In a bid to provide clear leadership, advocacy and facilitation for Arts, Culture and Heritage in the African continent, twelve Heads of State have solemnly accepted the invitation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of the Republic of Mali, African Union leader for Arts, Culture and Heritage to act as co-champions.
This landmark was achieved on the sidelines of the just-concluded 33rd Assembly of the African Union held in Addis Ababa.
The twelve Heads of State, which were drawn from the five regions of the continent are Presidents Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, Cape Verde, Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo and Felix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Others are Mohamed VI of Morocco, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Egypt, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya, Mrs Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Hage Geingob of Namibia.
The mandate of the Council is to formulate strategic orientations and to ensure that these orientations are taken into account in the activities of the African Union (AU). The members of this Council are also expected to play the role of leadership, advocacy and facilitation at the sub-regional level.
At the inaugural meeting of the Council, the twelve Heads of State committed themselves to give a pride of place to culture, arts and heritage.
In that framework, they adopted a draft resolution that will be tabled with a view to declaring 2021 as the year of culture.
In addition, the twelve co-leaders committed themselves to advocate for the ratification of the Charter for the African Cultural Renaissance; gather political and financial commitment of the member States for the African World Heritage Fund; promote culture as a tool for peace-building; and develop creative industries generating economic development and outreach.
The council further committed themselves to the preservation and development of African languages as a vehicle of communication, knowledge and culture; and speed up the return of cultural assets.
The countries have agreed to work together with the relevant organs of the African Union and according to a principle of subsidiarity on all the subjects.
Recall that upon his designation as African Union Leader for Arts, Culture and Heritage, President Keïta, found it appropriate to establish a presidential level structure to carry out his mission. Thus, he invited the twelve Heads of State to join him in a Council of the Peers.