Preliminary phase of “the Nile Basin countries cultural cooperation”
To deepen the common understanding and strengthen the relationship between the Nile basin countries, by demonstrating the creativity of their artistes and traditions of their people. To highlight a common heritage, where it exists, between the basin countries. It has also aimed to strengthen the relation between basin countries through the promotion of cultural exchange.
The project was launched in 2013 but the first visit was conducted in 2014. Up to 2016, the project is in its preliminary phase (2 visits by Ethiopian delegations and 3 performances in 3 countries: Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia). Up to this time political bi-lateral cultural cooperation treaties have been signed between Ethiopia and Uganda. Cultural cooperation agreements with Sudan, Egypt and South-Sudan are signed before the launching of the project). Other countries of the Nile basin are also considered in the future plan of the project.
It has two main features:
1- Cultural diplomatic bi-lateral visit in targeted countries:- delegations involve a wide spectrum of sectors of the society , like artists, athletes, musicians, representatives of political parties, members of the civil society, religious leaders, and CEOs of the private sector companies, in Ethiopia. During these visits, policy makers and practitioners of the cultural sector meets their counterparts, and try to build common understanding and joint projects. For example, in Egypt, Ethiopian scholars have met with their Egyptian counterpart to discuss how to promote each other's countries thought literature and academic research.
2 – Public diplomacy event for the general audience: - In Egypt, following the public diplomacy visit, the national Theatre was invited to the annual international festival “Dialogue on Drums”. In Sudan, the performance was directly a part of the Cultural diplomacy visit. Both country orchestras performed in Khartoum, the performance was broadcasted live on the Sudanese National Television. For this first bi-lateral concert, 20 Ethiopian musicians performed nation and nationalities songs, but the long term goal is to involve the modern orchestra. In the back-ground of the show, Sudanese and Ethiopian musicians spent two days together in Sudan, including visits, experience sharing and casual musical improvisation sessions. In 2016, 15 Sudanese musicians came and performed at the National Theatre and kept building the artistic link.
-Strengthen of mutual ties among countries through cultural cooperation.
-Enhancing of the people-to-people knowledge, understanding and relation through cultural exchange.
-Advancing of common cultural heritages among nations.
-The triggering of research, literary and art works of scholars and artists among the basin countries.
For the Sudan visit: 160,000 USD. For the Egypt visit: 136,034 USD.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only ran a general evaluation, finding that the events were a success and should be repeated in the future. For example, it has strengthened the relationship with Egypt: following the delegation's visit, the Ethiopian National Theatre has been invited to Egypt and the Egyptian president made an official visit to Ethiopia.
For the National Theatre, despite some timing challenges, the experience was a success in term of audience attendance, media coverage. More importantly the Ethiopian and Sudanese musicians have developed strong personal and professional links.