The good news coming from Sharma el Sheikh City in Egypt is very inspiring and positive for our beloved continent, Africa. Yeah, the free trade zone is beyond the enemies of the motherland who always would like to see poverty reeling its ugly face and donor dependency forever in Africa.
Thumbs up to all the African leaders who have signed the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement.
I found myself lost in Algiers, the cultural capital city of Africa, in Algeria at one moment in time. Yeah, country folks this was during the second Pan African Cultural Festival which brought thousands upon thousands to the city from the motherland and the Diaspora. The festival is held once every 50 years. I guess I will also attend the third festival!
The most striking factor was that the Algerians were calling us Africans! They were hailing us stating that we were coming from Africa. I wondered what this meant. I realised that we from the Sub-region are considered Africans and them are Arabs.
laughed my lungs out as the performances from the sub-region took the city by storm with applause from the African Arabs! I was curious. Yeah, country folks. I was curious about this type of thinking from the Algerians who considered us as coming from Africa and not them as Africans too.
The bottom line was very clear to me as they looked like Arabs.
Their culture is so distinct and so different from ours of course in the sub-region. No wonder at a certain performance the dancers from Botswana were barred to perform in their traditional attire. The Algerians were not comfortable with the half dressed girls clad in their beads. The bare breasts were even a cultural shock to them. No wonder, the Arab- Algerians were not amused.
I wondered at this gathering of the concept of cultural integration and acculturation. I wondered about the destiny of cultural understanding on the motherland.
The free cultural zone idea was evident in this context as it would open up the continent to greater cultural development and integration.
Sharma el Sheikh
The news this week from Sharma el Sheikh that the African leaders have signed a historic agreement for a free trade zone for the motherland has ignited a new resolve for us cultural activists and artists.
Imagine our artists travelling from one country to the other without the horror and harassment at the borders. Imagine the free passage one would get with his guitar or kaligo as he passes through the borders! Imagine the duty and tax that is always imposed on our artistic products being removed for both economic development of the nations and also the artists themselves.
The free trade zone agreement must also be all encompassing and include cultural or the creative industries on the motherland.
Artists must stand to benefit from this agreement in all its glory.
As I cherish the Tripartite Free Trade Zone historic agreement, I am also reminded of one school of thought that one day let artists ban all their works from being used on television stations, radios, pubs, minibuses, coaches, trains, planes, churches, theatres, at weddings, funerals, engagement parties, birthday parties etc. Imagine the artists on strike just to show how important their works are to the nations. But, alas, this is just another business of course but definetly food for thought.
This is just to convince our legistrators in the August house to consider culture as a tool for socio-economic development of the our beloved Warm Heart of Africa, Malawi.
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