Today, 25th May, the African continent celebrates Africa Day with a particular focus on Arts, Culture and Heritage. Africa Day celebrations assists in tracing, tracking and learning from the paths we have been following and taking as we united in resolving the economic, social, governance and environmental issues the continent is facing.
The National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (NANGO), a non-party political, non-profit making and non-denominational organization is the officially recognized coordinating body of NGOs operating in Zimbabwe. NANGO, the country’s largest umbrella non-governmental organization joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 58th anniversary of the Africa Day running under the theme “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.”
This year’s theme strongly acknowledges the importance of preserving and promoting the arts, culture and heritage as the greatest pinnacles in fostering a prosperous, unified and cultured society. It is also critical to note that it is through upholding cultural values such as ‘Ubuntu’ that an Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global sphere can be achieved. The day is also coinciding with the African Continental launch of Entry into force of the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance. NANGO appreciates Zimbabwe’s membership into the African Union (AU) including the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (African Commission) and its consequent obligations to implement the AU framework and African Commission recommendations.
The broader membership of NANGO and secretariat recognizes the AU’s role in unifying the African continent to collectively address issues of unresolved historical conflicts, low levels of youth participation, civil unrests, loss of the sense of pride and belonging, insurgencies, inadequate support towards the arts and culture sectors and the growing crisis of underdevelopment across the continent. We also acknowledge Zimbabwe government’s contributions to address these issues through the establishment of heritage sites as well as the adoption of the 2013 Constitution that has provisions for the socio-economic, political and cultural rights.
This year’s celebration however comes on a back-heel of a number of issues derailing progress towards the Africa We Want. The major one is the Covid-19 pandemic which has piled up pressure on the African economy and resultantly affected the well-being, livelihoods and demographics of most African states and peoples. The Covid-19 pandemic calls for African government leaders to increase vaccination efforts on the continent after what has appeared strongly to be vaccine apathy across several countries. But defying the odds by managing to control the pandemic that has ravaged other parts of the world is in itself something to praise the continent for, a continent least impacted globally by the pandemic and this may be worth celebrating at the very least. Recently, African heads of state concluded a summit in Paris where they argued among other issues for an increase in the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) from 33 billion to 100 billion dollars. The SDR, used sparingly, gives member countries of the AU such as Zimbabwe the possibility of "drawing" liquidity to supplement financial reserves. There are also other burning issues on the continent such as the internal displacements of citizens from their places of origin, historical upbringing and heritage. There is also Mozambique's Islamist insurgency in the North Cabo Delgado province which has led to a refugee crisis and may affect countries such as Zimbabwe that neighbour Mozambique.
In particular, whilst NANGO and other like-minded organizations appreciate efforts by the government to promote the arts, culture and heritage in the country, we continue to urge Zimbabwe to address the structural and socio-economic challenges that continue to push citizens in intruding and destroying the cultural and heritage sites such as the mountains, the caves and places of historical significance. We therefore, call upon the Government of Zimbabwe:
- To respect the independence of all citizens including those dwelling in places of historical significance, promote their rights and access to resources for the effective enjoyment, respect and fulfilment of the people’s rights.
- To provide adequate support to the artists who play a critical role in providing entertainment, promoting peace and upholding cultural values.
- AU to provide technical assistance to member states as well as strengthening its monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance and facilitate implementation of regional treaties and protocols.
- AU to increase meaningful and effective participation of women, youths, persons with disabilities and Civil Society Organisations in resolving the core development challenges facing the region.
- To continue supporting the Heritage and Cultural Studies curriculum with correct, updated and apt information for an ideal Africa.
- To promote a sense of identity, pride and social integrity by embracing arts, culture and heritage for an ideal Africa we envision.
For further engagement please do not hesitate to get in touch with the NANGO Executive Director, Leonard Mandishara on +263774078026, NANGO Board Chairperson, Ms. Ronika Mumbire on +263712724911 and NANGO Board Secretary, Dr. Joachem Nyamande on +263784530915.