By Hafsa Obeng, GNA
Accra, March 7, GNA – Mrs Catherine Ablema Afeku, Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture on Wednesday said government was committed to providing a firm and stable policy environment for effective mainstreaming of Ghanaian arts and culture in all aspects of national life.
She said the policy directive seeks to ensure a strong revival of a vibrant creative economy to improve the quality of life in the country.
She made this observation in a speech read on her behalf by Mr Mustapha Hamid, Minster of Information, at the opening of the first African Union Pan African writers’ conference in Accra.
The conference organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) was on the theme; “promoting African literature and reading; the role of African writers’ in enhancing African identity, shared values and integration.”
Mrs Afeku said Africa is a continent of rich heritage, culture, tradition, and customs, producing great artists and writers from myriad backgrounds.
She said there was the need to strengthen the linkage between education and culture in order to maximize the potentials of African culture in the education of the people of the continent.
The need to re-establish this linkage between education and culture in Africa has been recognized at the highest level of the African Union.
It seeks to put emphasis on re-establishing the linkage between education and culture to create synergies that can widen a range of options for individuals and societies to meet the challenges of the 21st century and participate effectively in the global economy.
The Sector Minister noted that Africa urgently needs an extensive campaign to promote and establish literature and reading, saying African literature is a journey to self-rediscovery, the distinctiveness, diction and sometimes proverb-filled nuances were spectacles to behold.
“Literature is a vital component of a community’s culture. It plays a huge and formidable role in the way of life of a particular group of people and that is exactly what African literature does, it holds the fabric of society together,” she said.
Mrs Afeku also noted that the themes of African literature mimic in every sense of the word the true Africa, it portrays through the eyes of a native to the outside world what the real Africa is all about, and serves as a means of education and entertainment.
She said “I believe African literature even has the potential to promote the tourism industry as it explains intriguing historical events, as well as the interests and motives of those traditional custodians, who pass down the dramatic performances of their times to posterity.”
She encouraged participants to participate actively in the various sessions whilst networking to form a formidable group to champion the growth and development of African literature and culture.
Madam Amira Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs, AUC, said the conference aimed at providing an opportunity for the writers to contribute to the African decade on the promotion of reading and literature.
She said it also reflects on crucial issues from the continent, the promotion of reading and development of African literature, and literally works to create an industry.
“Reading is a skill which needs to be promoted and developed to enable children and elderly people to be able to push the development of the continent,” she said.
She said the generation of the African continent is growing up with limited knowledge of the great African writers and recognition of the importance of reading and literature.
“As a continent we must build an Africa that is prosperous, economically integrated, politically guided by ideas of pan Africanism. An Africa that subscribes to democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law,” she said.
Madam Elfadil said, “we must have a peaceful and secure Africa, an Africa with its own cultural identity, common heritage and shared values. An Africa whose development is built on the creativity of its own people particularly the youth”.
Professor Atukwei Okai, Secretary General, PAWA said the theme for the conference covers factors that were critical to the development of societies, and PAWA has over time dealt with some of the concerns.
He said, “The developments in the world of literature, publishing and reading among the youth largely depends on the nature and state of the economies and policies in their countries, which in turn are tied up with the nature of the mind set and attitudes, vision and policies of the governing class”.
Prof. Okai said the cultural world in African societies now were begging for total re-organisation, saying there was the desperate need for a robust, indigenous publishing industry among others.
He noted that African writers and intellectuals cannot begin to dream of an enabling environment for their creativity and reflections, or begin to hope for a better dispensation, when African governments refuse to move or act to discharge their responsibilities towards their people.
He said African governments must ratify the Charter of African Cultural renaissance adopted in 1976 and revised in 2006, because its implementation would impact positively on the writers’ world in particular and the African cultural world in general.