Guardian Newspapers 18/09/2008
Creative Africa... Preserving Africa's cultural heritage

By Michael Orie

TO ensure Africa's ownership of Creative Africa Initiative,which was recently launched in Accra, Ghana, Nigeria is to partner with Agoralumiere and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

 The Minister of State for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong, made this disclosure recently, when he received officials of Agoralumiere comprising Josi'e D'Angelo and Marc Nekaitar in his office in Abuja. Hong, who commended the officials of the outfit for initiating the Creative Africa concept noted that the effort would go along way in promoting development of talents and encourage creativity in the continent.

He assured that Nigeria would assume is leadership position in promoting the concept to ensure that the country is not- short changed in the process of implementation.

The Creative Africa Initiative, which is geared towards cultural renaissance in Africa, is the brain child of Agoralumiere, a nongovernmental organisation based in France that is working

in conjunction with the African Union (A U) and UNCTAD. It is aimed at fast tracking concrete input into the ministerial meeting involving Pan- Africa cultural institutions and facilitate the in participation of at the round table meeting as well as assist AU to organise research into the impact of creative industries on the economy of African with Nigeria and Congo as the pilot countries.

The minister noted that Nigeria has taken the bull by the horn to develop every aspect of the economy in line with the seven point agenda of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua that are aimed at putting Nigeria among the top 20 economies of the world by the year 2020. "We have abundance of talents in Africa; what is needed is the politics to harness them and we are committed to providing the necessary enabling environment for the development of our arts and craft industry; and since this about how to protect and promote African culture, It is proper that Nigeria takes the leadership role to ensure that it is properly done," he said. Hong also promised to ensure that the country made a strong appearance at the forth coming Africa's cultural minister's conference to be hosted by Algeria in Algiers from October 19 to 23.

The minister who attributed the poor state of Nigeria arts industry to the activities of pirates, appealed to the international community to assist Nigeria in the fight against piracy to allow the industry grow. "There is no local council in Nigeria where you will visit without seeing something new and unique, but because we lack the means to protect their originality, these works are easily pirated refined and no credit is given to the people. But we are now very passionate about the development of our arts and crafts industry so with your initiative, we hope to partner with you to bring about a new way of doing things, protecting their intellectual properties and the brilliant ideas in our people." Responding on behalf of the team, the leader, Josi'e D' Angelo thanked the Minister for finding time to receive them, noting that the visit had helped to reassure them about Nigeria' preparedness to work with the organisation to promote and preserve African's cultural heritage. She assured that her organisation would soon begin "a mapping research into various aspects of the country's culture to be carried out by experts for the purposes of generating the necessary statistics that would help us identify, document and preserve the cultural heritage, which is in abundance in Nigeria."