A star-studded preview at United Nations Headquarters for an upcoming festival of the arts of Africa and the African diaspora provided an occasion today for officials of the world body to celebrate the importance of culture in addressing the current challenges of the continent.
“By promoting African art and culture, we can double our efforts for the emergence of a truly united Africa, where all communities live in peace, security, prosperity and freedom,” Ibrahim Gambari, Special Advisor to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said at the launch of the World Festival of Black Arts 2009 (FESMAN 2009) at UN Headquarters today.
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, United States political organizer Jesse Jackson, singing stars Akon and Angélique Kidjo and jazz icon Randy Weston also participated in the event, meant to introduce FESMAN 2009, which will take place on 1–21 December 2009, to the African-American and wider world communities.
The Brooklyn Steppers youth marching band, headed for a performance at the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama next week, kicked off today’s preview of the festival, which carries the theme of African Renaissance, Cultural Diversity and African Unity.
The festival will highlight the power of the arts to promote development and peace, to mobilize efforts against HIV/AIDS and accelerate the achievement of the other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a UN-backed set of targets to reduce extreme poverty and other world ills by 2015, its organizers said.
The first FESMAN was hosted in 1966 by former Senegalese President Leopold Senghor on the theme Significance of Black Art in the Life of People and for the People. FESMAN 2009 was authorized by the Congress of Ministers of Art and Culture of African States and the Diaspora.