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Why African countries dither on implementing cultural policies

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
Cultural experts across Africa say they are riled by their governments’ hesitation to implement cultural policies.
Speaking recently at the International Conference on African Cultures (ICAC2017) held at the National Art Gallery, Stephen Chifunyise bemoaned the lack of political will, adding that most cultural policies are only on paper and not being implemented.
“It is regrettable that most African countries still treat issues to do with culture as peripherals hence there is the reluctance to implement cultural policies.
“Most of these policies are just inked on paper and there is nothing tangible that is being to done implement them,” he said.
Chifunyise added that there is need to pile more pressure on African governments for them to realise that arts and culture can foster economic development.
Speaking at the same occasion, Professor Lupwishi   Muyambi who is executive director of the Observatory Cultural Policies in Africa (OCPA) based in Maputo, Mozambique said there was a very worrying trend by African states when it comes to ratifying treaties that govern implementation of cultural policies.
“ A few years ago, African countries came up with the African Union Agenda 2063 which up to now has been ratified by only 6 countries out of 54  member countries.
“In its framework, the AU Agenda 2063 speaks to Aspiration 5: An African with a strong   cultural,  common heritage, values, and ethics and that by the aforementioned year, diversity in culture, heritage, languages and religion shall be a cause of strength, including the tangible and intangible heritage of Africa’s island states,” professor Lupwishi highlighted.
He went on to add that unless African leaders start to treat cultural issues as determinants of economic growth, the sector will remain in the doldrums.
Meanwhile, Pascall Taruvinga who is the chief heritage officer at Robben Island Museum(South Africa) has said communities should be involved in issues to do with governance, protection and preservation of heritage sites.
“There is the inherent need to consider locals around heritage sites if we are to protect these sites and they can benefit mainly from the downstream economic activities that can be accrued from these heritage sites,” he said.
The three-day cultural conference brought together local and international delegates in the field of art, culture and heritage industries to deliberate on important issues surrounding the future and history of arts and culture from Africa.
It was running under the theme “Mapping The Future”.

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