UNESCO Creative Cities celebrate World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture

UNESCO Creative Cities celebrate World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture

Tue, 01/24/2023

On 24 January, UNESCO Creative Cities will be mobilizing to celebrate World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture. Adopted during the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference in 2019, this international event honours the diverse and vibrant cultures of Africa and its diasporas and promotes them as powerful catalysts for strengthening cultural diversity, international cooperation and peace.

To mark this celebration, UNESCO Creative Cities are organizing a variety of events, from conferences and exhibitions to workshops and festivals, while continuing to deploy their efforts all year round to promote African and Afrodescendant culture as effective levers for social equality, intercultural dialogue and sustainable development. Currently, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) includes 15 Creative Cities from the Africa region. In line with UNESCO’s Global Priority Africa, the Network promotes African and Afrodescendant culture through cooperation with and among its member cities across the globe.


Creative Cities harnessing the power of African Culture for cultural expression, diversity and exchange

To celebrate World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture, Creative Cities from around the world are showcasing the opportunities brought about by this occasion for widening global awareness of African heritage and creation.

Cannes, a UNESCO Creative City of Film, will mark this anniversary by launching the exhibition Serigne Ibrahima Dieye - Human Diffraction as part of the Cannes-Dakar cooperation project initiated in 2022. This initiative aims to promote artists from Dakar in Cannes, in all creative fields. From 22 January to 23 April, the exhibition will highlight the dynamism of Senegalese contemporary art and the essential contribution made by African artists in creative development and freedom of expression, and in parallel the vital need to strengthen the support of its talented creative professionals.

Aiming to promote international cultural exchanges, Weifang, a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, has also foreseen a number of activities from 14 to 24 January dedicated to young students. Merging formal meetings with traditional craft projects, such as shadow play, woodblock printing and dough modeling, the event is intended to deepen cultural awareness and exchanges between students from the country and Africa, such as from Zambia and Mali.

Centering Black and Indigenous history, Belém, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, will be hosting a webinar from 24 to 25 January to shed light on the largely unrecognized participation of Black and Indigenous communities to the Cabanagem, a revolution which took place between 1835 and 1840 in the province of Grão-Pará. Over a series of debates and exchanges, the City of Belém is embracing this opportunity to retell the untold history of African and Afrodescendant culture.

Similarly, Puebla, a UNESCO Creative City of Design, is organizing an informative social media campaign to be launched on 24 January across its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels to raise awareness on the contribution of African peoples towards the development of the city since its foundation in the 16th century.

With the same purpose, Santos, a UNESCO Creative City of Film, has planned a series of activities to celebrate this Day. These include the 'Roteirafro 2023': a guided tour of the city highlighting the historical and cultural contribution of the African population in the history of Santos. In addition, it will include literary encounters with the writers of Quilombagem Literaria, a collective that brings together black writers from the Baixada Santista region, and the presentation of the group Sociedade Santista do Samba, to share with the public the history of this Brazilian musical genre that originated among enslaved blacks in the 17th century.

In the meanwhile, Parma, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, is hosting ‘World Food and Cultures: Africa’ on the 24 January, a celebratory event that will spotlight the cultural diversity of the African continent through dialogue and exchange. Centered around the traditional food, rituals and music of Senegalese, Ethiopian and Moroccan communities, the event promises a day of enriching festivities.


Creative Cities continuously developing long-term engagements with African and Afrodescendant culture

Beyond the World Day, the promotion of the many vibrant cultures of the African continent and its Diasporas is a long-term commitment and engagement for UNESCO Creative Cities. Contributing to the implementation of the Organization’s Global Priority Africa and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Creative Cities undertake various projects throughout the year to highlight the importance of protecting and preserving African and Afrodescendant cultural heritage.

For instance, in 2021, Wonju, a UNESCO Creative City of Literature, organized a series of workshops and classes as part of its African Literature Reading Programme. It was designed to enhance the distribution and dissemination of African culture and literature and promote the work of contemporary African writers, while increasing awareness for cultural diversity.

From 18 to 20 November 2022, Paraty, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, organized its annual three-day festival Encontro da Cultura Negra (Black Culture Meeting). The event took place at Quilombo do Campinho, villages that were originally built by freed slaves, and brought together both local communities of African heritage and visitors to recognize and honour Black history, heritage and culture. Following the same path, the next edition of the festival is foreseen for 17 to 19 November 2023, ahead of Black Awareness Day, and will aim to celebrate Black achievements, influences and legacies through music, food, dancing, and awareness-raising.



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