The Year of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Building a better Africa and a Better World in the Year of Charlotte Maxeke

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Today is a great day in the African calendar as it marks the birth of the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU), current day African Union (AU) This day is celebrated across the African Continent and beyond, it is a day to reflect on the progress and challenges that the Continent and individual Member States are confronted with.

The South Africa government took a decision to celebrate this important day with a month long cultural program.

South Africa is an integral part of the African continent and therefore understands its national interest as being intrinsically linked to Africa's stability, unity and prosperity. Africa month promotes Pan Africanism, platform to promote pride driven by our Africanes, of which both contributes to united efforts for decolonization and regeneration of the African continent.

It is regarded as a platform to promote the AU institutions and its programs towards the attainment of its vision – ‘An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena’.

Africa Month has succeeded in captivating the attention of the country and focusing on the country’s immutable connection to the continent. Cultural exchange and dialogic platform by leading researchers and writers with interest in the continent as part of giving conceptual clarity to the Africa 2063 Agenda. The 5th Pan African Cultural Congress endorsed Africa Month as one of its legacy projects of the PACC due to its potential of promoting initiatives that have an African orientation building communities.

The 2021 Edition continues to spread out a wide range of activities approximated to 25 (registered at DSAC) and many more as actioned by other government departments and provinces. The COVID 19 pandemic had a very negative impact on this program since we had to cut down on contact events in line with Covid 19 protocols. We have been asked to cut many activities due to COVID 19 pandemic During the 33rd African Union Heads of States and Governments Assembly it was agreed that 2021 is the “Year for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Levers for Building the Africa we Want”. Adopting this theme, the Assembly stressed the importance of Arts; Culture and Heritage in the achievement of the objectives of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well as those of its Flagship Projects.

Initially the Department had planned to host Africa Month for 3 years and thereafter, another country in the continent takes over. However, the current dynamics and resource constraints still remain as a challenge across the continent. In this regard, an approval was granted by Cabinet to host Africa Month annually starting in 2018, with a view that the interest will increase from other countries to also host Africa Month to support Africa Day in May.

The ultimate goal is that all African countries will be celebrating Africa Month annually in May. This goal is viewed as an ideal instrument of integration and social cohesion in the continent. It is heart warming that today, 25 May the African Union is launching the Charter for Africa Cultural Renaissance to enter into force. South Africa is nominated as a champion in the SADC region for the campaign to ratify the Charter. It is therefore befitting that South Africa continue to host the Africa Month Program and encourage active participation by governments and civil society across the continent.