africans and building a new cultural paradigm, Africa will not create the right conditions for a new socio-economic, political and scientific paradigm,” he said.

Ndioro Ndiaye, former deputy director-general of the International Organisation for Migration, said development in Africa “is a fact of culture.” She raised questions about the quality of education that varies from one country to another and whether it is up to the challenges of the century.

Senegalese poet Amadou Lamine Sall said Africa does not need the West for development because it has the potential to do it on its own but Nejib Friji, director of the Middle East and North Africa Regional Office of the International Peace Institute, said: “African development was tied to an integration conceived and led by Africans themselves without being detached from geo-strategic realities.”

Hakim Ben Hammouda, Tunisian economist and former minister of economy and finance, said young people in Tunisia are showing proof of creativity in their professions by using the latest cost-effective technology.

Ben Hammouda cited the cinema industry in Tunisia, in which film-maker Abdelhamid Bouchnak’s “Dachra” has drawn thousands to cinemas because of revolutionary technology.

Ben Hammouda said that today a new world is born through communication tools, including social media, that transcended taboos and boosted creativity and talent freed from censorship.

Mario Lucio, a musician and former Cape Verdean minister of culture, said humanity will not exist without communication, which is why freedom is indispensable. Lucio said creativity will thrive more the harder the dictatorships in Africa are.

“There are no freedoms without communication… Creativity exists as human faculty to defy communication and freedom,” he said. “As soon as communication becomes a risk, it’s creativity’s role to defy it and undermine it. Creativity should also exist among us in order to push freedom beyond its limits.”

Borges pointed out that a major part of Africans’ future identities will be determined by creativity that is shown today at the structural, artistic, societal, economic and political levels.

Sall said those who make up the African diaspora have long parted with their home countries and that Africa’s development must be fully reliant on home-grown talent.

He called on state institutions to bolster the spirit of creativity in African youth that is the driving force of the 21st century at a time the continent is experiencing an unprecedented brain drain.