20 October 2017

Africa: Connecting Africa Through Art

"At the beginning there is culture. In the middle there is culture at there is culture". This is one of the famous saying of Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who served Senegal as the first president.

Indeed, culture is everywher and in everything. Culture is part of human lifestyle. Man's life style is full of cultural values. In a complex society like Africa culture has a significant role in manifesting one's identity. Not only manifesting identity but also to bring people from different walks of life into a single podium. No matter where they live or their political structure is Africans have values to share. They may speak different language or have different religious practices Africans are Africans who share common values. Their artistic values are manifestation of their identity and unity. Several cultural exchange programs among African countries are among the public diplomatic relationship of the continent. Beside discussing common agendas at the AU Africans have also strong diplomatic relationships among each other. Cultural exchange programs are among this.

Last Monday, Ethio-Senegal cultural day was opened here in Addis Ababa-Alliance Ethio-Française. The event was opened with the theme of "Connecting Art Senegal and Ethiopia". Using this as an opportunity The Ethiopian Herald had moments of togetherness with Senegalese Ambassador to Ethiopia Baye Moctar Dlop.

According to Baye Moctar Dlop, art has power to bring people from different cultural background into one ground. The art exhibition week that will be held in Addis Ababa is a good manifestation in this regard. Africa is rich of culture. Every African nation has its own unique culture. But this uniqueness did not prevent Africans to share their values. African culture brings its people more closer.

"Senegal and Ethiopia has very long period of cultural cooperation. We believe that we can succeed to uphold African identity and African cultural specificities. Because we are two great African countries. And our leaders are very close. In this regard, the cultural week contribute a great share in African art and cultural values."

Seeing the multidimensional role of art to the society Senegal is among the pioneer African countries to honor and award African Artists. Very early after its independence that is 1966 Senegal had organized the first edition of the world festival of Black Art. On that occasion former emperor Haileselasse and other Ethiopian delegation had meet the then Senegalese President Leopol Sedar. This is somehow a very vivid memory of Africans.

Concerning to African music the Ambassador said that, throughout all times, African music had been serving as a voice to the voiceless. This is witnessed in times of colonization or the hardest times of apartheid. And now in this age it is also serving Africans as a sound to express their culture to the world. The music they play or their artistic works are means of sharing their ideas. Music had been used as a means to express their grief and happiness.

According to the ambassador, art especially music serve as a bridge between two different people. This is specially true African peoples who has common cultural background.

Using music as a means Africans can communicate among themselves. They may have different singing style but they share common value. This is a proof that no matter where we live, music can serve as a bridge.

Concerning to the diplomatic relationship of the two countries Ambassador Dlop said that, Ethiopian and Senegal have good diplomatic relationship. Ethiopia and Senegal are among the three African states that who non permanent member of UN security council. This has brought them even closer.

What is more, in terms of bilateral cooperation an agreement establishing a joint commission was signed between Ethiopia and Senegal in 2006. This joint commission's first edition is agreed to be held in Addis Ababa in 2018. This will give the relationship a new momentum to start and explore different sectors for the benefit of the tow countries.

According to the ambassador, music performers from Senegal will also adore the moment. In which, Ethiopian music will be sung by Senegal musicians. This shows how art can serve as an instrument in bringing two people into a single podium.


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